Twerking it: Reluctant Townie on the impact of dirty dancing

No, dude, I did not watch the MTV Video Music Awards. If I had even known they were airing, it would have been cause for concern.

I am too old for the VMAs. So is MTV.

I was surprised to discover they still produce awards shows for music videos because MTV — as millions, if not billions, of clever human beings have already pointed out — no longer shows music videos.

Former child prodigy still belting out the blues

URBANA — Guitarist Jonny Lang always wanted to be singer, for as long as he can remember.

Then one evening when he was 12, his father took him to a Bad Medicine Blues Band concert in Fargo, N.D., where they lived.

"That was my first real concert I had been to," Lang said. "I had heard recorded music, but that first time hearing it live just did something to me.

Getting Personal: Barbara Gillespie-Washington

Each week, we offer an email Q&A with a local personality. Today, Paul Wood chats with 67-year-old Urbana resident Barbara Gillespie-Washington, an inspired educator "in a relentless pursuit to bring out the best in our youth." The retired teacher taught in the Urbana school district for 36 years.

Missing the music

By Sonia Kurniawan

If only.

If only he were back in Bali. He would not have so many sleepless nights. His heart would not ache with sadness because of his inability to infuse the feeling of his beloved gamelan music into the hearts of his American students.

"How am I to make my students one with the music?" he has asked himself constantly.

If only.

Architectural Style

UI grad's Champaign firm has small staff but large list of diverse area projects

CHAMPAIGN — Andrew Fell may be the busiest local architect you've never heard of.

His firm, Andrew Fell Architecture & Design, occupies a small office on the second floor of a two-story house near downtown Champaign.

Back for the 'buffet'

URBANA — Steel guitar master Cindy Cashdollar looks forward to returning to Ellnora The Guitar Festival — for the fourth time.

The Austin, Texas-based star likes the festival and Urbana-Champaign, calling it a "beautiful area."

"It has a nice feel, to me," she said. "It's a very nice campus. And I just love this festival — it's the biggest music buffet you can attend."

Henson will appear on 'Illinois Pioneers'

URBANA — Former Illini basketball coach Lou Henson opens the season as "Illinois Pioneers" returns to WILL-TV in September.

Retired WILL-AM host David Inge's interview of the coach will air Thursday, followed by University of Illinois early childhood education pioneer Lilian Katz on Sept. 12 and Wolfram Research co-founder Theo Gray on Sept. 19.

Life Remembered: Tom Lemke was neighborhood watchdog

CHAMPAIGN — I don't know if Tom Lemke ever considered himself a civic journalist, but I did.

He shied away from writing for publication on our site,, but never hesitated to pick up the phone and report all the happenings of his neighborhood — Wilber Heights — a place he called home for more than 60 years.

Clarence Thomas Lemke, 67, died Sunday.

Scout builds memorial to 'Peck' Lomax at Kickapoo

RURAL OAKWOOD — It has been nearly two decades since Alpheus "Peck" Lomax lived near Kickapoo State Park, and even longer since he ran Peck's Bait Shop.

But now his memory will live on at the state recreation area thanks to a memorial that was built on the Riverview Trail by a local Boy Scout.

UI professor to head national society

URBANA — University of Illinois entomologist May Berenbaum is slated to become president of the Entomological Society of America in 2016.

Berenbaum, professor and head of the UI Department of Entomology, was recently elected vice president-elect of the society. After serving in that capacity in 2014, she will be vice president in 2015 and then society president in 2016.