Smile Politely

The Overture: June 1–7

With school, work, family, and shopping for wedding presents, who has the time to find out about the best shows happening in Champaign-Urbana? No need to fear, because the editors at Smile Politely have taken care of it. Here are the must-see shows of the week:

When: Tuesday, June 2

What: Ave Marling, John Hoeffleur, Zachary Bell Grant, and Megan Johns

Where: The Iron Post, 7 p.m., $4

The Litterbox Collective and Smile Politely have teamed up to bring you Nashville, Tennessee’s Ave Marling and three excellent local acts.

Ave Marling are a duo comprised of Lizzie Conner and Alexandra Deane, with effortless harmonizing and accompaniment ranging from guitar and accordion, to banjo and fiddle, to a capella.

You know John Hoeffleur from The Beauty Shop, Zachary Bell Grant is coming into his own as a solo acoustic performer, and Megan Johns is well-known in the local anti-folk scene.

When: Thursday, June 4

What: Tyson and The Friction, Blake Miller, Liesel Booth, Jonathon Childers

Where: The Canopy Void Room, 9:00 p.m., $7

Remember six years ago? American Minor, The Blackouts née The Living Blue, Absinthe Blind, Red Hot Valentines? We do too, but they are truly just memories: none of them are still performing. Offshoots aplenty though, with Headlights taking over for Absinthe Blind, Steve Ucherek’s Village stepping in for The Living Blue, and Tyson and The Friction coming out from the ashes of RHV. It’s the project of Tyson Markley, who moved to good ol’ C-U last year while his significant other finishes up grad school. His band, The Friction, is just one other dude, and a lot of machines, but this is spazz rock at it’s finest. Recalling the best of Dan Deacon and Captured! By Robots, this is one band that stands out from the sea of endless indie rock bands you can find most any night in C-U. Blake Miller, Liesel Booth, and Jonathon Childers all open, delivering laid-back acoustic tunes that will juxtapose nicely against Tyson’s spastic freakout.

When: Saturday, June 6

What: Eric Wilson and the Empty Hearts, Vandaveer, Hathaways, and Casados

Where: Cowboy Monkey, 9:30 p.m., $5

Two things about Cowboy Monkey in the summer: douchebags abound, and as such, they keep cover cheap to make sure that any drunken fool without many inhibitions will just hand over a fiver in order to keep the party started. The other thing, is that, Ward Gollings keeps the talent real, and this show is no exception. Eric Wilson and Empty Hearts have been stopping over for a few years now, and their tunes are sweet like the Summer. And you know that when Hathaways are on the bill, the show is going to be decent. Kate, and her brother James, recently returned from a three month retreat to Peru, where they played many shows and honed in on a sound that can only be described as “ancient.” And we mean that in the best way possible: timeless, classic, ancient.

When: Saturday, June 6

What: Paul Thorn

Where: The Highdive, 7:30 p.m., $18 in advance

The Whip concert series is back for another go-round in 2009, and Tupelo, Mississippi’s Paul Thorn certainly is an appropriate person to get things rolling in earnest with his easy-going country blues.

Thorn, who was an accomplished boxer before his musical career, is probably best known for the novelty song, “It’s a Great Day to Whoop Somebody’s Ass.” I couldn’t find a non-Bob & Tom version of the video to stream, but here goes nothing, anyway:


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