Fourth Annual Byron Crossroads Blues Festival set for Aug. 24

Staff Report

BYRON, Ill. — Bigger and better than ever, the Fourth Annual Byron Crossroads Blues Festival gets under way at noon, Saturday, Aug. 24, at the “crossroads” of Second and Union streets in downtown Byron, Ill.

The music starts at 1 p.m., and five great bands will be featured on stage. A 30-foot-by-90-foot tent will be available for shade on the northeast corner of the intersection of Second and Union streets in Byron Parking Lot 2. The beer garden will be south of the stage on Union Street this year.

The festival will feature two workshops this year. Both will be held in the covered outdoor pavilion inside Tailgaters Sports Bar. At 3:30 p.m., harmonica master Dennis Gruenling will be conducting the first workshop. The first 25 kids 12 and younger who attend will get a free harmonica; adults can purchase one for $5 or bring their own. Quantities are limited for purchase. Gruenling will spend about an hour with the attendees on honing your harp skills. At 5:30 p.m., virtuoso guitar player Dave Specter will be conducting the festival’s first-ever guitar workshop. Bring your guitar, or just sit in and listen as Dave teaches the group some of the nuances of mastering the blues guitar.

The food at the Blues Fest is some of the best offered at any music festival. Taste what Byron has to offer as seven restaurants showcase themselves outdoors, or go into them for full-menu service. All seven restaurants are in the festival area. This is a true “Taste of Byron.” Gumbo, homemade Italian sausage, pizza, brats, brisket of beef sandwiches, butterflied pork chop sandwiches, Chicken George, BBQ ribs, walking tacos, Italian beef sandwiches, gyros, burgers, hot dogs, Polish sausages and more will be served outdoors at reasonable prices. Beers are $4 for a 16-ounce bottle/can of Budweiser and Miller products, and pop and bottled water are $1.

At 1 p.m., the music kicks off with Milwaukee’s own Tweed Funk, a great band mixing blues, soul and R&B.

At 3 p.m., Grammy nominee Bobby Messano takes the stage. This veteran blues rocker will delight the crowds to a mix of great standards and original music; his new CD, Welcome to Deltaville, has received great acclaim since its release.

At 5 p.m., Doug Deming and Dennis Gruenling and the Jewel Tones perform. These guys can get the party started with their brand of swinging blues. Doug plays some mean guitar, while Dennis blows harp like no other; this will be a fantastic show!

Dave Spector, long-standing ace Chicago guitar veteran, takes the stage at 7 p.m. He has played with everyone in the blues world, and his guitar playing is renowned globally. Sharon Lewis will join him on vocals. She has a huge voice and has amazed many a crowd!

Closing the day are the Nighthawks at 9 p.m. This headline act takes the stage, and they will bring to bear their 41 years on the road to provide a high-energy show that will please all the blues fans who come out — you do not want to miss these guys!

Brought to you by Crossroads Blues Society in conjunction with the Downtown Byron Bar Association, the festival remains affordable with $7 advanced tickets. The cost at the gate will be $15. Kids 5 and younger are admitted free. Kids 6 to 12 are $5 at the gate. All children must be accompanied by an adult. Bring your own folding chair. No pets and no coolers or outside food and beverages are allowed in the festival area.

Tickets are available in all downtown Byron bars and participating restaurants, along with both supermarkets, Byron Bank, Snyder’s Drugs and City Hall. Ticket locations in Rockford, Oregon, Winnebago and Davis Junction can be found online at http://byroncrossroadsbluesfestival, or call (779) 537-4006. Or, buy tickets online at the above link.

Crossroads Blues Society is a 501(c)(3) that raises funds to support their Blues in the Schools Program. They have brought in blues musicians/educators to 116 schools over the last 11 years; more than 36,000 students have learned about the roots of all popular American music through these efforts.

From the Aug. 21-27, 2013, issue

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