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Central Illinois musicians reunite for 'Another Second Chance' in Peoria

Craig Moore and Darren Peacock in studio
Tim Alexander
The event, organized by longtime Peoria-area musicians Craig Moore and Darren Peacock, will begin at 6 p.m. Saturday at the new 3300 Event Center at 3300 Willow Knolls Drive in Peoria.

An all-star cast of 1970s and 1980s central Illinois rock icons will reunite for “Another Second Chance: A Celebration of Live Music” on Saturday night, Oct. 22. The event, organized by longtime Peoria-area musicians Craig Moore and Darren Peacock, will begin at 6 p.m. at the new 3300 Event Center at 3300 Willow Knolls Drive in Peoria.

Central Illinois music fans of a certain age will recall the address as the home of the old Second Chance nightclub, where many of the musicians scheduled to play on Saturday night were members of bands that worked the stage during the club’s heyday from the mid 1970s through the late ‘80s. They include members of the Dave Chastain Band, Maiden Kane, Ready, Steady, Go!, Eargazm, Kool Ray and the Polaroidz, and more.

“Back in the 1970s the Second Chance was THE happening nightclub in central Illinois, and the local music scene was smoking hot,” said Randy Nelson, the singer, lead songwriter and guitarist for Eargazm, a popular Peoria band that played an amazing 250 shows per year during their 1980s Midwest heyday. “It hosted many local and regional artists in addition to local artists, and the Second Chance was among our favorite haunts. Whenever you played there it was always an ‘event.' Everyone showed up and it was always festive and fun. It was a magical time for local music in central Illinois.”

Moore, who played in Ready, Steady, Go!, GONN and the Slink Rand Band and is the owner of Younger than Yesterday record and memorabilia store in Peoria, said he is looking forward to welcoming back many of the musicians with whom he shared the Second Chance stage. He’s also looking forward to reconnecting with some old friends who share memories of great times and endless music at the entertainment venue.

“The Second Chance was sort of the Peoria equivalent of something like Park West in Chicago. When you were standing on that stage you knew you were somewhere. It was not like playing just another club gig,” Moore said.

The world-class, multilevel venue known as the Second Chance also played host to national touring acts including Van Halen, Joe Cocker, Stevie Ray Vaughan and the Outlaws.

“Bands like that would come through in an endless stream. They all came in and played on that stage, and the next night it might be Ready, Steady Go or Eargazm playing up there. It was all in the same bailiwick and society of performers,” Moore said.

After the Second Chance stage went dark in 1984, the location served a series of disco dance clubs including Stage II and Confetti’s, a catering service, and later the nondenominational Second Chance Church. The building sat vacant for a couple of years before being purchased by the mother and son entrepreneurial team of Tricia Buskirk and Brian Donahue. A lengthy restoration project was undertaken to restore the building — which went through a variety of cosmetic structural changes over the past three decades — to what it closely resembled during its years as the Second Chance.

In addition to serving as a premium event center for weddings, receptions and parties, the new owners of the venue hope to recapture the history of the building as a live music destination for bands throughout the Midwest, according to Moore.

“Tricia and Brian have a real desire to see the place go back to being a destination venue with live music. Their mission is to rekindle the place as somewhere to go and see great live bands,” he said. “It will be a wonderful thing for Peoria and the local music scene.”

Chastain, 69, is a central Illinois musical icon whose 1980 “Rockin’ Roulette” album is still highly regarded by collectors and southern rock aficionados around the world. Fond memories of gigs played at the old Second Chance helped compel Chastain, whose Florida home narrowly escaped Hurricane Ian’s path of destruction a few weeks ago, to fly to Peoria to participate in the show.

“I’m really looking forward to playing with some good friends and being back in the old Second Chance venue, where so many great memories were made,” said Chastain, who hinted there may be some surprise reunions in store during his set. ‘I’m truly blessed to be here.”

Doors open at 4:30 p.m. for the 6 p.m. show. VIP reserved tables are sold out, though some walk-in tickets remained at press time. Food will be available, hosted by Untamed Chef with selections inspired by the former O’Leary’s restaurant. For more information visit 3300EventCenter.com.

Tim Alexander is a correspondent for WCBU. He joined the station in 2022.