ANGIE HEATON AND THE GENTLE TAMERS
-Kate Kroger

Angie Heaton and the Gentle Tamers – Josh Quirk on drums, Josh Wallden on bass and Bob Watson on guitar – are good at what they do. Blending a little bit of country with folk rock, pop and indie, and writing all of their own sweetly unique lyrics, they have been nominated, for the third time, in this year’s Local Music Awards, for Best Folk/Americana.

Heaton’s musical career has taken off since her humble beginnings playing the guitar in high school. She is the former drummer of numerous other local folk rock bands including the Tractor Kings, Corndolly and Liquorette. Since forming Angie Heaton and the Gentle Tamers, she has released three albums – Calamities and Restitution (1996), Sparkle (1998) and Let It Ride (2004). Their latest project, The Rumor Mill, is due for release this year, and one of the tracks, “Prayer for You,” can be previewed at myspace.com/angieheaton. For more information and great songs from Angie Heaton and the Gentle Tamers, also check out their Web site at www.angieheaton.com.

DELTA KINGS
-Caitlin Cremer

Under the name of the Delta Kings, band members Bill Humphrey, Kenny McNicholas, Cody Sokolski and Terry Hawkins have established a steady offshoot of rhythm and blues with an infectious twang that has embodied their nomination for best American folk-rock band. For over 10 years, the band has built a steadily increasing following based around their versatile set lists and at-ease disposition. If you have not heard their music and you feel like rockin’ out, the well-refined Delta Kings will serve you up a dish of some nice, warm, elemental blues-rock that is entirely reminiscent of America’s root music at deltakings.com. Check out the song “When You Dance,” or take a trip into downtown Champaign this Friday and visit The Phoenix

TRACTOR KINGS
-Michael Yohanan

Self-proclaimed “Space Cowboys”, the Tractor Kings cut an original piece in the Americana pie with a psychedelic folk-rock sound that melts country roots with alternative jams. The Champaign-Urbana quartet is lead by singer and guitarist Jacob Fleischlis, whose vocals present a genuine mix between the pleasure of Petty’s flare and the satisfaction of Dylan’s rasp. With tracks such as “Crooked Miles,” which travels on jovial guitar rhythms reminiscent of the Traveling Wilburys and “Black Hole in my Head,” a delicate feedback-infused ballad that belongs on Mogwai’s Mr. Beast, listeners can only anticipate the completion of their third album. Check them out at myspace.com/thetractorkings.

ELSINORE
-Caitlin Cremer

The recipe for a delicious Americana-folk-rock band consists of four main ingredients: Ryan Groff, Dave Pride, Mark Woolwine and Chris Eitel. I call this recipe: elsinore. Each member brings to the band an incredible array of enthusiasm and energy that forms the basic component of their music. On top of their indulging charisma, each song is composed of engaging lyrics and a smooth blend of musical genius that leaves you utterly intoxicated. elsinore’s ability to fuse rock and roll, soulful blues and groovy jazz is the very ingredient of their music that will leave you greedy for more. For a tasty treat, check out myspace.com/elsinoremusic and click on “Timid Maggie Mae,” or check them out in person at Mike ‘n Molly’s on March 8, around 10 p.m.

THE BEAUTY SHOP
-Erin Gillman

The Beauty Shop is a folk band with a twist from our humble town of Champaign. The combination of John Hoeffleur on guitar and vocals, Ariane Peralta on bass and Ben Ucherek on drums is a perfect one; a ripe combination of indie and folk. They’re inspired by the world around them rather than other musicians – a fresh philosophy for music-making. Hoeffleur’s voice is heavy with a twinge of a Southern accent, their lyrics are emotional and the overall feel of their music is pleasant. Their style reminds me of a lazy summer (which, ironically, is a title of one their songs) and could pass for a soundtrack to a hot night in July. Overall, The Beauty Shop has created some very feel-good music. Their MySpace account can be found at myspace.com/thebeautyshop, and I recommend the song “Monster”. They’re also playing at the Canopy Club on March 9 for fans of their live shows.

CD Review:
THE BEAUTY SHOP
-Erin Gillman

Crisis Helpline, the second full-length album from The Beauty Shop, is perfect listening for these winter days. The acoustic guitar seems to perfectly match the snow falling, and John Hoeffleur’s voice is strangely relaxing. They start the album off with a dial tone in “Paper Hearts for Josie,” which reflects the album title. “Monster” is the second song on the album and my personal favorite. This song demonstrates the true talent of the band, both in the music and lyrics. The guitar riffs and vocals compliment each other well, because neither is too overpowering. “Nightcrawlers” and “Babyshaker” follow the song “Monster,” and pick up the tempo and the mood with some pop melodies and guitar solos. The album is very well put together, and the band members’ talent fuses to make unique country-indie music. The Beauty Shop’s music has a quiet force that reveals itself in a different way for each of the 12 tracks on Crisis Helpline. If you’re looking for an album for a snowy day, this is the one for you.

THE PRAIRE DOGS
-Kate Kroger

The Prairie Dogs, nominated for Best Folk/Americana in this year’s Local Music Awards, provide the CU public with a classic, bluegrass sound. They have played on campus for welcoming celebrations and picnics at the Krannert Center and the Illini Student Union. They also frequently perform outside of campus at venues such as Iron Post, Strawberry Fields and Cowboy Monkey. To catch one of their shows, head out to Cowboy Monkey Friday, March 16 from 5:30 to 7:30pm, or Huber’s Tavern Saturday, March 17 from 8 to 11pm (no cover) and enjoy.

Mike Ingram Speaks:

Well, Angie Heaton does have the edge with sex appeal (what can I say? Josh Walden is immaculate), but The Beauty Shop seems to have this thing wrapped up, much to lead singer John Hoeffleur’s disappointment. Still, with the Tractor Kings playing some amazing shows this year, as well as elsinore … this one’s wide open.

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