For your autumnal arts and entertainment pleasure, here are 10 cool things to anticipate as temperatures start to follow suit:
1. Drive time: Slice the cake, go for the gold, the Spoon River Valley Scenic Drive over Fulton County-way celebrates its 50th odyssey trough Edgar Lee Masters-land this fall (10/7-8 and 14-15). Making its SRVCD debut: St. David, pop. 580-ish, south of Canton.
2. Mix 'n match: Speaking of 50ths, this October may be the closest we'll ever get to reassembling the whole surviving Beach Boys family tree, so go out on a limb and plan accordingly.
Brian Wilson has Al Jardine and ’70s-era BB guitarist Blondie Chaplin on board for the "Pet Sounds" 50th anniversary tour, 10/8, Peoria Civic Center.
Two weeks later, the Beach Boys, per se, arrive at ISU's Braden Auditorium (10/24), in tow with sole founding survivor Mike Love and not-quite-founding member Bruce Johnston, who joined the Wilson dynasty in 1965, replacing the now-late Glen Campbell; the rest (John Cowsill of The Cowsills, Jeffrey Foskett, Brian Eichenburger, Tim Bonhomme, Scott Totten) all came many good vibrations later.
3. Let's get it on: The national tour of "Motown The Musical" makes its long-waited Central Illinois debut this fall, with stops in Peoria (10/17-19, Peoria Civic Center) and Springfield (11/29-30, Sangamon Auditorium).
There's a B-N connection, lest we forget: Roger Campbell, the real-life chief of staff for Motown founder Berry Gordy, is a character written into the show.
Hereabouts, he's better known as the proud son of the former World’s Oldest Concert Promoter, aka Marguerite Campbell, the McLean County Nursing Home resident who staged a community concert on the home lawn every year for a decade until her 2015 passing at 97.
4. Feeling blue: Bluegrass fans have a bittersweet milestone in this fall's edition of the Threshermen's Bluegrass Festival in Pontiac (9/22-23). It's the 25th anniversary edition of the fest, with four bands from Year One returning to celebrate the silver affair.
Sadly, it's also the last festival, with the silver hue taking on add significance per the event's organizers now 25 years older and dealing with assorted age- and health-related issues.
5. Over there: The anniversary vibe continues via this fall's edition of the Evergreen Cemetery Walk in Bloomington (9/30-10/1, 10/7-8). This year's cast of talking dead are tied to the centennial of World War I, each having played a part in the war effort, either on the homefront or the battle field:
Carl and Julia Scott Vrooman, Julia Holder, Edward and Lincoln Bynum, Ethel Hamilton Hanson, Roland Reed and Carolyn Schertz Geneva. (Can you name each returning citizen's role in the war? Go ahead, try. Answers are at column's end.)
7. Fear-less, but ... : It's official, per a spokeswoman for the Illinois Shakespeare Festival ... there will be no fourth edition of the ShakesFear weekend on the Ewing Cultural Center grounds this Halloween weekend. With the recent departure of artistic director Kevin Rich, who founded the event in 2014, the mesh of Will and the weird is being put "on hiatus."
However, ISU's Theatre Department isn't about to let the season go untended. Premiering on the stage of the Center for the Performing Arts 10/27 through Nov. 4 is "She Kills Monsters," Qui Nguyen's spin on fantasy role-playing games populated with "homicidal fairies, nasty ogres and" — scariest of all — "’90s pop culture."
8. The good Shepard: We got a glimpse hereabouts at the mortal side of playwright Sam Shepard per his widely publicized DUI arrest in Normal after a night on the town earlier this decade.
Here's the better side: though it was scheduled long before his July 27 death, ISU's staging of one of his greatest dramas, "A Lie of the Mind" (9/27-10/1, CPA), will now serve as a perfectly timed, suitably eloquent epitaph.
9. The name is the game of the fame: The the new name was handed down back in the spring, but old christening habits die hard ... it's still the U.S. Cellular Coliseum in our all-too-reflexive head. We figure it'll take the first really big show in the venue to imprint the new moniker on our minds in a meaningful and lasting way.
Paging Hank Williams Jr., then, whose 9/28 show is the first major entertainment offering since "the change." We're counting on you, Bocephus, old buddy, old pal.
10. Taking it on the Lam: Inexcusable puns aside, we ARE anxiously awaiting the podium debut of Illinois Symphony Orchestra's freshly minted music director Ken Lam — only the fourth in its history — which occurs on the B-N side of the ISO's dual-city equation at 7:30 p.m. 10/27, BCPA.
Answers to No. 6: Carl Vrooman helped launch the War Garden program as President Wilson's Secretary of Agriculture; Julia Vrooman, the Bob Hope of her era, formed a soldiers' jazz band to entertain the troops; Edward and Lincoln Bynum fought heroically with the African-American 370th U.S. Infantry in France; Ethel Hamilton Hanson organized McLean County's Women's Committee of the Council of Defense; Roland Reed enlisted with the French Army after being rejected for U.S. Army service for defective eyesight; and Carolyn Schertz Geneva was a Brokaw School of Nursing grad who joined an Army Medical Unit tent city on the west coast of England.