Sunday, November 9, 2008

Blues in the Schools with Fruteland Jackson

Fruteland Jackson returned to the Rockford area for two days of Blues in the Schools (BITS) on October 21st and 22nd. We were proud to bring Fruteland to schools to help keep the Blues alive.

Tuesday’s programs were at Winnebago Middle School where 150 6th graders were treated to the program in the morning and McNair Elementary School in Winnebago where the entire student body (250) of 3rd and 4th graders attended the program.

On Wednesday Jackson was in Rockford. He began in the morning at Lewis Lemon with 250 students from the 3rd and 4th Grades. The afternoon program was at Thompson Elementary where the entire student body (400) of K through 4 attended. In all, over 1,050 students were at the four programs.

There was also an evening show on Tuesday at the Just Goods Listening Room on 7th Street in Rockford. Acoustic bluesman Todd Lorenz opened the evening with a set of his original acoustic blues and folk music. His set was well received by the attendees. Todd also introduced his first two CDs of songs from his Twenty Aught Eight song-a-week project. He released the first 26 songs or new music on two CDs (reviewed inside). Fruteland Jackson was accompanied by Paul Kaye, a Wisconsin artist who recently accompanied Honeyboy Edwards at Grafton. Kaye played harp and mandolin with Fruteland and added a nice touch to the roots music. Jackson gave the crowd a great set of songs from his repertoire to enjoy. He also made his three CDs available for sale.

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.

Our Fall BITS effort thus far was hugely successful. We have brought BITS programs to area schools for over 7 years now and over 16,000 students have learned about and heard the blues because of it. Thanks to all the club members who helped make the program a success!

BITS Notes
· We have maintained our costs to be able to deliver BITS programs at the cost of about $1 per student attendee
· So far, we have provided eight programs to schools in Northern Illinois in 2008
· Funding for the programs comes from membership dues, benefit shows and grant money from the Rockford Area Arts Council.
· BITS programs are provide with zero cost to supported schools

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