Blues in the Schools holds its 100th program Jan. 30

Acoustic blues man Fruteland Jackson. (Photo provided)

Staff Report

Crossroads Blues Society is getting ready to celebrate its 100th Blues in the Schools (BITS) program. Their programs scheduled for Jan. 30 will be the 99th and 100th programs Crossroads has hosted since they began providing BITS programs for area schools in May 2002.

Who would be better than Fruteland Jackson to do these programs, especially since he did the first BITS program for them? Since that time, they have brought the blues to close to 30,000 students across northern Illinois.

Jan. 30 brings BITS to South Beloit, Ill., for their first visit to that school system. Riverview Elementary School will host the morning program. In the afternoon, it is back to Rockford and Martin Luther King Elementary School, which will host the 100th program.

Crossroads is proud of its efforts in helping to keep the blues alive in the Rockford area.

Funding for BITS in the past had come from the generous support of the Rockford Area Arts Council and Illinois Arts Council. Current funding comes from Crossroads’ annual Byron Crossroads Blues Festival, held the Saturday before Labor Day weekend in Byron, Ill.

Programs are held at no cost to the schools. Crossroads already has February programs scheduled for Keith School and Spring Creek Elementary School Feb. 22. More programs are being planned for the spring.

Fruteland is a singer and songwriter performing acoustic blues, from contemporary to traditional, from the blues of early field-holler songs and work songs to Delta and Piedmont Blues, as well as his own original works. Fruteland is one of a select group of Americans dedicated to gathering, preserving and performing acoustic blues in its many styles. Fruteland has performed at venues across the U.S., Europe and Russia.

BITS program costs have been maintained low and continue to average only $1 per student in attendance. Assembly attendance averages about 300 per school. Crossroads Blues Society is a nonprofit corporation staffed entirely by volunteers. They publish a bi-monthly newsletter of blues music reviews and articles in addition to their BITS work and running the annual blues festival in Byron. For more about Crossroads, visit or call (779) 537-4006.

From the Jan. 25-31, 2012, issue

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