There’s a group in Champaign-Urbana called the Almost “A” Quintet, and I’ve never been able to get a straight answer about what their name means. But since they have backgrounds in jazz, classical and contemporary art music and play folk, gypsy, Latin, tango, klezmer and various other styles, I’m going with “Almost Anything.” The quintet has various gigs coming up, and they’ll play for us live on the Friday edition of “Live and Local.”
Live and Local
MU is a Zen concept, a legendary lost continent—and a theatrical creation inspired by both, for dancers and musicians. With striking costumes and music from an array of Western and traditional Japanese instruments, the show comes to Urbana on Friday, and we’ll meet its creators on the Thursday edition of “Live and Local.” I’ll also talk with Stephen Alltop, the new conductor of the Champaign-Urbana Symphony, ahead of his inaugural concert.
Bones, Jugs and Harmony is the name of an Urbana-Champaign band who say they started with the idea of throwing a high-energy party with acoustic instruments. And those instruments can include xylophone, jugs, kazoos, banjo, bass, something called an udderbot—and, of course, bones. They’re playing in Pekin and Urbana this weekend, and they’ll play for us live on the Wednesday edition of “Live and Local.”
The voice of guitarist, singer and songwriter Sarah McQuaid has been likened to malt whisky, melted chocolate and “honey poured into wine.” Born in Madrid, raised in Chicago, living in England and holding dual Irish and American citizenship, she spends half the year on tour and has released three acclaimed solo CDs. She’s coming to Urbana Tuesday night, and she’ll play for us live on the Tuesday edition of “Live and Local.”
Cellist, singer and composer Helen Gillet (zhi-lay, in the French way) has forged a path for the cello in improvised music in New Orleans since her arrival there in 2002. She has played with a wealth of marvelous musicians, among them the New Orleans jazz bassist James Singleton, of the long-lived band Astral Project. Together they'll play a show in Urbana Monday night, and I'll visit with Helen Gillet on the Monday edition of “Live and Local.”
The Peoria Symphony Orchestra will launch its new season on Saturday with a concert that features Russian pianist Olga Kern, winner of the 2001 Van Cliburn Competition. She’ll play Rachmaninov on the concert, and she’ll talk with me on the Friday edition of “Live and Local.” Also, live in our studio, we’ll hear a couple of local practitioners of the Native American flute and hear recordings of music for that instrument.
The New Lost City Ramblers participated in the old-time music revival back in the 60s and influenced countless artists after them over a 40-plus-year career. The Brooklyn-based Down Hill Strugglers is one such collection of artists. Presenting “the authentic sound of old-time music to a new generation,” The Down Hill Strugglers will come to Champaign for a concert Friday night, and I’ll talk with one of their members on the Thursday edition of “Live and Local.”
I think it’s fair to say that concert bands feel a greater freedom to program newer and more adventurous music than most orchestras do. We’ll explore some of that notion on the Wednesday edition of “Live and Local.” I’ll welcome the conductor, two composers and the soloist for Thursday’s concert by the University of Illinois Wind Symphony. And I’ll talk with the director of bands at Eastern Illinois University about Friday’s jazz-inspired collaborative concert.
Vincent Trauth fills in for Kevin Kelly and speaks with the Traditional Irish trio Open The Door For Three, who will perform tonight at the Independent Media Center in Urbana as part of the Piper's Hut concert series.