Close-up on Local Bands

Close-up on Local Bands


There’s a lot of musical talent in our community, and this week, we’re going to talk about three groups that shared their stories with us! We hope you enjoy these mini synopses of some of the great music going on in our area!

Acoustic Avenue

What to do when your music family keeps getting calls and invites to play in local venues? For the Scott family, the answer was clear – form a band! Their group, Acoustic Avenue was formed in 2005 thanks to steady local demand for their music. Lori (Scott) Hartz shares, “We weren’t organized enough to play together at the time,” so forming a band brought them and their performance up right where it needed to be to handle the requests. What sets them apart as a group? Hartz shares, “Our band is unique in that all our instruments are acoustic” (except when an occasional guest artist joins them for a performance).

Acoustic Avenue is mainly made up of family members. Siblings in the band include Mark Scott on vocals and acoustic bass, Jeff Scott on the Dobro, Lori (Scott) Hartz on fiddle and vocals, and cousin Doug Scott on mandolin and vocals. Hartz shared, “We also have great friend and renowned musician Stan Robinson on guitar and vocals, and Lynn Ruby on drums and vocals. We often have guest musicians Jeff Davidsmeyer, Brad Floreth, and Jeff Newman play along with us!” Apparently there’s humor among all the acoustic stuff as well, because Doug Scott doesn’t hesitate to break out into “Clooney Trot” during his performances of “Man of Constant Sorrow.” Nice, Scott!

To contact Acoustic Avenue and bring them to your venue or event, call Lori Hartz at (217)473-3767.

Poor Farm Road

Just down the lane on Poor Farm Road there sits a recording studio owned by Mike Mason, a local music icon. When Mike Lonergan (a guitarist and vocalist), Tim Welch (a vocalist), and Brad Floreth (another guitarist) realized they were all spending a lot of time at this said studio, they picked up the name of that road for their band. Lonergan shares, “The name also ties us into the local community as this road is a common travel route between the Jacksonville-Arenzville area. We have played several venues including Hill Prairie Winery in Oakford, AJ’s Bar and Grill in Arenzville, Ridgeview Winery in Mt Sterling, The Levitt Amp series on the Jacksonville square, Arenzville burgoo, Strawn Art Gallery Lawn Gallery and numerous private parties for weddings, Christmas parties etc.”

Their first public appearance was on New Years Eve of 2016, and the group has now grown to include additional members – Polly Sampson from Lincoln, IL on bass guitar/vocals, and Jimmy Willis from Peoria, IL on drums/vocals. Like the band members that they teamed up with, they’ve frequented other groups, including, TNT and the Dynamite Cowboys, Acoustic Avenue, Dave Chastain band, Tom Irwin, City Limits and the list goes on.

Do they take selections? Yep! Lonergan states, “With the high level of experience in the group we can usually take a request even if we haven’t played it together before and make it come out pretty well. With four vocalists in the band, one of which is a female, there is a lot of diversity in our vocals. In addition, with two guitarists that have worked together for a long time we have a unique sound when it comes to putting complex guitar parts in a song. All of the Poor Farm Road band take pride in putting out quality music with a variety of songs from our favorite classic country to some classic rock, 60s and 70s and we even do a song by Prince.”

One time, an audience member asked if they could play a Johnny Rivers’ song, which they had never played together before. Lonergan explained, “We talked about it for a minute and played the song just like we had been playing it for years. It became a regular song on our list.”

In closing, Lonergan shares, “All of the members contribute a unique perspective to the band and the combination results in a classic country/classic rock group that can put together a driving beat with some amazing guitar work and awesome vocals and harmonies.”

To see Poor Farm Road perform, or to hire them for your special event, call Mike Lonergan at (217) 341-1906 or message the band at the Poor Farm Roads Facebook page.

Woody: A One Man Band

Shannon Wood’s early musical years were pretty typical – there were some scattered piano lessons in grade school, and playing the alto sax in high school. Woods says he remembers when his grandpa helped him pick out his first guitar during his senior year of high school. After learning a few chords from his grandpa, Woods took off. His instruments grew to include tambourine and harmonica as well. It’s been almost 20 years since Woods started playing his own instruments for small audiences. From playing around campfires and family gatherings, Wood now plays in churches and community events. Some of Woods’ past events include playing for Dr. Ugs in Virginia, Passavant’s racing fundraisers, birthday parties, and even the Arenzville burgoo. Most recently, Woods shares, “I opened for a band at Virginia’s next to the courthouse in a gazebo for their summer music series.”

Woods shared, “I never really thought I would start playing music anywhere but this year it just ‘kinda happened.” Folks seem to like his simple, “one man band” style. He reminisced, “A few years ago, I sang a song about the Arenzville burgoo at a talent show and everyone seemed to enjoy it so when I was asked to play this year I had to break the song back out.” He also visits nursing homes to play for residents, thinking, “If I ever go into one when I’m older, I would love hearing someone play, so that’s what I do.”

And what does he play? Woods says, “I just enjoy playing good ol’ easy listening, classic rock, and old school country.” He’s also written some new songs of his own that he’s enjoyed presenting in different venues.

To bring Woods out to your special event, give him a call at (217) 997-5550.

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