Tonight marks the official release of the first real solo effort from elsinore frontman Ryan Groff. Out on Champaign’s own little indie label that could, Parasol Records, People in the Midwest is an eight-song collection in the vein of the lighter side of Jeff Buckley – think “Lilac Wine” or the oft-covered “Hallelujah.” The opener, “Lake Water,” is the only song that has seen previous release, though the song has been put through the ringer and emerged very different. Stand-out tracks are “Lines” and “Gasoline,” two songs already being played by the full band, and the Jose Gonzales-inspired “Harrison St.” Ryan and Parasol will offer up the new release, looking snazzy in a digipak, starting at 7 p.m. tonight at the Highdive. Openers include Casados, the marimba stylings of Jane Boxall, and quite possibly Erin Fein of Headlights. The show also marks the return of Darrin Drda, the freak-folkie who departed for the left coast many months ago. $7 will get you in the door. If you can’t make the show, you can swing into Parasol Records in Urbana to snag a copy for yourself and say hi to Angie Heaton and Jim Kelly. Exile on Main Street will also be carrying copies. Those of you in Chicago, Charleston, Madison, and other Midwest cities (yeah, I like to imagine that I have readers all over the country), check out myspace.com/ryangroffmusic for info on release shows in your town this week!
Speaking of Angie Heaton (look at that segue, will you?), she’ll be getting her folk-rock on tonight, as well. She will play Aroma CafÇ’s weekly acoustic series alongside the lovely Eleni Moraites. The show runs from 8-10 p.m.
Speaking of new CDs (he’s on a roll, folks), Noah Harris (that’s right ladies, the lead singer of down-tempo indie band Elanors) has a new disc, The Sea and Age EP. The singer has been making the rounds playing shows as a solo act, while also joining wife Adriel Harris as a member of the Wandering Sons. Last weekend he opened for the Sons with a set featuring the backing of, you guessed it, most of the Wandering Sons. You can get yourself a copy of the new CD at a live show, or you could swing by myspace.com/elanors and send along a message to have one mailed to you. He’s nice, so he’ll probably do that. And don’t be alarmed by the picture – that really is Noah, not Richard Ashcroft.
The Life and Times, one of the loudest and most-rocking bands in the Midwest, will make another stop at Cowboy Monkey this week. Friday night they will join Triple Whip and Pinebender for a 10 p.m. show. The cover is $7, which is nothing when you consider how rocked you will be at the end of the night. Oh, and have a BLT while you’re at Cowboy Monkey – that thing is like crack.
In the same vein of face-melting live performance, the Maserati show last Wednesday at Cowboy Monkey was one of the best shows to happen in this town this year. For those who missed out, the band will hopefully be back for this year’s Pygmalion Music Festival. If you haven’t seen this band, it is absolutely imperative that you do. The CDs are great, and there are even some live videos on YouTube, but being right there in the room is really the only way to go.
Saturday night is brimming with shows to report on. Local funk-rock outfit Brother Embassy will return to the home of Nate Jones, Rantoul, for a show at T&T Tavern with friends Mad Mardigan. Down at Radmaker’s in Tolono, the Stiletto reunion show will rock all night. Strawberry Jam will be going on all evening at Meadowbrook Park in Urbana, featuring acts like Grass Roots Revival, Exorna, and Backyard BBQ Band.
Also on Saturday night, the Mike n Molly’s beer garden will be the hotspot, with former CU singer/songwriter (now living in Chicago) Gabe Rosen who will play with his Good Enough Band, starting at 8 p.m. Bugs in the Dark will also play.
I’ve said it many times, but that’s only because it’s true – Terminus Victor is one of the best bands in the area, and one of the best heavy bands in the Midwest. They are a gem of the CU music scene, and it’s very much your loss if you have not checked them out. But, your chance to see them has come around again, as they’ll play this Sunday at the Highdive (just the right room to hold their volume) along with local band Roberta Sparrow and Wildcat Revival (Birmingham, Alabama). Marvel at the acrobatics of Don, the man in the suit! Vibrate at inhuman levels from the bass playing of Scott, the one in the hat! Try to make sense of the blurs where the arms should be on Terry, the guy in the back! 9:30, p.m., $5.
The Iron Post will once again hold a show in Jane Boxall’s 7 to 9 Sundays series. This week’s show, with the usual cover of $3.50, will feature CU-songstress-in-the-vein-of-Sheryl-Crow G. Lee, along with rock band Telfaire and a mystery guest! Look to the Post again on Wednesday, as the Zoo Improv Comedy Troupe returns for a 7 p.m. show.
Another round of congratulations are due to newlyweds Tim and Jackie Fahey, who tied the knot last weekend and are currently enjoying their honeymoon. If you’d like their suggestion on who not to hire as your wedding DJ, stop by the bar at Cowboy Monkey and ask Tim once he’s back.
Mike Ingram hears that WPGU’s new program director loves him. He’s flattered, but he’s taken, so you can stop talking about him so much. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.