Student Newsroom

Local artists perform at Bach’s Lunch Concerts, hosted by the Champaign Park District


Guitarist John McMahon performed at Bach’s Lunch Concert on Friday, March 1. The Springer Center in downtown Champaign hosts the free, live performances on select Fridays. Elissa Eaton/Illinois Student Newsroom

John McMahon grew up playing the guitar. When he graduated from college, he thought he was done with his musical career. 

“After 10 years of playing, I kind of got an attitude that this is a waste of time, this is getting me nowhere,” McMahon said. 

But almost 50 years later, McMahon still finds himself playing the guitar and singing. 

While attending law school at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, McMahon met a classmate who played the bass guitar. 

“Within a day, we decided, hey, let's start a band. So we ended up starting a band in law school that kind of became the unofficial official party band for law school parties,” McMahon said. “Law school had kind of become the catalyst for playing regularly ever since then, when the idea for going to law school was to forget about music altogether.” 

Along with producing his own music, McMahon plays bass guitar for a blues band called the Painkillers.

Most recently, he played at a Bach’s Lunch Concert, a free live music series hosted by the Champaign Park District. 

Bach’s Lunch Concerts take place at the Springer Cultural Center on select Fridays. McMahon has been featured several times in the series and said he enjoys performing at the venue. 

“The room is beautiful. I mean, the ambiance here is really nice,” he said. “I just love to play someplace where you don't need any amplification at all. Just play the guitar and sing, and you could do that, so it's great.”

The concert series started back up this year, after a hiatus due to COVID-19, said Michelle Olden, cultural arts director of the Champaign Park District. She said she’s happy that the concerts are back on the schedule.

“It really felt like we hadn't, you know, stopped, it was really nice,” Olden said. “It's always relaxing and enjoyable for all of us that work in this building just to hear the music on a Friday.” 

Olden said that she hopes to draw in a variety of people to the concerts. She said many different types and genres of artists perform at the venue including solo musicians and bands.

“It's really for any age group, any person, it's free,” Olden said. “It can be, you know, a family, it can be a business person taking their lunch hour just to get away from the job and enjoy some music on a Friday to start their weekend off right.” 

The next Bach’s Lunch Concert will be on Friday, March 22, featuring Solideo Quartet.