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Smile Politely seeking Music writers

We're always seeking new writers at Smile Politely, and the Music section is no exception.

Do you love reading about music on Smile Politely and want to be a part of it? Do you hate reading about music on Smile Politely and think you can make our section better? Either way, we could use your help. Whether you're interested in talking about a touring band coming through, review a local album or show, talk to local bands, and things of the like, let us know.

Not a writer, per se? Well, neither are we for the most part. We're just engaged community members populating a magazine the best way we know how to.

Shoot us an email at and we can discuss.


Illini basketball preview: Penn State

Illinois vs. Penn State
1 pm
Big Ten Network

Penn State held off a second-half rally by the Illini to beat them two weeks ago in State College, 71-67. Since then Illinois has looked awful, just regular bad, and then actually good like a cohesive basketball team. So, previewing this game against Penn State is like "second verse, I have no idea how it relates to the first."

The Nittany Lions are improved from past iterations, but still not far removed from their past. The only reason they're not the perpetual punching bag of the Big Ten is because Rutgers took the throne as king of turd mountain (and Illinois is taking some heat off them this year, too). Some of the PSU guys can really play, like Tony Carr and his 12.3 points and 2.5 assists per game, for instance, but they've got no top tier talent and very little depth.

As we've seen, though, the Nittany Lions have what it takes to beat Illinois this year -- or at least enough to beat the Illini on a bad night. Predicting good nights and bad nights for Illinois is a fool's errand, however. I certainly did not expect half the effort from Illinois as they put forth in Tuesday's 68-61 win over Northwestern. Which echoes what everyone's been saying about the Illini all year: The talent is there, but the execution is questionable.

My prediction: New volleyball coach Chris Tamas will be at the game and basketball of some sort or another will be played


Urbana Mayoral Election Debate taking place February 15th at Riggs Beer Co.

Get to know your democratic choices for Mayor of Urbana at the Urbana Mayoral Debate this coming Wednesday, February 15th at Riggs Beer Company at 1901 High Cross Road in Urbana.



Doors open at 5 p.m., with the debate starting at 6 p.m. Seating will be very limited, so arrive early if you're looking to grab a seat.


Habitat for Humanity hosting silent auction and dinner tomorrow night

Champaign-Urbana's faction of Habitat for Humanity will be hosting a silent auction, dinner and social hour tomorrow as part of their annual Dare to Dream, Dream to Build event.

The night kicks off at 6 p.m. with a social hour and a silent auction. Dinner is served at 7 p.m., with a program to follow. The event will take place at The Refinery (2302 W. John, Champaign).

For more info, including how to register, see below:

We appreciate your support and look forward to seeing you tomorrow night for an evening of fun, great food, mobile bidding, and much more!

Here’s a few reminders about the evening ahead:

Dare to Dream, Dream to Build 2017  Sponsored by Habitat for Humanity of Champaign County & Home Builder’s Association of East Central Illinois

Friday, February 10th 6-9pm
6PM Social Hour & Silent Auction | 7PM Dinner & Program
The Refinery
2302 W John | Champaign

Business casual attire

Ample free parking is available on the side of the building and north of the Refinery complex.

We will be using BidPal mobile bidding this year, so be sure to bring your mobile phones charged & ready for bidding!

If you haven’t done so already, we encourage you to visit our event website to register your credit card, preview auction items, and learn more about BidPal!

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Kelly Hill

Please purchase additional tickets at
or call 217-819-5115


Come learn how to divest from banks supporting the Dakota Access Pipeline

C-U activists braved snowy conditions in Downtown Champaign yesterday to speak out against the recent decision by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to grant the easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline, allowing it to proceed construction with no environmental review. Protesters chanted and marched in front of Chase and PNC bank branches, making calls to support the Standing Rock Sioux and calling on banks and individuals to divest from the

An informational meeting on how you can divest from banks that support the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines is being held this Friday, February 10th, 3-4 p.m. at the University YMCA (1001 South Wright Street) in the board room.


ELLNORA: The Guitar Festival 2017 dates announced

ELLNORA is Krannert Center's incredible festival that takes place every other year — and they've announced the dates for this year's festivities: September 14-16. Check out the information from the press release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, February 9, 2017


Urbana, IL—ELLNORA | The Guitar Festival at Krannert Center is an internationally recognized, three-day event, deemed “one of the world’s most forward-thinking guitar festivals” by Fretboard Journal, that has emerged as a favorite destination for musicians and fans from around the world. Past ELLNORA festivals have featured artists such as Buddy Guy, Ani DiFranco, John Scofield, Jerry Douglas, Pepe Romero, John McLaughlin, Bill Frisell, Vernon Reid, Derek Trucks, Richard Thompson, Kaki King, Andy Summers, The National, Mark Stewart, Valerie June, Los Lobos, and the North Mississippi Allstars, among many others.

ELLNORA 2017 is the seventh incarnation of the biennial festival, which began life as the Wall to Wall Guitar Festival in 2005 on the campus of the University of Illinois in the micro-urban community of Champaign-Urbana. Krannert Center for the Performing Arts is North America’s premier university-based performing arts complex, presenting over 300 performances and events each year, specializing in diverse global artistry, classical music traditions, the incubation of new work, and performances by University of Illinois faculty and students. The nearly round-the-clock festival provides an unparalleled multi-genre experience being emulated by other festivals and features performances from a diverse lineup of distinguished music makers.

ELLNORA | The Guitar Festival 2017 will take place ThursdayFriday, and Saturday, September 14, 15, and 16 in 2017. The festival schedule will be announced in late April at with tickets on sale Saturday, July 15 at 10am at


Pre-order Earth Witch’s debut LP tomorrow

Champaign’s own sludge metal “Doom Blues” band Earth Witch are getting ready to release their first full-length album, which is available for pre-order February 10th. Out of the Shallow officially drops March 10th and will be available digitally and on CD and tape. If you’d like to get your hands on a physical copy, pre-order the album on their bandcamp tomorrow, as pressings will be limited.

The long-awaited album is the band’s first release since their debut, the five-track Earth Witch EP, put out in 2013. To celebrate the drop of Out of the Shallow, Earth Witch will play a local album release show the day after the drop. The March 11th show at Blips and Chitz will feature three other bands similar in genre to the thrash-y stoner rock that Earth Witch is merciless in dealing out.

Stream “Green Torch” from the upcoming album below and keep an eye on their bandcamp page to catch the pre-order tomorrow.



Can You Figure Out Who Did It? Kazam! at Parkland College

Kazam! Intrepid Inspector Ingrid of Interpol and the Crimson-Caped Killer Caper opens today at 7:30 p.m. at Parkland College’s Second Stage Theatre. The play is riddled with puns, implied mature content, and an overabundance of alliteration. Essentially, if you ever wanted Clue (1985), Batman (1966-68), comic books, slapstick, and mystery, then you owe it to yourself to see Kazam!

At Spring Falls Community Library, the rare edition of Uranium Man #1 is set to be unveiled at midnight at the library’s New Year’s Eve party. The guests, dressed as their favorite super-heroes, have gathered to celebrate and admire this priceless comic book. Little do they know that it also holds a dangerous secret. One by one, we meet the guests: the lecherous Professor Roman Numeral (David Heckman), the spunky librarian Paige Turner (Aubrey Brown), the English graduate student Philomena Folio (Erin Kaufman), the comic’s creator Louise LaPenne (Stacy Walker), the happy hippie Sunshine (Hannah Longest), the library’s gardener/security guard Ivan Hoe (Jacob Smith), and the television star Rex Flexall (Robert Hartmann). As the clock strikes midnight, however, the comic is stolen, a person lies dead, and all of the guests are suspects.

With 1966 coming to a close and 1967 starting with a bang, the intrepid Inspector Ingrid of Interpol (Diane Pritchard) and her trusty companion Dr. Bob (Curt Deedrich) rush to find out who or whom is the murderer, the thief, or both. Helping audiences to keep track of the clues are the Narrator (HeatherAnn Layman) and the Chorus Borus quartet (Gennie Applebee, Courtney Bruner, Tafadzwa Diener, and Samantha Odendaal). They, along with the rest of the cast and crew, keep Kazam! rolling like a river to its dramatic conclusion.

The play was fun. It's filled with bad puns, self-referential Parkland humor, and '60s pop-culture references. I wanted more plot in the second act and fewer non-whodunit scenes. There are a bunch of music cues, so the students involved do a great job of hitting them flawlessly.

Written by local Parkland College Professor Kerry Bean and directed by Parkland theatre major Tyler Cook, Kazam! is sold out this weekend. Performances of Kazam! are Thurs. Feb. 9th to Sat. Feb. 11th at 7:30 p.m. along with matinees on Sat. Feb. 11th and Sun. Feb. 12th at 3:00 p.m. You can get your name on the waitlist. For more information about Parkland Theatre’s box office, visit their website.


Image from Parkland Theatre’s website.


Illini basketball preview: Northwestern

Illinois at Northwestern
7 pm
Big Ten Network

The Illini basketball team's Twitter account took to bragging today about the team's lead in the all time series against Northwestern, 132-40, as well as at Welsh-Ryan, 61-26. What went unmentioned was the fact Illinois has won just 5 of 11 against the Wildcats since 2010 (2-2 at home, 3-4 in Evanston). This went unmentioned because you need some good spin when your recent record against a team that has never made the NCAA Tourney is below .500.

Improving upon that record will be a tall task, as Northwestern (18-5, 7-3) is a very good team this year. The Wildcats may have dropped out of the top 25 after making their first ever appearance, but they have shown they belong among the nation's best. The reason they belong is their defense. Opponents are scoring just 64 points against Northwestern (34th best nationally), making just 38.7% of all field goals (11th best nationally), and the Wildcats are maintaining a 1.57 assist-to-turnover ratio (385:245, 5th best nationally). This has made the Wildcats much better than just the sum of their best players, Scottie Lindsay, Vic Law, and Bryant McIntosh: it's made them a cohesive unit that can guard the ball like crazy.

Last time out, at home (where the Illini are much, much better than on the road), Illinois shot just .381 against a Minnesota team that has allowed Big Ten teams to shoot an average of .425. That should just about do it for what you need to know before the Northwestern game. Unless Illinois finds Michael's Secret Stuff laying around, this could get ugly.

My prediction: Nothing matters. Betsy DeVos is education secretary, so in two years' time all public schools will be bankrupt, including universities.


Boneyard Festival is in pre-season

Although nearly two months away, Boneyard Arts Festival is embracing the spirit of Spring Training by making a series of prepartory announcements. 

The first is the unveiling of the signature image, which will adorn all publicity materials for the 2017 festivals. Judith Adanma Johnson's Berühre mein Herz, or Touch My Heart, is the vibrant and joyful work that we'll be seeing on billboards, posters, handouts and the website. 

With a BFA in two different disciplines, the Mahomet-based artist has shown locally and regionally. About her work, she says: 

"It is the product of self-acceptance, and allowing myself to take joy in the moments I may usually ignore.  2016 was a year of bad news, hard work, illness, and strife.  Taking time to slow down, look around, and listen, has been essential to my happiness and positivity, and I think that's reflected in this piece."

Since the event is taking place April 6th-9th, registration is approaching quickly. The deadline to register is March 13th, and the form is available online. For the $50 fee, artists will have their venues listed in the program guide and detailed descriptions listed on the festival website. The program guide is mailed to every address in the 40N database and will be available freely at venues and kiosks throughout the festival. 

To help artists and venues connect, 40 North has started a Boneyard Festival facebook group, and encourages both artists and venues to post about what they are seeking.