April 2011

                                                        Photo courtesy of Rich Cibelli


                                      Killer Combo

                                   By Sandy Hannum


On Sunday March 20 the delighted audience at Memphis on Main was treated to a lively show featuring the Kilborn Alley Blues Band along with harmonica master, Eric McSpadden. McSpadden grew up in Decatur, but moved to St. Louis for the music scene. This was his first time back in the area in 30 years, but not his first time playing with Kilborn Alley. They have often played together in St. Louis. McSpadden said, “I really like their band. We’re always really happy when they come down to BB’s Blues, Jazz and Soups to play. They’re just a great bunch of guys, and they’re all really great musicians. I’m always happy to sit in with them and play.”


The show ran the complete gamut of the Blues, from house-rockin’ to heart-breakin’.  The audience was riveted to the stage from the opening notes of Andy Duncanson’s rich smooth voice throughout. Eric McSpadden really rocked on I Got Dues to Pay and the old classic Crosscut Saw. The band was joined by local musician and singer Susana Pacheco Hollinger for vocals on a particularly soulful rendition of Better Off Now. Andy commented that the song hadn’t sounded that good in quite a while.

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On the last set, the human dynamo Abraham Johnson got everyone going with his out-there vocals. What a blast! Kilborn Alley was in top form throughout the evening, clearly showing why they have been nominated for a Blues Foundation award in the “Best Band” category.


It is always fun to hear live music from Kilborn Alley, and we are thankful that they have friends like the great Eric McSpadden. Hey, Eric – don’t wait so long before coming back home to central Illinois again!


Through These Eyes

By Rich Cibelli


Some time ago one of the members of the Prairie Crossroads Blues Society asked me if I’d be interested in writing a monthly column for our newsletter “Inclusive.” A suggestion was made that I might name it something like “From the President.”  Not a bad idea, I replied. I said I would think about it.  Nevertheless, several months have passed since that day. And, so after carefully considering several options, I’ve decided to call my monthly contribution “Through These Eyes.” With that introduction I invite you to join me as I revisit a few blues-related events.


Let’s begin back a few weeks ago when David “Chainsaw” Dupont visited Champaign for a Friday night show at Memphis on Main. Originally from McComb, Mississippi and now based in Chicago, this gifted guitar player had the slightly younger crowd dancing away with his electrified style of get down dirty blues from the get go.


His solid band including drummer and bass player are what I call perfect examples of seasoned musicians who can play with anyone on any night. You can learn more by checking out his webpage at www.chainsawdupont.com/chainsaw. Sherry and I were stationed at our makeshift PCBS merchandise, membership and information table at the back of the bar and commented to each other several times about how we really liked Chainsaw Dupont, and were glad we got the

opportunity to see another good blues player. So were several Prairie Crossroads Blues Society members just like us who were out to support blues music in our community.  

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Somewhat earlier I’d made my way outside with my camera in hand to see if I could get a nice shot of the performer who I’d only heard of, but others had raved about. Luck would have it that the camera his manager Steve had was not working properly. Seeing a great opportunity I strolled up and politely introduced myself as President of The Prairie Crossroads Blues Society and offered my services. Five minutes and three tries later my new friend smiled and said “That’s it.” We exchanged business cards and I promised to e-mail the photos away the next day.


Long story short, I recommend you see Chainsaw Dupont the next time he’s in our area. You won’t be disappointed. By the way make sure you pick up a copy of “Chainsaw Dupoint Live, The Real Guitar Hero.” It will make a good edition to your CD library.


Sangamon Auditorium at The University of Illinois, Springfield is the next stop on this blues journey. This time Hot Tuna Blues with special guest Charlie Musselwhite highlighted this sold out show. Once again several members of PCBS braved some wicked winter weather to make the show.

Moreover, while I am seldom at a loss for words, the only one that comes to mind right now is incredible. Not only did I get to see two original members of Jefferson Airplane,  Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady, play some amazing acoustic as well as electric blues, but they also brought with them G. E. Smith. This guitar master and former Saturday Night Live Band alum can do it all. Rounding out the band was the very talented master mandolin player Barry Mitterhoff and drummer Skoota Warner, whose resume reads like the best of the best. 


Charlie Musselwhite you say?  Here’s what I say. If you missed this show you lost out on a chance to see a remarkable musician, who over his more than 43 year career and 30 albums later can still play the blues with ease and comfort. I’ll say it again, incredible!


My last stop brought me a little closer to home and the comforts of Krannert Center & the Tryon Festival Theater, as “Blues at the Crossroads: The Robert Johnson Centennial Concerts” rolled into town on Tuesday, March 8th. I’m proud to inform you that PCBS was well-represented at this blues event with our information table before, during, and after the show.


While the show itself was well worth the admission charge, I was somewhat disappointed to see several seats left empty. This show was announced as being sold out. I guess some ticket holders decided they’d rather do something else than get the chance to see some of the greats of blues music.

That being said, the rest of the audience was treated to an outstanding array of the music written by the man named Robert Johnson and performed by the likes of Big Head Todd and the Monsters, Cedric Burnside & Lightnin’ Malcolm, David “Honeyboy” Edwards and Hubert Sumlin.

This was the first I’d seen Big Head Todd and I was amazed at

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frontman Todd Park Mohr, both as a guitar player and vocalist.

His opening song left me no doubt of his love for this time-honored music.


What made this night one that I will soon not forget came at the intermission when Sherry and I were allowed backstage. You see we were there to present Hubert Sumlin and David “Honeyboy” Edwards with certificates of Honorary Membership to The Prairie Crossroads Blues Society.

Although some last minute scheduling prevented us from meeting with Sumlin, we did get the opportunity to share a few minutes with the always entertaining Honeyboy Edwards.  He gracefully accepted our gift and allowed us to pose for a few photos. I want to thank Honeyboy and his manager, Michael Frank, and the shows promoter for allowing us this opportunity.


                Rich and Sherry with Honeyboy Edwards

                                                           Photo courtesy of Rich Cibelli


The second half of the show was just as inspiring to me as the opening segment. One by one these seasoned blues veterans made their way onto the stage to take part in many of Robert Johnson’s more familiar arrangements.


Not to be outdone, Hubert Sumlin made his presence known with several tunes from his glory days in Howlin’ Wolf’s band. After an energetic encore the show was over and so ended “Blues at the Crossroads: The Robert John Centennial Concerts” tour.


It’s too bad the man whose legacy surrounds Highways 61 and 49 in Mississippi only lived to be 27.  Who knows how many more of his songs guitar players everywhere would be playing if he had lived a long life.

I look forward to the next opportunity to see great blues performers either in our community or elsewhere, and when I do you can be sure you’ll read about it “Through These Eyes.”



             Pinetop Perkins -- the Piano Legend

                                 by Sandy Hannum


Legendary Blues piano man Pinetop Perkins died on March 21 at the age of 97. He was born Joseph William Perkins on July 7, 1913 in Belzoni, Mississippi.


As a young man, Perkins played Blues at honky-tonks throughout the Mississippi Delta. He worked on the King Biscuit Time radio show in Arkansas, and earned the nickname “Pinetop” from playing his sensational version of Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie on the radio. This was a song written and originally recorded by Pinetop Smith, who died in 1929.


Perkins later toured extensively with slide guitar player Robert Nighthawk and worked briefly with B.B. King in Memphis.  Pinetop toured the south with Earl Hooker in the early 50’s. In 1953 they recorded Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie

for Sun Records, which brought him much wider fame.

In 1969 he began playing with Muddy Waters, thus creating a winning combination that continued for 11 years. Then Pinetop created the Legendary Blues Band, which thrived for 12 years. In 1992 when he began his highly successful solo career he was almost 80, but he still had plenty of energy.



                                                     Photo courtesy of Rich Cibelli


He won the Blues Music Award for best blues piano player for several years in a row, until he took himself out of the running in 2003, and the award was re-named the Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year. He received a lifetime achievement Grammy in 2005, but was still going strong. He won another Grammy in February 2010 for best traditional blues album for Joined at the Hip: Pinetop Perkins & Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, making him the oldest Grammy winner ever.


As B.B. King said, “He was one of the last great Mississippi Bluesmen. He had such a distinctive voice, and he sure could play the piano. He will be missed not only by me, but by lovers of music all over the world.”


                                 Photo courtesy of Nubiatech


         Big Jack Johnson – Delta Blues Guitarist

                                  By Dennis Wismer


Big Jack Johnson passed away on March 14, 2011 and left a rich blues legacy. Big Jack Johnson was the epitome of the delta bluesman playing festivals, clubs and juke joints for over 57 years. 


Johnson got a shot at the big time circuit following a sit in with the late greats Frank Frost and Sam Carr at The Savoy Theatre in Clarksdale, Mississippi. This trio of artists were virtually inseparable for about 15 years and released Rockin’ the Juke Joint Down, under the name the Jelly Roll Kings. The Jelly Roll Kings’ album introduced the world to Big Jack Johnson’s vocals and was the debut release of Earwig records. 


Big Jack released his solo debut in 1987 on Earwig, The Oilman.  Johnson was affectionately known as the oil man for his years delivering oil barrels in Mississippi. Big Jack also released  work  with his band Big Jack Johnson and the Oilers and recorded on several labels including Rooster Blues, Big Jack Music and a Jelly Roll Kings reunion album Off Yonder Wall in 1997 on Fat Possum records.


Big Jack Johnson appeared in the documentary Deep Blues in 1992. He also wrote and performed Big Jack’s Blues and performed Catfish Medley with Samuel L. Jackson on the movie soundtrack Black Snake Moan. He was a favorite at blues festivals, clubs and juke joints the world round bringing a gritty delta style from his hometown of Clarksdale, MS.


He will be especially missed by Red Paden of Red’s Juke Joint in Clarksdale, a close friend and associate and the patrons of Red’s. Big Jack would regularly perform at Red’s rather than bigger clubs perhaps out of a sense of loyalty, or perhaps that is where he felt more at home.

The Kilborn Alley Blues Band is Headed for Europe

                           By Kat Brown


The Kilborn Alley’s Europe Tour is falling into place. So far we know that they will play an event for the Sydenham Blues Club in the U.K. so they will be making their return to London!  They are also booked for the Moulin Blues Festival held May 6 & 7 in Ospel, the Netherlands. We will publish their full schedule when it is set.  





                                          Photo courtesy of Bob Paleczny


Corporate Memberships


Memphis on Main is a corporate member of the Prairie Crossroads Blues Society.  Memphis on Main regularly brings impressive Blues talent to Champaign.


SuperValu a major grocery supplier that supplies groceries locally to County Market, IGA, Sav-A-Lot and Cub Foods has supported PCBS with a donation. This donation is made as part of their program which supports employees who volunteer for non-profit organizations.



Band Memberships


The Kilborn Alley Blues Band has been nominated for Band of the Year by the Blues Music Foundation. Good Luck Guys! They will be leaving for a European tour on May 5.


The Sugar Prophets have produced a CD called “The Sugar Prophets.” The Prophets made it to the finals in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis February 1-5!  Congratulations Guys on an extraordinary feat.


The Painkillers will be playing a fundraiser for the Refugee Center on Saturday April 16 at St. Pat’s. Great music for a great cause – don’t miss it.








Check out the March 17 issue of Blues Blast magazine
for the great cover story about Joe Asselin!






















Mt. Bluesmore



It was great to see Eric McSpadden again.


Yeah, Wolf. He should move back here where the real hot           blues scene is happening!


Heh heh. I’m glad our guys are out making friends everywhere.




PCBS Business


The next Prairie Crossroads Blues Society Meeting is scheduled for April 20 in Room 222 of the Champaign Public Library.


Deadline for submission of articles for consideration and ideas for articles to appear in the Inclusive newsletter is April 20. Time-sensitive exceptions will be taken on an individual basis.  Inclusive, a newsletter of the PCBS, is always looking for new contributors and submissions of finished or unfinished content.




Inclusive  Staff


Editors:                                 Dennis Wismer

Sandy Hannum

Kat Brown

Contributing Writers:     Rich Cibelli

James Walker                   

Tech Consultant:              Bob Paleczny and BP Computers

Mojo Tech:                         Sherry Cibelli





Prairie Crossroads Board of Directors


President                            Rich Cibelli

Vice President                 Steve Stoerger

Treasurer                            Teri Stoerger

Secretary                            Greg Altstetter

At-large Members           Sandy Hannum

                                             Tony Odendahl

                                             Josh Spence





Apr 1Kilborn Alley Blues Band – Paco’s Sol Bistro – Decatur, IL9 pm

Apr 2Kilborn Alley Blues Band with special guest Andrew “Jr. Boy” Jones – The Phoenix – Champaign9 pm

Apr 2 – The Sugar Prophets – Decatur Club Ballroom – Decatur, IL – 6 pm

Apr 5, 12, 19, and 26 – Billy Galt & Jeff Kerr – El Taco Bravo – Champaign – 6:30 pm

Apr 6Kilborn Alley Blues Band – D.R. Digger’s – Champaign – 9 pm

Apr 7, 14, 21, and 28 – Billy Galt & Jeff Kerr – AnsunChampaign7 pm

Apr 16 – The Painkillers – Fundraiser for the Refugee Center – St. Pats Church – Urbana7 pm

Apr 16 – The Sugar Prophets – Dilligaf Pub – Leroy, IL9 pm

Apr 28 – The Sugar Prophets – Ko-Fusion – Champaign10 pm


May 4Kilborn Alley Blues Band – D.R. Digger’s – Champaign – 9 pm

May 9 – The Blues Deacons – The AlamoSpringfield, IL8:30 pm

May 13 – The Sugar Prophets – Memphis on MainChampaign7 pm

May 14 – The Painkillers – Iron Post – Urbana6 pm

May 14 – The Blues Deacons – Alto Vineyards – Champaign7:30 pm

May 19 – The Sugar Prophets – Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsman’s Club 

May 20 – The Sugar Prophets – Alto Vineyards – Champaign7:30 pm

May 26 – The Sugar Prophets – Ko-Fusion – C-U BBQ, Open Blues Jam

May 28 – The Impalas – Alto Vineyards – Champaign7:30 pm


June 10 – Candy Foster & the Shades of Blue – Alto Vineyards - Benefit for the Daily Bread Soup Kitchen – 6 pm – Jeff Helgesen at 7:30 pm

June 18 – Candy Foster & the Shades of Blue – Alto Vineyards – 7:30 pm

June 24 – Keith and Kathy Harden – Alto Vineyards – 7:30 pm

June 24-25 – Urbana Blues, Brews & BBQ Festival - Urbana