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Need a cool way to chill out this long, hot summer — both physically and aesthetically? You can’t ask for better relief from the heat than Krannert Center for the Performing Arts’ Stage 5 and this Thursday’s installment of the Krannert Uncorked series. Come to the cabaret, old chum ...

This week’s free musical performance, accompanied by the clinking of wine glasses and the tasting of fine vintages, features the Katie Flynn Quartet consisting of Champaign jazz and cabaret singer Katie Flynn backed by Kurt Reeder (piano), Crystal Rebone (bass) and John Sergel (drums). Flynn was gracious enough to answer a few questions in advance of Thursday’s performance:

Can you give us a sneak peek at what will be on your program Thursday? How does your performance with a quartet differ from those with larger ensembles — more jazz as opposed to show tunes — or do you prefer a mix of both?

My favorite thing about performing is the connection everyone feels through the powerful energy of music. ... This Thursday’s performance at Krannert is going to be a lot of fun. I’ll be performing with Kurt Reeder on piano, Crystal Rebone on bass and John Sergel on drums. These three remarkable musicians are all doing grad/post-grad work at the school of music here at U of I, and trust me, they are amazing. I’m honored to even be in the presence of such craftsmanship, brilliant musicianship, and they’re also fantastic humans! The show will be featuring a lot of timeless jazz standards, a few show tunes and maybe a few surprises. I always love to get a crowd laughing, so there will definitely be some humor and perhaps a bit of banter, just for kicks.

Krannert is one of my favorite places to experience the arts, and I’m really looking forward to an evening where I can share some music and laughs with the community.

I recall hearing you say a couple years ago that you loved Broadway show tunes and had been inspired by the likes of Bette Midler, Patti LuPone, Barbra Streisand, Carol Channing, etc. Do you have an absolute favorite Broadway show tune?

I definitely love certain Broadway show tunes, but I like to do them sparingly, so they don’t lose their magic and luster. Bette Midler will always be my number-one influence and favorite performer. She knows how to work a room, connect with the magic of song, and is such a funny lady. Barbra Streisand is up there, along with some of the greatest vocalists: Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Nancy Wilson, Anita O’Day, Edith Piaf and Kay Starr. I also adore Freddie Mercury, for showing me that it’s not just about singing, it’s about showmanship, stage presence and a touch of the grandiosity. It would be accurate to say I love so many different kinds of music, especially when I can feel it, express it and connect with it.

I can't wait for: 'Therapeutic music for the soul' at Urbana’s Downtown Get Down

The second installment in this event series scheduled for the fourth Saturday of each month all summer sounds like just the ticket on a hot midsummer’s night this weekend.

Local groove group Ther.Up’Y — which bills itself as “therapeutic music for the soul” — will headline this Saturday’s Main Street entertainment from about 6:30 to 8 p.m. Joining them onstage will be area gospel artists Danyell Tranise and LaJason Parker.

For a sneak preview of both vocalists on Spotify, check out Tranise’s 2018 releases of “All You Need,” “I’m Yours,” “Peace Be Still,” “You Made It” and “I Want More,” and Parker’s 2018 recording of “Jesus.”

DJ Phunky Phil and Deejay Grapes will open Saturday’s show from 5 to 6:30 p.m., spinning Latin and world beats, hip-hop and neo-soul.

That's the ticket: Indigo Girls at the Virginia Theatre

Tickets are on sale now for the Indigo Girls concert scheduled for Nov. 12 at the downtown Champaign theater.

The Grammy Award-winning folk-rock duo from Atlanta comprising Amy Ray and Emily Saliers has been playing their music arranged alongside symphony orchestras across the country (more than 50 to date) on their current extended tour, including a show with the Minnesota Orchestra in Minneapolis earlier this year and another scheduled for next month alongside the Utah Symphony in Park City. This on the heels of last year’s live double album, “Indigo Girls Live with The University of Colorado Symphony Orchestra.“

No word yet on whether the Indigo Girls will be joined on stage at the Virginia by the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra or Sinfonia da Camera, but until then, or in lieu thereof, you can catch their orchestral-based album in full at their Spotify page.

What I’m watching this week: 'Molly of Denali' on PBS Kids

There’s more than one way to honor this nation’s Native American heritage, and this show offers a new one.

“Molly of Denali” breaks new ground with its casting of a Native American hero in a children’s television series.

Nickelodeon’s “Dora the Explorer,” launched in 2000, cleared a path for more Latino representation on TV. Disney’s “Doc McStuffins,” wrapping up its fifth and final season, triggered more than $500 million in merchandise sales in 2013 — a record for a toy line based on a black character, according to The New York Times.

But Molly Mabray is the first star of an animated children’s show to be a proud, contributing member of a Native American tribe, sharing her adventures from her Alaska home with young viewers across the country. (Molly is voiced by 14-year-old actress Sovereign Bill of Auburn, Wash., who is of Tlingit and Muckleshoot descent).

“We’re going to see Molly and her friends doing everything from dogsledding to working in her garden to traveling with her mom, who is a bush pilot who can’t land the plane because there’s a moose in the runway,” Lesli Rotenberg, PBS’ chief programming executive for children’s media and education, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “We’re highlighting important values, like knowing who you are, accepting what life brings and honoring your elders. While these values are specific to the Alaskan Native community, they’re also universal.”

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Copy Editor/Entertainment Editor

Frank Pieper is a copy editor and entertainment editor at The News-Gazette, and the author of Frank's Faves and Frank's Weekend Faves. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@frp308).