Crossroads Blues Society hosts benefit

Dave Weld, Bob Levis, Reggie Sears team up July 22 to raise funds for Blues In The Schools

The Crossroads Blues Society will host a benefit concert at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 22, at Leombruni’s Italian Village on Second Street in Byron, Ill. The purpose is to raise money for the Blues In The Schools (BITS) program.

The Leombrunis are letting the Society take over the restaurant from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. July 22. Entertainment includes two well-known guitar talents as well as a 14-year-old newcomer. Dave Weld and Bob Levis will be joined by the up-and-coming Reggie Sears. Dave Weld and his band, the Imperial Flames, have entertained Rockford-area and Chicago crowds for many years, while Bob Levis, a long-standing member of the Society, has played with the likes of Otis Rush, Lonnie Brooks, and his current Barstool Bob Band. Reggie Sears is a young guitar wizard from Florida. Also performing with them will be Dave Kaye on bass and Link Leary on drums.

Opening the evening will be the Basement Blues Band, who are increasingly in demand for their acoustic music as well as their traditional electric blues. The mellow strains of the dobro and National steel guitar will begin the evening; then the guitar histrionics of Dave Weld, Bob Levis and Reggie Sears will complete the night’s entertainment.

The Crossroads Blues Society is a non-profit organization that primarily raises funds to host Blues In The Schools programs in the greater Rockford area of northern Illinois. These programs are fully funded by the Society, and there is no cost to area schools.

Blues In The Schools (BITS) is a nationally-acclaimed cultural and musical appreciation program that helps students understand the rural and urban African-American culture. Age-appropriate content is formatted to deliver high-quality learning experiences that meet the goals and fulfill the mission of Blues In The Schools, Inc. Based on this premise, the program was developed to suit the needs of students in a variety of settings from organizations to schools.

Many areas of culture and art are explored in a hands-on setting where students actively participate in the creation of music and composition of songs that represent them. The purpose of the program is to introduce students to the musical art form that originated in Africa and was brought to the New World via slavery. The music has since undergone many changes but still maintains the essence of deep expression that the tradition it is based on instills. The program’s goals include providing a forum where students can identify the cultural, geographical and historical origins and evolution of blues music and the people who composed and played it while gaining an understanding of its significance in the world of modern music and popular culture.

Crossroads Blues Society works to raise funds through fund-raisers, membership, donations and matching grants. They collect annual dues from members and receive donations from citizens who share their conviction to keep the blues alive. Grants from the Rockford Area Arts Council and the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois have also been received each year. The funds that are raised and collected each year are used to host spring and fall programs in area schools.

The grants the club gets to support the BITS programs are slowly diminishing. This is due to the greater need for grants across the community and increased numbers of grant requests.

From the July 19-25, 2006, issue

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