Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Sept. 25th BITS a Success; More BITS Nov. 14th with Gina Sicilia and the Dave Gross Band!

The first set of Fall BITS programs are completed and now it’s time for another! On September 25th Hawkeye Herman and Westside Andy with Glenn Davis performed in four schools and then joined forces for an evening show at the Just Goods Listening Room.

Carlson and Whitehead Elementary Schools were visited by Andy and Glenn while Hawkeye went to Ellis Arts Academy in Rockford and Dakota Elementary School. Over 1150 students and their teachers took in these great programs.
The evening show featured a set with Andy and Glenn followed by a set by Hawkeye. The three artists then combined for a short set of blues standards. It always amazes me when great artists can pick up and play together as if they’d practiced or toured together for a long time.

The Society would like to thank Hawkeye, Andy and Glenn for their great school programs and a superb evening show. We are proud to be associated with such talented and wonderful people.

Next up for us in BITS will be Gina Sicilia and the Dave Gross Band. They will be at Guilford HS at 9:30 AM on the 14th of November and then perform at 12:45 PM at Spring Hill Elementary School in the afternoon. That night they will be at Big Cities Lounge at 7:30 PM for the evening show. Tickets are $5 and admission for Crossroads Blues Society members and High School age students or younger is free.

Gina is a recent graduate of Temple University with a voice that will get her recognized as the next great female blues vocalist. We were the first publication to review her CD (Mar-Apr 07 Issue) and every review since ours has been equally glowing n the praise for this great new young artist. She is only 22 yet sings with the conviction and soul of a much more worldly aged woman. She is a huge talent and this is an artist that you should not miss.

Dave Gross is another exceptional young talent. He was nominated for the best new artist Blues Music Awards held earlier this year because of the fire in his guitar play and vocals. He and his band are from the New Jersey area and are touring with Gina; they will be part of all the BITS events. His CD was reviewed in our Jan-Feb 07 Issue.

If you don’t have Dave or Gina’s CDs yet you may have an opportunity to get them when you see them on the 14th but don’t wait. They are both worth adding to your collection. The CDs were originally released on SwingNation Records and in July they both were re-released under Bob Margolin’s VizzTone label group. They are and is now available in stores, as well as on many major websites: Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, Borders.com and CDUniverse.com, among many others.

Next up for our BITS programs will be a day of school programs with Pistol Pete in December. Stay tuned for more info on that date and schedule for the school programs!

Blues Society Remains in Good Hands

The Crossroads Blues Society election of officers and board members occurred at our last meeting. No juntas were attempted and in a continued and remarkable degree of complacency the prior slate of officers and board members were retained.

Seriously speaking, the club elections brought back all the people who had served in 2006-2007 to repeat their fine efforts in the new 2007-2008 year. Mark Thompson remains as President of the Society and truly is the Kahuna of the Blues. Karl Dahlin is Vice President, Steve Jones is Secretary and Al McNary is Treasurer.

The Board of Directors retains Rich Gordon, Harmonica Joe, Bob Levis and Rick Hein (who have served for many years) and Allison Johnson for her second year.

The Society thanks them for their continued efforts and fine work and expects another great year with them at the helm!

We Need Your Help!

The newsletter takes a lot of effort to write and produce. With the income of ads and color production, we have a great product, have covered our costs and actually turn a slight profit on the newsletter. What we still need is input.

Writing reviews and stories takes time and effort. Mark, Steve, Joe and a few occasional others submit a lot of reviews but don’t let that stop you from wanting to be the next Jimmy Olson or Lois Lane of the Blues. Mark, Steve and Joe usually write all the reviews because no one else does.

We get a lot of CDs from the labels to review. It is our goal to review all the CDs and DVDs (and occasional books) that we receive. If you’d like to take a shot at being a part of the newsletter and writing reviews of the music we receive, let Mark know at kahunablues @aol.com and he’d be happy to set you on the road to fame and fortune. Well, fame, at least, since there is no pay (except getting to hear the latest hot blues music before most everyone else). And the fame is not so hot, either, but we do it to keep the flame of the blues alive!

BITS and More in the Works for Nov-Dec 2007

It’s coming to the end of 2007 already but we have a lot of blues yet to come! Here is what’s in store for Crossroads members and blues lovers!

On Wednesday November 14th we have Gina Sicilia with the Dave Gross Band for BITS. The day begins at 9:30 AM at Guilford HS. The afternoon session at 12:45 PM is at Spring Creek Elementary School. And evening show open to the public is at 7:30 PM at Big Cities Lounge. Tickets for the show are $5, and admission is free to Crossroads members and students HS age or younger. This will be a superb set of programs and music, so come on out!

Saturday November 17th the Rabble Rousers will be at Big Cities and we will also hold our regular meeting for all members that night at 8 PM. This Chicago band is hot-hot-hot and you need to go-go-go to the meeting and this show! Things to be discussed and planned at the meeting include:
· December BITS with Pistol Pete– what date and which schools?
· 2008 BITS Spring and Fall programs– who do we bring back and what new artists should we bring in?
· 2008 Grants and Fundraising– how will we find our upcoming programs?
· Crossroads Christmas Party. We’ve had a Christmas party the past two years and hopefully we can pull off another one. It will be at Big Cities but we need to chose a date and time in December for that.

Lots of stuff is upcoming, so come out, enjoy the music and lend a hand in planning to help keep the blues alive!

Blues in the Schools Set for Tuesday, Sept. 25th

School is back in session and that means one thing for Crossroads Blues Society– it’s time once again for Blues in the Schools! Tuesday, September 25th is the date for the first fall Blues in the Schools (BITS) sessions to be held.

Hawkeye Herman returns for his 4th straight year supporting our Fall BITS efforts. Westside Andy will also be conducting sessions in the Rockford area along with guitar player Glenn Davis. Both sets of artists will be performing an AM and PM school session, and they will be teaming up for an evening show for the public, too.

The evening show is going to be held at the Just Goods Listening Room at 8:00 PM. Tickets are free for area students and are only $5 in advance and $8 at the door for adults. Cal 815-234-3118 or email kahunablues @aol.com for tickets and more information .

The school schedules are still in a state of flux at press time. Andy and Glenn will be in two Rockford Schools. Hawkeye will be in Dakota Elementary School at 2 PM with another school TBA for the AM session.

BITS is brought to our area schools due to our club’s fund raising efforts. The August benefit at Big Cities Lounge raised over $1,200 for BITS programming. We have also received a grant from the Rockford Area Arts Council each year that goes towards the costs of our BITS efforts.

Herman is a veteran BITS performer. His full time musical performances are now all BITS and festival related. He is perhaps the king of BITS, undoubtedly performing in more schools than any other blues artist each year. Andy and Glenn are doing their first BITS programs ever for us, and we are excited to expand the number of artists who can support and educate America’s youth. We are excited to have them and Hawkeye here in the Northern Illinois area!

We will be holding more BITS programs later in the Fall. Schedules and funding still are up in the air, but as of press time we have signed up Gina Sicilia and Dave Gross to perform for our BITS on Wednesday, November 14th. There will be more on this in our next newsletter along with a full review of Hawkeye, Andy and Glenn in the Schools!

Interview with Kevin Johnson, Promotional Director, Delmark Records by Harmonica Joe

HJ: Kevin can you introduce yourself and give some history of Delmark Records?

KJ: Bob Koester, owner of Delmark, has been documenting some of his favorite blues and jazz artists, mostly Chicago based, for over 50 years!! (since 1953 to be exact). Delmark is the 2nd longest single owned and operated independent record label still going strong. Delmark is named after Delmar Avenue in St. Louis, where Bob got his start in the music business. This is a family run operation with Bob's wife Sue running the retail and advertising business (and most importantly being the Delmark "MOM!"), and his son, Bob Jr, handling the legal, bookkeeping, and website affairs. Steve Wagner is the long time General Manager/record producer/studio engineer of Delmark. Frank Corpus handles all of our mail/shipping/distribution, and I am the promotions/publicity man, the liaison between the press and radio. Delmark's focus the past few years has been the DVD format, as well as releasing CDs from the past and present in our favorite Chicago blues, traditional and avant garde jazz.

HJ: Young people are now interested in rap, hip hop, heavy metal and other genres of music. Do you think that blues artists and recording companies have to be more open to change or stick to more traditional blues styles?

KJ: I think Delmark does well because we have stuck to our favorite music- real deal traditional blues and jazz. People comment all the time how Delmark is one of the only labels still releasing this type of blues, as opposed to the contemporary blues rock that seems so prevalent these days. Our eyes and ears are always open for new and different styles of music, but there is still so much fantastic real deal traditional blues/jazz with FEELING that needs to be recorded/released,

HJ: With DVD’s capable of making recorded live performances by great blues artist available to fans; do you think that this is the way to get more people interested in the blues?

KJ: Definitely! You get the whole visual and aural experience, putting you in the front row of some of our favorite blues and jazz clubs of Chicago. And fun DVD extras like interviews and audio commentary are added features on DVDs. Blues to me is most exciting when it is captured live, raw, with the feedback.and energy from the crowd involved.

HJ: The idea of recording blues shows with real blues fans in the audience is a great idea. Junior Wells, "Live at Theresa’s Lounge" and Carey Bell and Lurrie, "Live at Rosa's Lounge and Buddy Guy's Legends" are great examples of this. Do you think that these true blues joints can survive and flourish into the future?

KJ: I really think there will always be some type of true blues joint to be found. It has become more and more difficult to keep these joints in today's business, but I think there is and always will be a small but loyal niche that will support them,

HJ: How important is it to the recording companies to have their artists perform on stage at blues festivals and at small blues venues?

KJ: Very important for our artists. They get better recognition on the live circuit and festival circuit, and a lot of CD sales are still from selling off the bandstand and interacting with the crowd. People definitely connect with the artists on a different level when they see them perform live as opposed to just having the recording.

HJ: We have recently lost some of our great blues artists, i.e. Carey Bell, Robert Lockwood Jr. and Willie Kent. Do we have enough new young blues artists coming up to fill the void and keep the blues alive?

KJ: That is one of my personal biggest concerns. I don't see the younger generation playing the type of traditional blues that we love so much, especially from the younger African Americans. I think it will come back around again though, along with old school soul/funk/R&B, musical styles tend to have a cyclical pattern. This music is too emotionally powerful and good for the soul to disappear.

HJ: I think that blues societies and Blues in the Schools programs are critical in teaching the blues to new people and keeping live music on stage. What are your thoughts on this?

KJ: I can't say on a personal level with regards to Blues societies, and Chicago still surprisingly does not have one, but I know they provide an excellent community base aspect with the particular specific blues area. Blues in the Schools is such a wonderful idea, and I wish more of it was done. It is absolutely critical in passing on this wonderful and historical musical form to impressionable ages.

HJ: The list of Delmark recording stars past and present goes on and on. It is great to hear them playing at home and on the road. Where is your favorite venue for watching a blues show?

KJ: I tend to love the funky "hole in the wall" west and south side Chicago neighborhood clubs (like the 5105 Club on 5105 W. North or Joe's on Van Buren and Pulaski) for blues, but they are very inconsistent in when they have acts playing. Depending on the act of course, I love B.L.U.E.S. for its friendly and intimate down home feel. Rosa's, Kingston Mines, and SmokeDaddy BBQ come to mind as well, I don't love the ambiance of Legends, but Buddy Guy's club has an amazingly talented lineup. I love the "roadhouse" feel of venues like Fitzgerald's and the HIdeout that feature blues once in a while in Chicago.

HJ: If you could do one thing to keep people interested in the blues, as well as other genres of music, what would it be?

KJ: Take them out to one of your favorite acts at one of your favorite clubs, and they might just have one of those live music experiences where they are hooked for life!!

Walter Trout Show a Huge Success!

One man’s vision came to fruition- Crossroad’s member Joe Geraghty is a huge Walter Trout fan and he personally went out and recruited one of his favorites to come and play in Rockford. He fronted the money and took the risk to bring Walter Trout to Big Cities Lounge and his vision became a sight for all to behold, and the sight had some super sounds to accompany it!

Trout came to Rockford on Tuesday, July 31st. He performed two exceptional sets and performed for about 100 people. The show was a big hit and shows what one bold man can do!
We also got to see 7 year old guitar wunderkind Tallan Noble Latz who was at the show and was invited up by Walter for a few numbers. He is an amazing young man and is the youngest blues axe man in the world! Keep up the good work, Tallan!

Thanks to Joe for his support and willingness to go out on a limb for all area blues fans. We all appreciate what you did! It was a great night for Rockford. Trout was a great guy to get here to both listen to and to meet.

We are pleased as a Blues Society to be able to do things like this. Our organization is filled with people who will take a risk to bring big named bands to the Rockford area. We are looking at a number of future shows. Keep an eye and ear out for the dates, times and locations!

Blues in the Schools Benefit Show Raises Over $1,200

The blues were out in force for our August 18th BITS Benefit concert! It was a big night at Big Cities for Crossroads. In total, we raised $1,261 for BITS, which will help to fund the next round of BITS performances.

Todd Lorenz began the night with an awesome acoustic set. This was his first time in Rockford and I am sure we’ll see a lot more of this bluesman in the area. Todd also donated the funds from sales of his CDs to BITS, so a big thank you also needs to go out for his generosity!

The Basement Blues Band were on next. Featuring Bob Schmidt on drums, Steve "Spider" Leigh on guitar, and Rich Gordon on bass, the band’s two and a half decades of blues experience shone through. They are always blues fan’s favorites and put on a great show!

The next two sets featured the return of the Rockford Guitar Shootout! We had our first shootout in Sinnissippi Park in 2005. Two of the original six string slingers returned– Bob Levis and Pistol Pete. They began the first set and electrified the crowd! Pete’s histrionics are always a great musical show and the steady finger picking style of Barstool Bob wowed the crowd.

Also in the house was Prezell “PD” Davis of Agnus Jackson who got up and jammed wth the boys. He switched his hard rocking guitar style to the blues for the evening; the intensity of his playing was awesome. Larry Pendleton also performed as part of the shootout and his axe work was also exceptional. Pete, Bob and Larry along with the visiting Prezell put on a great show for the huge crowd of about 100 blues fans!

The silent auction, 50-50 raffle, Todd Lorenz CD sales and door profits were also supplement by donations for Steve Roach’s jambalaya and Allison Johnson’s red beans and rice. What a great evening of food and music! Many thanks to them for donating their time and great food!
If you missed this night you missed a great time. Thanks to Big Cities and especially to all the members of Crossroads Blues Society who worked to make this night a big success! We are truly keeping the blues alive with our BITS fundraising efforts!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Walter Trout Concert Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tuesday, July 31, 2007
$15 in Advance $20 at the Door
Big Cities Lounge
905 East State Street Rockford, IL 61104

Thursday, June 28, 2007

An Interview with a Living Legend by Mark Thomspon

Many of you may not recognize Herert Hardesty by name but I guarantee you that all of you have been listening to his work for years. As a mainstay of the Fats Domino Band for over five decades, Mr. Hardesty's sax solos have graced Domino hit records like "I'm Walkin'", "Let the Four Winds Blow", "Ain't That A Shame", "Blue Monday" and many other hits. At 82 years young, Herb still can captivate an audience with his instrumental prowess.
This interview took place on January 19, 2007, on the high seas during the week-long Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise. Mr. Hardesty was appearing as a member of Mitch Wood's Big Easy Boogie Revue, which revisits many many of the classic New Orleans tunes.
Mark Thompson: "Thank you for agreeing to talk with me."
Herb Hardesty: "It's a pleasure being here with you."
MT: "Congratulations on your new grandchild. You're anxious to get back to Las Vegas and see her."
HH: "Yes, it will be an honor tomorrow - be a very wonderful pleasure to see the new baby."
MT: "How did you get started in music ? What inspired you and drove you to learn the saxophone ?"
HH: "What drove me to music is that when I was a small kid living in New Orleans on a street called Claiborne Avenue. They had a park - we called it nuetral ground. During the seasons, bands used to come and play - Louis Armstrong - and they would march through the streets and play. I heard them playing. What happened, my mother had a piano and I used to bang on the piano. And all the time, the neighbors were yelling for her to stop that boy from making all that noise !!
I had a step-father and he was working at one of the hotels. Louis Armstrong gave him a trumpet. He brought the trumpet to me and I started playing it. I would get out there for the parades - I couldn't play but I could hear the notes. The marching band would be playing and saying "Come on, join us - come on and join us." I'd go out there and walk with them for a little while. I could only go a certain distance because then my mother would start hollering for me to come back.
This was the beginning of my career in musc. I started taking private lessons and also in the schools, music school and grammar school. This is what started my career. And I kept up with it until the time I went into the service. When I went into the service, they had trumpet players but they had no saxophone players. So my commanding officier said, Herbert, can you play the saxophone. I said no, but if you get me one, I can learn how to play it. So we went into town and he bought me an alto saxophone. In one week I played it, learned the scales on it and I started playing in the band. I I kept up with both instruments."
MT: " How long were you in the service ?"
HH: " For 4 1/2 years - I was with the Tuskegee Airmen."
MT: "Certainly that group has gotten a lot of recognition lately."
HH: " Oh yes, it was an excellent, excellent group -
the 99th Fighter Squad. They were excellent flyers, excellent technicians. Everybody played a major part in that group."
MT: "What was your role in the group ?"
HH: " I was a technician and also worked in the radar tower, so I had quite a few things that I was doing. All but flying - I didn't fly."
MT: "So you got out of the service and went back to New Orleans ?"
HH: " Yes, I went back to New Orleans and started a career back in music."
MT: "And you started in with Dave Bartholomew ?"
HH: "No, no, no - it was quite some time before I met Dave Bartholomew. I had my own group plus I was in big bands. New Orleans was famous for their big bands like Don Robichaux and Don Redman. That was the style then and working with the big bands was good for me. Then I got my own group, use to call it The Four Dukes. Dave and I got out of the service around the same time. He had his own performing group. We used to come and see each other play. But it was quite awhile before we actually made contact as far as playing with each other. He asked me to come down to the club. He had a big band and I worked with his band. Later in his life and career, he came to be an A&R man for the Imperial Record Company. So he started recording and I was recording with him."
MT: "Around what time was that ?"
HH: " It was in the fifties."
MT: "For those who might not be familiar withthe 50's Dave Bartholomew, are there any tracks that feature your sax playing ?"
HH: " Oh yes - Fats Domino and Lloyd Price - there were a lot of different artists because we were down there recording everybody in New Orleans. And other people were coming into New Orleans - Little Richard would come in and record with us."
MT: "Are there any tracks that feature a Herb Hardesty solo - any that stick out in your mind ?"
HH: " There's a lot of tracks. We did a lot of recording, not just with Bartholomew but other bands, too."
MT: " You've had 55 years with Fats Domino. How did that relationship start ?" HH: " I'll put it to you this way. The time should speak for itself."
MT: " Did you meet in the studio - on a the bandstand somewhere ?"
HH: " I first met Fats in the studio. They told me we were going to record "The Fat Man". During that time, they had a program on radio called "The Fat Man". I said wow - we're going to record the Fat Man, that's super. When we got into the studio, I said Dave, where's the Fat Man ? Dave said he's over there by the piano. I said no, man. The other guys in the studio and I were thinking it was the Fat Man from broadcasting. So that's how I came to meet Fats Domino."
MT: " What was the music scene in New Orleans like during the 1950's ?"
HH: " Wonderful. Very nice."
MT: " Any remembrances of places like the Dew Drop Inn ?"
HH: " We had Dew Drop, the French Quarter, not just one particular place but the Dew Drop Inn was one of the amazing places where all the artists would come in from out-of- town and they would come to the Dew Drop. It was a good place to play. It had nice crowds, good musicians coming in and good vocalists."
MT: "People know you for your work with Fats Domino. What other things have you been doing over the years ?"
HH: " Well, I did things with Tom Waits for awhile. I worked with Count Basie for awhile. I worked with Duke (Ellington) temporarily. I've gone to work with different artists, not just Fats.But Fats was the longest person I ever worked with. And it all has been rewarding. I learned something from each individual artist that I worked with."
MT: "Count Basie is certainly one of my favorites of all time."
HH: " Oh yeah, I enjoyed with Basie' band. Plus I got a chance to work with Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald - all of the top vocalists. We were basically the support band for them...
When we sit down and talk about the history of life - and music - there's no other joyful thing in this world that we could be discussing than music. Music is a wonderful thing of life. And the people who produce it, play it."
MT: " It's been a big part of my life. I like to share it with other people as best I can. And I like to try to get people to get to know artists that are worthy of recognition but people may not have had the opportunity to know who they are."
HH: " That's very nice of you."
MT: "So your commanding officier bought you a sax and you learned how to play it in a week. I've been trying to learn how to play guitar for the last nine months and I can hardly play anything worth listening to."
HH: " It's the individual, it's how much you apply yourself to accomplish something."
MT: " Now you are really making me feel bad !!"
HH: " I'm sorry but when you have the determination within yourself to do something, you can climb the highest mountain in the world. Just like in a profession, you apply yourself to get what you want. So study a little harder !!!"
MT: " Any sax players that inspired you ?"
HH: "Many, many, many sax players. I love the way they play, I love the expression that they have in their music. It's always good to be self-sufficient, to have your own ideas. I love what other sax players do but I never try to play like them. I always want to be myself. And I think that everyone should try to accomplish that - establish your own identity. But I'd like to go back - Coleman Hawkins, James Moody, Sonny Stitt, John Coltrane. I liked all of them - excellent musicians and they had their own true identity, each one of them. And that's very important. It's just like if you were a writer, you'd want to write what was inside of you. Just like you are talking to me now - you are asking me questions based on what's coming
into your mind - and I'm trying to answer them the best I can."
MT: "When you are at home, what kind of music do you listen to ?"
HH: " I love all types of music - classics to jazz, modern jazz, blues. I put myself into all of this. I listen to all music because I love music. I love music from different countries. I can't always understand the lyrics but I love the voices, the music. I love it all !!"
MT: " We talked the other night and the name Charles Brown came up. I know that you have played with thousands of musicians over the years but are there any indivividuals that really stand out in your mind, that were either great human beings or musicans that were a cut above the rest ? "
HH: " It's hard for me to say that I like musician better than this other one. They all had their own true identity, all did what they wanted to do and how they felt about producing their music. So I will not pinpoint one musician or one vocalist. I respect them all, so I will not say I like one better. They all are great."
MT: " You have a new cd out. It's your first cd on your own. Why don't you tell us a bit about it."
HH: " Well, it's a circle. Some it goes back several years ago and up to this time in my life. I did some live things when I was in Europe last year and some of it is old recordings that I had made."
MT: " The things you did last year look like you were in a jazz vein."
HH: " I don't like to be classified as one type of blues player or jazz player. I love it all. And I like to present myself to the public as what I like. If I'm playing the blues, I play blues. And it's all related to a very good streak of creativity."
MT: " There has been a lot of talk about Hurricane Katrina and the situation in Louisiana. Did the hurricane have any impact on you ?"
HH: " Oh yes - very, very bad. The problem is I had for pieces of property down there and I insurance declined on three pieces because I didn't have flood insurance. On the other piece of property, it took insurance so long to pay up - over a year before they'd even settle. And when they settled it, they settled for they thought I should get. There's a lot of people going through that. That's the problem. It's still a disaster down there. I still haven't had things fixed. It's awful."
MT: " Do you think New Orleans will ever get back to anything like it was ?"
HH: "It all depends on what our government does. We can spend money - billions of dollars - over in another country, why can't we spend some of the money to help people back in this country ?"
MT: "I think a lot of people are asking that question."
HH: "And they should be !! All we can do is wait and see, see what our President is going to do."
MT: " Any experiences from your career that really stand out ?"
HH: "Well, about a month ago, I had a chance to talk with ex-President Clinton. It was wonderful - one of the highlights of my life, being able to talk to him. He played the saxophone, you know. We had a picture taken together."
MT: " Where did that happen ?"
HH: "That happened in Las Vegas. And that was a highlight, to shake hands with a President. And he is a wonderful person."
MT: " Did you give him any lessons on playing sax ?"
HH: " No .. we didn't get a chance to play together. But maybe one day we will. If Hillary comes to be President, then I shall play for them."
MT: " So when everything is all said and done, how would you like the world to remember Herb Hardesty ?"
HH: "I'd like the world to remember Herb Hardesty as peace, joyful and happiness. And everybody being able to live together. Countries being able to solve their problems by sitting down at the round table, talking it over. That I would like to see. I'd like to see that I had something to do with bringing this peace around the country. When I first when in the service, we landed in Casablanca. We had nothing - no equipment, no nothing. The Arabians came to our rescue and helped us out. I'll never forget those days.
And I hope that that every nation can live together in peace and enjoy life. This is my desire."
MT: " I know you brought a lot of happiness to a lot people over the years."
HH: " And they brought a lot of happiness to me, too. When you see and hear the happiness and joy in people, then you get a good feeling inside about that
- that's my joy. "
MT: "The other thing I wanted to hear about, this is your first Blues Cruise. What do you think about the cruise ?"
HH: "Well, let me tell you this - when I went to war, I went on a Liberty ship. Twenty-seven days from New York City to Casablanca. Man, I said never again. After the war, came back on another Liberty ship, seventeen days because we weren't ducking mines. That weather was so rough !! And I said never on a ship !! So Mitch Woods called me up to go on this ship. But it's been wonderful. A lot people get seasick but we've been good.
But, man, it must look like I'm pregnant, my stomach. becuase I've been eating so much !! I think I've jumped from a 36" to about a 44 inch."
MT: " I've cut down to two meals a day but that hasn't helped because I just eat bigger meals."
HH: (laughter) "Then, after dinner, it's 9 p.m. and we're eating again. My wife loves ice cream."
MT: "The band with Mitch sounds great."
HH: " Yeah, everybody's a good entertainer, good musicians. And we're happy with what we're doing. Everybody has their own style of playing."
MT: " Any plans for the future - any other projects on the horizon ?"
HH: " I will be doing a thing in New Orleans at the House of Blues on January 27. They are giving Fats Domino an award and I'm going down for that. In February, I'm go to Paris for a week. After that, we'll see what happens after that. Maybe you'll call me up for a gig !!!" (much laughter)
MT: " Over the years, I've heard about all of the great music programs in the New Orleans schools and the nurturing
of the young musicians and I wonder if that is going to be able to continue..."
HH: " I have a very good friend, Dr. John. He is a wonderful entertainer and he has such a good band. No matter where we meet, I can always walk on his stage and work with him. He is a very nice person."
MT: " I don' think I have any other questions left."
HH: " Well, it has been a pleasure talking to you and I hope that we shall meet again in the near future."
MT: " Thank you very much for your time and for giving the opportunity to get to know you better."
For more information about Mr. Hardesty, please check-out his website at: www.herbert-hardesty.com/
His new cd -"Just a Little Bit of Everything" - has five tracks of New Orleans R&B with a crack band of musicians. The other six performances were cut live with the Olaf Polziehn Trio. Mr. Hardesty gets the opportunity to display his improvisational skills on songs like "Misty" and "Body & Soul". Please contact Mr. Hardesty through his website to order a copy of this delightful recording.

Please come help us work at our Mississippi Valley Blues and Berghoff and Blues Festival Tents!

We ask that all members who attend these festivals sign up with Mark Thompson to spend at least one two-hour shift at our tent booth during the festival. We will be selling tickets for the Berghoff Fest at Mississippi Valley and recruiting new members at both festivals. We get a cut from ticket sales and this and the membership dues we collect will help pay for our fall BITS programs. If everyone takes a turn, one shift each should do it. We plan on having the tents manned until shortly after sundown for all days. It’s a great way for you to help out and it allows you get out of the sun for a little while!

Blues in the Schools Benefit Coming to Big Cities Lounge Saturday August 18th

Our Fall Blues in the Schools programs need financial help. We need money to fund our fall efforts so we are having a benefit concert. Unfortunately, at press time we don’t have the acts lined up yet. We will send out email and post the info on our website when it is finalized.
Some ideas for the benefit include a reprise of the Rockford Guitar Shootout (remember that great event from 2005?) or perhaps have some of our former BITS artists come out and do a show. In any case, we will have a benefit show to help us raise money!
The benefit show will be at Big Cities Lounge on Saturday, August 18th at 8 PM. Our benefit night for our Blues in the Schools (BITS) efforts begins with music. Cover is $10, 100% of which goes out to BITS. A silent auction and a 50-50 raffle will also be held to help raise money, 100% of which also goes to our BITS programs. Come out and support this worthy cause. Advanced tickets can be gotten from Steve Jones; call 815-234-3118 for tickets and more information. We will need a little help from members that night, too. Come out and support the blues and support our BITS! We can’t do it without you. And stay tuned for the lineup of guests!

10th Annual Berghoff & Blues Festival

10th Annual Berghoff & Blues Festival

Our own Crossroads Blues Society is selling tickets for this event and we will get money for our BITS program if we sell enough of them, so buy your tickets from Mark for this great event!

Saturday, September 15, 2007at the Green County Fairgrounds
2600 10th Street, Monroe, Wisconsin.

Gates open at 10:00 a.m.

Music begins at 11:00.

Tickets are $20.00 in advance and $25.00 at the gate.

Children 14 and under admitted free with a paid adult or guardian.

Tickets are non refundable.

Food and beverage available.

No carry ins allowed.


11:00 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.The Crashers featuring Jennifer DuPree
12:15 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.The Westside Andy / Mel Ford Band
1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.Sharon Lewis and the Delmark Allstars featuring Dave Specter, Ken Saydak, & Craig Panosh
3:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.Sonny Landreth
5:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.The New Legends of Blues Allstars featuring Eddie Taylor Jr., Billy Flynn, Sysve Guyger, Bob Stroger and Piano Willie

7:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. James Cotton BROADJAM STAGE

11:45 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.Winner of Broadjam/Berghoff & Blues worldwide talent search - submit your song at broadjam.com1:00 p.m.

1:30 p.m.Winner of Broadjam/Berghoff & Blues worldwide talent search - submit your song at broadjam.com

3:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.Pat McDonald

5:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.Pianopalooza featuring Ken Saydak & Jimmy Voegeli

7:00 p.m. 7:30 p.m.Chicago Piano Legend Ken Saydak

Chicago Blues Festival

Here is the lineup for the Petrillo Music Shell. See the rest at: www.chicagobluesfestival.us/
"Boogie Woogie Stomp" Thursday, June 7, 2007
6:00-7:00 - Koko Taylor and the Blues Machine
7:10-8:10 - Jimmy Dawkins
8:20-9:30 - Willie Clayton
"30th Anniversary-Sons of the Blues-The New Generation is the Now Generation" Friday, June 8, 2007
6:00-7:05 - Johnnie Mae Dunson and Jimmie "Prime Time" Smith
7:15-9:30 - Billy Branch's Sons of the Blues 30th Anniversary Reunion
"Downtown Saturday Blues" Saturday, June 9, 2007
5:00-6:00 - Nellie Tiger Travis
6:10-7:00 - Big Jay McNeely with Jesse Scinto
7:20-8:20 - Irma Thomas and the Professionals
8:30-9:30 - Magic Slim and the Tear Drops
"Wang Dang Doodle" Sunday, June 10, 2007
5:00-7:05 - The Disciples Playing for Sunnyland: Sam Burkhardt leads Steve Freund, Bob Stroger, Barrelhouse Chuck, Kenny Smith, Calvin Jones, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, Kenny Barker with Big Time Sarah and Deitra Farr
7:15-8:15 - Tribute to Wolf featuring James Cotton, Hubert Sumlin, Eddie Shaw, Abb Locke, Henry Gray, Jody Williams, Smokey Smothers with Lafayette "Shorty" Gilbert, and Willie Smith

Early 2007 Blues Festival Season Offers Broad Array of Talent for Local Blues Fans

You don’t have to travel to Mississippi or New Orleans for some great blues music festivals. While Jazzfest in the Big Easy (last weekend in April and first in May) is a great place to spend three days cycling between a dozen stages and Mississippi is home to all the great Delta area festivals, we have a great summer of music right near home where many of the same artists come to you.
Summer begins early in Iowa with Friday-Saturday, May 11-12, 2007 at Simply The Blues in Fort Madison, Iowa, U.S. On Saturday, May 26, 2007 is the Blues Bash 2007 inTrempealeau, Wisconsin. Saturday, June 2, 2007 is the Blue's N Brew at Bloomsberry, Atkins, Iowa. You can’t get any better than free and that’s what it is in Chicago on Thursday-Sunday, June 7-10, 2007 Chicago Blues Festival, Chicago, Illinois. Spend a day or the whole time there without the need for tickets! That lineup is on page 9.
Then on Friday-Saturday, June 15-16, 2007 it’s time for Blues on the Fox in Aurora, Illinois. Friday, June 15 is Nick Moss and the Flip Tops and North Mississippi Allstars. Saturday, June 16 Are the Hix Bros Junior All-Stars, Honeyboy Edwards, Eric Lindell, Tab Benoit, Billy Boy Arnold and The Chicago Blues All-Stars featuring Bob Stroger, Billy Flynn and Kenny Smith and The Robert Cray Band. Not a bad lineup.
A CBS member favorite is on Friday-Sunday, June 29-Ju1y, 2007. The IH Mississippi Valley Blues Festival in Davenport, Iowa (www.mvbs.org). Friday, June 29th, 2007 features Damon Fowler Group, Albert Cummings, Chubby Carrier & the Bayou Swamp Band, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, Robert Belfour, Paul Oscher, Big Bill Morganfield, Nappy Brown with Bob Margolin, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith and Mookie Brill. Saturday, June 30th, 2007 has Kelly Richey; Jason Ricci and New Blood, Big James & the Chicago Playboys, The Jackie Payne and Steve Edmonson Band, Blues harp blowout featuring Mark Hummel, James Harman and Paul Oscher, Bad Luck City featuring Matt Woods and Michael Swanger, Jimmy “Duck” Holmes; Alberta Adams & RJ’s Rhythm Rockers with CeeCee Collins, Ari Brown Quartet; Watermelon Slim and Trudy Lynn with The Chicago Rhythm & Blues Kings. Sunday, July 1st, 2007 has Dona Oxford; Tom Principato; Ruby Wilson; Little Charlie & the Nightcats. Drink Small “The Blues Doctor”, Dave MacKenzie, Bruce Katz, and Henry Gray & the Cats. This will be a great weekend of blues!
That gets you though June. For more info on line about these and other festivals, check out: www.bluesfestivalguide.com/festivals.shtml

New Blues Web Site– Please Check Them Out!

IllinoisBlues.com is your #1 source for "all news BLUES" in the Central USA. They actively cover Blues music and events in Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Wisconsin. Occasionally we include other areas too!
When performance dates are posted they will be listed FREE on the Blues Shows page; fans can find YOUR shows in their area easily! The performance dates you post will also go to thousands of Blues fans in our next Blues Blast email for FREE.

Another Successful Set of Blues in the Schools Programs Held in the Rockford Area

Blues in the Schools (BITS) for Spring 2007 were completed in a hugely successful manner. Six school BITS programs were done with 2,150 students and several hundred teachers lives having been touched by the blues. We completed two days of Spring BITS set of programs today with Ann Rabson while the Reverend Raven and Madison Slim completed their "rookie" day of BITS programs. All in all, the kids got exposed to the blues in a fabulous manner on March 6th and 7th.

Ann began the first day at WNTA AM 1330. Then she was off to school as were the Rev and Slim. In all, they did 4 school programs on Tuesday. The evening show on Tuesday night had 50 blues lovers in attendance. The Rev and Slim opened, Ann did a second set and then the three of them went at it for almost an hour of a great blues jam. The 10 or less minutes of the artists "conspiring" together prior to the show resulted in about an hour of super music with Ann, the Rev and Slim trading the lead back and forth like the seasoned pros they are. It was a great night of blues and the Just Goods Store Music Room is an outstanding and intimate venue for music.The Rockford Register Star came out to Conklin Elementary School and gave the program a glowing review. Music
Teacher Paul Smith joined Ann Rabson on his sax and the kids just loved it. You can check out the newspaper article on line at: http://www.rrstar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070307/NEWS03/103070023/1118

All schools visited were new to BITS. They were:
· Conklin Elementary School
· West View Elementary School
· Summerdale Elementary School
· Dolan High School
· Spectrum School
· Carlson Elementary School

Thank you to the Rockford Area Arts Council for their continued support of our BITS programs. Thanks also go out to our members who make BITS both possible and a superbly successful effort!
This program is partially supported by a grant from the Rockford Area Arts Council which receives support from the City of Rockford, the Illinois Arts Council, and its members.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

RAMI Awards NIght

2007 RAMI Awards Ceremony
Thursday, April 12th
Tebala Shrine Temple
7901 Newburg Road
Rockford, IL
7 pm

Let's have a big group of Crossroads members in attendence! It will be a fun night to recognize the Rockford music scene and to just have fun.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Mardi Gras Party and Meeting Rescheduled for March 31st!

It's almost April, aso it must be time for Mardi Gras, Westside Andy, Mel Ford and the rest of their band from Madison, WI! 8 PM on Saturday, March 31st at Big Cities Lounge. We will have a quick meeting to discuss the BITS results, BLLues Challenge questions and ti make up for the snowed out Mardi Gras Party! Come on out for blues, beads, beer, booze and bountiful fun!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Dave Gross Displays His Talent at Big Cities

March 8, 2007.

Dave Gross came into Big Cities, he saw Big Cities and he conquered Big Cities. Along with his outstanding singing girlfriend Gina Sicilia, Dave showed those in attendence why he was nominated for Blues Music award. Rockford was treated to hear and see these two young talents who surely will make a big splash in the music world!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Successful BITS Events

Six school programs are now done, with 2,150 students and several hundred teachers lives having been touched by the blues. We completed two days of Spring BITS set of programs today with Ann Rabson, and the Reverend Raven and Madison Slim completed their "rookie" days of BITS programs yesterday. All in all, the kids got exposed to the blues in a fabulous manner.

Ann began the day at WNTA AM 1330. Then she was off to school as were the Rev and Slim. They did 4 school programs on Tuesday. The evening show on Tuesday night had 50 blues lovers in attendance. The Rev and Slim opened, Ann did a second set and then the three of them went at it for almost an hour of a great blues jam. The 10 or less minutes of the artists "conspiring" together prior to the show resulted in about an hour of super music with Ann, the Rev and Slim trading the lead back and forth like the seasoned pros they are. It was a great night of blues and the Just Goods Store Music Room is an outstanding and intimate venue for music.

The Rockford Register Star came out to Conklin Elementary School and gave the program a glowing review. Music Teacher Paul Smith joined Ann Rabson on his sax and the kids just loved it. You can check out today's Wednesday paper or click here: http://www.rrstar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070307/NEWS03/103070023/1118

All schools visited were new to BITS. They were:
Conklin ES
West View ES
Summerdale ES
Dolan HS
Spectrum School
Carlson ES

Sunday, February 18, 2007

BITS Schedule

BITS Itinerary

Tuesday, March 6th
08:00 AM Ann Rabson WNTA 1330 AM IntervieW
09:30 AM Ann at Conklin ES
10:00 AM Rev Raven at Spectrum School
01:00 PM Ann at Westview ES (TBD)
01:00 PM Rev Raven at Carlson ES
05:30 PM Dinner with Artists
07:30 PM BITS Evening Concert at Just Good Store
Wednesday, March 7th
09:30 AM Ann at Mary Morgan ES (TBD)
02:00 PM Ann at Durand HS/Dolan School
05:30 PM Dinner with Ann
Times for dinner are tentative as are the locations. I will update them when confirmed.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Advertise in our Print Newsletter

March Blues Calendar

March 2007

Other events to mark on your calendars:
- CBS Meeting and Mardi Gra Party February 24th at Big Cities at 8 PM with the Panaramics!
- March Big Cities Shows on the Calendar
- Future Big Cities Shows:
* April 7th Reverend Raven
* April 14th Beat Merchants
* May 12th Annual Groovewalk
* May 18th Chris Cain

BITS Evening Show March 6, 2007 at 7:30 PM

Gerry Hundt at Big Cities

Local musician Gerry Hundt plays bass, occasional vocals, guitar, mandolin and harmonica for Nick Moss' band The Fliptops. Gerry was with Nick at Big Cities Lounge in Rockford recently and treated the crowd to some exceptional mandolin, and even did a little slide mandolin. Gerry is a very talented musician who is a very talented up and coming young artist. We wish him the best!

Jimmy Cavallo at the Jetsetter Lounge

The Jetsetter Lounge in Lake Worth, Florida, on Friday evenings is home to Jimmy Cavallo and his band the Houserockers. No cover charge to see this 80 year young blues and swing great at this ultra swank hipster lounge!

The Jetsetter Lounge on line at: http://www.jetsetterlounge.com/

Crossroads Blues Society Officers and Board Members Contact Info

Crossroads Blues Society
Officers and Board Members Contact Info

President: Mark Thompson
Vice-President: Karl Dahlin
Secretary: Steve Jones
Treasurer: Al McNary

Board of Directors:
Rich Gordon usblue5@aol.com
Rick Hein mrrickhein@sbcglobal.net
Joe Poluyanskis harmonicajoe@insightbb.com
Bob Levis tuddy55@netzero.net
Allison Johnson chefalli@t6wireless.com

Membership Application

Membership Application

Print and mail this or click here: http://www.crossroadsbluessociety.com/membership.htm

Yes! I’d love to be a part of the Crossroads Blues Society!

Name________________________________________ Phone___________________________

Street Address__________________________________

City________________________ State___________ Zip Code___________

Email Address_________________________ New_____ -or- Returning_____ Member

This will be a membership for an: _____individual ($15) _____family ($25)

Please cut out and mail this form and payment to: Find out about the next meeting date &
Crossroads Blues Society bring this along with you!
P.O. Box 722
Freeport, IL 61032

Top Blues Releases - January 2007 - Sunday Morning Blues Podcast WRTB-FM Rockford, IL

Top Blues Releases - January 2007 - Sunday Morning Blues Podcast WRTB-FM Rockford, IL
Frankie Lee / Standing at the Crossroads / Blues Express
Phantom Blues Band / Out of the Shadows / Delta Groove
Michael Powers / Prodigal Son / Baryon
Barrelhouse Chuck / Got My Eyes on You / The Sirens Records
Coco Montoya / Dirty Deal / Alligator
Daddy Mack Blues Band / Bluestones / Inside Sounds
Willie King / One Love / Freedom Creek
Laurie "Waddy" Mitchell / Ol' Soul / Waddy Mitchell
The Holmes Brothers / State of Grace / Alligator
Mitch Kashmar / Wake Up & Worry / Delta Groove
Fiona Boyes & The Fortune Tellers / Lucky 13 / Yellow Dog
JJ Cale & Eric Clapton / The Road to Escondido / Reprise
Deanna Bogart / Real Time / Blind Pig
Jackie Payne - Steve Edmonson Band / Master of the Game / Delta Groove
Kenny Wayne Shepherd / 10 Days Out Blues from the Backroads / Reprise
Various Artists / Onxrt: Live from the Archives Vol. 9 / WXRT
John Hammond / Push Comes to Shove / Back Porch
Bob Margolin / In North Carolina / Steady Rollin' Records
Eric Bibb / Diamond Days / Telarc

Rich Gordon
Sunday Morning Blues - Podcast
www.mmrfd.com/ podcast
2830 Sandy Hollow Road
Rockford, IL 61109

March Features Dave Gross and BITS with Ann Rabson, Reverend Raven and Madison Slim

The first week of March may be the biggest week in Crossroads Blues Society history. We are sponsoring our Spring BITS program and a show at Big Cities Lounge from March 6th through the 8th!

In our Spring BITS Program we find Ann Rabson, the queen of the blues piano, back for another year of programs. Ann will be performing at four schools on March 6 and 7. Milwaukee guitar slinger Reverend Raven and harmonica ace Madison Slim will also work on a day of programs and will perform with Ann on March 6.
If you like the blues and want to keep up with some of the newest and hottest acts in the blues then you need to go to Rockford, Illinois.

Rockford? Sure enough. On March 8th Big Cities and Crossroads Blues Society will be bringing the Dave Gross Band into town. Featuring Dave on guitar and vocals, Dennis Gruenling on harmonica, Doug Sasfai on tenor sax, Scot Hornick on upright bass and Michael Bram on drums, they are super band with a great new CD (see our last newsletter). Traveling with Dave and his band is another great newcomer, Gina Sicilia. Gina is a bright, 21 year old blues vocalist from the City of Brotherly Love (CD review in this issue). Hopefully Gina will be singing a few songs with Dave when he performs at Big Cities!

March is just going to be a great, great month! We hope to see a great member turnout!

Crossroads Blues Society Nominated for 2007 RAMI Award

Every year the Rockford Area Music Industry (RAMI) Association recognizes area musicians and music organizations. Artists and groups are nominated for awards for their work in the past year; the awards are voted on by the public. Our Crossroads Blues Society has been nominated once again for a Music Outreach Organization Award. We won that award in 2005. Our Society has done a lot for the schools and community with our BITS programs and other work. Voting is open until March 6th. If you feel so moved, please cast a vote for us at:

In the Blues Music area, the following bands are also nominated for 2007:
· Barstool Bob Band
· Basement Blues Band
· Brother K
· Doug Furze
· Ernie and the Po Boys
· Steve Ditzell & Blue Lightning Band
The RAMI Association is open to all Rockford area musicians, sound technicians, music venue operators, music organizations, music promotion companies and music industry related media/journalists.The RAMI Association has been founded to:
1) Organize community events to recognize and honor Rockford area musicians and technicians.
2) Assist musicians, musical organizations and venues in promoting themselves and the area music community.
3) Provide scholarship opportunities for graduating high school seniors pursuing advanced study in music.

A RAMI Benefit will be held on March 3rd, 2007 at the Verdi Club, 782 N Madison St. Doors open at 6pm, music starts at 7pm. Featuring performances by:The Moon DogsThe Missing LinksClutch CargoBig Daddy Woo WooTickets: $5.00 in advance/$7 at the doorBuy online at the at the RAMI web site or at tickets locations:The Verdi Club, 782 N Madison StThe Postal Shoppe, 1643 N Alpine Rd # 104The Postal Shoppe, 2205 S Perryville Rd.

The 2007 RAMI Awards Ceremony is April 12th, 2007 at the Tebala Shrine Temple, 7901 Newburg Road at 7pm. Tickets: $5.00 in advance/$7 at the door at the same locations as above.
Please take a moment and vote for your favorite blues artists and, of course, your favorite blues society!

Spring BITS Set for March 6th and 7th with Ann Rabson, Reverend Raven and Madison Slim

With the deep freeze we’ve been having, Spring is certainly not in the air. Despite the cold weather we have been experiencing, we have been getting ready to host our Spring Blues in the Schools (BITS) programs. We have an exciting lineup for the BITS programs, which will be held Tuesday March 6 and Wednesday March 7, 2007.

Ann Rabson will be reprising her BITS performances here in Northern Illinois for the third straight year. Ann is well known for both her great solo boogie woogie piano, guitar and vocals and as a member of the world renowned trio Saffire– The Uppity Blues Women. Ann will be conducting four school programs and will perform as part of our evening BITS show on Tuesday. We are proud to sponsor Ann in the Rockford area and look forward to working with her once again!

We are also going to host two other school programs on Tuesday, this time with a guy who has become one of our favorites to listen to: The Reverend Raven. The Rev is based in Milwaukee and plays at Biog Cities every few months to a packed house. The Rev has done BITS with Billy Branch (who did a day of programs for us back in December 2005), so we invited him to solo with us. Accompanying the Rev will be harmonica great Madison Slim. Both of them will also be performing at our evening show.

Ann will start the day on Tuesday with a visit to 1330-AM/WNTA where she will chart with Doug McDuff and play a song or two for the radio audience beginning at about 8:30 AM. Then it’s off to the schools for Ann, the Rev and Slim. The full itinerary is on the right for both days.

The evening show on Tuesday is at Just Goods store at 201 7th St. in Rockford. It starts at 7:30 p.m. - tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. Tickets are available through Charlottes Web at (815) 964-2238. This venue is a new one for us and seats about 80 people.

Ann’s bio from www.annrabson.com :
“Ann Rabson has been playing and singing the blues professionally since 1962. A member of Saffire—The Uppity Blues Women, she also performs solo and with various other bands.

Ann has been nominated eight times for a Blues Music Award (formerly W.C. Handy Award) as Traditional Blues Female Artist of the Year. Her first solo album, Music Makin' Mama, was nominated as Album of the Year in both the Traditional Blues and Acoustic Blues categories, and her composition Elevator Man was nominated as Song of the Year.

Ann has toured Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hong Kong, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain and Switzerland, performing solo, with Saffire and with piano legend Erwin Helfer. In 2000 she headlined the BluesAlive international blues festival in Sumperk, Czech Republic.”

Reverend Raven and Madison Slim bios from www.cdbaby.com : “Born and raised on the south side of Chicago Richard Raven first heard the blues of Louis Jordan,
T-Bone Walker and Pee Wee Crayton coming from his mother's stereo. His older cousin later brought home the records of Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, Magic Sam, Slim Harpo, Buddy Guy and Otis Rush.

After seeing Freddy King at the Kinetic Playground, he started going to Maxwell Street on Sunday afternoons to see Johnny Dollar, Lefty Dizz and Jimmie Lee Robinson play in the alleys and on the street corners. The 1970s were spent going to the clubs and taverns on the south side of Chicago and Chicago Heights to see and hear raw urban blues. After playing in bands for 5 years and doing a 15 year stint in U.S. Navy, where he acquired the Reverend tag, Chief Raven hung up his anchors to give music another go.

That was nine years ago and he hasn't looked back. Since then he has become a regular on the Midwest blues circuit, playing Buddy Guy's Legends, The Slippery Noodle, Memphis Smoke, Fat Fish Blue, Blues on Grand, The Zoo Bar, Whiskey Junction and most of the Midwest blues festivals. Rev has won the Wisconsin Area Music Industry Award (WAMI) for best blues artist in 1999,2000 and again in 2004.Madison Slim walks the walk and talks the talk. He is a direct link to the golden era of urban blues played in the clubs of Chicago in the 1950s and 60s. First as a fan, then a student and finally as a player in his own right. He has played, travelled and roomed with a long list of heavy bluesman, including Jimmy Rogers, Pinetop Perkins, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, Calvin "Fuzz" Jones, Ted Harvey, Sam Lay and many, many more.A member of the Sam Lay Blues Band, The Legendary Blues Band and finally the Jimmy Rogers band, he has lived and played hard all around the world. This night at Blues on Grand he was in fine form.”

We are looking forward to working with Ann again and to add the Rev and Slim as new artists in our BITS family. Funding for the BITS event comes from a grant from the Rockford Area Arts Council and our own internal fund raising efforts. We began 2007 in good financial shape and the grant from the Arts Council will enable us to have three full days of programs in March. In the future, we may consider expanding a BITS program to a week long residency program. That will require a little more work on our part from a planning, funding and execution stand point. With declining school funding for music and arts programs BITS plays an important role in the schools, and the more we can do, the better!

This program is partially supported by a grant from the Rockford Area Arts Council which receives support from the City of Rockford, the Illinois Arts Council, and its members.

Crossroads Blues Society Mardi Gras Party February 24 at Big Cities with the Panaramics

“The blues will live on. In a smoke filled bar in southern Wisconsin the seeds were planted years ago. With the drive and conviction of a blues band steeped in the tradition of our idols, the Panaramics are ready to take you back to when the blues made you feel good. Deep groove pockets and plenty of sauce make this band a sight to experience.” That’s what it says on their web site, and it’s true. Led by the young guitar player Aaron Williams and featuring Brian “Looper” Lucas on harp, bassman Dave Wood and Jeffery “JB” Blum on drums, they are a great group. We will have a Crossroads meeting and Mardi Gras Party to go along wit their performance, so come on out for a great night of blues and fun! 8 PM, February 24th at Big Cities Lounge in Rockford, IL.