Smile Politely

Coming from near and far

The latest show from the Shadowboxer Collective is tonight at 9 p.m. at Mike ‘n Molly’s. Taking the stage first will be David Howie, followed by Steph Plant. Third on the bill is Imaginary Numbers, and Miles Nielsen closes things out. Since Shadowboxer likes to expose folks to acts that they may not have heard before, we asked the performers to introduce themselves. We have also realized my greatest fear: Smile Politely interviews someone with the initials S.P.



Home base: Champaign-Urbana

Howie has been around the block a few times. Signed to CBS/Epic in the late ’80s with the Rainpeople, and he was in Sons & Daughters for 15 years. He’s currently a solo act.



Home base: Greenville, Illinois

“Personal Hygiene” by Steph Plant

Smile Politely: How would you describe your sound to someone who’s never seen you perform before?

Steph Plant: Let’s see. Lyrically-driven fervent folk? I guess you could say that’s what my music sounds like. I love performing and playing my songs for groups of people who have ears to hear them — so i’m really happy to get this opportunity to play my music for the lovely people over at Mike n’ Molly’s!

Smile Politely:  Have you played in C-U before?

Steph Plant: Yes, i have played in C-U before — first at a house show with the beloved Nate Henricks & The Lost Boys, and another time at the Red Herring with my friends Carl Hauck and Tricia&Tracey. They’re sweet sweet people and very talented musicians. There is a lot of incredible talent in your area — I feel honored to be invited back.

Smile Politely:  Anything else you’d like to share?

Steph Plant: Some extra odds and ends about me:

  • My mama taught me how to play guitar when i was 9 and ever since I’ve been putting tunes to words and words to tunes.
  • I write songs about myself.
  • I also write songs about about how weird it is to be in relationship with the world around me.
  • I like cross-eyed kids, the squish of doughy food in my teeth, and stories about reconciliation and redemption.
  • I love poems written by ancient mystics who care about things that really matter and I love making woodcuts.
  • I’m finishing up my senior year studying art at Greenville College, and I’m hoping to go on from here to get my masters in art therapy at SIUE.



Home base: Champaign-Urbana

“Walls” by Imaginary Numbers

Smile Politely: How would you describe your sound to someone who’s never seen you perform before?

Garrick Nelson: How to describe my sound is a little difficult, especially if we’re talking live. That’s mainly because I don’t have a full band and most of my recorded work (but not all) has a wall of drums, electric guitar, bass, piano/other keys, sometimes sax, acoustic guitar and some other things that i think would sound cool. I try to make the recordings as eclectic as possible but without blatantly stealing ideas from genres.

The live set is just me with my acoustic guitar. Comparisons have been drawn to Elliott Smith quite frequently, but others like Mark Linkous a.k.a. Sparklehorse, Badly Drawn Boy and sometimes Califone, and Iron and Wine are made. It’s not really my goal to sound like them, it just kind of happens. The last show I played in Champaign was maybe two years ago at the Iron Post and it felt very intimate. I usually try to get to know the crowd if it’s not too packed. Years ago, I played at Mike n’ Molly’s and only eight or ten people were there, so in between songs I would go around the room and ask people their names and what they were doing, going to school what kind of job they had at the time and they seemed to enjoy it.

Smile Politely: How long have you been in C-U? What brought you here?

Garrick Nelson: Let’s see, I’m 23 so I guess I have been in Champaign-Urbana for about 23 years and nine months. I was born and grew up in Champaign and played in the area’s school bands for quite a while. I started on saxophone in sixth grade and got a drum-set when i was in eight grade. I played in some bands with friends but never really got into music until my sophomore year in high school. I picked up my bandmates’ guitars and started playing; it was mostly metal stuff in dropped D. Bass was soon to follow and by the time I was a senior I had made a couple home recordings. The recordings were more ambient and experimental. When I graduated high school, I found a John Fahey record and picked up the acoustic guitar. I think it was fall 2006 when I first started playing piano, and by that next summer, I was making plans to begin a record. It would take forever to complete the album for the sole reason that i am poor. Recording costs were fair, I just had no money, and being the only person in the band there was no way to split it up. The record is finished!



Home base: Rockford and Chicago, Illinois

“Don’t You” by Miles Nielsen

Smile Politely: How would you describe your sound to someone who’s never seen you perform before?

Miles Nielsen: Badass. No seriously, Beatlesque Cosmic Americana, seems to be the best three words to describe the sound.

Smile Politely: Have you played in C-U before?

Miles Nielsen: This is my first time at Mike and Molly’s, I have played the area quite a bit with Cory Chisel and The Wandering Sons, so I am pretty familiar with the town(s)

Smile Politely: If you have anything else you’d like to share, feel free.

Miles Nielsen: Thanks!  I just released my debut album … and I would love to meet some new faces. Oh yeah, and we are in need of a great after-party and place to lay our heads down for a few hours. Cheers.

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