Smile Politely

Block Party evokes memories

As you may have heard, tomorrow night at the National City parking lot next to Cowboy Monkey there’s a free outdoor concert featuring some of the finest local bands at this point in time in Champaign-Urbana. Here’s the full lineup as best we know:

5:00 – 5:50 p.m. Lonely Trailer
6:10 – 6:40 p.m. Curb Service
7:00 – 7:30 p.m. Mordechai In The Mirror
7:50 – 8:20 p.m. Heyokas
8:40 – 9:10 p.m. Elsinore
9:30 – 10:00 p.m. Common Loon
10:20 – 10:50 p.m. Hot Cops
11:10 – 11:40 p.m. New Ruins
11:40 – 12:00 a.m. Krukid

If you’re looking for a primer on C-U music, from hip hop to pop, country-rock to whatever Heyokas is going to be and whatever Lonely Trailer was and is, then it’s worth your time, and it won’t cost you a dime.

Organizer Ward Gollings has a retro goal in mind with the Block Party. “I’m trying to recreate or bring back what was once an annual event,” Gollings related, “that being the Star Course-produced ‘Band Jam’ of the 80’s and early 90’s.”

Gollings continued, “To me, this is [a] nice complement to the LMAs in April. A big event focusing solely on local bands in the spring, and then another in the fall.”

Bridging the gap between Band Jam and Block Party is Lonely Trailer, whose heyday was in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Guitarist/singer Tim Stephens (right) had warm memories of the Band Jam days. “Band Jam was fun,” he recalled. “We played in the beautiful afternoon. The 107 DJs like Alison Davis Wood had headsets and were doing live remotes which I think was new. It had a nice vibe.”

Stephens recounted the band’s days of playing twice-monthly gigs at Mabel’s, as well as Trito’s Uptown, the old Blind Pig, Chico’s, the Courtyard, and Arrowhead Bowling Alley, as well as regional touring gigs in Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Louis.

Robert Loerzel, a freelance writer now based out of Chicago, described the band’s sound on Underground Bee: “Lonely Trailer were one of the oddest bands in the C-U scene — really uncategorizable. There was a bit of punk in what they were doing, but it was more like a dada version of country music mixed with jazz, rock, avant-garde… Oh, forget it. Whatever it was, it was idiosyncratic and riveting.” Loerzel’s also graciously supplied the photos of the band accompanying this post.

Drummer Brian Reedy (right) tracked the band’s trajectory thusly: “We never rose, but we fell pretty good.”

The band reunited early this summer for the Play or Pose show at Highdive, and they’ve decided to stick together, with a couple of shows at Pygmalion planned as well as a WEFT Sessions appearance coming up. “We never stopped making music, but it’s nice to be playing again together,” noted Reedy.

Reedy also recalled early memories of local celebrity Rob McColley. “I knew [Rob] when his favorite book was My Pony Ted,” Reedy recalled. “He was eight years old or something.”

The weather tomorrow night looks great, without even the obligatory afternoon thunderstorm in the forecast, so head out and see some great local music at the Block Party.

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