January in Champaign-Urbana conjures up a variety of images: cold, gray weather with the occasional (inevitable?) warm, sunny day that comes out of nowhere only to disappear into prolonged bout of wintry mix. Peering through frosty windows into warmly glowing cafes filled with people reading and working. White blankets of snow that are quickly transformed into piles of dirty slush by traffic and construction. Sidewalks in need of shoveling. People slipping on those icy sidewalks that are the result of other people not shoveling. A bustling community that has doubled in size as students have come back for spring semester at the university. Winter in C-U can be daunting. However, peering past the dreariness, there’s always a variety of interesting and fun events waiting for those brave souls who refuse to succumb to the temptation of hibernating until spring.

One of those events is the C-U Folk and Roots Winter Weekend, and all the merriment and music-making that accompany it. An intimate slate of shows put on by a variety of local and regional artists, the Winter Weekend brings with it a welcome bit of warmth and joy during the doldrums of winter in Central Illinois.

This year marks the fourth anniversary of the CUFR Winter Weekend, a smaller but no less enjoyable supplement to the always popular C-U Folk and Roots Festival that takes place each fall. This year’s Winter Weekend shows will be hosted two by venerable local live music venues, Rose Bowl Tavern and the Iron Post, and C-U musicophiles looking to have an old-fashioned good time will have their pick from three "jam-packed" nights of shows.

Each festival put on by CUFR is curated to showcase the diversity of styles and musicianship that fall under the dual catch-alls of “folk” and “roots” music and this year’s Winter Weekend should be no different. From the upbeat, cafe-chic gypsy jazz of Milwaukee-Based Swing Chevron to the newgrass notes of local group, Hobnob String Band, this year’s performers all bring a little variety and a lot of energy to the stage. Of special note is the album release party by The Chickadee Sermon on Saturday night and the final show of the weekend featuring the occasionally raucous, always dynamic, sui generis stylings of Chicago’s Devil in a Woodpile.

The full schedule of performances can be found below:

Thursday, January 30th at Rose Bowl Tavern

  • 5 pm: Hobnob String Band (Bluegrass, Newgrass, and more: Local Urbana)
  • 8 pm: The Bottlesnakes (Blues and ragtime: Piano and Guitar duo from St. Louis)                               

Friday, January 31th at The Iron Post

  • 5 to 7 p.m.: Dennis Stroughmatt and Friends (Creole & Cajun from Southern Illinois)
  • 7:30 to 9 p.m.: Nyttu Chongo and Jason Finkelman (World/Mozambique: St Paul, MN & C-U Local)
  • 9:30 to 11 p.m.: Swing Chevron (Gypsy Jazz and Swing from Milwaukee)

Saturday, February 1st at Rose Bowl Tavern

  • 6 to 6:45 p.m.: Cole Bridges and The Overpass (Americana folk and pop and songs: local C-U)
  • 7 to 8:30 p.m.: The Chickadee Sermon *Album Release Party* (Comfort Folk: Local C-U)
  • 9 p.m.: Devil In A Woodpile (Blues, ragtime, jugband from Chicago)

This year’s slate of Winter Weekend shows promises to be a great time filled with good music, fellowship, the chance to dust off your dancing shoes and cut a rug, and more. So, fight the call of the couch, turn off Netflix, brave the elements, and stop by Rose Bowl and/or The Iron Post for a good time with friends.

Tickets for individual shows as well as full weekend passes for this year’s Folk and Roots Winter Weekend can be purchased online or at Rose Bowl Tavern. For more information about tickets, check out the CUFR website and the CUFR facebook page.

Top Image: A cartoon winter scene with a pine tree covered in snow, a snowman playing a banjo with a fierce face, two forest creatures playing an upright bass and a guitar, a rabbit playing a single drum with a carrot, and a bird playing a wind instrument. The text on the poster reads, "CU Folk and Roots Winter Weekend, The Rose Bowl & The Iron Post," followed by a schedule of the weekend's event. Image from the C-U Folk and Roots webpage.