Okay, today is a special day here at MBIP because we’re unveiling the debut of a new series here!
Oh, I just love it when the audience breaks out into spontaneous applause like that! What this series is going to be is a combination of two things I love and can’t live without: Food and music! I thought it would be fun to have lunch (or maybe dinner down the road) with some local musicians, talk to them about the local music scene, have some good food at a local restaurant and then listen to the musicians play a couple of tunes. I’ve decided to call it "Musical Munchies" and I’m excited because our first special musical guest stars are SMD & The Underground and we’ll be meeting and eating at Knuckles Pizza. And so, without any further adieu...not that there’s really been much adieu here anyway, but, you know what I mean, here we go with the first edition of, "Musical Munchies" at Knuckles Pizza starring SMD & The Underground!
Here we are at Knuckles Pizza which is located right next to the Wheels O’ Time museum out in Dunlap. They recently started an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet and check out the front door, they put up a welcome sign for us! Very nice! Let’s go in and see what’s happening!
Nobody’s at the front counter, but there’s Ryan in the window, he’s cranking out pizzas for the lunch buffet which is pictured at the bottom. Let’s go take a look at the buffet wagon!
It starts off with a salad bar with dressing and everything you need to make a nice, garden fresh salad. And look at that bowl of fresh pasta, that looks very tasty. And speaking of tasty, look at all the pizza that’s laid out! The pizza here is done Quad City style and Knuckles is the only place in Peoria to get this kind of pizza and it’s delicious! The dough is different than your standard pizza and if you’ve never had it you really need to try it out and become an official Knucklehead! At the end of the buffet are buckets stuffed with garlic bread Knucklknots and garlic, cheese and tangy marinara sauce for dipping. This is a great buffet and I can’t wait to dig in, but first let’s take a look around here, because I’ve heard the buffet isn’t the only thing that’s new in here!
Here’s the front dining room but what’s that over there...
Wow, they’ve knocked down the wall and opened up this adjoining room complete with another dining area and a really cool wooden bar! The wood on the bar comes from an 1800’s ice train car and check out the nice selection of taps and bottles! They were also installing gaming machines the day I was there, but the license hasn’t kicked in yet, but soon there will be gaming here in a discreet corner of the room! ********UPDATE! The machines are now up and running, so stop by for pizza, beer and gaming at Knuckle's now!
Knuckles is a family-run business and that’s Tom and Mindy who own the pizza parlor and bar in the top photo, their daughter Shannon is a waitress here and below is the entire family unit, from left: Ryan (who we met in the window), Mindy, Shannon and Tom. These are really nice people and I always love supporting a family-run business!
Here’s the dining room opposite the bar, as you can see it’s very spacious and Tom and Mindy said they’ve been packing them in here on the weekends, so that’s great! I love the wooden ceiling and like the bar, this is made from repurposed wood. ThIs is pre-Civil War wood and I can’t remember where they told me they got it...I really need to start writing this stuff down! Oh well, it’s a good excuse to go back!
If you’re a baseball fan, check out this display of signed bats, next to the bar, very cool!
I love all the rock ‘n roll memorabilia in here and a lot of it is autographed. Up top is a B.B. King signed picture of his guitar, “Lucille,” below that is The Who’s Tommy album cover autographed by Roger Daltry, The Hotel California album cover is signed by Joe Walsh and the John Lennon, Walls and Bridges cover is signed by Yoko Ono because John Lennon’s still dead and has trouble autographing things these days. The last three are from the Woodstock festival, the first is the original handbill and ticket and below that is the second poster they printed up and below that is the final classic Woodstock poster that was used for the festival. I love all these musical memories and speaking of musical...
Please welcome the debut guest stars for this episode of, “Musical Munchies,” Brandon Mooberry and Sarah Marie Dillard, A.K.A. SMD & The Underground. Brandon and Sarah play out as SMD & The Underground as a duo and also with a drummer for a bigger sound, but today we’re going to see the duo version in action and I can’t wait!
Here’s the official SMD & The Underground Bio: SMD & The Underground is a SoulFolk trio fresh out of the Peoria area featuring the vocal stylings of Sarah Marie Dillard supported by the expert musical abilities of Mr. Brandon Mooberry on upright bass and their soon-to-be announced, coveted percussionist. This driven, upbeat trio boasts a unique repertoire of original SoulFolk compositions, jazz standards with a modern twist, and youthful arrangements of well-loved classic hits ranging in style from Golden Oldies and Motown to Americana and Classic Country to Indie, Pop, and everywhere in between! With a rarely-seen gusto, this unique threesome works to present a truly original style with evident joy and passion, taking it upon themselves to offer their stage(s) as a sounding board for the Underground artists of Central Illinois. If you’re curious about what Peoria has for your ears, look no further than SMD & The Underground!
Now it’s time for the lunch portion of “Musical Munchies!” I should’ve taken more photos, but I was starvin’ like Marvin and just took this one. It was a great buffet and a wonderful selection of pizza and the salad bar and Knucklknots were wonderful as well. Sarah and Brandon both gave it a thumbs up too. I had a fun conversation with them about the local music scene and the future goals for SMD & The Underground. In addition to recording and performing live, both Sarah and Brandon are very active in music education and offer private instruction for piano, electric bass, upright bass, voice, stage performance, music theory, and songwriting.
Okay, lunch was great and now that the munching and lunching is over, it’s time for the musical portion of this post! Here’s Sarah and Brandon setting up in the corner of the dining room. Tom and Mindy said they’re going to start having live music at Knuckles soon, so all of the sudden this has also turned into a little bit of an audition! This is exciting!
Ladies and gentlemen, here’s SMD & The Underground! The first song they’re playing is, “One More Try,” which is an original song written by Sarah and it is so great! Sarah’s got a beautiful singing voice and I love the acoustic guitar accompanied with Brandon’s standup bass, it really adds a nice percussive sound to the song. You can hear Sarah by clicking on her YouTube Channel right here! About thirty seconds into this wonderful tune, both Tom and Mindy said they’d love to have SMD & The Underground play here, so they passed this audition in record time! No pun intended...well, maybe just a little!
The second song is a cover version of Corinne Bailey Rae’s, “Put Your Records On,” and they really take the song and make it their own and it’s so much fun watching them play live. Both of them are really into the music and they played like it was a packed house in here and that’s the mark of a real professional! Sarah’s one of the top three nominees for Best LIve Performer from Peoria Magazine’s, “Best of Peoria,” and you can vote for her by clicking here. If you’d like to see SMD & The Underground live, here’s their upcoming concert schedule:
Red Barn Open Stage every Tuesday night 9:00PM-Midnight hosted by SMD!
5/19/16: Decatur Brew Works
5/20/16: Private House Party
5/21/16: C-Note Pub in Washington
5/22/16: Mackinaw Winery
5/29/16: Oliver's Pizza & Pub Veterans' Benefit
6/4/16: Relay For Life
6/4/16: SMD & The Underground LIVE at the Red Barn
6/9/16: Opening for Anderson East with the Harvest Sons at Pour Brothers Brewery
6/11/16: Craft Soda Festival in Pekin
6/12/16: Elandorf Music Festival
6/12/16: Opening for Craig Cardiff at the Ca d'Zan House Concert Series in Cambridge
The show is over and Sarah and Brandon are packing up. Thanks to both of them for this mini-concert and being the debut guests on, “ Musical Munchies,” here on MBIP! It was a ton of fun and I can’t wait to do it again! And thanks to Tom, Mindy, Shannon and Ryan for the great food and hospitality at Knuckles Pizza!
Mindy took three parting shots of myself with Sarah and Brandon!
Today’s song is a Sarah Marie Dillard original called, “Bad Man” and here’s Sarah explaining the inspiration behind this tune: “It was inspired by the Netflix docu-series called "Making A Murderer" which tells the true stories of Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey, two men currently imprisoned, many believe falsely. We had the privilege of performing it live at Northwestern Law School in April at the request of one of the gentleman's lawyers, Mr. Steven Drizin.”
Bonus Thoughts For Food Section
Every now and again on a MBIP food post I like to ask some questions about favorite foods and spots around town and here’s Sarah with her answers to the following questions!
Favorite pizza in Peoria (or nearby, this applies to all questions): One World Cafe, pepperoni with Alfredo sauce, ranch for dippin!
Recommendation for Saturday Night Cheeseburger: Ulrich's Rebellion Room—if you're out, you might as well get all the way out! Exceptional cheeseburger—don't forget the bacon!
If you could take a trip back in time, where would you eat a meal in Peoria? I would want to go back to Jumer's! Their cinnamon rolls were a staple of my childhood.
Even though you should try to eat local, the one chain restaurant in Peoria I would recommend is: Qdoba! Can't go wrong with a giant burrito.
Favorite local sandwich: I am in a constant state of craving for the Reuben from the Publik House in the Heights. No joke.
Best little out of the way joint I know is: The C-Note Pub on the square in Washington, Illinois—join us there on Saturday, May 21st for great eats, smooth drinks, and live, local music from 7:00PM until 10:00PM!
Someplace that has really good pub grub is: Look no further than Kenny's Westside Pub, of course! I personally recommend that you wash that pub grub down with a two dollar Long Island.
My favorite spot for breakfast is: If I have to be awake for breakfast, the breakfast line at Gebby's Family Restaurant is totally worth it.
And my favorite spot to have lunch at is: Again...if I have to be awake for lunch, I love to visit Season's Gastropub in Morton, Illinois. Try the fries!
If you had to choose a last meal in Peoria, what would it be (feel free to use items from different restaurants): An Extra Long Island from One World Cafe, a Reuben from the Publik House and fried green beans from Peoria Pizza Works with ranch from Avanti's, tomato soup from the Fresh Market with Kenny's Westside Pub bacon on top, and a root beer float from Lou's Drive-In for desert, all eaten at my favorite red bar inside my favorite Red Barn. During sunset. There.
Finally this has nothing to do with food, but what was the first concert you ever saw? The first concert I ever saw was Ben Folds in Bloomington-Normal where he blew my mind live for the first time. What an amazing performer - insane amounts of energy backed by expert music theory and execution. And yes, I witnessed the improvised writing of his original tune "Effington" which he was inspired to write in jest after traveling past Effingham, Illinois. It was a top ten moment for me. You can hear this tune on his album "Way To Normal" which was named after Normal, Illinois.
And we'll close on a musical note: If you could sing a duet with any musician past or present, who would it be and what song would you sing? I hate these questions with a passion, because I could never answer 100% truthfully. Too many amazing artists have gone before me for me to choose just one! But if you had a gun to my head, I would happily die for the chance to sing backup for Aretha on "Natural Woman." What greater honor could there be for a female vocalist?