Frank's Weekend Faves, April 8, 2018

Frank's Weekend Faves, April 8, 2018

Rock 'n' roll legends have been known to visit Champaign-Urbana from time to time, but it's still something of a rarity in these parts. That's all the more reason not to miss just such a special occasion this Wednesday night when guitarist extraordinaire Robin Trower lights up the stage at the Virginia Theatre.

I've been a fan of the "Master of the Stratocaster" since 1974, when Trower's "Bridge of Sighs" album came out. It was just his second solo album after leaving Procol Harum, but it was instantly an essential addition to my record collection, and 44 years later, it remains one of the greatest blues-rock albums ever recorded — with classics like "Day of the Eagle," "Too Rolling Stoned" and the mesmerizing title track all still as potent today as they were the first time my stereo needle touched down in that vinyl groove.

You can count on hearing those hits and plenty more when the English songwriter-musician unslings his Strat at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Virginia Theatre in downtown Champaign.

Tickets are $49.50 to $69.50, and yes, they're still available! My only question: Why isn't this gentleman or his former band in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame yet?

And speaking of a don't-miss event, I would certainly be remiss if I didn't include a shout-out to 40 North 88 West's annual Boneyard Arts Festival running this Thursday through Sunday in a wide array of venues across Champaign County.

The unique countywide celebration covers four days and more than 90 venues — from theaters, cafes, galleries and museums to salons and retail stores throughout Champaign, Urbana, the University of Illinois campus, Rantoul, Homer, Mahomet, St. Joseph and Sidney — and features the work of hundreds of artists, sculptors, weavers, painters, photographers and other visual artists as well as musicians, actors, dancers, poets and performers of all kinds.

For more details, check out Paul Wood's story in this Thursday's On the Go, or go online to

Want some science with your art? We have an exhibit for that, too. Or rather, the University of Illinois' Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology does.

The institute will hold its annual Art of Science 8.0 opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Broadway Food Hall, 401 N. Broadway Ave., U.

According to Director Nicholas Vasi, the exhibit, launched in 2010 and this year in a new location, offers "a great chance to see science from our institute displayed in creative and interesting ways" and to hear institute researchers talk about their work.

When you go to the local shopping mall, do you expect to be entertained — serenaded even? If not, you're in for an unexpected treat this Saturday at Lincoln Square in Urbana.

The Conservatory of Central Illinois, a Champaign-based nonprofit community music school that draws students from within a 70-mile radius of C-U, will celebrate its 29th annual Playathon from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the downtown Urbana mall.

The free event will include solo and ensemble performances by musicians playing a variety of instruments; the winning groups from the annual Faucett Memorial Chamber Ensemble Festival; the East Central Illinois Youth Orchestra at 1 p.m.; and the Church Street Ramblers at 2:30 p.m.

The participating musicians seek sponsorships for the time they perform, with proceeds going to financial aid, community outreach and programs of the conservatory. Since its inception in 1990, the Playathon has raised more than $150,000. Anyone wishing to sponsor a performance may call 217-356-9812.

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