December 2010

Kick Out The Blues a Huge Success

The Painkillers opened up Kick Out the Blues


The Kick Out the Blues Fall Festival fundraiser was  exemplary on all counts. Fans of blues music were rewarded by three local bands with national talents. The Prairie Crossroads Blues Society was rewarded with more new members as our membership crossed into triple digits, growing from 10 to over 100 in six short months.


 In these  tough financial times for all, and blues musicians in particular, three bands donated their talents to help the birth of what everyone hopes will grow into a vibrant and thriving local blues scene.  If Kick Out the Blues, held November 21, 2010 at Memphis on Main in downtown Champaign is any indication, it was a great investment.


On Sunday afternoon by 15 minutes prior to the scheduled start time of 1pm, Memphis on Main was already short on seats with the majority of the stools, tables and the long bar already occupied with blues fans, and only one table more sparsely populated. The Prairie Crossroads table was active with volunteers accepting donations for shirts, various raffles and door prizes donated by community businesses.


The food table was overloaded with food provided pot luck style, including but not limited to dips, veggies, chips, pulled pork, Italian beef, and desserts. It really is overwhelming what people will do to support a cause they believe in. The food and prizes were great and bounteous but all that was just a tease for the climax that was on the way -- The music.


The Painkillers have been around for quite some time, and frequently perform at the Iron Post. Carolyn Johnson’s vocals are mesmerizing. The real rootsy blues  stylings of Johnson bring a dynamic to the Killers not apparent much in the local blues scene. Dave Adcock plays out front blowing harp and contributing vocals as well. The Painkillers provided a vibrant start to the fundraiser as the whole band sparked the crowd with their upbeat blues. 


Up next were the Sugar Prophets, with Chris Breen standing in on bass. Josh Spence has one of the most powerful blues voices ever, and he knows how to use it! The Prophets’ cover of Al Green’s I’m a Ram was truly better than the original. It is hard to believe that this group has been together just a little more than a year. Their sound is really tight, and packs an irresistible beat. Luckily there was a little space for dancing, because it was hard to stand still. You just have to move to the groove of the Sugar Prophets. 







The Sugar Prophets



The final band to perform at the Kick Out the Blues Fall fundraiser was the Kilborn Alley Blues Band. The Kilborn guys have been performing locally for about ten years and recently finished a successful west coast tour. The band was joined on drums by Tony Juodis for this show and the veteran drummer did a fantastic job holding down the rhythm section with an already warmed up Chris Breen. Also gracing the stage with Kilborn for the show was frequent contributor Abraham Johnson. The veteran soul and blues singer, brought his soulful and entertaining persona to the fundraiser. Kilborn Alley does a phenomenal job with ensemble blues. The parts blend together to multiply the soulful  experience  and create truly  great blues performances. This was evident in their performance of new hits like Better Off Now, Abraham’s I Dont like Rap Singers and classic standards like Last Two Dollars. Forging the old and the new into a strong present and future is one way the bands and fans were rewarded at the Kick out the Blues Fall Festival.






Kilborn Alley




Throughout the afternoon there were ticket drawings  for cool door prizes – including PCBS memberships, pizzas, barbecue, and CDs, among other items. At four time points raffle tickets were drawn for the really big prizes - baskets full of gifts donated by friends of PCBS and the beautiful framed artwork by our own Steve Stoerger!


The performances for the Prairie Crossroads Blues

Society were typical in the greatness and uniqueness of

the artists. The bands and fans bonded, sharing music,

food and making memories of a new beginning and a

return of past triumphs.




Giving Thanks

by Rich Cibelli


As the fall turns into winter and the holiday season is upon us, I thought I would take a minute to give thanks for all that is good. To begin I’ll thank God for my good health, but not the best hearing. I have a wonderful wife to be thankful for who sticks by my side no matter what. And then there’s my extended family that treats me like one of their own. Who could ask for more?


However, and most importantly, I really want to give thanks to all of you, the members of The Prairie Crossroads Blues Society. What we have done in our short time together really deserves credit. I really believe, and I hope that you do as well, that we have taken that giant step forward in establishing ourselves in this community. Best of all you have allowed me to be a part of the excitement. For example, we planned and completed our first event, the Kick Out the Blues Fall Festival at Memphis on Main. What a total effort by all.


Moreover, in the last six months we have proven beyond any doubt that our community really does like and is willing to support blues music. I think they just needed a push from The Prairie Crossroads Blues Society. In my humble opinion, this type of awareness will go far in helping to remind others of how important blues music is to our history.


However, I would be foolish not to tell you that our work is far from over, for we have much to accomplish in 2011. For instance, our membership has set the goal of establishing a Blues in the Schools program and also becoming affiliated with the Blues Foundation. I know we will accomplish each of these things in due time, and even more if we continue to keep our message clear and to the point. Just think back to May of this year and our first meeting. We started with 10 or so sitting around a table. We really didn’t know much about each other. Look at us now-- our group has grown to 100 or more at last count. That alone is one heck of an accomplishment and something to be thankful for.


So, as you gather with your family and friends and celebrate Thanksgiving and this holiday season, do me this one great favor. Think about how we started The Prairie Crossroads Blues Society and where we are now. I‘ll bet a smile will come to your face and you’ll do that same thing I‘ve just done, give thanks for all that is good!



Stanley “Sarge” Davis, owner of Lee’s Unleaded Blues club on Chicago’s South Side, died of a heart attack on Friday November 12. He was 63 years old. Sarge bought the club in 2002 after retiring from a career with the state police. He loved music and he loved people, so the club was a perfect fit for him. His wife Yvonne said that he embraced everybody, and wanted everyone to feel comfortable in the cozy, friendly atmosphere of the club. Yvonne Davis has vowed to keep the club open because it is her husband’s legacy.



Albert “Little Smokey” Smothers died on November 20 due to complications of diabetes. He was 71 years old. He was a spectacular Chicago blues guitarist and vocalist. He was the younger brother of Otis “Big Smokey” Smothers who was a downhome blues musician. “Little Smokey” played a more modern smooth, jazzy style of blues, influenced by BB King and Albert King.

Albert was born in Tchula, Mississippi, and learned to play guitar at the age of 15. He moved to Chicago two years later, and soon began appearing with some of the well-known blues artists, such as Otis Rush, Howlin’ Wolf, and Little Walter. In his later years Little Smokey became an influential teacher of younger bluesmen. He was a mentor to Elvin Bishop and Paul Butterfield.



Upcoming Events


December 3

     Candy Foster – Memphis on Main - Champaign

     Kilborn Alley – Hubers - Champaign

December 4

     The Blues Deacons – Lock Stock & Barrel – Decatur  

     The Sugar Prophets – Uncle Buck’s – Mahomet

December 10

     Kilborn Alley – Bourbon Barrel Lounge – Decatur

December 11

     The Blues Deacons – Barb’s Place – Decatur

     The Sugar Prophets – The Lucky Monkey – Bement

December 17

     Keith Harden – Bentley’s Pub – Champaign

December 18

     The Blues Deacons – The Trading Post – Springfield

     Keith Harden – Hubers – Champaign

     The Sugar Prophets – Dilligaf Pub – Leroy

December 19

     Keith Harden – Rosebowl Tavern – Urbana

December 23

     Keith Harden – Iron Post – Urbana

December 31

     Candy Foster – Round Barn – Champaign

January 5

     Kilborn Alley – D.R. Diggers - Champaign

January 8

     The Surreal Deal – Memphis on Main – Champaign

January 15

     The Sugar Prophets – Proud Mary’s – Tuscola, IL




Remember to plan ahead for Blues at the Crossroads at Krannert Center on March 8, 2011



PCBS Business

The December Prairie Crossroads Blues Society Meeting is scheduled for December 15th at the Champaign Public Library.

Deadline for submission of articles (and ideas for articles) to appear in the Inclusive newsletter is December 15th, subject to approval by the editors, but we’re not too tough. Time-sensitive exceptions will be taken on an individual basis. Bring them on! We really are inclusive.

Band Memberships

The Kilborn Alley Blues Band won their second Blues Blast award for the title track from their latest album Better Off Now released on Blue Bella records.

The Sugar Prophets continue to prepare for the International Blues Challenge in Memphis in February.  Good Luck, Guys. Several PCBS members are planning on making the trek to Memphis for the IBC’s, and to support the Sugar Prophets.

The Painkillers have been playing an early Saturday evening set at the Iron Post in Urbana about once a month. Catch them if you can for a great start to the weekend.

Corporate Membership

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

 Prairie Crossroads Board of Directors

President            Rich Cibelli

Vice President   Steve Stoerger

Treasurer            Teri Stoerger

Secretary             Greg Altstetter


Inclusive  Staff

Co-Editors                           Dennis Wismer

Co-Editor                             Sandy Hannum

Contributing Writer         James Walker

Tech Consultant               Bob Paleczny and the staff at BP                                                                                               Computers

Mojo Tech                          Sherry Cibelli



Mt. Bluesmore


The Prairie Crossroads Blues Society now has 107 members!