Smile Politely

Weekender: July 7-9

FRIDAY, July 7th

Jazz Happy Hour, Blackbird, 5 p.m.-7 p.m., free

Blackbird is the brand new bar in downtown Urbana you’ve been hearing about lately. The bar plans on hosting weekly themed performances, Fridays being Jazz Happy Hour. This Friday make your way down to Blackbird because we all know you’ve needed an excuse to go anyway. (RG)



First Fridays Main Street Festival, downtown Urbana (Main/Broadway), 5-10 p.m., varies

This month’s First Fridays features fire and flow performances. Fire and flow Friday. It sounds almost as beautiful as it looks, and since the shows start at 8 p.m., it will be dark enough to look amazing. Since it’s part of First Friday, it will feature local performers and showcase wares from local artists and businesspeople: pipapo, LabEscape, Heiroglyphic Visions, dinner specials downtown, art gallery walks, and music by Alexander Audiophile are just a few of the attractive bits. (RK)

Gaze at the stars, UIAS observatory, 9-11 p.m., free

The first Friday of each month, the Astronomical Society of the University of Illinois host a free open house at the campus observatory. Check out the night sky through their 115 year old, 12″ refracting telescope. They have several smaller ones as well. Depending on the time of year, you could catch a glimpse of The Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, star clusters, nebulae, and double stars. If the weather does not cooperate, they will reschedule for the following Friday. The observatory is located just south of Foellinger Auditorium. (JM)

Aaron Kamm & The One DropsCowboy Monkey, 10 p.m., $7 and 19+

Cowboy Monkey host Aaron Kamm & The One Drops this Friday night for two sets as they stop by on their summer tour. The band plays a wide variety of tunes ranging from reggae to blues. If you’re in downtown Champaign Friday night, feel free to stop by and enjoy one of their sets (RG).

SATURDAY, July 8th

Visit the market, Urbana’s Market at the Square, 7 a.m. to noon, prices vary (bringcash)

If you haven’t already been to the outdoor market yet, this weekend is a good time to visit. We’re well into July now, and produce is becoming abundant. Pick up some peaches for cobbler (don’t forget a pint of Prairie Fruits Farm gelato), and some veggies and meat for the grill. Entertain your kids with Art at the Market, or with the music from local musicians. Photo by Jessica Hammie (JH) 

Art at the Market, Urbana’s Market at the Square, 8 a.m. to noon, FREE

Sure, this got a nod in Jessica’s post, but I want to zoom in for a close-up because this Art at the Market isn’t just for kids. The “craft” this month is being led by C-U’s branch of the Society for Creative Anachronism — the folks who bring you Ren Faires — and they are mostly adults. So go sit down for a minute and make a cool medieval thing while you’re shopping! And the music will be an Appalachian-style local band with the best/worst name ever: The Young and the Fretless. They’re playing from 9:30-11:30 and I feel like that pun merits your attention. (RK)

Fringe Fest, Bentley’s Pub, 1 p.m., $20

On Saturday, Bentley’s in Downtown Champaign is hosting a bunch of bands and DJs for FRINGE FEST. Local music, craft beer + cocktails, and tons more happening — The Dirty Feathers, ZXO, We The Animals, and many many more will perform. Check out the Facebook event linked above for more info. (PS)

Radiohead Day, Exile on Main Street, 2 p.m., free

A bunch of local musicians will be performing their favorites from the almighty Radiohead at Exile this Saturday. Ryan Groff (of Elsinore), Kayla Brown, Isaac Arms, and many more are lined up, plsu you can go pick up your favorite wax by Radiohead — I know you’ve been waiting to pick up A Moon Shaped Pool, or that brand new reissue of OK Computer celebrating 20 years of that masterpiece being in the world. (PS)

Trouble Chasin’ Album Release Party, The Canopy Club, 9 pm, $8, 18+

One of the strongest acts to come out of Champaign-Urbana’s newly-found hip-hop talent pool is Trouble Chasin’, a duo featuring Chase Baby and Truth aka Trouble, two Champaign-based rapsmiths. This Saturday, they release their new album at The Canopy Club, and it promises to be an exciting environment for those curious about dipping into the local rap scene. Now’s the time. (BH)


SUNDAY, July 9th

Eat some Thai food, My Thai (2312 W Springfield Ave, Champaign), 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., about $10 per person 

There’s been a lot of grilling and socializing and barbecuing, and while delicious and fun, it can be exhausting. I like to cleanse my social and taste palates by ordering spicy take-out and eating it on my couch while watching something mindless. It’s pretty great. Photo by Jessica Hammie (JH)


Visit a park, various locations throughout Champaign and Urbana, free

July is National Recreation and Parks Month, after all – what better time to get out and enjoy one of the best things about C-U, our diverse and extensive collection of parks. Bring the dog, bring a football and have yourself a restful summer day. You’ve earned it. (BH)

Monarch Summer, downtown Champaign, 2 p.m.-5 p.m., free

The Champaign Park District and The Virginia Theater are putting on an afternoon of activities dedicated to pollinators. At 2 p.m., you can watch two short documentaries about Monarch butterflies, then from 3-5 p.m. enjoy activities for the whole family at Neil and Park streets including face-painting, crafts, pollinator artwork, plant giveaways, and free milkweed plantings. Enjoy a lovely afternoon in downtown Champaign learning about and celebrating pollinators and their importance in our everyday lives. (JM)


All event information is accurate to the best of our abilities, but sometimes we make mistakes and sometimes event information, times, prices, etc., change after we look them up. Whenever possible, we’ve provided a link to the original event page; you should always double-check the source before you make any firm plans. Thanks for your understanding.

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