The 2016 Crossroads Blues Festival was a huge success. About 2,500 people attended and Lyran Park was rocking! We had six great acts that really thrilled the crowd. The Flaming Mudcats from New Zealand were spot on as they opened the day. Joanna Connor’s slide guitar set reminded fans how greats she is! The Ghost Town Blues Band got a huge reaction from the crowd with their music and performance. They marched in New Orleans style and they were on fire all afternoon.
The ever soulful and suave Tad Robinson and his band offered up stunning set of tunes ranging from suave and subdued to raucous and rocking. Headlining the event was the hot Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band who entertained the crowd with great music and antics. In between acts we had Birddog and Beck entertaining in the Pavilion which is Ken Olufs on harmonica and Warren Beck on keyboard. Dan Phelps sat in with them several times on guitar and cigar box guitar. He was demonstrating the Hardtime Cigar Box Guitars throughout the day and Hardtime raffled off a pair of guitars to support our Blues in the Schools Program.
Our financial sponsors deserve a huge thank you for their assistance. The Rockford Area Arts Council was our Platinum Sponsor. Thanks also for our Gold Sponsors Byron Bank; Woodman’s Markets; Intren Utility Solutions; and Thrivent Financial for their donations, along with our Silver Sponsors Joe and Jeanette Geraghty; Bill and Pamela Graw; Steve and Annette Jones; Jack Kozuszko and Bonnie Fox; Plumbers & Pipefitters U.A. Local 23; Rockford Bank and Trust; and Woodward, Inc. Our thanks also to Bronze Sponsors Casey’s; Kiwanis of Byron; Ric and Donna Douglas; Camille Einoder; Jim and Sallie Krebs; Mark and Cindi Nelson; Ken Pearson; Rockford Heating & Air Conditioning; Norm and Piera Sagon; SMART Solutions Inc., Spahn and Rose Lumber; UAW Local 1761; and the White Eagle Club.
Our in-kind sponsors also did a wonderful job. WIFR-23 helped with ads, PSAs and production. On the radio, The Eagle 96.7 FM on the commercial side and WNIJ 89.5 FM on the public radio side helped out a lot. Blues Blast Magazine, Chicago Blues Guide, WDCB Radio and The Rock River Times also helped advertise. Underground Printing, Lamonica Beverages, and The Blackhawk Trails Lodge also provided service. Our thanks go to the many volunteers from Crossroads and the Lyran Society who helped make this event a huge success!
While the day was fantastic, the one item that concerned me was the lack of coverage of the event itself by the traditional media sources. No TV crews came out and there was no newspaper coverage. It seems that unless an event has the sanctioning of one the City/Town Halls, Park Districts, and/or the Metro Center/Coronado that there is little coverage by Rockford’s big media sources. As a non-profit that has conducted 180 music programs in area schools in the past 14 years for over 50,000 students which has cost over $50,000 to conduct, one would think that our events might warrant coverage. But aside from that, we did get the word out in advance, which got us a great crowd.
Next year the 8th Annual Crossroads Blues Festival will again be held at Lyran Park. We thank the Lyran Society for providing a great location for the festival and we hope to see an even larger crowd there on August 26, 2017!
–Steve Jones, President and Festival Chairman, Crossroads Blues Society