418 South Illinois Avenue, Carbondale, Illinois 62901, United States

(618) 457-5353

A historic visual and performing arts venue in downtown Carbondale, IL.


The Phonics Live!


7 p.m. Saturday, July 27
$15 adv / $17 at the door
Doors & Varsity Bar at 6


The Phonics have performed at The Varsity before, and they always put on a show you don’t want to miss. 

The Phonics, based in Cairo, offer up soul, funk, pop and Motown favorites such as Earth, Wind & Fire, the Gap Band, the Temptations, Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder. The group consists of original 1969 members Harry Williams on drums and vocals, Lee Carter on lead guitar and vocals, and Larry Woods on bass guitar. Other regular members are Wilma Carter on vocals, John Carter on keyboards, Julie Watkins on congas. The band is supplemented by a great horn section that includes Shadi Frick and Chris Rigdon.

Tickets are not available in advance at the venue but will be $17 when doors open the night of the show.


Brian Curran with Ivas John

Brian Curran and Ivas John recently toured Hawaii, performing in various locations.

7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3
$10 adv / $15 night of show
Doors and Varsity Bar at 6

Brian Curran’s newest solo release, “By Myself Alone,” will be celebrated at a concert at The Varsity on Aug. 3 with special guest Ivas John. Brian will be performing the entire song list from the new release plus many of his favorite acoustic blues covers and originals.

The album is a heartfelt dedication to Brian’s acoustic blues roots and features songs from Mississippi John Hurt, Blind Willie Johnson, Fred McDowell, among others.

A devoted apprentice to the early blues and fingerstyle guitar masters, Brian has been a mainstay on the St. Louis and regional music scene for more than 20 years. Whether performing unique arrangements of obscure covers or heartfelt originals, Brian carries on the tradition of America's rich musical heritage, seamlessly blending the music of our past with a sound that is both fresh and inviting.

Special guest Ivas John is a throwback and an innovator. A musician with local roots and worldly chops and a purist who can play the dirtiest blues, Ivas is a musician’s musician.  He has a style of effortless authenticity that is a breath of fresh air and a link to days of yore, imbued with the same sense of timelessness as the shores of the Mississippi River he now calls home. 

Advance tickets are not available at the venue until the night of the show, when doors.


Blue Cactus


7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 15
Doors & Varsity Bar at 6:30

A North Carolina duo that has opened for Sarah Shook & the Disarmers, Lilly Hiatt, H.C. McEntire, Front Country and Town Mountain is touring nationally and will be making a stop at The Varsity on Thursday, Aug. 15.

Modern cosmic country duo Blue Cactus supplements its twang with soaring, space-rock-inspired guitars, while rich harmonies keep their tunes rooted in solid honky-tonk ground. Long-time collaborators Steph Stewart and Mario Arnez are in their eighth year of making music together and have become a nimble creative unit, inspired by such artists as the Everly Brothers, Patsy Cline and Tom Petty. 

The pair’s 2017 self-titled debut album received praise from critics across the country for its poignant songwriting, acute sensibility and expansive interpretation of alt-country and for bridging the Bakersfield and Countrypolitan sounds with elements of modern Americana. 

“It’s twang you can feel deep down in the soles of your feet,” writes No Depressions. And Paste says “You can’t help but fall in love with the heartache.”

Tickets are not available in advance at the venue but will be available when doors and the Varsity Bar open at 6:30.


Music Therapy Fundraiser


7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17
Doors and Varsity Bar at 6

Musician Beth Davis is hosting a music Benefit for Evie Hurst and her sister, Ellie. Both girls were born with a birth defect called anaphthalmia, a condition of being born without eyes. Both girls were adopted from China by The Hurst Family and now reside in Michigan. Evie fears most medical procedures, and the family has found that Evie does better when she has a musical therapist in the procedure room to help her focus and keep her calm. Evie loves music and is gifted with a musical ear and voice. All proceeds of this benefit will go towards Evie's musical therapy and help with medical costs. 

Musicians performing that night include Beth Davis, Kyle and Melissa Triplett, David McEthron, Dakota Holden, Berget Borowitz, and Jenny Johnson.

Tickets are not available in advance at the venue but will be available when doors and the Varsity Bar open at 6.

The event is co-sponsored by Beth Davis, The Varsity and Black Acre Production.