Craft

Jury's Out in action: making music, gathering tips.

With the announcement of Brad Paisley's return to Bloomington's Grossinger Motors Arena (nee U.S. Cellular Coliseum), the venue's executive director is hoping it signals "a fresh start."

Not to downplay the arena's busy December slate (today's GO! cover subject Jim Gaffigan, Kenny Rogers, etc.), but with the Paisley show landing in the new year, thoughts of new beginnings are only natural.

Lynn Cannon tells us that we can expect some interesting things in the months ahead, and not just the country shows that have been the venue's stock in trade for much of its life.

Already booked, of course, is the April 8 show with Brit heavy metal veterans Judas Priest, which will be testing those waters. "When it went on sale, it did very well," notes Cannon for those hoping for more metal, please. 

Next weekend's (Dec. 3) Gaffigan show "has gone over fabulous," sales-wise, which portends more laughter in our arena future.

She calls this a "good time" to try to lock in on shows that are currently being booked for spring and summer tours, grabbing them en route from one big outdoor venue to another.

In fact, as we speak, Cannon was getting ready to sign off on another Paisley-level country concert announcement for March. 

She could only tempt us with the phrase "new country," opening the door to some tempting possibilities.

"We're also looking at a hip-hop show for younger audiences next spring," she offers for those who've contended the venue has ignored that sector of the music fan base.

All told, Cannon says, the venue is interested in testing any waters outside of the country comfort zone that audiences will support.

"It's certainly true that country does sell the most tickets," she adds. 

"We're still trying to determine what will work here."

Even country isn't always a sure thing, she notes, alluding to the recent Hank Williams Jr. show. "That one didn't go as well as we'd hoped."

Another "old country" show looming, the Dec. 7 date for Kenny Rogers' holiday show, part of his farewell tour, will utilize the arena's smaller "theater" configuration.

"Since this is his last tour, we felt it was important to get him one last time," she says, with ticket sales continuing apace.

As for Judas Priest, "We weren't sure show that would go over in this market, but seeing the initial on-sale results and the excitement it generated on social media was exciting for us to see."

Bottom line: "It's hit-and-miss on some of these shows," says Cannon. "There are lot of great shows out there, and a lot of up-and-coming artists we'd like to have play here. 

"I'm talking to promoters and saying to them that we don't just want to be considered just a country venue. We want to try other genres and see what might stick."

Campbell's coup: Here's another big Thanksgiving Day round of thanks to B-N musician Patrick Campbell ... if not the hardest-working man in show business, at least the musician working hardest for your tips.

Tips, by the way, that he accumulates into a big Thanksgiving weekend gift turned over annually to Bloomington's Home Sweet Home Ministries.

How big?

Would you believe ... $15,000?

That's one mother of all hatfuls of nickels, dimes and more.

When we first penned a column here two Thanksgiving Days ago chronicling Campbell's tips crusade, the total was $1,025 ... an impressive sum, then and now.

But in the mere two years since, he's exponentially upped that total ... from $1,025 in 2015, to $6,000 in 2016, to that whopping sum this year.

"The donations started three years ago," he recalls, "when I was trying to figure out what to do with my tips at piano shows."

As a reminder, Campbell (a State Farm employee by day) can be tracked on the local live music scene two ways: via those aforementioned solo piano shows, and via his ’80s-leaning rock band, Jury's Out, which has been a vital part of the area's live music landscape for close to 15 years now.

Though the solo shows were the original forum for tipping Campbell, "last year we opened the guitar case at all the Jury's Out shows, too."

Along with the solo gigs, he amassed $6,000.

For this year's bounty, Campbell says that "a fan from Georgia" named Connie Dodd offered to match the first $5,000 in tips with her own $5,000 check.

That equals $10,000, meaning there were still $5,000 more in tips to come.

At one stage, as the 2017 tips deadline loomed, "I announced on Facebook that we were $744 shy of our $15K goal," says Campbell. "Our fans and bar owners stepped up in 24 hours so that we could hit our goal."

Our hats are off here at GO! to Patrick, Jury's Out, that gracious fan named Connie and all of the fans who will help make it another Thanksgiving to remember at Home Sweet Home.

Dan Craft is Pantagraph entertainment editor. He can be reached at 309-829-9000, Ext. 259 or via email at dcraft@pantagraph.com.

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