Music Notes and Entertainment Briefs, June 23, 2011 Edition

Music Notes and Entertainment Briefs, June 23, 2011 Edition
Venues & Businesses
Hangar 9
Pinch Penny Pub
Plaza Records

Music Notes and Entertainment Briefs, June 23, 2011 Edition
Nightlife staff

Big Shows

Nikko Smith-- a Saint Louis soul and pop singer, American Idol season four finalist, and son of the great Cardinals shortstop Ozzie Smith-- will perform twice in Southern Illinois during the next two weeks. He has shows Saturday, June 25 in the Pinch Penny Pub Beer Garden and Saturday, July 2 at Walker's Bluff.

Smith was eliminated from Idol, but brought back after another contestant left the program and eventually came in ninth place, singing Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On" and Stevie Wonder's "Part Time Lover."

On his own, he's released a full-length album, Revolution, in 2008, and a single, "Speakaz Blow," in 2010.

"I do a little bit of everything," Smith told Nightlife's Jeff Hale last year. "These past couple of years I've been expanding my musical horizons and tastes, and incorporating more and more into the show. We do our own stuff, but we also do Michael Jackson to Carrie Underwood to Journey, and then back to Prince. We've got the rock 'n' roll and the [rhythm and blues]. It's all over the place when we do shows. We like to party, and we have all the up-tempo and old-school funky songs. But I also love to slow it down with stuff like 'Sarah Smile' by Hall and Oates."

Find out more at <>...

Detroit band Gardens will headline a triple bill Friday, June 24 at the Hangar 9. The quartet (Matthew Mueller, Jeffrey Thomas, Julian Spradlin, and Vincent Mazzola) lists an intriguing list of influences, from the Beatles and Syd Barrett to Nirvana and Turkish psychedelic music. Described as gritty, bluesy, yet sugary, Gardens are touring in support of their eponymous debut CD. Find out more at <>.

Also on the bill are Philadelphia psychedelic trio the Eeries. They are supported on the Hangar date by local gothic post-punks the Staring Problem; listen to them on Nightlife's web project at <>...

Adam Dalton and the B-sides, who hail from Nashville, Tennessee by way of Massachusetts, straddle the Mason-Dixon Line, and the nexus where country music and blues intersect. On many songs, the group uses the instrumentation of country music-- pedal steel guitar is prominent-- but Dalton does not sing with a southern accent, generally using a folksy, James Taylor-ish croon. Harder songs, like "Too Late" and the title track to his Self-loathing Blues CD, move the band westward, in the direction of Memphis soul, complete with a bluesy guitar, electric piano, and funky horn section.

Find out more at <>...

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit will play Thursday, September 1 at the Varsity Center for the Arts, not at PK's as reported last week in Nightlife...

Paperback Writer

Springfield, Illinois author Mike Shepherd will come Saturday, June 25 at 2 p.m. to the Book Worm in Carbondale to sign copies of Days of Rage, his fictionalized account of the peace movement at SIU during the Vietnam War.

Days of Rage is the fictional story of Mick Scott who, after returning home from the Vietnam War in 1968, attends SIU on the G.I. bill. While here he meets David Gordon, the director of the Vietnamese Studies Center. Mick discovers the Center's ties to the CIA after David recruits him to infiltrate the local Students for a Democratic Society and its more radical faction, the Weather Underground, as well as the local Black Panther Party.

In real life, the SIU Vietnamese Studies Center was controversial because it was rumored to be a CIA front. Local Vietnam War protests for various reasons turned explosive between 1969 and 1970. The Old Main building burned down in 1969, probably as a result of arson, and maybe with some connection to the antiwar movement. The campus shut down in May 1970 after several days of riots. Readers can find the definitive true account in H.B. Koplowitz's incredible book, Carbondale After Dark.

While decidedly a work of historical fiction, Days of Rage does contain a few parallels with actual history-- at least with the author's life. The book opens with the burning of Old Main, which took place right before Shepherd arrived at SIU. Like his protagonist, Shepherd served in the military as a reporter for Armed Forces Radio. Shepherd, however, developed a slightly more objective view of events than some of his fellow students.

"[T]here were antiwar demonstrations going on at that time," he tells Nightlife. "I was attending SIU on the G.I. bill after serving in Vietnam in the late 1960s. As a result of my disillusionment about the way the war was being handled by the politicians, I became apolitical and didn't participate in any of the demonstrations, pro or con."...

The latest edition of Springhouse, Southern Illinois's excellent regional history and literary journal, contains a great if admittedly apocryphal outlaw story about the comeuppance that the notorious outlaw Mike Fink received at the fists of the Rev. Peter Cartwright. Rick Allen also digs through the historical record to uncover information about local gangster Charlie Birger.

The issue also contains several stories about war and its human tolls by Tom Martin and Brian DeNeal, excellent recipes for local spring produce by Dixie Terry, and musings about coauthoring a book and the recent floods by editor Gary DeNeal. There's also an essay by the Rebel Without Applause, who discusses civilization and its discontents-- and he almost embraces the cost of civility.

Read excerpts at <>, and buy it at local bookstores...

At the beginning of This Is Spinal Tap, faux documentarian Marty DiBergi (played by director Rob Reiner) states that "I wanted to capture the... the sights, the sounds... the smells of a hard-working rock band, on the road."

Nate Hopman's new, self-published chapbook, The World by Van, Volume I (sixteen pages, paperback, $1), manages to achieve DiBergi's goal. Hopman, whose drums graced local bands like Skinny Jim and the Number Nine Blacktops, details a series of roadtrips with one his bands. Many of the stories are funny, some are creepy, and others poignant. But most of them-- especially a story that opens with a description of a straight-edge vegan household's toilet, and another that details how a band on the road must deal with a body's rejection of alcohol consumed in excess-- will evoke strong olfactory responses from readers.

"All the stories are true," Hopman tells Nightlife. "The stories that I included in this first volume all took place about eight years ago, so there were parts that I had to sort of fill in little gaps in memory, but there is almost no embellishment. I wanted to just tell the stories for what they were, and give the reader a little window into a few situations and let the language and the tone of the writing try to get across just how funny or miserable or weird the experiences were when they were happening."

The World by Van, however, is no tour diary, and Hopman says that was intentional. "I didn't want it to be about music at all," he says. "What people who aren't in bands and have never toured probably don't understand is that playing shows is about 0.5 percent of the time spent on tour. The rest is driving, waiting, hanging out, killing time, and being bored. Our sets were about twenty or thirty minutes out of a twenty-four-hour day. I mention the shows only briefly for context and to remind the reader of the premise of the stories."

There's a certain fondness in Hopman's tone for what he encountered on the road, but that's not the same thing as nostalgia. "I'm not sure if I could say that I would do it all over again, because not knowing what's going to happen tomorrow is one of the things that helps you get through it-- if I was on my way to Waco and you told me, 'Hey, some creepy kid is going to make you watch pornos with him,' I would probably not bother going," Hopman says. "But I have a really fun time making myself remember all this stuff and trying to recall every detail. It was a unique time in my life, and I was out on the road with my best friends-- through music I've been to almost every state in the U.S. and to five different countries. I definitely wouldn't give any of it back, but if tried it again I don't think I would make it."

Indeed, Hopman is largely retired from music. He's gone back to school to concentrate on writing and, he says, "maybe one day getting a real job."

And the writing is coming along nicely. "I'm working on Volume II now," Hopman says. "I have no idea when it will be done, but it will hopefully be a slightly more cohesive collection of stories from a summer tour in Europe-- at least that's what I'm thinking right now."

Pick up The World by Van at Bookworm, Plaza Records, and P-mac Music...

Treasures of Little Egypt

The Shawnee Group Sierra Club will hold a Trash Bash cleanup of the Cedar Bluff annex of Ferne Clyffe State Park Saturday, June 25. Those who would like to caravan can rendezvous at noon by the Murdale Shopping Center sign on the west side of Carbondale, or at 12:30 p.m. at the former Walmart parking lot in Marion. Participants should wear sturdy shoes and long pants, and bring gloves, bug spray, a sack lunch, and a water bottle. The Sierra Club will provide cold drinks. For more information, contact Bob Tyson at (618) 684-5643 or Barb McKasson at (618) 529-4824 or <>...

Being for the Benefit of...

A benefit spaghetti dinner will take place Sunday, June 26 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the the Knights of Columbus Hall in Murphysboro for Skye Brantley. The fifteen-year-old Murphysboro High School student was recently diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.

Brantley is undergoing chemotherapy in Saint Louis and will need a bone-marrow transplant. Her family are not good matches for bone-marrow donation, so organizers will set up a bone marrow swabbing table at the benefit. "If you get swabbed, it will not be directly for Skye, but for the donor list," says organizer Dave Preece, who says he's motivated to help out because his daughter Madison is Brantley's best friend. "You would be agreeing to donate to anyone if you are a match. If someone only wants to see if they are a match for Skye, they have to do it with their own doctor."

Admission to the benefit is $8 at the door, and includes spaghetti, salad, green beans, bread, and dessert, in addition to soft drinks. A silent auction and raffle will also take place with items including a handmade knife, handmade jewelry, a restaurant gift-card basket, a handmade doll from We Make Dolls of Murphysboro, and a giant hanging basket from Changing Seasons Landscape Center of Marion...