Smile Politely

The Overture: July 19-25

The Overture is a rundown of live music and performances happening in and around Champaign-Urbana each week. All of the information is as accurate as we can publish; however, all shows and performances are subject to change at any time. Thank you for understanding.

Did we miss something this week? Have a show coming up you think we should know about? Email us at with the details.

MONDAY, July 19th

C4A Country Music Ensemble

► Rose Bowl Tavern // donations encouraged // 5 p.m.

Where better to start your week than at The Rose Bowl? You can expect some bluegrass, western swing, and some country rock. 

TUESDAY, July 20th


► Rose Bowl Tavern // donations encouraged // 5 p.m.

Self-described as “Paal Nilssen-Love meets Madlib,” percussionist Forebeat starts the night off at Rose Bowl. While a solo act, Forebeat manages to create the sound of a full band, guaranteed to keep you mesmerized. 

John “Papa” Gros

► Rose Bowl Tavern // $15 adv / $20 day of show // 7 p.m.

Straight from the swamps, John “Papa” Gros has a mission to share New Orleans’ music with the world. Bringing a mix of funk, jazz, brass, and blues, this show is sure to get your toes tapping. Listen to “Deep in the Mud” from his 2020 album Central City.

WEDNESDAY, July 21st

Vine Street Syncopators

Rose Bowl Tavern // donations encouraged // 5 p.m.

The jazz train continues at The Rose Bowl on Wednesdy with the Vine Street Syncopators. Bring some food and hang out.

THURSDAY, July 22nd

The Chickadee Sermon

► Rose Bowl Tavern // donations encouraged // 5 p.m.

The Champaign-Urbana based folk act brings originals as well as classics to the Rose Bowl. With an emphasis on vocal harmony, the group also brings together guitar, bass, banjo, and melodica to create a sound that is sweet on the ears. 

Promotional poster of musician MG Bailey with a guitar. The poster reads MG Bailey, One Man Band. Rock, roots, blues, and soul.

Photo of MG Bailey provided by MG Bailey

MG Bailey

► Sipyard // donations encouraged // 6 p.m.

Hailing from the Chicago area, MG Bailey is a one man band and a force to be reckoned with. He mixes rock, americana, punk, and soul into a cohesive package. Combining driving instrumentals with honest yet comical lyrics — plus the intimacy of Sipyard — this show is going to be fun as hell. Check him out on Bandcamp here.

Ian Shepherd and Company

► Rose Bowl Tavern // donations encouraged // 8 p.m.

Bringing jazz, blues, funk, and rock, come jam out at Rose Bowl parking lot and bring some food; Rose Bowl will provide the drinks. 

Gary Allan

► Champaign County Fairgrounds // $30+ // 7:30 p.m.

Country musician Gary Allan performs at the Champaign County Fair. Sporting a vast catalogue of music stretching back to 1996, Allan is no stranger to performing. You can expect a night of great entertainment. 

FRIDAY, July 23rd

Friday Night Live

► Downtown Champaign // free // 6 p.m.

This summer series is back in full swing, with lineups changing weekly. Check out their Facebook page to see the full details, including set times and locations. 

The Blues Deacons

► Clark Bar // free // 6:30 p.m.

The blues outfit from Gibson City are hitting the Clark Bar. Playing originals as well as blues classics, come by and “let the blues ease on into your soul.”

Image taken from Champaign County Fair’s Facebook page

The Beach Boys

► Champaign County Fairgrounds // $30+ // 7:30 p.m.

I mean come on, it’s The Beach Boys in the middle of the summer at the county fair. It’s going to be a great time, and you’ll be singing along to every song. Not much else to say. 

Chicago Farmer and the Fieldnotes, Jaik Willis

► Rose Bowl Tavern // $15 advance / $20 day of show // 7:30 p.m.

Beloved folk singer Chicago Farmer and the Fieldnotes hit the Rose Bowl with an opening set by Jaik Willis. 

DJ Belly

► NOLA’s Rock Bar // free // 10 p.m.

DJ Belly hits NOLA’s for a night of music and fun. 

SATURDAY, July 24th

Stuart Smith Trio, Ian Leith T’ree, Denise La Grassa Band, Live Thru Wednesday

► Sleepy Creek Vineyards // free // 10:30 a.m.

The Sleepy Creek Vineyards Arts and Music fest begins! Live music, drinks, and 30 plus artists. Head over to Fairmount for a great weekend!


► NOLA’s Rock Bar // free // 7 p.m.

Live Music Saturdays continue at NOLA’s with the all-Filipino rock band Kalesa. Sit back, enjoy the drink specials, and rock out. 

Modern Drugs, Retro Via, Sweetmelk

► Seven Saints // $10 // 7 p.m.

Continuing their Summer Jams series, Seven Saints welcomes Modern Drugs, Retro Via, and Sweetmelk. Great food and great music, right in the heart of downtown. 

Urbana Pops Orchestra

Urbana Middle School // free // 6:30 p.m.

Urbana Pops is BACK and hosting a free concert in the gym of Urbana Middle School. Performing pieces from Handel, Holst, Ives, and Sousa, this concert is great for exisiting classical fans, as well as newcomers to the classical genre. Plus, free popsicles will be given out at the end of the concert. 

SUNDAY, July 25th

Ben Hay featuring Mhondoro, The Merry Travelers, The Chickadee Sermon

Sleepy Creek Vineyards // free // 10:30 a.m.

The Sleepy Creek Vineyards Arts and Music fest continues for its second and final day. If you missed The Chickadee Sermon at Rose Bowl, head over to Fairmount to hear them, as well as some other great acts!

Scott Mast

Riggs Beer Company // free // 3 p.m.

Multi-instrumentalist Scott Mast will be performing at Riggs, so relax, grab a beer, and enjoy.

Green Prickle Fest poster featuring a cactus and a list of band names promoting the show.

Image from LLYN’s Instagram.

Editor’s Pick: The Joy Machine, Nectar, Bristle, LLYN, Long Birds, Soft and Dumb, Ashlynn Powell

► Rose Bowl Tavern // donations encouraged // 4:20 p.m.

PRICKLFEST! Two stages, inside and outside at Rose Bowl. This is a dang good lineup of punk and indie. Come headbang and get your taste of punk rock for the week. You can also check out our recent interview with Soft and Dumb.

New Souls

Hessel Park // free // 6 p.m.

A blend of motown, R&B, and funk, ending the weekend outside at Hessel park jamming with New Souls sounds pretty sweet to me. 

Soul on Sunday

 ►Boomerang’s // donations encouraged // 7 p.m.

A night of music, poetry, and comedy at Boomerang’s. Donations are encouraged, and all donations go to Salt and Light. 

Top image from the John “Papa” Gros Facebook Page

Music Editor

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