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Kayla Brown gets in a practice run earlier this week at the spot of today’s Friday Night Live performance near Pour Bros. Craft Taproom in downtown Champaign.

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Rediscovering her live-audience groove after a long pandemic pause has been a bit like “riding a bike again,” Champaign musician Kayla Brown said during a Wednesday-

evening dry run outside Pour Bros. Craft Taproom downtown: “A little rusty at first, but then you get the hang of it.”

Brown will help reboot 40 North’s festive Friday Night Live series with a one-hour gig tonight near the corner of Market and Taylor streets. Her performance starts at 6 p.m., part of a two-hour celebration that also plays out on two other downtown corners.

“It’s cool to see the community come back to life after we’ve been on hold for so long,” Brown said.

The Friday Night Live season runs through Sept. 24.

“We are so thrilled to bring the energy and vibrancy back to downtown,” said Kelly White, executive director of 40 North. “It’s beyond rewarding to see people connect and soak up the music from our super talented local musicians. Canceling last year (due to the pandemic) left such a void. It will be wonderful to fill it once again.”

Head to 40north.org for a lineup of bands and locations.


The circus is coming to town. Cirque Italia Water Circus will present free shows through Sunday at Market Place Shopping Center (7:30 p.m. today; 1:30, 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. Sunday). Cirque Italia is described as “a breathtaking performance of European style” and will feature a stage that holds 35,000 gallons of water.


Pells Park is the setting for a daylong Old-Fashioned Fourth of July celebration Sunday. The festivities will be capped off with fireworks at 9 p.m. at Bixby Park.


Two days worth of activities kick off with downtown’s Freedom Friday, capped by fireworks at 9:15 p.m. at the airport. At 9:30 a.m. Saturday: a parade that starts at MapleGrove Plaza and heads west down Grove Avenue to Wabash Park.


A nostalgic small-town parade is on

tap at 10 a.m. Saturday before fireworks at dusk.


The village’s parade starts at 10 a.m. and heads through each subdivision, featuring village departments, partnering agencies and private businesses.

Dave Hinton

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