Sterling Main Street Blues Festival set for July 15-16

Staff Report

The Third Annual Sterling Main Street Blues Festival is set for Friday and Saturday nights July 15-16.

Friday night features Filisko and Noden, The Barstool Bob Blues Band and Starlight’s Theater House Band. Friday’s kickoff will be at Starlight’s Theater. Doors open at 5 p.m. and music begins at 6 p.m. Saturday, the festival will move outdoors behind the Chamber of Commerce Building in the lot between Locust Street and Third Street. Gates open at 1 p.m. and the musical entertainment starts at 2 p.m.

At 6 p.m., Friday evening, Joe Filisko and Eric Noden are two of Chicago’s most accomplished acoustic blues musicians who work together to both entertain and educate. Joe is one of the most amazing harmonica players you will ever hear, and he also produces customized “harps.” Eric plays a mean acoustic guitar and also plays blues harp quite well himself. They specialize in the sweet sounds of pre-WWII blues, and no one can play them quite like they do.

The 8 p.m. act Friday is a band led by veteran guitar player Bob Levis. He and his Barstool Bob Blues Band play some mean Chicago blues. Bob is an accomplished guitar player and toured for many, many years with both Otis Rush and Lonnie Brooks, two of Chicago’s pre-eminent blues men. He was also featured in Chicago’s Kingston Mines house band for almost 20 years. Now residing up in Rockford, Bob recently cut a CD with his band and plays regional clubs and festivals, much to the delight of local blues fans.

The last act of the day Friday is at 10 p.m. Jerry Criss and his House Band from Starlight’s will close the show with their great funky blues sound. They have got a great lineup of musicians who can lay down some hot riffs and get the crowd up and dancing! It should be a hot close to a great evening of music.

Saturday will feature Aaron Williams and the Hoodoo, Glenn Davis and Matt Goodwin, Starlight’s House Band, the Cash Box Kings and Mississippi Heat. This is a great lineup of bands that will play 90-minute sets of music each on the big outdoor stage.

The opening act Saturday is Madison’s own Aaron Williams and the Hoodoo. This hot trio opens things up at 2 p.m., and their hot sound will really get the blood pumping. These young men are an up-and-coming act who have big things ahead of them—they are talented entertainers and musicians! Featuring Williams with lead vocals and guitar, Eric Shackelford on drums and vocals and “Z” on bass and vocals, they have a fresh sound deeply rooted in the blues but with their own unique twists. They also have a new CD ready to release that will be available at the festival.

Following the Hoodoo at 4 p.m. are Glenn Davis and Matt Goodwin. Hailing from Wisconsin, these two veteran blues guitar players regularly perform together throughout the stateline area. Their styles of guitar play complement and contrast one another well, and after you hear them for the first time, you will want to see them again.

Starlight’s House Band is taking it to the streets at 6 p.m., Saturday, for a return appearance on the outdoor stage. Then, at 8 p.m., fans will be treated to the Cash Box Kings. These guys are on the road to becoming top-notch stars in the blues world, receiving accolades for their fantastic CDs and live performances. The band has members in both Chicago and Madison. The band features “Low Rollin’” Joe Nosek on harmonica, rhythm guitar, and vocals, Chris “CB” Boeger on upright bass and vocals, Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith on drums and vocals, and Oscar “43rd Street” Wilson on vocals, guitar and harmonica. The band is now frequently joined by newly-crowned Kings Billy Flynn, guitar, mandolin, vocals and harmonica; Joel Paterson, guitar and vocals; and Jimmy Sutton, upright bass and vocals. Barrelhouse Chuck, piano and vocals, serves as a royal adviser to the group. This is an act you will not want to miss!

Headlining Saturday’s outdoor music will be Mississippi Heat. Led by Pierre Lacocgue on harp, these guys tour internationally to packed houses. Pierre moved to Chicago in the late 1960s and in 1969 fell in love with the blues. His obsession resulted in dedicated work to become a pre-eminent blues harp player; he eventually formed Mississippi Heat, a band that hearkens back to the music of the Delta but with a greasy, dirty and down-home Chicago style. Inetta Visor joined the band 10 years ago and brings passion for song to the mix. Her big, booming voice can belt out the blues with the best of them, but she can also slow it down and tear your heart out with her edgy vocals. Kenny “Beedy eyes” Smith, son of legendary Chicago bluesman Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, is featured on drums, Giles Corey plays rhythm guitar, and Stephen Howard is on bass. Another unique feature of this band is they tour and play with some of Chicago’s top electric guitar players. It might be the veteran Carl Weathersby, the talented Danny Draher or the exciting Lurrie Bell who is featured on lead guitar, but no matter who they feature they are top of the line axe-men who can hold a crowd in awe. This will be an exciting close to a spectacular two days of music!

Tickets for each day are $5 in advance or $10 at the door/gates. There will be limited VIP seating available Friday night available through Sterling Main Street. Tickets are available through Sterling Main Street, Starlight’s Theater and at most downtown Sterling bars. Sterling Main Street has brought in Crossroads Blues Society to help with planning and managing the festival. Their festival coordinator, Steve Jones, has been working closely with Main Street Director Karen Ogden to get the festival arranged.

The festival is also supported by Starlight’s Theater, and several of the local downtown bars. Food on Saturday will feature the great fare from downtown restaurants and local civic groups. The goal is to try to keep everything local and feature Sterling and its downtown businesses and civic organizations. For more information, visit online or call the Sterling Main Street Office at (815) 626-8610.

From the July 13-19, 2011 issue

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