Fifth Annual Crossroads Blues Festival Aug. 23 at Lyran Park

Lurrie Bell
Lurrie Bell

By Steve Jones
President, Crossroads Blues Society

Crossroads Blues Society is bringing Lurrie Bell, the great multiple Blues Music Award nominee and 2014 BMA-winning artist for top blues song of the year, to the stage in Rockford to headline the Fifth Annual Crossroads Blues Festival. Held for the last four years in Byron, Illinois, the fest has moved to Lyran Park, 4781 S. Bend Road, Rockford, and will be held Saturday, Aug. 23. Gates open at 10 a.m., and the music starts at noon. Advanced tickets are $5 and entry is $10 at the gate. Ages 5 and younger get in free with an adult. Camping is available for both Friday and Saturday night on a limited basis: $20 per day for campers and RVs; tents are $10 each per day.

Lurrie Bell now records on the Chicago legendary blues label Delmark Records, and his latest release, Blues In My Soul, was one of 2013’s top albums. His 2012 The Devil Ain’t Got No Music was also highly acclaimed, and featured Lurrie in an acoustic mode doing gospel and delta blues in a truly amazing set of performances on Aria Records. He was also a fixture on both volumes of Chicago Blues: A Living History and has a number of great prior releases. Son of the famed harp player Carey Bell, Lurrie has been playing guitar since he was 5 years old. After years playing church as a youth, he was playing with Willie Dixon at the age of 17. In 1977, he was one of the founding members of Dixon’s and Billy Branch’s Sons of the Blues. A year or so later, he was touring with Koko Taylor.

A series of personal demons beset him, but they were overcome, and he released several albums for Delmark and then released a BMA-nominated album with Dad Carey on Alligator Records. He then began recording on his own label, Aria Records, and later was part of the Chicago Blues Living History sessions prior to his return to his old “home” at Delmark Records. His recordings and works have been nominated for a host of prestigious awards. Bell goes on stage at 8 p.m., and we can’t wait to hear his set!

At 6 p.m., we have the Westside Andy/Mel Ford Band with the legendary Barrelhouse Chuck on keyboards. This will be a super set of music, as the Madison, Wisconsin, duo of Andy Linderman and Mel Ford will rip it up, along with Chicago piano and keyboard legend Barrelhouse Chuck. These guys are a huge fan favorite at festivals and will put on a fantastic show!

Reverend Raven and the Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys are on at 4 p.m., and they are a hot act that everyone loves. Westside Andy will be sitting in on harp, and who knows who else may show up? Always a great show with the Rev, so get your dancing shoes ready!

Dave Weld and the Imperial Flames take the stage at 2 p.m. Dave is a great west-side Chicago-style blues artist, and his band with Monica, Abb, Jeff and Brother Dave will give the crowd a superb set!

Opening the day will be Stormcellar, the great blues and roots band out of Sydney, Australia! These guys have a great sound and are a talented bunch of guys, so if you’ve not heard them, stand by for an outstanding treat.

Joe Filisko is back for his fourth time in five years for another harp workshop. Free harmonicas will be given out for kids 10 and younger; $5 for adults or bring your own! The workshop is tentatively set for 2 p.m.

Justin “Boots” Gates joins us for blues between acts. He will be in the Pavilion in between sets on the main stage. Winner of the RAMI (Rockford Area Music Industry) Youth Jam, this 14-year-old is an immensely talented harp and guitar player!

Formerly held in downtown Byron, the festival now affords a bucolic setting with plentiful shade, camping and an assortment of good foods. Sample barbecue, bourbon-glazed chops, brats, burgers, hot dogs, Italian beef and sausages, Asian food and Mexican fare — a smorgasbord of great food! Crossroads Blues Society and the Lyran Society look forward to making this a great success and hope this will continue as an annual event at this great location. Easy access via the Interstate 39 (Baxter Road exit west, which becomes South Bend Road), the Rockford Bypass Illinois 20 (11th Street exit south to Baxter/ South Bend Road or Illinois 2 exit, which is South Main Street to the airport, then right on Kishwaukee to South Bend Road) or take Kishwaukee Road north from Byron to South Bend Road.

Come on out and join us for some great blues and an affordable day. Beer is only $4 for 16-ounce metal bottles or 12-ounce craft beers, and water and pop are only $1! Tickets are now available at the following locations for only $5 each:

Rockford — Guzzardo’s Music, Culture Shock Records, Toad Hall Records, The Lyran Club, CD Source, and JustGoods Store;

Loves Park, Illinois — Woodman’s Supermarket and The Hope and Anchor English Pub;

Beloit, Wisconsin — Paradise Guitars;

Byron, Illinois — Leombruni’s Italian Village, Byron Bank, Snyder’s Pharmacy and Felker’s Value Fresh Market;

Oregon, Illinois — Snyder’s Pharmacy; and

Winnebago, Illinois — Snyder’s Pharmacy.

Visit or call (779) 537-4006 for more details.

From the Aug. 20-26, 2014, issue

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