The Iron Post. You’ve been there. You’ve seen some cool shows there. You’ve found yourself wondering, “Wait, why is there a package of fire-starter logs laying in this large pile of debris between the stage and the bathrooms?” The place has an undeniable charm, to be certain. It has character. It has many regulars who take much pride in being such. It boasts an ever-present, amiable doorlady. It has good bar food cooked in a kitchen so small it would make even Radio Maria cooks thankful for all the room they have in comparison. It has an owner with an endless amount of quips and stories. It sits cozily in historic downtown Urbana.
There are many bands who call the Iron Post home and many who got a start on the room’s tiny stage. Some started elsewhere and landed at the Post because they liked the atmosphere. A handful of these bands (all that could fit, but there were many more who wished to join in) are coming together this weekend to benefit the bar. No, the bar isn’t in financial trouble (though they aren’t rolling in money over there, so stop scoffing at the two dollar minimum meant to get cheap asses to buy something while checking out a show), but the sound system is. The Iron Post sound system has a long and storied past, leading to a current situation involving unusable board channels and screwy speakers. It’s a frustrating situation for bands, audiences and owner Paul Wirth who, when reached for comment, said “I hate everyone. Especially you, Mike.” Ben Juday — sound-person extraordinaire and member of local Zimbabwean band Mhondoro — decided it was time to do something about the sound situation. “I decided it was time to do something about the sound situation,” he said during a phone interview (requests for a live interview were denied as he didn’t want to give away the location of his Batcave-like sound lair). And so, the idea for a three day benefit/fundraiser was born. Bands were quick to respond to the idea, and a solid lineup of locals and Iron Post staples lined up to perform.
The event will kick off on Friday at 5 p.m., when bossa-world band Desafinado takes the stage, followed by the jazz stylings of the Jeff Helgesen Quintet at 7 p.m. At 9 p.m., pop-funksters Big Bang Theory will take the reins before handing them off to The Delta Kings at 11 p.m., who will close the show. Friday (and each subsequent day) will carry a suggested donation of $5, though digging a little deeper would obviously be welcome.
Saturday’s festivities will start at 6 p.m. with Vvvvv, an award-winning package that has recently been given the thumbs-up from immortal ’80s icon Steve Perry*. Trance/ambient outfit Tree Thump will follow at 8 p.m., preceding the Cajun stylings of Big Grove Zydeco at 9:30. Mhondoro will step up to the plate at 11 p.m., and believe me when I say that asses will be shaking. I recently saw a video of a walrus dancing to Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal.” I can’t even imagine how apeshit that walrus would go at a Mhondoro show.
Sunday will wrap this whole thing up with performances from blues/rock outfit The Painkillers (6 p.m.) and hardcore blues band Kilborn Alley (8 p.m.). By the end of the show, there will hopefully be enough money in the coffers to install a new sound board and monitor amp, and fix the blown speakers. Juday and Steve Errede will be doing all of the work gratis, and picking up the new gear at around cost, meaning that your dollar will really stretch with this benefit.
Another thing the pair would like to do is pick up a couple of new microphones for the space to replace older ones and ones that have been stolen. With these improvements, it will fall to bands to make sure that things are taken care of. Too often bands are careless with gear that isn’t theirs, and don’t pay attention or say anything when touring bands are taking the club’s things. Keep an eye on things so this benefit won’t have been in vain.
For those of you who can’t make it to the Iron Post this weekend, you could always stop in just to patronize the place. Paul Wirth can tell you many interesting stories. The guy has weathered a lot in his days of owning the spot, including getting jobbed by the city of Urbana on a beer garden that could be much cooler than it is now, and dealing with a smoking ban that really hurt his regular business. He catches a bad rap for being a cynical smartass, but his devotion to doing right by bands is solid. Meet him and decide for yourself — the guy is always there. Check out theironpost.com.com for more info.
“Steve Perry” might have actually been some douchebag in a Steve Perry sleeveless shirt at this year’s Great Cover Up. But still, how many guys in sleeveless shirts have given your band an official thumbs-up?

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