Regarding The Castle Theatre, Penny & Sparrow, and Delta Rae

A few years ago I discovered a cool video with a great song called Bottom Of the River.  I tracked down the artists to find they were a young band out of North Carolina called Delta Rae.  I followed them casually for a few years while listening to their music intermittently.

A few weeks ago I saw through a Facebook post that Delta Rae would soon perform at The Castle Theatre, a local venue located in Bloomington, IL.  Though I’d heard fantastic things about The Castle from friends, I’d never personally visited.  I decided I’d probably never have a chance to see Delta Rae again, so I immediately bought two tickets for reserved seats.

Last night (November 30th, 2016) marked what I believe to be their second stop on the Winter Acoustic Tour.  My wife and I could not be more glad we attended their show.

First, let me offer a few words about The Castle.  I have to be honest, I found myself pleasantly surprised by the staff.  The Castle had some very large men working, but they were all incredibly polite and friendly.  Granted, I wouldn’t want to get on their bad side because some of them were the size of small mountains, but they went out of their way to make us feel welcome and even showed us to our reserved seats (which turned out to be stools).  The Castle itself is a historic theatre, and while its age showed, it also oozed charm.  We had front row balcony seats, and though the stools weren’t terribly comfortable, we had a straight view of the stage that couldn’t be beaten.  We definitely plan to visit The Castle again.  If you live in the BloNo area, make a point to take in a show.

You can check out their upcoming shows HERE.

The opening act featured a duo called Penny & Sparrow.  Truthfully – I’d never heard of the guys.  They got up on the stage wearing ugly Christmas sweaters.  One of them had nothing more than a microphone.  The other wielded a guitar with his microphone.  That was it.  No lights.  No props.  Just two microphones and one guitar.  Furthermore, these guys, frankly, did not exactly exude performers, musicians, or entertainers at first glance.  They looked a lot like guys who might be sitting in a booth next to me at a coffee shop.  Well, the minute they started singing, they proved they were supremely talented.  Their voices were powerful, they harmonized seamlessly, and their songs were absolutely beautiful.  It became apparent very soon that their tempo and pace moved slowly, but the lyrics and the melody haunted my wife and me, and I mean that as a compliment.  As a final unexpected act, between songs, they had the audience rolling.  These two men were hilarious.  They said they were best friends, and the way they bantered with each other and the audience, I believe it.  They played off of each other as only real friends can.  It proved really fun to have your soul wrenched during the music and then find yourself laughing uncontrollably when they addressed us.  Get ready for some serious deadpan when you see them.  Make no mistake, you definitely need to see them.  My wife and I immediately downloaded their album on the way home.  We found that we much prefer their “live” sound compared to their recordings.  Again, that’s meant as a compliment.

Oh, and their Christmas music?  (Don’t forget the sweaters.)  Their Christmas songs were a true pleasure.  They even have a new album aptly titled Christmas Songs.

You can visit Penny & Sparrow HERE.

As for Delta Rae – they were amazing.  The folks can flat-out sing.  Though their performance was far more “produced” than Penny & Sparrow with lights, blowing fans, and multiple instruments, those things did not overshadow their magnificent voices.  In fact, my favorite song of the night, O Come O Come Emmanuel, did not utilize a single instrument and showcased the true beauty of their voices.  While they played some of their more popular songs such as Bottom Of the River, they also performed some unexpected works including a little snippet of I Want To Dance With Somebody.  Though they were a little more stiff than Penny & Sparrow and lacked some of their opening act’s spontaneity, Delta Rae absolutely entertained the audience, and, in my case, even awed.  To have such talent – such virtuosity with instruments along with flawless voices – they were inspiring.

I also want to add that this show occurred on a cold, Wednesday night.  The Castle wasn’t even half full.  My wife and I were but a handful of people in the balcony.  I can’t imagine what runs through a band’s mind, especially one that is nationally known, to look out and see an already cozy venue only half full.  But you know what?  To Delta Rae’s credit, they performed as though thousands watched.  Though low-key, even a little awkward, between songs, these talented men and women were explosive when singing and playing.  They practically crackled with energy.  I’m not saying they were slamming into walls and smashing guitars, I’m saying they were clearly giving it everything they had.  I appreciated that kind of passion, respect, and work ethic regarding their art, their performance, and their audience.

You can visit Delta Rae HERE.

If you have a chance to see Delta Rae, along with Penny & Sparrow, I completely recommend you do so.  My wife and I had a wonderful experience with these bands.  They made us completely forget we had work the next morning.  We were absolutely content to listen to them for as long as they wanted to play.

Here’s a little picture I took with my phone.  I wasn’t sure if it was proper etiquette or not, but I wanted a physical memory, you know?

My deep thanks to The Castle, Penny & Sparrow, and Delta Rae for a delightful night.

delta-rae

On Working With Sandy Vick of Wintrust Mortgage

Years ago, in 2010, my wife and I needed a mortgage broker.  A trusted source recommended Sandy Vick to us.  We were pleased with the experience, but in the chaos of building a home, Sandy’s service got lost in the mix.  I did remember liking and trusting her, however, and so in the last few months, when we wanted to refinance, we tracked her down and gave her a call.

Now with the entire process complete, I can authentically tell you that the experience with Sandy proved exceptional.  We appreciated her professionalism, her expertise, her patience, and also her willingness to accommodate our schedules. Furthermore, she responded quickly to emails and phone calls and made herself available literally at any time of day or night. We felt completely at ease as we worked with her because of her obvious trustworthy character and good humor. Sandy exceeded our expectations at every level.

If you live in the Bloomington-Normal area and you’re looking to take out a mortgage or refinance, I wholeheartedly recommend Sandy Vick.

You can reach Sandy at the following …

Mobile: (309) 706-6539

Address:205 North Williamsburg Drive, Suite A, Bloomington, IL, 61704

Email:svick@wintrustmortgage.com

Website:loanswithsandyvick.com

Sandy Marshall Vick

Watch This, Then Join Me At the Normal Public Library

 

“The Illustrated Journey of an Unknown Author (Thus Far)” – There will be stories, sketches, laughs, questions, answers, prizes, books, and signatures. Monday, July 14th, from 7:15 to 8:00.  I hope to see you there!

*Special thanks to my wife for filming this fun idea, and special thanks to Oh, Alchemy for providing the music.

RE: VERSE STRIKES AGAIN!

Dear Educators, Librarians, Writers, and Poets,

Downtown Bloomington’s TheatresCool is excited to again present RE: VERSE, a night of poetry reading and performance. All ages are welcome to attend this open mic event, and anyone fourteen or older is encouraged to perform an original poem or dramatic reading. We’d like to keep this a monthly event, so please help it continue!

This month’s RE: VERSE will be on December 8th from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. It’s a free event, but $5 donations are greatly appreciated.

Know a poet who would love to take part? Forward this message to him or her! We are thankful for any help you can provide in facilitating the love of art. This rare venue is such a great opportunity for our artists, let’s not squander it!

Here’s a link to the location and its address:

http://www.theatrescool.com/
403 N. Main Street
Bloomington, IL

Questions? Feel free to get in touch and I’ll answer them.

Sincerely,
Scott William Foley

Cowboys: A Father’s Day Story – My June News and Views Short Story

Ron Irlam sits in his den with his wife, waiting  for his son to arrive for Father’s Day.  But why is Ron so upset, and why does Ron behave so cantankerously every year even though he desperately loves his son?  I’ll give you a hint: it involves cowboys.

To discover Ron’s predicament, read “Cowboys: A Father’s Day Story” in this month’s issue of News and Views for the Young at Heart.

News & Views for the Young at Heart is at virtually any Bloomington-Normal medical facility.  You can also pick it up at the following locations:

-Sud’s Subaru
-Busey Bank on Fort Jesse
-Kroger on the corner of Landmark and Visa
-Commerce Bank on the corner of Towanda and College
-Tuffy Muffler on Vernon
-Kmart behind Kep’s Restaurant on IAA Drive
-Eastland Mall at the main door between JC Penny and Macy’s
-Kroger on Oakland Avenue
-Schnucks
-Jewel-Osco on Veterans Parkway
-Borders
-Kroger on Main Street
-Bloomington Public Library
-Drop Off Laundry on Main Street, across from Kroger

Or, if you live in the Peoria area, get your copy at:

-CVS Pharmacies
-Borders at the Shoppes at Grand Prairie
-Save-a-Lot grocery store in Peoria Heights
-Hospital lobbies
-Barnato Pharmacy at Cub Foods in Peoria
-Kmart in Morton
-Methodist Atrium Building in Peoria
-Peoria Heights Library

The Peoria edition is also in most doctors’ offices and pharmacies in Pekin, Morton, Chillicothe, Lacon, Farmington, Canton, East Peoria, and Eureka.

Comments or questions are always welcome.  Get in touch at scottwilliamfoley@gmail.com.

My Thoughts On John Mayer In Concert

Note: Originally Published 2-18-07

So, lo and behold, we had a major artist visit Central Illinois!  When my wife and I had the opportunity to see John Mayer at the US Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington, how could we resist?

Let me get this out there from the get-go, I’m not a huge John Mayer fan.  I’ve never disliked him, but it’s been a long time since I sat down and listened to any of his CDs. 

That being said, just the excitement of being at a concert with a Grammy winner performing had me hitting on all cylinders, so I think Mayer would have had to really offer us a terrible performance to disappoint, which he did not.

In fact, I was surprised at what a good showman he was.  Also, he struck me as very genuine and personable with his audience.  He made a point several times to comment on the energy in the Coliseum, and he was right.  He had a very appreciative and enthusiastic crowd.  Hopefully that news will get around and we’ll see more big names in the heart of Illinois.

He’s a fine singer, but for me, his songs get a little old.  They’re very mellow, which is awesome if you’re reading a book or trying to have a little romance, but I found myself at time wishing he’d move along to whatever song he had planned next.

But, I can tell you for sure what was certainly not mellow-his guitar playing!  I’ve heard Mayer was a pretty good guitarist, but let me tell you, he is tremendous!  I couldn’t believe the things he was doing with it, and he gave us a little funk, a little rock, and a bit of everything in between.  I just wish he’d take some of that raw energy and put it into his songs, but alas.

Of course, his back-up band was very talented, and Mayer made a point of introducing them and giving them each a moment in the literal spotlight.  He also had a giant set of screens behind him that would light up in various colors as well as a pretty cool light show.  Again, he talked with us quite a bit, and he really was pretty funny and, again, very genuine.  He even got tongue-tied on several occasion and made light of it.  He signed all the posters in the front row, talked about two little girls that he thought had to have been his biggest fans in the whole US, and made a point to try to acknowledge all the signs he could read in the audience. 

Like I said, a great musician, but I would love to see him take his guitar skills and apply them to a little edgier music.  But hey, he’s his own man, and I commend him for doing it his way.

His opening act was a guy named Mat Kearney, and man, would I hate to be an opening act.  First of all, he was very good.  But, you know, people were still milling in during his entire set and getting beer and talking to each other; in other words, just generally not paying him any attention.  I was on the floor, row 32, and I stood, along with the rest of the floor, during the entire Mayer set.  We all sat for Kearney.  Poor guy.  Especially because, like I said, he really was pretty good.  Anyway, finally, he played his last song, and boom!, everybody recognized it.  Then you saw all the camera phones flashing and people started clapping.  Ah well, that had to make him feel a little better.

On another side note, the people in my section kept looking back at the sound area, which was not too far behind us.  There were rumors that Jessica Simpson was sitting in there.  You know, she and Mayer are supposed to be an item these days.  Anyway, I gave in and looked myself, and was pretty sure I didn’t see her.  But, when Mayer had nearly finished his encore, there was some commotion behind us, and I turned around and yep, there she was, in the middle of a pack of security guys being led out of the arena.  Let me just say that Jessica Simpson seems to be the antithesis of everything John Mayer stands for, so I don’t see what is going on there.  Well, I do see it, and I guess he’s a red-blooded American male, but c’mon John!  You write songs; you play the guitar, you dress like a normal dude!  She is so far below you in terms of talent, John . . . just please don’t let her drag you into an MTV reality show.  … Please … 

So, all in all, good show, great crowd, awesome guitar playing, and a lot of fun!