Guest Column: Blues benefit raises more than $2,000

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-11545416277371.jpg’, ‘Photo courtesy of Steve Jones’, ‘Blues guitarist Bob Levis performs at the Crossroads Blues Society’s Benefit July 22.’);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-11545416628688.jpg’, ‘Photo courtesy of Steve Jones’, ‘Dave Weld (pictured), Bob Levis and Reggie Sears led a three-man guitar attack, backed by Brother Dave Kaye on bass and Link Leary on drums. More than 100 people turned out in support of the event.’);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-11545416835494.jpg’, ‘Photo courtesy of Steve Jones’, ’15-year-old blues guitar phenom Reggie Sears performs at the July 22 benefit concert.’);

More than 100 people turned out to support Blues In The Schools (BITS) at the Crossroads Blues Society’s Benefit Concert Saturday, July 22, at Leombruni’s Italian Village in Byron. More than $2,000 was raised at the event to fund BITS programs. In addition to the cover charge, a silent auction and 50-50 raffle were held to raise money for BITS. Most importantly, all who attended were treated to a great evening of music and fun.

The Basement Blues Band opened the night with an acoustic set of great blues music. Steve “Spider” Leigh on guitar, Rich Gordon on bass, and Bob Schmidt on drums treated the crowd to more than an hour of outstanding traditional blues music. The acoustic sound was sweet, and everyone in attendance appreciated the outstanding job they did.

The main event for the evening was an all-star blues guitar jam with three truly unique and exceptional guitar players. Dave Weld, Bob Levis and Reggie Sears led the three-man guitar attack, backed by Brother Dave Kaye on bass and Link Leary on drums. The crowd was on their feet to the sounds of electric blues in the great Chicago style.

Dave Weld of the Imperial Flames hails from a rich blues tradition. Prior to his current band, he was part of the original Lil Ed and the Imperials Band. He and Ed we tutored by Ed’s uncle, J.B. Hutto, so there is a rich blues heritage in the style of Dave’s play. Crossroads Blues Society member Bob Levis plays with several local bands, including his own Barstool Bob Band and Ernie and the Po’ Boys. Bob has toured and played with the likes of Lonnie Brooks and Otis Rush, so the links to blues traditions are strong with him, too. Newcomer Reggie Sears is a 15-year-old who has played guitar for about three years but sounds like a veteran of many decades of practice and touring. Hailing from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., his guitar work belies his age and astounds all who hear him. He has a great future ahead of him, and we were lucky to be part of his start here in Illinois. His successful Sinnissippi Park Concert and the benefit were two great nights for him and our blues society.

The guitar jam was two long and tremendous sets of electric blues. Weld, Levis and Sears traded licks back and forth. Each of them individually gave the crowd a show worth the admission price. No one left the place without their heart beating a little faster because of the exceptional music they heard. The high point of the night was probably Dave Weld testifying to the crowd as he played throughout the restaurant, amazing each and every blues fan there. Bob and Reggie were not outdone, each of them alternately wowing the crowd with their guitar wizardry. Brother Dave and Link provided more than ample support and also impressed the big crowd with their skills. It was a beautiful musical event.

The silent auction raised nearly $1,000, and the 50-50 raffle raised more than $100 more, so with $1,000 in gate receipts, the club raised more than $2,000 to support BITS. More than $100 was also donated by individuals to BITS, many members renewed their membership, and five new members signed up, making the event an even bigger success. The Society will begin planning fall BITS programs in earnest now that they have seed monies to begin planning with!

In addition to the musicians and Crossroads members who donated their talents, time and goods to the night, Crossroads Blues Society would like to thank the following parties for their support of a truly wonderful evening:

Leombruni’s Italian Village; American TV and Furniture; Byron Quick Lube; Byron True Value; CD Source; Classic Looks; Judge and Dolph, Ltd.; Ogle County Life; Rockford Register Star; The Rock River Times; Sam’s Drive In Restaurant; Snapshot Music; Star Time Video; Swedish Pancake House; Toby Keith Fan Club; Video Store; WNIJ Radio; Woods’ Sporting Goods; and Y95 Radio.

The biggest thanks goes to all who attended. The generous support of the blues fans who came out to the benefit concert will help the club keep the blues alive with more and more BITS programs!

From the Aug. 2-8, 2006, issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!