Friday, January 18, 2008

Christmas in January and BITS with Pistol Pete

Christmas in January? More BITS? You heard it right! We’re back and kicking right after the first of the year. The December snow storms and weather put a damper on a lot of things, so we are starting the New Year with a bang!

Pistol Pete will be performing in two area schools on Wednesday, January 16th. Pete has wanted to work in our BITS program, and we have the funds and opportunity to put on another day of programs. He will be at Nashold Elementary School at 10 AM and Kenedy Middle School at 1 PM. This should be exciting for the kids to see a local guy who is an enormous talent! Both Pete and Crossroads look forward to this opportunity. One of our goals was to use more local talent for our BITS programs, and Pete helps us achieve that goal once again!

Our Christmas Party at Big Cities got cancelled as did Reverend Raven’s gig at Big Cities, so we are back on for Friday, January 25th at 8 PM. The party starts first with food and fun, and then the Rev and his Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys will tear the place up with their Chicago-style blues from North of the Border. With the new Illinois smoking laws, I guess the Altar Boys will have to bechain smoking’ outside!!!! We know that their sounds will still be smoking’ in doors!

So we are kicking the year off with a bang. We as a club had a fantastic year in 2007 and we hope that all our members and friends did, too! We wish all the best to everyone and hope that the blues you have in 2008 all feel and sound good! Here’s to a great’08!

Gina Sicilia and Dave Gross BITS Programs are Another Huge Success for Crossroads!

Our Crossroads Blues Society Blues in the Schools efforts continued and wrapped up for 2007 in style. Gina Sicilia and the Dave Gross Band. performed at Guilford HS at 9:30 AM on the 14th of November and at 12:45 PM at Spring Hill Elementary School. Over 125 music-oriented High School students and the entire 650 student body at the elementary school were given lessons by two of the blues worlds’ newest and brightest stars. They also performed an evening g show at Big Cities Lounge at 7:30 PM on the evening of November 14th.

Gina has quickly become one of my favorite new vocalists and is now nominated for a Blues Music (formerly WC Handy) Award as Best New Artist. There is so much vocal talent and sound that comes out of this petite young woman’s vocal chords. She is going to become a big time blues star. The kids all identified with her and had a grand time clapping and dancing as she sang for them. You can find out more about Gina at

Dave Gross is equally talented; his guitar work and vocals are super and one has to wonder how far this guy will go in the blues world and I think great things are in his future. The students were quite impressed by Dave.

The band supporting Dave and Gina were equally good. Scott Hornick on upright bass is a hugely talented artist. His bass picking and slapping were superb and the joy emanating from his presence throughout the performances was just fascinating to watch. He is certainly into his music and craft! Check out his web site at

Matt Hill was added as a second guitarist for the band. Matt hails from North Carolina, His raw and uninhibited style is rrefreshing to watch and listen to. His Little Richard impersonations really got the kids going. His is a great guitar player, vocalist and performer who compliments
Dave Gross quite well. Check him out at I think you will hear more from this artist!

Dave’s drummer is also new to the mix from Dave gross’ last visit to Rockford. Steve Pozzelanti is a great addition to Dave’s band! He is a very talented guy.

We were the first publication to review Gina’s 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. Gina is now nominated for the same award Dave had been nominated for last year.

This is a talented group of musicians and we were glad to have them here. Next up for BITS is Wednesday, January 16th with Pistol Pete. We had a good year in 2007 and look forward to an even better one in 2008.

Barstool Bob Levis CD Release Party March 1st at Big Cities!

It’s been a long time coming, but the music world finally has a recording of our own blues legend Bob Levis leading a band! Bob has played, toured and recorded with legends like Otis Rush and Lonnie Brooks but never produced an album of his own. This CD features Bob with a great back up band that even includes his former mentor Lonnie Brooks on one track! The CD will be released at a party at Big Cities Lounge on Saturday, March 1st, so be there to be one of the first to own and savor this CD and to be part of the experience!

Mark Thompson and Bob produced this CD, and it is a marvelous piece of musical work. The backup musicians are Brother Dave Kaye on bass, Marty Binder and Link Leary on drums, Steve Ditzell, Dave Wood, Larry Pendeleton and Lonnie Brooks on guitar, Westside Andy Linderman, Ted Lawrence and Big Jim Johnson on harp, Jimmy Voegeli on keyboards and vocals by Brooks, Ditzell, Pendleton, Voegeli and Johnson.

The CD includes 13 tracks. It opens with Otis Rush’s “It Takes Time” and includes 9 other covers and three original tunes. Bob’s “Barstool Breakdown” will be recognized by all Wednesday night Big Cities fans as the full expanded version of the instrumental song Bob goes into breaks with. Jim Johnson’s “Getting Out of Town” is also a local favorite. Teddy Lawrences “Shufflisko” is a great harp piece. The great songs covered by Bob include “Blues Before Sunrise,” “Why Are People Like That?,” “Mystery Train” and a bunch of other great songs.

This is going to be a big night for Rockford blues. We’d love to see all our members and a lot of area blues fans turn out for this CD launch. It is an historic moment for both Bob and for Rockford. Look for more info in our next newsletter and via email about the CD release party! It’s going to be a great event and you won’t want to miss it!!!!!