Smile Politely

The Overture: October 4-10

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, October 4th 

Kittens Incorporated 

WEFT Sessions (virtual) // free // 10 p.m.

Husband and wife duo Bryan and Jolee Phelps bring their sunny pop sound to WEFT sessions for what is sure to be session full of smiles and booty shaking. 

Improvisers Exchange

Rose Bowl Tavern // free // 5:30 p.m.

Led by Jason Finkelman, Improvisers Exchange is an initiative to bring together U of I students and community members to practice improvised music. This performance features Tatsuya Nakatani, a percussionist known for his bowed gong orchestras. Check out Smile Politely’s interview with Finkelman to learn more about Improvisers Exchange. 

TUESDAY, October 5th


Rose Bowl Tavern // free // 6:30 p.m.

Featuring Chip Stephens on piano, Joel Spencer on drums, and Larry Gray on bass, this jazz trio will keep you entertained all night long.

WEDNESDAY, October 6th

Chip McNeill Quartet

Rose Bowl Tavern // free // 5 p.m.

Grammy-winning saxophonist Chip McNeil returns to bang out the tunes with his quartet. Come hang out and enjoy some drinks on a beautiful autumn night. 

Nick Rudd Music Experience 

Levi Faculty Center // free // 7:30 p.m.

Renowned guitarist Joe Morris joins cellist Tomeka Reid for an evening of improvised music. Joining them is Larry Ochs (saxophone) & Don Robinson (drums) who are touring in support of their new release. 

THURSDAY, October 7th

Krannert Art Remastered

Krannert Art Museum // free with registration // 6:30 p.m.

Composer Andrew Rodriguez presents his piece “What Stays Behind.” Check out our preview of this event here to get all of the details for this event. You won’t want to miss it. 

Hobnob String Band

Rose Bowl Tavern // free // 5 p.m.

Every Thursday! Outside on the patio of Rose Bowl, Hobnob brings you some great acoustic music, from blues to bluegrass and other styles. Catch some great harmonies, and of course some wonderful fingerpicking. 

Sweetmelk, Clayton Burke

Rose Bowl Tavern // free // 7:30 p.m.

You might know Kenna Mae from their solo work under the same name, but now Kenna has transistioned into Sweetmelk. Still bringing some wonderful writing and soft yet powerful vocals, the music is mesmerizing. Pair that with the fingerpicking and honest writing of Clayton Burke who is opening the show, you’ve got a great night of music. 

Image from Beach Bunny’s Facebook page. 

Beach Bunny, LLO LLO 

Foellinger Auditorium // $17 student, $24 public // 7:30 p.m.

Indie rock group Beach Bunny headline this killer show, with local rockers LLO LLO opening for them. t’s going to be an incredibly fun night. Check out “Painkiller” below. 

FRIDAY, October 8th

The Nightcaps

Alto Vineyards // free // 5 p.m.

Joni Dreyer, Dody Cosmedy, and Michele Osterbur-Smith are three leading women with powerful voices. Joined by Matt Stewart on guitar, the four make up The Nightcaps.

Laura Jane Grace, Cole Bridges

Polyvinyl patio // $25 // 7 p.m.

Former lead singer of Against Me! Laura Jane Grace is now a solo artist who put out her debut album Stay Alive in 2020. Her songwriting is compelling, hopeful, and honest, and well worth a listen. 

Erik Lund’s Jazz Friends Quintet

Rose Bowl Tavern // free // 5 p.m.

A tuneful Sunday evening provided by Jazz Friends, a group made up of Erik Lund on trombone, Jeff Helgesen on trumpet, George Turner on guitar, Emma Taylor on bass, and Ricardo Flores on drums.

Image from Chicago Farmer’s Facebook page.

Chicago Farmer and the Fieldnotes, Miles Over Mountains

Rose Bowl Tavern // $15 adv, $20 door // 7:30 p.m.

A night of folk, bluegrass, americana, and more awaits you at this show. Chicago Farmer knows how to entertain!

Friday Jazz Happy Hour

NOLA’s Rock Bar // free // 5 p.m.

Hitting NOLA’s this week is the Brad Wheeler Group, made up of Brad Wheeler (saxophone), Chip McNeill (keyboard), Andrew Binder (bass), Nikola Djokic (drums). 

SATURDAY, October 9th

Image from Merry Travelers’ Facebook. 

Merry Travelers

Rose Bowl Tavern // free // 4 p.m.

Some great folk and roots music awaits you with the Merry Travelers at Rose Bowl. 

Mhondoro Rhythm Success, Inland Calypso

Rose Bowl Tavern // free // 7 p.m.

Bringing pop music from Zimbabwe. The members of the band are either from Zimbabwe, or have studied music there or lived there. Sure to get you dancing!

Toast to Taylor Street

Downtown Champaign // free // 2 p.m.

Presented by local businesses, this is the inaugural Toast to Taylor Street Block Party. There will be live music from local acts including Anthony Gravino, Kilborn Alley Blues, New Souls, Ian Shepherd and Friends, and Modern Drugs. Plus, a drag show, and open air market. This event was originally scheduled for October 2nd, but was rescheduled due to rain. Fingers crossed the weather is nice this weekend, because this is sure to be a fun Saturday afternoon. 

Trouble Chasin’, AMS, Lola Honeye

NOLA’s Rock Bar // free // 7 p.m. 

Live hip-hop at NOLA’s! Be sure to check this show out, as we don’t get a lot of live hip-hop around these parts. Sure to be a great time. 

Pride Dance Party

Rose Bowl Tavern // free // 11 p.m.

VITIGRRL brings her DJ skills to Rose Bowl to get you dancing. Playing funk, house, techno, and disco. 

DJ Belly

NOLA’s Rock Bar // free // 10 p.m.

Looking for some late night Saturday fun? DJ Belly has you covered, spinning beats at NOLA’s through the evening, so come out and bring your best dance moves — it’s going to be a party. 

SUNDAY, October 10th

Blues Deacons

Rose Bowl Tavern // free // 7 p.m.

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

Top image from Beach Bunny’s Facebook page.

Music Editor

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