Good news for Cowboy Monkey?

The rumors are still running rampant about what will happen to Cowboy Monkey once 2008 rears its head. Will the stage be ripped out? Will that space just become another of the fleet of downtown restaurants? Will that damn horse be the first thing to go? One thing’s for sure: everyone has an opinion about it. Some people are so outraged about the loss of the music space that they’ve sworn off the bar entirely. Sadly, this is a double-edged sword. Does it send a message in the right way? Or does it simply make it look like the whole “no more music” thing is a good idea? I mean, if no one is even coming to shows …
So, here’s the deal. It seems that the stage is safe, and that even amidst the new restaurant revamp, that music will still carry on at Cowboy Monkey, though likely a little less often. How can you ensure this (or an even better result)? Keep those emails flowing to the owners (an email to can be forwarded along very easily). And actually attend shows.
In show action this week, the Courtyard Café (located for your convenience in the Illini Union) is making a play for some listeners tonight by hosting Curb Service (Larry Gates, em-effers), an act with a new full-length CD out and an awesome video for “Church Street” up on YouTube. Gates loops guitar, drum machine and turntable scratches on originals and tasty covers (like the Living Blue’s “Murderous Youth”). The night will be rounded out by Belikos, JigGsaw, and Robots Counterfeiting Money. No word on a cover charge, but show up and hope for free! 9 p.m.
Heading to downtown Champaign, you can catch an early (8 p.m.) show at Aroma Café, where the free, weekly Acoustic at Aroma series will be taken over by elsinore lead singer Ryan Groff and Wandering Sons member Miles Nielsen. That’s right, peeps, two artists for the price of none. Amazing. The Wandering Sons have had a great fall and have some big news on the horizon, which they’ll hopefully be back soon to pass on. Until then, you can see Miles, and catch (guitarist) Dan and (key tickler) Noah Harris playing alongside Cameron McGill and others.
The Groff/Nielsen duo will play a second show in the area on Friday, when they travel to the lovely land of Fairmount, Illinois, to play at Sleepy Creek Vineyard. The vineyard is another great place similar to Champaign’s own Alto Vineyards. Check out for more info about the space, which has begun to host music events (including national acts like Steve Poltz). It’s a quick drive east on I-74 (before Danville, even).
Thursday night will also be the date for a benefit for Students For A Sensible Drug Policy, which will be held at Cowboy Monkey. The date has been booked for a month, but as of press time no bands have been announced. There’s a joke about stoners in there somewhere. 9 p.m., $5 and a prayer.
Friday night, while Groovatron is at the Canopy Club, a GroovaTHON will be going down at Cowboy Monkey according to Beat Kitchen drummer Gordon Kay. His band will come out of a dormant period and get back to making people shake their asses. Lead singer Brandon T. Washington brings the heat on covers and originals alike. Opening the show (at 10 p.m. sharp) will be the area’s only Zimbabwean band, Mhondoro, bringing the beatz. That’s right, with a z. $5 gets you in the door. A few drinks will get you on the dance … surface. Rhyming is for suckas.
A helluva show is slated for Saturday at the Canopy Club, as Unwed Sailor headlines a bill also featuring Oceans, This Will Destroy You, Books Died On, and my favorite new local act, Tall Tale. 9 p.m., $8. Check out for links to all of the band websites and for info about more upcoming shows.
Downtown Urbana has become the place to be on Tuesday nights in December, as Corn Desert Ramblers continue their weekly residency at the Rose Bowl (9 p.m., no cover). The Ramblers play straight up country music. Less than a block away at the Office, the Surreal Deal have moved to
a Tuesday residency (10 p.m., no cover). The band features Jeff Kerr, Jesse Brown, Billy Galt, and Josh Quick — all seasoned vets of the CU music scene — playing selections from artists like the Allman Brothers, Steely Dan, Tom Petty and more. Two bands filled with great musicians playing a stone’s throw from each other. Bar-hopping is an excellent idea on Tuesdays.

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