Saturday, February 17, 2007

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 :
“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 : “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.

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