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Cracked on Green St. opening tomorrow

Rejoice, breakfast-eaters of Champaign-Urbana - as we have long-known, Cracked will no longer be confined to a food truck. What we now know, however, is that their brick-and-mortar shop on Green Street opens up for the very first time tomorrow (March 26th) at 10 AM.

For more info, check out this tweet from Cracked below, featuring a picture of the new spot:


Big Grove hosting Caymus Wine Dinner on April 5th

For those of you who enjoy a nice glass of vino with a meal, Downtown Champaign's Big Grove Tavern will be hosting a dinner featuring pairings of Caymus Vineyards' wines. The dinner will be held on April 5th, and tickets can be bought online or in-person.

For more info and to buy tickets, check out Big Grove's Facebook post:


Champaign Parks Foundation hosting benefit concert on April 1st

Champaign Parks Foundation, which helps fund things like the Virginia Theatre's restoration project, natural areas development, playgrounds and scholarships, will be hosting a benefit concert with music and comedy at The City Center on Saturday, April 1st.

Tickets are $10, and will go towards CPF's continued efforts to provide excellent civic services.

For more info, here's what Champaign Park District had to say: 

A Benefit Concert for the Champaign Parks Foundation

Join us for a full night of laughter and live music to benefit Champaign’s parks, programs and facilities! This event will feature comedian Chris Schlichting and will be headlined by one of the nation’s most well renowned rock cover bands - Mike and Joe!

April 1, 8:00pm - 12:00am
@ The City Center
Tickets: $10 - $20
Purchase tickets online:

Comedian Chris Schlichting (7:30-8:30 pm)

Growing up on the mean streets of Iowa, Chris Schlichting knew that he either had to take up standup comedy or join the notorious Midwest gang known as “The Farmers.” He is quickly gaining a reputation as oneof the best comics on the planet, and by “planet” we mean “his street.” Described as “hilarious” by his mom, and “not good at sports” by his dad, Chris takes pride in his immature and lovable style.

His act covers hard hitting issues like squirrels, sandwiches, and his twin boys. Learn how to pronounce this comic’s last name, and then remember it forever. Chris Schlichting is sure to leave you laughing, andwanting more. Follow him here: The SchlickTEAM (comedian chris schlichting's fan page)

Mike and Joe (9-Midnight)

Mike and Joe is one of the nation’s most well renowned rock cover bands! The bulk of the set list includes rock hits from the ’90s through today, but occasionally they’ll throw in some tunes from the 70’s and 80’s as well!

Covers include: The Foo Fighters, Maroon 5, Fallout Boy, U2, Blink 182, Mumford and Sons, Justin Timberlake, Fleetwood Mac, Sublime, Dave Matthews Band, Florida Georgia Line, Third Eye Blind, The Eagles, , Weezer, Jimmy Eat World and many, many more!

$10 General Admission / $20 VIP Mezzanine
Get tickets now:


Local March for Science scheduled for April 22nd

This year's Earth Day takes on new meaning as scientists in Washington D.C. and across the US take their concern for recent policy changes to the streets for the March for Science. The March for Science Champaign-Urbana is an official sister march, and will take place April 22nd from 5-7 p.m. at the Orpheum Children's Science Museum. The C-U march takes a unique approach by involving youth in our community. Students in kindergarten through 12th grade are encouraged to bring signs with messages about why they love science and why science is important to their future. Students will march on a sidewalk-route through downtown Champaign and will return to the Orpheum.

After the Youth March, four local scientists and science-advocates will give short speeches about how science has impacted their lives. There will be a focus on the intersectionality of social justice issues and science issues.

From the press release:

We promote science-based policies that benefit the Champaign-Urbana community and the greater public beyond. Science benefits everyone when we include the diverse voices of people from many backgrounds. We invite our neighbors of all professions and backgrounds to join this march. Together, we can improve our communities. Together, we will show our elected officials that science matters. Together, we will demand policies that protect our communities.

Visit the March for Science: Champaign-Urbana website to find out how to participate, donate, or volunteer.


Jay Bennett’s original Pieholden Suite Sound is getting demolished (UPDATED)

UPDATED: 8:53 pm:

Huge apologies to Matt DeWine, as this article was originally published incorrectly. The new Pieholden is still in operation, while the former studio is what is being demolished:

Matt DeWine, a sound engineer who worked with Bennett after Bennett left Wilco, has continued to operate Pieholden Suite Sound along with studio manager Josh Dumas.

The studio — described in a 2013 Chicago Reader story as a "recording playground" and a shrine to Bennett who collected vintage guitars —  moved out this past fall.

Here's the original content below. Deepest apologies for the misinformation. (PS)


While this isn't directly happening here in Champaign-Urbana, this feels like something worth posting: Jay Bennett's Pieholden studio in the Ukranian Village in Chicago is getting demolished. Per DNA Info Chicago, the studio and property will be wiped away to make room for condos. So it goes nowadays, sadly.

The ex-Wilco member Bennett has many ties to Urbana — the place where he died. Annie Weisner outlines it well in her review of his record, Kicking the Perfumed Air:

On May 24, 2009, musician, producer and multi-instrumentalist Jay Bennett was found dead in his Urbana apartment from an accidental overdose of the painkiller fentanyl. Bennett had first come to CU as a student of secondary education, mathematics and political studies. He played in several local bands before joining the power pop group Titanic Love Affair, and after TLA's breakup Bennett eventually left Champaign to join Chicago-based band Wilco in 1994. Bennett had returned to Champaign-Urbana in 2007, and his friends said he seemed to be entering a calmer phase of life-working toward an online masters degree at UIUC, enjoying the relaxation of Urbana, and recording in Pieholden Suite Sound, the studio Bennett and manager Matt DeWine built from the ground up.

You should read Joel Gillespie's piece on the studio to get a look inside what it was like. RIP.

Photo from Undertow.


C-U ex-pat Jonathan Childers featured in Rolling Stone

The annual South By Southwest (SXSW) conference and festival took place over the last two weeks in Austin, TX, where literally hundreds of bands perform in what is one of the biggest shitshows the music industry has to offer. That said, it is a fun time, though it depends on who you are.

Anyway, Jonathan Childers used to live here in Champaign-Urbana, contributing at SP at certain points (oh, that Jimmy John's thing), before his band The Leadership moved to Nashville in 2011. Their album Frontiers was one of the best albums over the course of the last half decade, and he performs in a band called Blank Range nowadays. 

Blank Range played some shows at SXSW and Rolling Stone took the opportunity to talk about the band, Childers, and the Nashville sound.

Here's an excerpt:

But it was Blank Range, a Nashville country-rock outfit featuring amped-up guitars with occasional steel-guitar atmospherics, plus the sort of precise vocal harmonies rarely heard in guitar-rock nowadays, that demolished the Yeti stage. Singer Jonathan Childers also earned sartorial extra credit by rocking a thrift-store cowboy look with a white-suit-and-hat ensemble that made him appear as if he just escaped from a high-school prom.

"I bought a pair of jeans off a guy at a show in Flagstaff, Arizona," Childers said after the set. "They were acid-washed, I wanted 'em and the guy said $10. But I gave him 20 since he was taking them off."

Pretty cool to see what Childers is doing and to have him and the band featured is great. Read the whole article, and in addition, listen to his band here.

Photo by Lorne Thomson/Redferns.


Oh look, you can be a game play tester at Volition

I was at Pekara in Downtown Champaign today and I saw this poster on their board towards the back. Volition, located up the street at One Main, is one of the gems of C-U's tech/business community, so I was curious about this.

Apparently, you can be a play tester for them, and here's how:

Do you like to play video games?

Volition needs YOU to help us make our great games even better! Enroll in our Player Experience Program below by completing the survey, and you could get a chance to play these games as they are being developed!

Our studies within the program range from usability tests that can take 2-3 hours, or longer tests that can stretch across multiple days.

Player experience tests are performed only on-location at our studio and if you’re located within two hours of downtown Champaign, Illinois, you can sign up.  If selected you will be appropriately compensated for your time and help. You must be 18 years or older to participate and a state issued photo ID is required at the time of the study.

To enroll, please complete the survey below. Volition collects this information for the sole purpose of matching you with an appropriate study. All information is kept confidential and will not be distributed outside of Volition. You must have a valid email address in order to complete this survey.

Please Complete This Survey

Any questions about our privacy policy or the playtest process can be sent to:

Please Note: You are ineligible to participate in these playtests if:

  • You’ve ever worked in Game Development, Market Research, or Usability Testing
  • You are a current employee of a video game retail store or game development studio
  • You are a games journalist/blogger
  • You are under 18 years of age

Also, if you have gaming buddies, please tell them to enroll as well!

Pretty cool if you are interested in gaming at all. Read up on them from Jonah's feature on Volition a while back.


Urbana’s Market at the Square launches new website

From the press release:

Urbana’s Market at the Square Launches New Website 

The City of Urbana’s Market at the Square is excited to announce the launch of an all-new, enhanced consumer website today at

The updated Market at the Square website has been redesigned to make it even easier for customers to find what they want…fast! Whether customers are looking for a specific vendor or a delicious recipe for dinner, the website puts all the resources right at their fingertips. Developed by ThirdSide, a web design and web development firm of Champaign, the new website includes a beautifully updated and mobile-friendly layout. Features include an online product search engine, collection of affordable and delicious farm fresh recipes, videos, an interactive events calendar and easy access to apply to participate at the farmers market as a vendor or community group.

“The updated website is going to be a great resource for our customers,” commented Market Director, Natalie Kenny Marquez.  “We’ve been planning a website build out for quite some time and it’s exciting to see the feedback we’ve received from our customers, vendors and Market Advisory Board members come together in such a beautiful and easy to navigate website!”

Urbana’s Market at the Square has been a mainstay of our community’s Saturday morning activities since 1979, and is home to over 150 vendors selling Illinois-grown produce, plants and flowers, farm products such as meat, cheeses, eggs, honey, Illinois wine, and fresh baked goods. There is also a wide variety of handmade local art & crafts for sale and numerous foods trucks producing a variety of menu items sure to satisfy any palate. 

To learn more about Urbana’s Market at the Square please visit, call 217/384-2319, email or follow the Market on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Spark Museum, a new children’s museum, opening in Urbana

Chambanamoms reports that a new children’s museum is opening  at Lincoln Square Mall in Urbana. Spark Museum + Play Café is opening Mid- May, with the aim to encourage innovation and creativity within the children of the community.

The space will be transformed into an 8,000 square-foot play space where both children and adults can interact, relax, eat, and enjoy the atmosphere of the museum. It will also include designated areas for infants, two treehouses, a “pizza factory” station, “Way Things Work Factory,” a “Wiggle Factory,” and a “Create and Build Factory,” and more.

Executive director Sonya Darter and her co-founder, Megan Gillette, have spent nearly two years on the project, and they hope to collaborate with college and university minds to “bring in new ideas and keep the technology fresh,” Gillette said.

The specific age target for this museum is children from newborn to 8-years-old.

The Cafe will feature organic foods and a variety of drinks.

Admission is expected to be $5 for kids and adults. Spark will be open Wednesday-Sunday. Birthday parties, private parties and corporate events are available.

Photo by Kodo Kids.