Tonight there’s a great reason to give the Courtyard CafÇ (in the Illini Union) a try, as Denison Whitmer returns to town. Denison is well-known for great songwriting as well as his connections to acts like Sufjan Stevens, My Morning Jacket and Rosie Thomas. This time around, he’ll share the stage with Noah Harris (of The Elanors) and Casados. Noah has been playing more and more solo shows (as his wife, Elanors member Adriel, is also a member of the Wandering Sons) and catching a lot of praise for them. Casados is one of the best new acts in town, without question. Imagine harmonium, mandolin, pedal steel, upright bass and acoustic guitar over male/female vocals and you’ll get an idea of what they sound like. The show is only $5 (show your UIUC ID to get a whole dollar off!), and it will begin at 9 p.m.
If tonight you’d rather have your face melted by metal, head to Cowboy Monkey, where local band Tritone (fresh from a leather-clad performance as Judas Priest at this year’s Great Cover Up) will play with The Last Vegas and Dreams of Jenna. Over at Mike ‘n Molly’s you can catch another group of Cover Up veterans (this year having performed as Elvis Costello), and also one of the area’s best bands, Mad Science Fair. I’d bet that those who missed out on the Cover Up festivities could make a special request of either band and get a little taste.
At the Krannert Art Museum tonight there’s another installment of Jason Finkleman’s Sudden Sound Concert Series, featuring the Hamid Drake, Nicole Mitchell and Yosef Ben Israel Trio. The show is free and starts at 7:30 p.m. The concert series was started by Finkleman to present creative artists exploring the art of improvised music and the jazz avant-garde, and if anyone knows about all of that, it’s Jason. Jazz fans should check it out, for sure.
Friday’s noon hour will see another solo marimba performance from Triple Whip drummer Jane Boxall. This time you can catch her at the Springer Cultural Center in downtown Champaign, and for free, at that. That’s free culture, people. Get it while you can.
Speaking of culture, you can catch Porn Chowder at the Iron Post later on Friday night. Seriously, that’s the name. $5. 9 p.m.
Saturday night pits two excellent shows against each other in downtown Champaign.
At Mike ‘n Molly’s, one of the best bands in the country will be knocking people on their asses. The band is Lymbyc Systym, and if you haven’t seen them yet, you better do so now. The band is only made up of two brothers, one on drums and one on keys (plus lots of programming and laptops), but the amount of band members takes nothing at all away from their ability to fill a room with sound. I’ve rarely been blind-sided as hard as I was the first time I saw these guys. It would be one thing if it was just Lymbyc Systym, but this bill also holds Pulsar47 (easily one of the best bands in town), Relay and HypnoMusicCorp. The show starts at 9 p.m., and is a bargain at $7.
The other kick ass (kick ass!) show is anchored by Terminus Victor (another one of the best bands in the area), playing with Triple Whip, New Ruins, FeED and Ad Astra Per Aspera. I have a feeling that a lot of people will be going between shows, and that both will be packed, so get somewhere early and listen to some great bands. Or, have beer spilled on you by a guy with a popped collar and backwards visor at the Lucky Boys Confusion show at the Canopy Club. Your choice.
On Sunday, the dormant Beatles Tribute night curated by Larry Gates will be revived. The Iron Post will, for the evening, be filled will oodles of Beatles covers from Gates, along with Lucky Mulholland, Ryan Groff and Davey Pride (of elsinore), The Dakota (former Beatles cover band – no fair!), The Chemicals and Brandon T. Washington. The last time this tribute happened, Brandon’s band Temple of Low Men played three songs that were some of the best performances that I’ve ever heard (including bassist Josh Walden on vocals for “Paperback Writer,” guitarist Andy Lund absolutely destroying the solo on “Yer Blues,” and a seated Anthony Gravino turning pedal knobs for “Tomorrow Never Knows”). That’s all for this week’s CU Music History lesson. Next week: 23 years of music experience (how hard work really does pay off) – whatever happened to Don Gerard?
Comedy isn’t something that we see on a regular basis here in CU (though Seth Fein tries his best in his column sometimes), so it’s nice to see the Canopy Club bringing in a recognizable act. Neil Hamburger, recently seen on tour with Tenacious D (and appearing in their movie The Pick of Destiny), will perform his quirky act on Monday night (9 p.m., $7) – an act that has seen many releases on the Drag City record label. Opening the show will be local funnyman/buzz columnist/urinal shy-guy Mike Coulter. I’m sure the CU Smokefree Alliance people will be there, too.
The Canopy Club does it again on Tuesday, with a show from The Autumn Defense (featuring John Stiratt and Pat Sansone of Wilco), The Singleman Affair and Ferraby Lionheart. Web sites are saying that there is a very limited number of tickets available, so I’m guessing, like, six. Get one soon! Info at canopyclub.com.
Mike Ingram can be reached at