As the holiday season gets into full swing, Chambana’s creatives have not stopped working and producing. It really is hard to encompass it all, with such a variety of art and creators at work in this community. I caught up with a few groups/artists across several genres over the past week, and here, we take a look at what’s up with it all.

One of the folks I got in tune with was Charlie Harris, a steady contributor to a number of groups (including The Chickadee Sermon, talked about below).

He summed up the scene’s multifaceted depth well:

”What I think happens sometimes is people will go to a show, and from that one show, or from talking to one person, or reading one article, they say, 'Oh, that's what it's like.' The truth is, any one show wouldn't tell you about the C-U music scene... while being this smaller city in middle America or whatever, there's just so much going on." - Charlie Harris

NP0 appears on new series, Groove Daze

One of the emergences from the U of I creative circle this semester has been Groove Daze, a student-led group producing live video performances of area talent. They linked up with talented Illini MC, NP0 (No Power Off), who performed at Pygmalion in September. Balancing school, NP0 hasn’t released much in the way of new music this year, but has been doing a number of shows around town. NP0 demonstrates a range of talent, with raw vocals supplied with bars, for four songs and a great introductory interview for those unfamiliar.

THE FALBONAUTS have a memorable record on their hands with LSD & Heartache

The Falbonauts have been on an absolute tear this year, releasing two EP’s in the first six months of 2018 and then putting out their album LSD & Heartache last month. The band’s brash riffs and crashing drums — mixed with unabashed vocals — make for an energizing listen. The group jumps from rampant paces to wound-down cuts from song-to-song, including a harmonica-laced transition on my personal favorite, “Carefree Man”. The project, which runs just under 45 minutes, is a great listen for a long drive orto get going to in the morning, and is an excellent showcase of the group’s talent.

THE CHICKADEE SERMON working on new project amid slate of shows

Folk group The Chickadee Sermon isn’t afraid to play anywhere. Over the past couple months, the group has played a number of shows across a wide scale of venues, bouncing around from Danville's Fall Festival to Sleepy Creek Vineyards in Fairmont to Avionics, right downtown last week.

They're about it all, but they love the vibes that some of the more closed-in atmospheres (like Avionics) go with, band member Olivia Tasch expressed.

“(The Avionics show) was a super intimate atmosphere,” Tasch said. “Everyone who was there was into that, huddling up and getting close and sharing the space with us, which we really like to do as a band. We really like to get that feel from people, where we feel like we're having a show with the audience and not for the audience, if that makes sense.”

Tasch and her bandmates Jennifer Hood, Mike Tasch, and Charlie Harris, have been balancing their time doing shows while putting together a full length project throughout the last several months.

Hood said the band is about 75% of the way through the project’s formation.

“Over the summer we were really focused on the album and kind of taking our minds off of playing live and focusing on what we wanted to do artistically in recording,” Tasch said. “Then we had a little break and started playing more shows in August and September, then we decided that we had kind of a new vision for the album and thought we would work on getting these new songs that came up really refined. It's important for us to be slow and take our time, make sure that we're producing our songs in the way we want to.”

Post-tour with The Dry Look, RYAN BREWER working on new EP with old friends

Ryan Brewer has been making music for some time (Smile Politely did a tour diary with him in 2009), and after an eventful fall, he’s still at it full-speed. The Dry Look’s bassist is a fresh off a Cowboy Monkey show that concluded a Midwest tour that stretched across Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Michigan, Tennessee and Ohio.

He’s got an EP on the way, though Brewer is unsure whether it will be released as a phase of his band ZXO, Good Night & Good Morning. He’s collabing with former bandmates Sahan Jayasuriya, who has been sending drum tracks through from San Diego, while Pat Elifritz is working on the project’s visuals. Brewer shared a crisp visual for the project’s lead single with us, but the trio isn’t yet ready to share yet. When they do, you’ll want to check back in.

Photo by Anna Longworth

ISAIAHG drops self-reflective video for new single, “Vices”

Chicago transplant IsaiahG dropped his first new work in a bit, putting out a new single “Vices” in the form of a eye-pleasing visual from Des Armon. Isaiah’s on his own, relentlessly spitting lines about his personal narrative, weaving his way about perfectly tailored Andrew Bearford production. He raps, “when the lights on and the mic’s on, pics from the flash in the Nikon’s, you see the ice on, but when night comes snakes move with codes, that’s a python.”

Drop what you’re doing for two minutes and see him in his element as he gears up for 2019.

Gearing up for the 28th year of THE GREAT COVER UP

Each year in C-U, a wild ensemble of talent assembles for The Great Cover Up in a culmination of the area’s talent. This year’s event takes place on two weekends in February (the weekend of the 9th and of the 16th) at the City Center, and boy, is there quite the lineup. It’s not even all announced yet — tickets are set to go on sale soon — but a number of notables are in on it, including Elsinore, Beat Kitchen, Chase Baby, Airacobra, and Motes.

The event has the community’s well-being at heart too, as it pairs with nonprofits to share their proceeds. Last year, one of those was CU’s One-to-One Mentoring Program, which helps build supportive relationships between young people and adults for guidance and encouragement.

Dancers descend on Canopy for URBANITE XXI showcase

Dance showcase and workshop series Urbanite is set to invade Canopy Club with a host of competing dance crews and the Chicago Bulls’ DJ Metro slated to compete in a 20-troupe contest of street-style dance. The show returns to Urbana (where it started) in its 21st year in existence, bringing in 20 groups — including four from U of I — together to show off their stuff.

It’s a great chance to expose yourself to a variety of dance, with a number of different influences affecting the crews from all throughout the Midwest. Plus, it’s a chance to get down with some talented movers and groovers, while appreciating all the work that goes into performance dance.

If you have anything you think we should know about, please email us at music@smilepolitely.com, and we'll take a look, or a listen, whichever it might be.