WPGU / Buzz Local Music Awards


“There’s something in a shipwreck that’s very reminiscent of the fact that there was life there, and there were things going on, and then it’s a very still presence. All the physical things are left behind, and there’s a mood in and of itself, without any people there.” So says John Owen, singer and guitarist of local rock band Shipwreck. Drawing on musical influences as diverse as 1960s and 1970s soul and funk, and bands like Radiohead, Spoon and Neutral Milk Hotel, the band pays attention to timbre and tone quality, using finger-plucking guitar lines, unusual song structures and atmospheric instrumental sections. With band members hailing from central Illinois (except their bassist, who was born in Russia and later moved to Springfield), the Champaign-based quartet has one full-length album under its belt (2005’s Origin, nominated under the Best Album category for the Local Music Awards) and they plan to record extensively in the next year, with the ambitious goal of releasing four EPs in the next sixteen months.

EITHER/OR with John Owen:

Urbana or Champaign? I like ’em both. If it’s going to be an either/or, I’ll go with Champaign.

Big Lebowski or Royal Tenenbaums? I personally thought they’re both decent movies, but the other guys in my band worship The Big Lebowski.

Beatles or The Stones? Another dividing point in the band. I’m a

Stones man, myself.

What song do you refuse to cover? There are all kinds of songs I refuse to cover. I don’t like doing any song that’s really current. I don’t see the point of covering a song you can hear on the radio. It seems like you’re riding someone else’s coattails. And I wouldn’t cover Green Day. I absolutely detest that band.

Shipwreck is playing at the Canopy Club’s Monday night Practice Space for this month (April 10, 17, and 24). The shows are free.

– Susan Schomburg


The local music community buzzed with excitement in February as the song “Everybody Needs a Fence to Lean On” by Champaign-Urbana’s own Headlights was featured on ABC’s hit show “Grey’s Anatomy.” The band was excited about the inclusion and the local response. “We got pretty lucky, actually,” said Erin Fein, vocals/keyboards. The trio, including Tristan Wraight (vocals/guitars/bass) and Brett Sanderson (drums) are currently on a 70-show national tour until the end of May. For the tour, they added a traveling bassist, Nick Sandburn. “We’re really excited about it,” Fein said of the tour. “Hopefully we’ll make it back alive.” The Enemies EP was released on Polyvinyl in November 2005, and a full-length album is set for release in August.

EITHER/OR with Erin Fein (doing her best to speak for the band):

Urbana or Champaign? I was born in Urbana … Can I say both? I like both.

Big Lebowski or Royal Tenenbaums? The Big Lebowski.

The Beatles or the Stones? The Beatles, for sure.

What song will you never cover? We’ve thought about doing covers, but we’ve never played one as Headlights. We’re talking about covering a Breeders song.

What dead celebrity would you face in a boxing match? … John Candy.

Is that inappropriate?

– Leah D. Nelson


The sound of Lorenzo Goetz is the explosion that came from the collision of white boy hip-hop, unbelievably funked-out beats, constant head nodding and what must have been happy pills. Singer, guitarist and songwriter Larry Gates lays down the groundwork for the band’s sound: “Funky and sexy and fun – those are the rules.” Gates says he had no way of expressing himself musically until he got to college.

“I met some cats who played guitar and they invited me to hang out, and they would build a fire and drink beer and play the acoustic guitar until the wee hours of the morning.” Influenced by everyone from John Lennon to Beck to Mos Def to Michael Penn (Sean Penn’s brother), the band sticks to catchy tunes and tight rhymes.

All the current players, Jesse Greenlee on drums, Eric Fisher on bass, Josh Miethe on guitar, and Gates, arrived in Champaign about six years ago.

EITHER/OR with Larry Gates:

Urbana or Champaign? Champaign.

Big Lebowski or Royal Tenenbaums? Equally great, but I gotta go with Lebowski. It’s just better dialogue.

Beatles or The Stones? Beatles.

What dead celebrity would you like to face in a boxing match? Liberace. I think I can take him.

Which Greek god would you be and why? Dionysus. Wasn’t Dionysus in charge of wine?

Lorenzo Goetz breaks it down hard at the Highdive, Thursday April 6 and at the Illini Union Courtyard, Saturday April 8.

– Tatyana Safronova


If their sound was a food, it would come together like a musical pizza – it has rock dough, country cheese, folk tomato sauce and a tiny sprinkling of indie pepperoni. Formed in the late ’90s, The Tractor Kings, whose name was thought up during a game of Tetris, is fronted by Jacob Fleischli on guitars, vocals and harmonica/organ. The rest of the band is rounded out by Johnny Chemical on electric guitar, Aaron “Jibbski” McAllister on bass and backup vocals, and Josh Lucas on drums, not to be confused with the identically named, easy-on-the-eyes actor from American Psycho and lame romantic comedy Sweet Home Alabama. Although they prefer to be thought of as four individual musicians, the group definitely has a collaborative “man-crush” on Bob Dylan, citing him as the person they’d most like to open for, in addition to being their largest musical influence.


Urbana or Champaign? Champaign.

Big Lebowski or Royal Tenenbaums? Back to the Future

Beatles or The Stones? Bob Dylan.

Power Rangers or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? What does that have to do with the price of onions?

What’s your favorite venue to play? Cowboy Monkey, because it’s one of the better sounding rooms in CU.

Catch Tractor Kings with The Living Blue at Canopy Club on April 21.

– Carlye Wisel


Hailing from good old rural Illinois, The Living Blue has been together for the past eight years, although previously they were known as the Blackouts. Labeling their music as “rock and fuckin’ roll,” The Living Blue references The Seeds, Human League, Television, the Yardbirds and Echo and the Bunnymen as their primary influences. The band has released three albums since 2002 – Everyday is a Sunday Evening (2002), Living in Blue (2004) and Fire, Blood, Water (2005). The Living Blue is Steven Ucherek (vocals and guitar), Joe Prokop (guitar), Mark Schroder (drums) and Andrew Davidson (bass).

EITHER/OR with Stephen Ucherek:

Urbana or Champaign? Champaign, although Joe would say Urbana … they’re pretty

comparable really.

Big Lebowski or Royal Tenenbaums? Tough one … I’d have to go with Lebowski.

Beatles or The Stones? The Stones.

What do you do to relax? Smoke grass, play guitar, make love, have a drink, read a book … all of these activities usually intermingle with each other at various times.

Most memorable concert: The Gris Gris at SXSW last year. I saw them at the Club Deville. It was invigorating and primal … we danced and howled at the moon!

Catch Living Blue at the Canopy Club April 21st in Urbana with Dark Country and the Tractor Kings.

– Anna Statham

Leave a Reply