First Robin of spring: Legendary Brit prog-rock guitar god Robin Trower hasn't played a Central Illinois date in decades (at least since the early ’80s). So his long-overdue return this spring, at 7:30 p.m. April 11 in downtown Champaign's Virginia Theater, is a big deal for his fans — many of whom reach all the way back to his ’60s-’70s heyday as co-founder of prog-rock pioneers Procol Harum. Trower's lead guitar playing and vocals grace such anthems as "A Whiter Shade of Pale" and "Conquistador." Come the early 1980s, he teamed up with Cream bassist Jack Bruce for several albums and tours. Tickets for the April 11 show are $49.50 and $69.50, and go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday via the Virginia box office at 217-356-9063.
Castle stormers: Some fresh additions to the mid-winter slate of the Castle Theatre have been made, including frequent visitors Rod Tuffcurls & The Bench Press, headed back at 8 p.m. Feb. 2 ($10). Also new to the slate is the latest entry in what's now being billed as the Castle Tribute Series: an 8 p.m. Feb. 24 show featuring Southern Accents: The Ultimate Tom Petty Experience, with tickets priced at $15 and $18. Coming at 8 p.m. March 18 is An Evening with Shovels & Rope, the award-winning South Carolina-based Americana-folk duo featuring the husband-wife team of Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst, packing two Americana Music Award wins (2013's Emerging Artist of the Year and Song of the Year). Those tickets are $23 and $28.
Hall-raising: For fans of big indoor exhibition hall events involving deals on wheels and more, the Peoria Civic Center has nailed down the dates for its trio of winter-spring biggies: the Midwest Truck and Trailer Show, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Feb. 2, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Feb. 3; the Central Illinois Spring Home Show, 4-9 p.m. Feb. 23, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Feb. 24, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Feb. 25; and the Central Illinois Auto Show, noon-8 p.m. April 6, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. April 7 and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. April 8.