Smile Politely

The Overture: September 13-19

The Overture is a rundown of live music and performances happening in and around Champaign-Urbana each week. All of the information is as accurate as we can publish; however, all shows and performances are subject to change at any time. Thank you for understanding.

Did we miss something this week? Have a show coming up you think we should know about? Email us at [email protected] with the details.

MONDAY, September 13th

Improvisers Exchange

Rose Bowl Tavern // free // 5 p.m.

Led by Jason Finkelman, Improvisers Exchange is an initiative to bring together U of I students and community members to practice improvised music. This performance features Tatsuya Nakatani, a percussionist known for his bowed gong orchestras. Check out Smile Politely’s interview with Finkelman to learn more about Improvisers Exchange. 

TUESDAY, September 14th

Jose Agusti with Tuna Salad

Rose Bowl Tavern // free // 5 p.m.

Jose Agusti, Charlie Weeks, and Randy Cordle perform at the Rose Bowl

Kavi Naidu 

Rose Bowl Tavern // free // 7:30 p.m.

Saxophonist Kavi Naidu will be performing original compositions, deep jazz cuts, and other classics alongside Chip Stevens on piano, Emma Taylor on bass, and Frank Kurtz on drums. 

WEDNESDAY, September 15th

Bones Jugs

Rose Bowl Tavern // free // 5 p.m.

If you have never heard Bones Jugs before, this a great opportunity! Everything from banjos, guitar, and kazoos, to jugs, foot percussion, and other instruments, you’re always in for fun with Bones Jugs. 


Clark Bar // free // 6:30 p.m.

Acoustic alternative/indie duo Mid-October plays Clark Bar, performing mostly originals, as well as some covers, you can expect some heartfelt vocals and lyrics.

THURSDAY, September 16th

Poster for Captain Ambivilent's show at Sipyard. He has an accordion around his neck, with a logo reading his name, and an inflatable dinosaur behind him.

Image from Sipyard’s Facebook event page.

Captian Ambivalent

Sipyard // free // 7 p.m.

A “satirical songwriting superhero” (say that three times fast), Captain Ambivilent brings his comedic music to Sipyard. Come nerd out and enjoy what is sure to be a incredibly fun night. 

TMB and Doro

Clark Bar // free // 6:30 p.m.

Hang out on the patio at Clark Bar and listen as these four talents combine their skills to create a wonderful night of music. 

FRIDAY, September 17th

The Punch Brothers stand in front of a photography studio backdrop, holding their instruments.

Image from Punch Brothers’ Facebook page.

Editor’s Pick: Ellnora Guitar Festival (Day 1)

Krannert Center // prices vary // 5 p.m. 

The first day of Ellnora is packed, with performances from Celisse, Joe Rauen, AJ Ghent, Punch Brothers, Big Daddy Pride, and Ben Harper. I am most exctied for Punch Brothers, but the whole day is going to be amazing, quite frankly.

Jeff Helgesen Quintet

Rose Bowl Tavern // donations encouraged // 5 p.m.

Local trumpet guru Jeff Helgesen performs at the Rose Bowl with his stellar quintet, bringing you hard bop of the 1960s. 

Big Daddy Pride and the East Side Five, The Dirty Feathers, Devin Frank

Rose Bowl Tavern // donations encouraged // 7:30 p.m.

As part of Ellnora Guitar Festival’s commitment to local musicians, the festival hits Rose Bowl for a special performance. Big Daddy Pride and the East Side Five have just released their new album Snake Jazz and this is the official release party. Supported by The Dirty Feathers and Devin Frank, this is a great night of some fun local music. 

Brian Stark and the Blues Funk All-Stars

NOLA’s Rock Bar // donations encouraged // 5 p.m.

Part of Jazz Happy Hour at NOLA’s, the Blue Funk All-Stars perform, led by Brian Stark. Come enjoy food and drinks, and some sweet jazz!

The Blues Deacons

Huber’s // free // 6 p.m.

The blues outfit from Gibson City are hitting the Clark Bar. Playing originals as well as blues classics, come by and “let the blues ease on into your soul.”

SATURDAY, September 18th

Ellnora Guitar Festival (Day 2)

Krannert Center // prices vary // 9 a.m. 

Starting nice and early on Saturday, day 2 of Ellnora features Tony Khalife Wellness Gathering, Katie Pruitt, Adam Del Monte with Sonia Olla and Ismael Fernández, Raul Midón, Isaiah Sharkey, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, and Cedric Burnside. Another kick-butt day!

Knockout! with The Data Waves, Sunday Cruise, Curb Service, Sarif

Canopy Club // $8 adv, $10 door // 8 p.m.

Jazz and funk band The Data Waves headlines this stellar night of music. For only $8, you are more than getting your money’s worth.


Rose Bowl Tavern // free // 1 p.m.

2 fiddles, 1 guitar, one great afternoon of music. Meadowhawk is Claire Johnson, Amanda Ramey, and Matt Turino, playing traditional and original songs. 

Mhondoro Rhythm Success

Rose Bowl Tavern // free // 10:30 p.m.

Bringing pop music from Zimbabwe. The members of the band are either from Zimbabwe, or have studied music there or lived there. Sure to get you dancing!

Caleb Cook Band

NOLA’s Rock Bar // free // 7 p.m.

Country musician Caleb Cook brings his band to NOLA’s for a kick-butt night of country. Come get some food and drink specials and hang out!

DJ Belly

NOLA’s Rock Bar // free // 10 p.m.

Looking for some late night Saturday fun? DJ Belly has you covered, spinning beats at NOLA’s through the evening, so come out and bring your best dance moves — it’s going to be a party. 

Black and white portrait of Dan Hubbard next to his guitar case as he looks into the distance. He is sitting in a prairie.

Image from Dan Hubbard’s Facebook page.

Dan Hubbard

Pour Bros Taproom // free // 8 p.m.

On the patio at Pour Bros, americana singer-songwriter Dan Hubbard performs his originals with his powerful and resonating voice. 

SUNDAY, September 19th

Big Bluestem

Rose Bowl Tavern // free // 1 p.m.

Bluegrass, country, cajun, fiddle, folk-rock, what can’t Big Bluestem do? Seriously, these talented musicians will keep you entertained. 

Kayla Brown

Rose Bowl Tavern // free // 4 p.m.

Come hang out and hear the musical stylings of Kayla Brown (of We The Animals). Brown’s captivating voice and writing is sure to stun. 

Last Minute

Rose Bowl Tavern // free // 7 p.m.

Last Minute brings rock and pop with some blues mixed in. You’ll be dancing and singing along into the evening!

Top image from Punch Brothers’ Facebook page.

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