Frank's Weekend Faves, Nov. 4, 2018

Frank's Weekend Faves, Nov. 4, 2018

My favorite local music concert this week? No surprise here. That would be hometown heroes REO Speedwagon's triumphant return to the Virginia Theatre in Champaign on Saturday. These guys really do keep pushin' on!

Yes, I've seen Kevin Cronin, Neal Dougherty, Bruce Hall and friends light up the stage on quite a few previous occasions. That's no less reason to want to see them again. And again.

The first time — and probably the best — for me was 37 years ago now, the year after I graduated from college when the Champaign-spawned rock 'n' roll phenoms were blowing up the charts on their "Hi Infidelity" tour, and I had been dating my future wife only a couple of months (and of course, "Keep On Lovin' You" was already "our song").

Actually, I already had extra incentive for scoring tickets to that Feb. 13, 1981, show at Chicago's International Amphitheater, as just a year earlier, REO had played a show at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb late in the spring of my senior year there, but at the time, I was recovering from a bout of myocarditis that had hospitalized me for a week, and I had to sit out that show in my dorm room while all the friends and family members whom I'd arranged tickets for were rocking NIU's Chick Evans Field House.

Which, I suppose, is what made those tickets to the Chicago concert a year later all the sweeter, and to say the least, the late-great Gary Richrath and pals did not disappoint. The concert opened with "Don't Let Go," and no one there present did for the next couple hours until the super encores of "157 Riverside Avenue" and "Golden Country" wrapped up with "Shakin' It Loose Tonight."

I have since seen the boys (including Richrath's successor on lead guitar, Dave Amato, and founding drummer Alan Gratzer's successor, Bryan Hitt, on the kit) at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield and teamed up along "Arch Ally" Styx at the former Assembly Hall in Champaign, among other venues. But you couldn't ask for a better one than the intimate confines of the historic Virginia Theatre in downtown Champaign. And this show is another second chance of sorts for those who bought tickets to REO's originally scheduled show last Feb. 8, which had to be rescheduled to this weekend due to Cronin's illness at the time.

Tickets from that Feb. 8 show will be honored, but new ones for reserved seating are still available, ranging from $59.50 to $99.50 (or $199 for the VIP "Take It On the Run" package). You can buy them over the phone at 217-356-9063, online at or at the Virginia box office at 203 W. Park Ave. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. the night of the show.

Next-best ticket this week? Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer Rosanne Cash in concert at the Virginia Theatre this Thursday.

The four-time Grammy Award-winner will perform with special guest and frequent collaborator John Leventhal at 7:30 p.m. Reserved-seating tickets are $39.50 to $69.50 and are on sale at the Virginia box office, online at, or by phone at 217-356-9063.

Cash is touring in support of her latest album, "She Remembers Everything." The prolific singer/songwriter (and eldest daughter of Country Music Hall of Famer Johnny Cash) has released 15 albums that have yielded 21 top 40 hits, including 11 No. 1 singles.

She is also the author of four books and is currently writing the lyrics for a musical "Norma Rae" with composer Leventhal and book writer John Weidman.

The Craft League of Champaign-Urbana is gearing up for its 36th annual Juried Art Fair at the Urbana Civic Center this weekend, and excitement is already building — with good reason.

Among the exhibitors expected at this year's Art Fair is local quilt artist Deborah Fell. She was returning to the area late last week from teaching art quilting at Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevadas after recently winning the top prize at "Visions 2018," one of the premier international quilt exhibits, at the Visions Art Museum in San Diego. Her prize or the art quilt "A Place to Lay My Head" (right) includes, among other things, a weeklong trip to Japan.

According to her husband, Andrew, Deborah's "art quilts" are "more like paintings" than quilts you throw on a bed. As her website puts it, "I am an artist, and my medium is quilting. My tools include natural fabrics, fiber reactive dyes, textile paints, stitching, and found objects. I create dimension and movement using color and line."

You're likely to see some of Fell's work, including her prize-winner, along with the work of 34 other artists exhibiting ceramics, jewelry, fiber, batik, photography, glass, woodworking, drawing, painting, printmaking, basketry, bookbinding, leather and mixed media from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Urbana Civic Center, 108 E. Water St. Admission is free.

The Craft League's Art Fair has been an annual event for more than three decades. In its early years, it was held in empty storefronts and church basements; it has been at the Civic Center in Urbana since 1986, but this will be its last year there.

"We are very excited about the mix of work we have this fall. The art fair is a great opportunity to support the arts and to buy locally," said artist Beverly Fagan, speaking for the Craft League.

For more information, visit the Craft League website at

Here's cause to kick up your heels: Dance at Illinois will present November Dance 18 this weekend at Krannert Center in celebration of the Dance Department's 50th anniversary.

The event kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Nov. 8-10, in Colwell Playhouse at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, 500 S. Goodwin Ave, U. Tickets are available at the Krannert box office at 217-333-6280 or online at Among the featured performances:

— Dance Department Head Jan Erkert is reconstructing "Antigamente," a piece originally performed by Juli Hallihan-Campbell (BFA '84 and MFA'92) at Krannert in 1988.

— Also reimagining past works are Professor Rebecca Nettl-Fiol and alumna Melanie Bales (MFA '83) in their work, "Picked Up Pieces."

— Professor Emeritus Rene Wadleigh will return from retirement to create her 50th work for Dance at Illinois, titled "Tragedy, Ecstasy, Doom." She will be collaborating with alum Nico Brown (MFA '14).

— Associate Professor Linda Lehovec and alumna Paige Cunningham (MFA '07) will present their work, "In Conversation."

And for some theatrical diversion, slip on your tapshoes, or gumshoes, what have you, and head to Parkland College's Harold and Jean Miner Theatre for Thursday's opening of "The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940."

Mathew Green directs this modern comedy, written by John Bishop, about murders, secret identities and the Golden Age of Broadway, with a cast including Karen Hughes, Chelsea Collier, Wesley Bennett, Jace Jamison, Monty Joyce, Mallory Sellers, Quinton Ohlsson, Jenny Gleason, Ed Pierce, Mindy Smith and Parker Evans.

Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 8, 9, 10, 16 and 17 and at 3 p.m. Nov. 11 and 18. Tickets are $15 for adult, $13 for student/senior, $9 for youth and $11 for groups of 20 or more. Opening night is half-price night and includes a talkback immediately after the show with the director, cast and crew.

To make reservations, visit or call 217-351-2528.

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Topics (4):Art, Music, People, Theater