Ring in 2004 with River District events

The downtown Rockford River District plays host to many New Year’s events this year. Following is a reminder of what’s going on at the turn of the year.

• The annual First Night celebration offers many events in downtown Rockford, including live musical performances, public skating, luminaries, and fireworks. Events begin at 5:30 p.m. and run through midnight. A free children’s fest is offered from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Cost of buttons for First Night is $7 in advance through Rockford Area Arts Council (713 E. State St., 963-6765) or $9 at the gate.

• As part of First Night, The Hip Hop Movement will be at the Midway Theater from 7 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. The event features Adrian Rivera, The Untouchables, Dirty Wordsmen and many others. Cover is a First Night button.

• Carl Cole & Co. will play a night of soul at Second Congregational Church in Gordon Chapel from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., and is also included in the First Night event tour.

• Tom Mac, with a group of musicians featuring Paul Wertico, John MacLean and Brian Peters, will be at the Mendelssohn Club from 9:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., playing songs off Mac’s latest album, Upper Palette.

• The Second Congregational Church dining room will be host to two Celtic music groups—Casey’s Fancy and Cassie Keruger and Mike Crowe—with opening big band act Kickin’ Brass, starting at 6 p.m. and running until 11:30 p.m.

• Garret Fleming & Nick Lombardo “Live & Semi-Conscious” will perform 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. New Year’s Eve at the Irish Rose, 519 E. State St. There is no cover, and dinner will be served from 4 p.m. until midnight, with champagne available.

• Saturday, Jan. 3, has Mark Willer on the stage at Kryptonite at 9:30 p.m., with a $5 cover charge.

• Matt Ulery’s Narnia Quartet will be featured at the Irish Rose Sunday, Jan. 4, with Thad Franklyn on trumpet (who also plays with Ulery in Son Trinidad), Tim Haldeman on sax, and John Smillie on drums, from 8:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. for a $3 cover. The group will perform originals by Ulery and some Nirvana covers.

If the post-holiday blues are getting to you, visit the River District during the weekend for some New Year’s cheer. Information: Kryptonite, 965-0931; First Night (Rockford Area Arts Council), 963-6765; Irish Rose (Molly Fleming), 964-9767.

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