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Tonight on SP Radio: The City Manager Herself

Join us tonight on Smile Politely Radio for a pre-recorded chat with the City Manager of Champaign, Dorothy Ann David. She sets us straight on how the city runs and tells us a bit about the work she performs with elected officials. 

Smile Politely Radio airs each Friday at 5:30 p.m. on WEFT 90.1 FM in Champaign and is available as a podcast the following week. You can find our past episodes here.


First Gig Rock N’ Roll Camp coming to Parkland College

One of the coolest things in the world is getting to play in a band. There's something special about sharing your creativity in unison with others. Learning to play an instrument as a young person is something that I didn't get the chance to do. I wasn't really interested in it, and it's something that I regretted as I got older and went to college and my friends were jamming.

I think part of the reason I didn't get in to playing music at a younger age had to do with the fact that there weren't really any rock n roll camps for me to attend in my area. If there was a week camp that I could have attended in the summer time to learn how to be in a band, I think I may have jumped at the opportunity.

Awesomely, Parkland College is bringing First Gig Rock N’ Roll Camp for Kids to the school July 20-25th for kids and teens.

First Gig is a six day camp that helps kids hone their musical chops and sets them up with a chance to play a live set with their band. You can grab all of the details for how to sign up here.


Free comedy show on June 5th

Taken from a press release:

Looking for some fun on Friday, June 5th? Make the short drive to Rantoul's Willow Pond Golf Club for their first-ever Comedy Extravaganza. The show is hosted by C-U Comedy's Jesse Tuttle and headlined by Chicago's legendary Ricky March.

Other comics include: guest star Estaban Gast, arguably the funniest guy in Champaign; Caryn Ruby, a fast-rising Chicago comic who recently headlined the House of Blues; Tony Carr, the founder of Chicago's Comedy Scene Radio; and producer Joe Larkin, a newcomer to Rantoul who has performed at countless clubs and colleges in the Midwest.

The show starts at 8 p.m. and is free of charge.


Urbanalove announces 2015 Summer Movie Night Series

Urbanalove has announced the Summer Movie Night Series that will take place throughout the summer in Downtown Urbana. The film series will kick off this Friday (at 129 N. Race Street) with a screening of The Bicycle Thief. 

Check out the information below via the Facebook event:

Come out to this year's kickoff of the Urbanalove Summer Movie Night Series!

Join us for a celebration of our community with activities, food, music, and a film.

6:00pm: Community bicycle ride starting at the Campus Bicycle Center (608 E. Pennsylvania Ave in Champaign).
Disclaimer: Wearing a helmet and following traffic safety rules are recommended.

7:00pm: Live music

8:15pm: The event will include a showing of a few short videos followed by the 1949 Italian film The Bicycle Thief to celebrate Bicycle Month. Bring your own blankets and chairs for your convenience!

Visit our website for updates on future events: http://www.urbanalove.org/


Learn to hike with the Outdoor You series at Champaign Surplus

If you look at the byline, you’re well aware that I’m a Chicago suburbanite. I played indoor sports for the most part and the closest that I’ve gotten to being an outdoorsy-type is when I’m on the ninth hole in the middle of July or the handful of times that I went to Bonnaroo.

Outside is great. I love it. But man, I have no idea what I’m doing out there by myself. And I don’t mean boating or hanging out at a beach. I mean hiking or mountain biking or other serious outdoor activities.

It’s not that I don’t want to do those activities, either. I really don’t know what I’m doing. The fear is that I’d end up like that guy in the movie that got stuck in the rock for a few days

Fortunately for me, Champaign Surplus is presenting the Outdoor You series. It’s a speaker series that’s geared towards outdoor recreation and and environmental sustainability and it’s for people like me. It’s not a class, it’s not a straight up lecture about the rules of hiking, it’s an opportunity for those who are experienced with outdoor recreation to share their experiences with those who could use a little more.

The next event is Thursday at 6 p.m., and it features a talk with TauSpotting about hiking for beginners.


OUTSIDE at the Research Park 2015 announced

Big news for music fans!

Per a Krannert Center press release:




June 12: Della Mae

July 17: Kilborn Alley Blues Band

Krannert Center for the Performing Arts once again joins forces with Fox/Atkins Development, LLC and the University of Illinois for a two-show series of summer concerts at the University of Illinois Research Park. Both concerts are free and open to the public. OUTSIDE at the Research Park plays upon a simple concept: great music, fresh food, and a green state of mind in open, relaxed environment. The performance space and seating area are located just south of the Atkins Building at the corner of First Street and St. Mary’s Road in Champaign. The tree-lined, grassy space has hosted thousands of audience members each summer since the inception of OUTSIDE in 2007. The 2015 OUTSIDE series will continue to demonstrate Krannert Center’s commitment to reduce waste, decrease energy consumption, and provide environmentally friendly services to patrons.

The July 17 event will feature a green fair that will invite sustainability-minded local businesses and organizations to take advantage of free exhibit space to share information about their green efforts. Interested parties can contact Lisa Lillig at 217.244.6298 or lillig@illinois.edu for more information.


Friday, June 12, FREE

Tara Terra at 6:30pm

Della Mae at 7:30pm

The night will start right with local artists Tara Terra who will usher in OUTSIDE with an upbeat and smooth pop-rock vibe, sprinkled with a bit of folk and jazz. As sunset approaches, Della Mae will take the stage. This dynamic, multi-faceted all-female force garnered a 2013 Grammy nod for the breakthrough album This World Oft Can Be. With an approach to traditional bluegrass that’s at once sensitive and assertive, firmly steeped in the past yet vibrantly original, Della Mae and their expansive musical vision have gained a place alongside such roots-conscious young acts as the Avett Brothers, Punch Brothers, the Lumineers, and Hurray for the Riff Raff.


Friday, July 17, FREE

Green Fair starts at 6pm

James Jones Trio at 6:30pm

Kilborn Alley Blues Band with special guests Corey Dennison and Gerry Hundt at 7:30pm

The second installment of the OUTSIDE series is a great precursor to ELLNORA | The Guitar Festival (coming September 10-12, 2015) and starts with the James Jones Trio, who will kick off the night with their refreshing take on traditional blues. Then, Kilborn Alley Blues Band tears into the stage with a mixture of gritty Chicago blues and southern-fried soul. The CU-rooted Kilborn Alley Blues Band “is a sophisticated, R&B-soaked throwback to 1950s Chicago. While their music is vintage, their attitude is defiantly current” (Living Blues).



Location, Parking, and Services

These concerts will be held just southwest of Assembly Hall on First Street in the Research Park. Free parking is available in the lot south of the Caterpillar Building at 1901 South First Street.

All performances are free and open to the general public.

Restrooms are available inside the Caterpillar/SAIC Building at 1901 South First Street.


Presented by Krannert Center, Fox/Atkins Development, LLC & the University of Illinois

Corporate Sponsors:


Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon



Champaign Cycle Co.

With thanks to the Illinois Natural History Survey/Prairie Research Institute


Uncork Urbana Wine Festival announces musical entertainment

The Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association and the Urbana Business Association are excited to present the second annual Uncork Urbana Wine Festival, scheduled for June 13th, 2015.

The festival will take place at Main + Race Streets in downtown Urbana, from 1–9 p.m. Attendees will have a chance to sample locally-made wine from up to 15 different vineyards. Food trucks will also be present.

In addition to wine and food, the festival will provide live entertainment throughout the day. Scheduled to perform are Katie Flynn, Kenna Mae, Ryan Groff (of Elsinore), Emily Otnes and The Diva & The Dude.

Admission to the festival is $10, which provides the attendee with a souvenir tasting glass and 5 tasting tickets, good for 5 samples of wine. Additional tasting tickets may be purchased for $1 each. Wine may also be purchased by the glass, bottle and case.


Merry Ann’s Celebrity Server & Chef Fundraiser taking place June 1st

Last year, Merry Ann’s Diner raised over $6,000 for charity during their annual Celebrity Server & Chef Fundraiser. This year, Merry Ann’s is raising their goal to $10k.

From 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. on June 1st at the Downtown location and June 2nd at the Neil Street location, all proceeds will be donated to the Unit 4 Summer Youth Employment Program.

If you’re a local personality or can’t attend but want to donate, you can do so here.