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!