The Taste of Chain Restaurants of CU Returns!

Watery Domestic, the band fronted by married couple Seth and Rachel Hubbard, has a new, self-titled EP available at live shows and through the band’s MySpace page ( The band has gained quite a bit of popularity in the last year, being chosen to play the Great Cover Up (and covering local band Headlights), along with playing several great shows. They’ll anchor tonight’s show at the Canopy Club, 708 S. Goodwin, playing with Coco Coca, The International Theatre of War, Imaginary Numbers, Adam K, and Bloomington band Ohtis. The show starts at 8 p.m. and is only $5, which math wizards everywhere will tell you is less than one dollar per band. I checked – they’re right.

Also in Urbana, the Iron Post, 120 S. Race St., will run with a 9:30 p.m. start time for an Ear Doctor show. No word on the cover, but it won’t be too much, and it will be worth it to catch a very good experimental jazz outfit.

Across the stripe, Cowboy Monkey, 6 E. Taylor St., will hold a funkier affair with Chicago Afrobeat Project (picking up new fans with every show) and local band Mhondoro (specializing in the music of Zimbabwe) at 9 p.m. with music going all night – $6 gets you in.

Aroma CafÇ’s weekly music series, 118 N. Neil St., will continue on tonight as well with sets from Megan Johns and David Newbould. 8 p.m., no charge.

CU native son Cameron McGill will make another welcome stop in Champaign on Friday – this time playing with his full band (Cameron McGill & What Army) and the string quartet the Quartet Offensive. This should make for a very interesting set from the songwriter who is sitting on two new records. Expect to hear several new songs along with some older material. Openers include local band Darling Disarm, fronted by Kayla Brown (and feature the amazing lead guitar chops of this writer); Chicago-based w.w.lowman; and Columbia, Mo. band Caulfield and the Magic. Show time is 9:30 p.m. with a $7 cover charge.

Elsewhere on Friday, you’ve got a free show from John McMahon at the Embassy Tavern in Urbana, 114 S. Race St. (7 p.m.), and Corn Desert Ramblers at the Iron Post for $5 (9:30 p.m.), or you can join angry teenagers from around the state at the Canopy Club for the shit-fest that is Senses Fail with From Autumn To Ashes and Inept.

Speaking of shit-fests, this weekend brings us another Taste of Champaign-Urbana. Let us all stagger through the heat to see which chain restaurants have paid a ridiculous amount to serve up bad food to a crowd of people who have apparently never seen a Domino’s. Don’t get me wrong – I love the idea of the Taste – it’s just the execution that has been increasingly horrendous in the last few years. It’s great that they showcase a good amount of local music in various tents, giving many acts some deserved exposure, but that doesn’t excuse what has happened to the food selection. Apparently, the price and the hassle involved in having a tent has just become too much for most local eateries, which seems to be against the whole point. Last year, the number of chain places outnumbered the actual local shops. Luckily, there are still a few bright spots that keep hanging in there – as of last year, Curtis Orchard still had a huge space where you could load up on apple donuts; One World Pizza showed that specialty pizza doesn’t stop at BBQ chicken; and Dippin’ Dots, the “Ice Cream of the Future”, is still available in the here and now. Drop by West Side Park, 400 W. University Ave., this weekend and see for yourself if the people in charge actually got their shit together this year. While you’re there, you can catch many local bands live like elsinore (Saturday, 3 p.m.) and Dennis Stroughmatt (Saturday, 4:30 p.m.) for free.

Following their Taste of CU performance, elsinore will move over to the Cowboy Monkey for a show with openers Death Ships and Chicago-based band The Johns. Start time is 10 p.m. with a $5 cover.

Mhondoro makes another appearance this week with a 6 p.m. performance at the Iron Post on Saturday. They will be followed by a late show with Big Grove Zydeco.

Saturday’s big news is the reunion show for Imaginary Posse at Mike ‘n Molly’s, 105 N. Market St. The show will be in the beer garden, weather permitting, and the Chemicals will open. Go time is 8 p.m.

Champaign-to-Rochester, N.Y. transplant Keith Harden will return to town again this weekend, and as usual he’ll be playing a few shows. Catch him at the Iron Post on Sunday evening (8 p.m.) on the patio.

The Champaign location of Biaggi’s Restaurant, 2235 S. Neil St., has taken the reins from Silvercreek as a fine dining establishment that offers live music in an intimate setting. They’ve begun a biweekly series (on Tuesdays) featuring local musicians playing on the patio. Ryan Groff played the first night to a full space; and this week, Kayla Brown and little old me will be playing from 6-8 p.m. The next time you stop by Biaggi’s, check out their summer schedule to see if there is a performer or two that you’d like to see. The shows are free apart from the whole eating dinner thing.

Tuesday nights bring back Guitar Hero to the giant projector screen at Cowboy Monkey from 5 to 10 p.m. That’s right, you can play Guitar Hero down at the front of the stage in front of an eight-foot screen with the music pumping through the house system. Pretty awesome and free.

Local indie-popsters, Headlights, along with the Beauty Shop and Shipwreck, will lend their sizeable draws to a show for new Nicodemus Agency band Dark Meat (a huge group featuring members of Neutral Milk Hotel and Elf Power) on Wednesday night at Mike ‘n Molly’s. See what all the fuss is about at 8 p.m. in the beer garden.

Next week: Ian Shepherd returns with a new band, and artists come together for a great cause – Invisible Children.

Mike Ingram can be reached at

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