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Live music is definitely a fave, and this week is looking like a good time to check out what's playing at one of C-U's premiere venues — The Canopy Club in Urbana. One-of-a-kind funk-soul collective Lettuce will funkify the premises Wednesday, and electro-pop duo Cherub will grace the stage on Thursday.

How's this for synchronicity? Both groups started off the summer at Chillicothe's renowned music festival Summer Camp, and are now kicking off fall at the same local venue within 24 hours of each other.

Lettuce's show is the seventh in the band's new "Wavelength" tour, following on the heels of its latest album, "Witches Stew," a tribute to jazz great Miles Davis. Count on an evening filled with psychedelic sonics, blissful grooves, jazz rhythms and hip-hop-inspired beats from drummer Adam Deitch, guitarist Adam Smirnoff, bassist Erick "Jesus" Coomes, keyboardist and vocalist Nigel Hall, saxophonist Ryan Zoidis and trumpet player Eric Bloom.

The following night, Oct. 4, Nashville-based electro-pop duo Cherub — featuring Jordan Kelley and Jason Huber — will be all in at The Canopy Club. As they describe their current "Free Form" tour, "We're playing the 'new' music. We're playing the 'old' music. It's going to be 'Free Form.' Their new music is sure to include their string of new singles — "Body Language," "All In" and "Dancin' Shoes" — for which music videos have been released this year.

Speaking of tasty tuneage, downstate fiddler and singer Dennis Stroughmatt will be back in town this weekend for a special performance — the CD-release party for his new album, 'The Keys in the Mailbox: A Tribute to Tony Booth.'

Stroughmatt, from Albion, will take the stage at 8:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 5, at the Rose Bowl Tavern in Urbana. Familiar with local music fans for his work with Creole Stomp (his Cajun and Zydeco band), Stroughmatt has been branching out as of late to include classic country and western swing in his repertoire. After studying with master fiddler Buddy Spicher in Nashville, Tenn., Stroughmatt set out to record classic C&W arrangements in the styles of Ray Price, Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys, Johnny Bush, Tony Booth and others.

The fruits of that effort will be in evidence at Stroughmatt's Champaign-Urbana CD-release party for "The Keys in the Mailbox: A Tribute to Tony Booth." Among featured guests on the CD are Georgette Jones (daughter of Tammy Wynette and George Jones), Johnny Bush, Buddy Alan Owens (son of Buck Owens), Buck Owen's Buckaroos and Darrell McCall.

So far, Stroughmatt's foray into C&W has produced three CDs of classic country music — "Talk to My Heart" (2014), "One More Time" (2016) and "Wrong Side of the World" (2017). He has been a regular guest artist at many of the local country music shows including the opry shows in Philo, Bement and Melvin.

His band at the Rose Bowl will include Darrell Cummins of Lincoln on pedal steel guitar, Doug Rigsby of Paxton on drums and C-U locals Greg Bigler on bass and Rob Krumm on guitar.

Music aside, it's also looking like a good week to take in a movie — especially when you can see the visually out-of-this-world IMAX film 'A Beautiful Planet' for free Monday as part of the first Roger Ebert Symposium.

The one-day symposium, free and open to the public, will start at 9 a.m. Oct. 1 in the auditorium of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, 1205 W. Clark St., U. It will feature three interactive panel discussions with visualization experts, journalists, scientists, media experts, artists and designers, as well as opportunities to preview movie clips. Titled "Empathy for the Universe: Storytelling and Data Visualization," the symposium is a tribute to the late film critic and Urbana native Roger Ebert and his belief that "movies are the most powerful empathy machine in all the arts."

The day's first panel discussion at 9:30 a.m., "Science on the Screen," will feature former NASA astronaut Terry Virts, who shot much of "A Beautiful Planet" while spending 200 days aboard the International Space Station.

Also on hand will be the film's writer/director, Toni Myers, who is receiving a lifetime achievement award from the IMAX community. She has trained 158 astronauts in how to use cameras in space, including Virts, and her pioneering work in IMAX space films is credited with creating empathy for the universe by helping audiences become "astronauts" themselves via the immersive IMAX experience.

Of course, capping the day will be the free screening of "A Beautiful Planet," narrated by Jennifer Lawrence, at 4:30 p.m. at the Goodrich Savoy 16 IMAX theater, 232 Burwash Ave., Savoy. The theater is co-sponsoring the event along with the UI College of Media, the Ebert Center and the NCSA, whose Advanced Visualization Laboratory collaborated on the movie's opening and closing virtual intergalactic-flight scenes.

Tickets for the film and symposium are not required, but preference will be given to those who pre-register online at

And if that movie experience doesn't sufficiently expand your horizons, here's another — the landmark Native American film 'Neither Wolf Nor Dog' will be shown at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, at the Savoy 16 multiplex theater.

"Neither Wolf Nor Dog," based on the novel by Kent Nerburn, stars Christopher Sweeney, Richard Ray Whitman and 95-year-old Dave Bald Eagle (arguably an eligible candidate for "the world's most interesting man") as a Lakota elder who summons a white writer to visit him and help him write a book about his people, then all but kidnaps him for a road trip through Native America's heartland.

According to its publicist, this 2016 independent film has broken records by playing in U.S. theaters longer than any other movie released in more than a decade. The film, directed by Steven Lewis Simpson and filmed on location in the Pine Ridge, Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Indian reservations in South Dakota with a crew of two, has played in 180-plus theaters so far from just around 15 percent of the U.S. market where it has gone head to head with Hollywood blockbusters.

Now's your chance. Don't miss it.

With Halloween just a month away, it's not too soon to start getting freaky, and you can't get freakier than Melissa Mitchell's 'The Freak Show' opening Saturday at ACME Elfworks Artspace in downtown Champaign.

The artist and former UI News Bureau arts editor turned exhibition curator has opened her own venue for art-related activities — as she describes it — in a "flex-space" adjacent to her art studio in Suite 518 of the Lincoln Building, 44 E. Main St., C. Her so-called "odditorium of offbeat art" will be free for the peeping Oct. 6-27, featuring a lucky 13 local and regional exhibiting artists, including Mitchell herself, as well as Emily Alley, Kim Caisse, Heather Chism, Beth Darling, EKAH, Sophie McMahan, Niff, Hilary Pope, Lydia Puddicombe, Ralph Roether, Cindy Sampson and Caleb Voorhees.

While the art may be viewed for free, most of it — with the exception of a few pieces from Mitchell's private collection — will be available for purchase.

According to Mitchell, the quirky assortment of art featured in "The Freak Show" ranges from paintings, drawings, photographs and mixed media work influenced by vintage sideshow oddities and other mutant characters to sculptural assemblages incorporating doll parts and even a duck decoy.

A reception, free and open to the public, is planned for 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, with a closing reception/Halloween party (with costumes encouraged) from 6 to 9 p.m. on Oct. 27.

In addition to the opening and closing event dates, gallery-open hours are noon to 6 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays (Oct. 11-12, 18-19 and 25-26); 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays (Oct. 13, 20 and 27); and by appointment by contacting Mitchell at

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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).