rockford illinois entertainment guide
Date: 11/26/2004
First Night 2005... It's Hot!
by Gregory C. Johnson

New Year's Eve is just around the corner.  You want fun.  You want excitement.  You want to choose your entertainment and you don't want to mortgage your house to get it.  So where do you go?  First Night 2005 has just what you need.  All for the low price of a $7.00 button.


First Night has something for everyone.  Where else can you see these great headliners for a great low price:


The Second City National Touring Company

With alumni such as John Candy, Rick Moranis, Martin Short, and Eugene Levy, Second City has earned its reputation as an award-winning, side-splitting, uproarious good time!  Watch as they perform hilarious skits with music and improvisation!  Sponsored by Bank One. 


Live Band Karaoke

Indulge your Rock Star Fantasies with Live Band Karaoke! They provide the band, you provide the lead vocals and stage presence! Choose from classic rock of the 60's and 70's, hair metal, punk, indie rock, 80's new wave, 90's grunge and recent hits.  The band will sing backups and play the songs just like the original version.  You are the star of the show, so step up to the mic and rock out!


Nicholas Gunn

As one of the world's best-selling flautists, Nicholas Gunn infuses his new age jazz sound with a mélange of musical backgrounds, tones, and rhythms. His commitment to the environment married with his incredible musical talent has allowed him to produce billboard charting albums through which he expresses his deep connection and passion for the Southwest.


Liz Mandville Greeson

On stage, it's magic! Hip shakin' Liz gets the crowd moving with the first blast of her powerful, four octave, soul-drenched voice. She is a high-voltage blues diva whose music is just as feisty as she is!


Randy Erwin

Providing the yodeling voice of Alameda Slim in Disney's "Home on the Range", Randy Erwin's talent is a hypnotizing thrill! During his entertaining performances, this cowboy will share music, folklore and history of the cowboy - and do rope tricks too!


The Special Consensus

This four person bluegrass band features original compositions by band members and professional songwriters as well as traditional bluegrass standards. Lending to their diversity, you may even hear songs from other musical genres.


Devil in a Woodpile

Hailing from Chicago, this American Music band is rooted in country, ragtime, hot jazz, hillbilly…you name it! Their unique instrumentation will remind you of back porches on hot summer nights! Sponsored by AMCORE Financial.


The fun doesn't stop there.  Check out these special First Night events:

Fire & Ice

Gather around a pyre of ice as this specially crafted sculpture is ceremoniously ignited to create a kinetic art form.  Solid mass melts to liquid creating beautiful movement and the crackling sound of fire!  An amazing First Night tradition!  


Young Musicians Showcase

Enjoy the sounds of Rockford's finest young talented musicians in this "hands-on-music" showcase.  Students of Marilyn Cade, Jea Yi and Dianne Londo perform on the RSO Steinway concert grand piano.  New this year, the Picardy String Quartet, a self-formed group of high school seniors who study music at the Rockford College Music Academy, will join the showcase.


Resolution Luminarias

Create an illuminated declaration of your New Year's resolution on the downtown pedestrian mall.


Hands-on Art Fair

Join in the tradition as you create cool masks, festive crowns, noisemakers, instruments and other adornments to celebrate the occasion!  Show off your creations in the "Frost and Flame Parade" as you head for the countdown to midnight! 


Rockin' the Decades

You can rock the night away with the high-energy sounds of RetroActiv and US Radio as they perform a range of tunes from the 1960's, 70's and 80's.  You won't be able to resist the urge to dance!


Prose & Poetry Corner

An evening of storytelling, mime and poetry will be augmented by the Gentle Poetry Slam VI!  Local and Stateline poets will compete in youth, adult, and audience improv categories for prizes. 


AltZone - The Alternative Choice

Indo, emo, artistic, hard-driving, the AltZone combines several genres of alternative rock music featuring some of the local area's new and established bands.


Slip n' Slide

Slide into the New Year during the public skate at the Riverview Ice House.  Admission is only $1 with a First Night button! Skate rentals are also available for $1. 


Glitter and Glow Finale 2005

Join the crowd and celebrate the start of 2005 with boisterous fun and entertainment! The commotion of the Frost 'n Flame parade, the drama of Fire and Ice, and the soft radiant glow of the Resolution Luminarias will join the sparkling pedestrian mall in beckoning you to unite with the First Night community in welcoming in the New Year!


Frost 'n Flame Parade                   

Beginning at 11:30 p.m. in the Memorial Hall Parking Lot, the Jefferson High School "Functional Noiz" rhythm group will parade and lead the First Night crowd to the second Fire and Ice sculpture and then the countdown stage for the evening's finale.  Be sure to stop by Hands-on-Art Fair to create your instruments and decorative parade attire!


US Cellular's "First Call"

Are you thinking of someone who can't join you for First Night? Convey the merriment of the New Year by phoning nationwide to long distance loved ones from the Coronado Theatre. 


American Music Soundstage

New American Theater will be filled with the sounds of great American music when Randy Erwin, The Special Consensus, and Devil in a Woodpile hit the stage.  From cowboy songs to bluegrass to fusion blues, these performers will share their great talent and passion for the aesthetic roots of music we enjoy today.


The Urban Music Movement at the Millennium

The Salvation Army Millennium Community Center will shine with local stars from Studio Zoom as they fill the stage to perform a mixture of Hip Hop, rap, R & B, pop, and poetry for the First Night crowd.  Flow with the sounds of featured artist, LONDON as he provides a rhythmic backdrop to bring in your New Year!


This is only a taste of what you can expect to find at First Night 2005.  Buttons go on sale on November 29th.  Buttons are $7.00 until December 20th then the price increases to $10.00.  So get your buttons early. Check out the web site at for more information. 

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