Frank's Weekend Faves, July 29, 2018

Frank's Weekend Faves, July 29, 2018

Does the summer heat have you seeing mirages of parrots and palm trees? Don't just sit there wasting away in Margaritaville; weigh anchor and set your course for downtown Champaign this Saturday for the 14th annual C-U in the Prairibbean — and support local programs and services for the developmentally disabled while you're at it.

The Developmental Services Center (DSC) is again partnering with the Eastern Illinois Parrot Head Club (EIPHC) as the beneficiary of the 2018 C-U in the Prairibbean XIV concert to be held outdoors on Saturday, Aug. 4, in the parking lot in front of the Orpheum Children's Science Museum at the corner of Washington and Neil streets in downtown Champaign. Past recipients of proceeds from this fundraiser have included the Mills Breast Cancer Center, Cunningham Children's Home, Camp New Hope, the American Heart Association, Alzheimer's Association and for the past few years, DSC. Over the past 13 years, EIPHC has given back more than $500,000 to local organizations.

Music for this year's event will again be provided by tropical-rock band The Boat Drunks and the high-energy cover group The Tons O' Fun Band (led by former REO Speedwagon singer Terry Luttrell), with opening duo Jake and Jackson kicking off the night of music starting at 5:15 p.m. Food and beverages will be available throughout the event, and lawn chairs are welcome for those so inclined. Gates open at 5 p.m. Event tickets are $10. In addition to the main event, the EIPHC is offering a $2,500 cash raffle. Tickets for that are $5 each or five for $20. The winner will be drawn the night of the event and will receive $2,500 cash, with second and third prizes of $300 and $150 respectively. All proceeds from the raffle, as well as a silent auction, will also benefit DSC. Details are available online at;; or by calling or stopping by DSC at 217-356-9176, 1304 W. Bradley Ave. Champaign., Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

If you'd prefer your entertainment in air-conditioned comfort, it's only a day (well, actually four) away. Champaign Urbana Theatre Company's production of the Broadway musical "Annie" opens its weekend run at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Virginia Theatre.

As reported by Editor Jim Rossow a couple of months ago, one of the most notable features of this CUTC production is that, for the first time (in these parts anyway), the role of Sandy — Annie's sidekick — is being filled by a real dog. Since the intrepid cast is clearly throwing caution to the wind and disregarding W.C. Fields' famous acting advice to "never work with animals or children," they clearly deserve a full house to witness the fun.

Performances are scheduled at 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday with a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. Reserved-seating tickets are available by calling the Virginia Theatre at 217-356-9063. Ticket prices are $24 premium; $18 for adults; $14 for students and seniors (age 55 and over); and $10 for children ages 12 and under.

Vigilant perusers of this column may have noticed that, since a reader's comment a couple months ago on the perceived paucity of visual arts coverage in The News-Gazette, we've been working to correct that — not only in this space, but in our weekly On the Go calendar, where again this past week, for the second time this month, we squeezed in all the gallery and exhibit listings. But in doing so, I notice at least one local exhibit missing — the one at Common Ground Food Co-op's art gallery.

Yes, they still have one. Just ask local freelance photographer Tom Layman, who tells me Common Ground is hosting an exhibit of his landscape photos taken at Urbana's Meadowbrook Prairie, along with paintings by Mary Ciaccio, now through Sept. 22 in the co-operative's art gallery. An opening reception is scheduled for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday as part of Urbana's First Fridays program.

Layman's landscape photos have appeared in Hallmark cards and calendars, Sierra Club calendars, Browntrout calendars and The Nature Conservancy magazine. He says on his LinkedIn page that "photography has been in the background for several years due to family responsibilities," but he's back behind the lens and busy digitizing his work by means of newly acquired scanning and printing equipment. Says Layman: "It's been a while since I've had an exhibit of this size, so I'm pretty excited."

He also thinks his landscape prints will pair well with Ciaccio's nature-oriented paintings. She's the owner/operator of Marm Studio Gallery, 917 W. White St., Champaign, where you can also view her work, as well as at her website, Or, of course, for the next two months at Common Ground's art gallery, located in Lincoln Square Mall at 300 S. Broadway Ave., Suite 166, Urbana.

And what would the summertime be without the blues? If you're like me and would rather not find out, I recommend penciling in this Friday's fundraiser for the Candy Foster Scholarship at Bommerangs Bar & Grill in Urbana.

Once again, of course, the Parkland College music scholarship's namesake is the annual event's headliner, and local legends Candy Foster and Shades of Blue will take the stage at 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 3, at Boomerangs, 1309 E. Washington St., Urbana. The event will also feature a 50/50 raffle, auction items and donations to benefit the scholarship. Free parking is available. For more information, visit online or the official event page at

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