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Japan House is hosting Matsuri Festival on August 28th

Japan House is one of the most unique things about Champaign-Urbana in that it allows us to experience a completely separate culture from our own, all in our own back yard. While this is undoubtedly a product of C-U being a college town, and furthermore a melting pot, it's not something that happens everywhere, especially not in central Illinois.

At the end of the summer, Japan House on the University of Illinois' campus will be hosting Matsuri, a festival filled with music, candy, martial arts, and a ton more. Entry to the event is completely free, as well, leading me to believe that there may not be a better way to spend a Sunday. More info on the event can be found here, via the University.

From the Facebook Event:

Yes, we are doing it AGAIN! Mark your calendars for our second annual Matsuri! Join us on the grounds of Japan House and the University Arboretum for Japanese food and drink, taiko drum performances, the Candy Man (Japanese candy artistry), Tsugaru-shamisen performer Michiyoshi Sato, martial arts demos, fashion shows, Shiatsu massage, tea ceremonies, Ikebana and Bonsai demonstrations and displays and more! Rain or shine. All events are free, tickets for food and drink will be available for purchase. Please join us!

Photo from Japan House


Triptych unveils new beer Because, Chocolate

If you're anything like me, your drink of the day goes on a pretty consistent rotation from coffee to water to (sometimes) beer in the evening. Today, the good folks at Triptych Brewing are making that transition even easier with the release of Because, Chocolate, their new beer which combines Imperial Stout with over two pounds of cocoa nibs per barrel, and is sure to be delicious.

I may just have to run down there before they run out.

For more info, check out the text of Triptych's Facebook post below:

Available now on draft and in cans to go! We used some interesting Vietnamese cocoa nibs from Chocolate Alchemy for this batch. We think this beer pairs well with fireworks. Cheers!


Because is our series of Imperial Stouts and this edition was brewed with a judicious amount of Cocoa Nibs (over two pounds per barrel), rich dark chocolate, dried fruit, and roast combine to make this beer an excellent way to end a night or an intriguing start for the evening to come.


Rapper Frank Leone releases new single

Hip-hop artist and producer Frank Leone, originally from Monticello and now based in Urbana, has just released a new single. The song, entitled "Loser," features creative instrumentation and vocalizing that make the song unfold like a story.

Leone is not a stranger to C-U music, or to Smile Politely. The prolific musician and producer is currently working on several projects, both solo and with other artists. They include a new album, a movie, and other yet-to-be-divulged goodies.

"Loser" is a bittersweet love song, intended as a foil for his next release, which he says will be a "darker project." Let the anticipation build.

Stream his new song here.


Audiofeed Festival announces schedule

Audiofeed has announced the schedule for their three-day festival. Held on the Champaign County Fairgrounds, the fest includes dozens of bands and a wide range of other events, including art workshops, book readings, social discussions, and a whole lot more. Check out the schedule here


Holy shit, George Will leaves GOP

You know the GOP are in some serious doo-doo when a piece of shit like George Will is headed out of the bathroom stall. 

Ok Ok. He isn't a total piece of shit. He's got some decent policy ideas and is actually fair on more than a few important issues. He's smart as hell and is a local fella gone big time. Pulitzer Prize is nothing to poop on. 

But I wanted to use a poop reference because that's reflective of the current standard-bearer of the GOP. Donald Trump is a real fecal freak. Manure spread on pumpernickel poop toast for an afternoon snack.

Happy Saturday. George Will left the GOP, according to Politico this morning. It's a new day. Hopefully he aligns with Gary Johnson next, who is actually filled with a lot of good ideas, except when he's not.

Photo by The Huffington Post


The Upper Bout named the Best Emerging Dealer in the country by NAMM

If you're into music and you're from Champaign-Urbana, you probably already know The Upper Bout, one of Champaign-Urbana's finest guitar boutiques. If not, you should be, because they were just named the Best Emerging (musical instrument) Dealer in the entire country by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM).

The award was handed out this weekend in Nashville, and was just another reminder that Champaign-Urbana can excel on the national stage. Congrats, Upper Bout crew! You earned it.

For more, check out the screengrab from NAMM's website, or the actual webpage here.


Former Illini basketball player Joseph Bertrand arrested in Champaign

More bad news surrounding (former) Illini basketball players, today, as it was just announced by the News-Gazette that Joseph Bertrand, a former University of Illinois student and basketball player, was arrested last night by Champaign police for domestic battery.

With Kendrick Nunn just being dismissed from the team for the same reason, this is something that has become scarily common to accept as an Illini fan of late, whether it be from current or former players. 

Since graduating in 2014, Bertrand has played in pro leagues in Luxembourg, Mexico and Canada, but apparently he still keeps a residence in C-U. He was scheduled to appear in court this morning at 10:30.


Photography project about Urbana couple featured on Upworthy

Local photographer Justine Bursoni has been embarking on a photography project of late, capturing the life of ALS victim and Urbana resident Ray Spooner (and his wife, Rae). Today, an extremely moving story about the couple was featured on, including an article and a ton of Bursoni's photography. 

Ray is truly an inspiration, and this story highlights this extremely emotional diagnosis by showing what a true joy Ray Spooner was, and will continue to be.

To read the full feature, click over to Upworthy, or check out their Facebook post below:


Psychic Twin announces debut, Strange Diary, out September 9th on Polyvinyl

Psychic Twin, Erin Fein's electro pop project (formerly of Headlights, Absinthe Blind), has announced her debut LP out on September 9th on Polvyinyl Records — Strange Diary. Listen to the brand new single "Lose Myself" here. Preorder the album here.

UPDATE 9:43 a.m.: Shortly after I posted this, I realized it was announced/debuted on Stereogum — which you can check out here.

Here's the cover art and track listing:

  1. Heart Divided (2:17)
  2. Strangers (4:50)
  3. Running in the Dark (3:48)
  4. Stop In Time (4:46)
  5. Unlock Yr Heart (3:55)
  6. Hopeless (I won't take part of you) (4:20)
  7. Lose Myself (3:44)
  8. Chase You (5:35)
  9. The Deepest Part (4:23)

Fein has been busy as of late, releasing a collab with Chrome Sparks last month, and announcing the signing to C-U's own Polyvinyl. Not to mention this tour with Ladyhawke. Things are looking good for this C-U native.