February 2011

The Sugar Prophets – CD Release and IBC Send-Off

By Sandy Hannum

Sunday, January 30, 2011 will be a big day for blues in C-U. The Sugar Prophets will release their highly anticipated CD at a party at Memphis on Main at 2:00 pm, hosted by the Prairie Crossroads Blues Society.  The event also celebrates The Sugar Prophets’ upcoming competition at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis!! 

The PCBS strongly supports the Prophets in the challenge, and hopes to raise enough funds with this event to offset the costs of the band’s travels to and from Memphis. Great parties like this are excellent opportunities to expand the membership of the society as well! The event will include performances by the Prophets and other local bands including the Kilborn Alley Blues Band, which has preceded them in bringing critical acclaim to the C-U blues scene. C-U BBQ will be serving their award-winning food. There will be door prizes, raffle items, and silent auction items, including a Party Bus Package, and Valentine’s Day Package, and Tickets to Red Hot Winter. A $5 donation is suggested at the door, or $15 will get you in plus a copy of the new CD!

Obviously, this event is an absolute must! Be at Memphis on Main, 55 E. Main St., Champaign, on Sunday, January 30 at 2:00 pm, if not sooner.

The almost unfathomable success that The Sugar Prophets have achieved in just over a year is easier to understand when you look at the backgrounds of the talented individual band members. I am now going to quote from an officially sanctioned press release:


“The Sugar Prophets are an interesting amalgam of backgrounds and talent that have seemingly merged together in the right time, place, and groove. Fiery singer and harmonica slinger Josh Spence had been around the Central Illinois Blues scene as a regular guest performer with both local and national touring acts for years before deciding to form the band in March, 2009. The band played several shows and went through a few personnel changes until February 2010, when the present lineup was set. Since then, The Sugar Prophets’ profile has continued to rise in Central Illinois Blues circles and beyond. After playing just over 100 shows in their first year, The Sugar Prophets were chosen to go to Memphis and represent the Illinois Central Blues Club at the 2011 International Blues Challenge.

Now, don’t get the impression that this band is just a group of young pups trying to run with the big dogs. No, The Sugar Prophets have a lot more experience and savvy than that! In their current form, collectively, they’ve logged over 5,000 shows. In fact, some have recorded and played with some of the finest musicians in the worlds of Blues, Gospel, R&B, and Blues-Rock.

Guitarists Joe Asselin, former member of the Kilborn Alley Blues Band, and A.J. Williams, who has logged miles with Murali Coryall, Shirley King, and legendary blues sax-man A.C. Reed, combine with bassist Al Chapman, best known as the rock-solid groove-man in Billy Galt’s Blues Deacons, drummer extraordinaire, Aaron “A Train” Wilson, who has performed with Nick Moss & the Flip-Tops, and the Kilborn Alley Blues Band, and Joe Moss, and front man, Josh Spence to form The Sugar Prophets.”

The 2011 International Blues Challenge on February 1-5 will be the 27th such event to be presented by the Blues Foundation in Memphis. Blues musicians from around the world compete in front of a panel of judges, for prizes, cash, and recognition.  Each of the bands has been selected to attend the IBC by winning a regional competition. The IBC is the world’s largest gathering of Blues acts, and has been a stimulus to the careers of many impressive blues artists.

The PCBS wishes all the best to The Sugar Prophets at IBC. We hope to see everyone at Memphis on Main on Sunday!

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.

Hot Artist With Rising Stock –

Introducing: Shawn Pittman


1) Undeniable (2010 USA release)

Self Release

2) Too Hot (2010 European Release)

Feelin’ Good Records (Italy)


www.myspace.com/ shawnpittmanband


By James “Skyy DobroWalker

Reprinted with permission by Blues Blast magazine


1) 11 songs; 43:57 minutes; Suggested

2) 15 songs; 56:21 minutes; Suggested


Styles: “Good old butt-rockin' Blues and Rock 'n' Roll”


When it comes to CD output, there are three levels: productive, prolific, and Pittman. In 2009 and 2010, Shawn, who first broke nationally in the late 90s, has released two solo CDs in each year. His latest, “Undeniable” is, incredibly, the eighth album for a guy only 35 years old! He also collaborated with Texas’ Moeller brothers for a third album in 2010.


Overall, Pittman is a master of his guitar in playing the recognized styles of the Lone Star State. “I don't use any pedals; I get my tone from my fingers, guitar and amp... I write and sing my own songs,” reported Pittman. Thankfully, Shawn is not Continued in next column

one to overplay in tedious, too-long solos, and he keeps song times averaging four minutes. You’ll hear influences of the Vaughan brothers, Albert

King, Smokin' Joe Kubek, Jim Suhler, and Mike Morgan.  Pittman's songs usually rely on a guitar powered trio, but Texas means occasional keyboards like in “Blues for Juanita” with Shawn himself on piano.


Undeniable’s opening track “Hard to Hold On” finds Shawn’s solid and appealing vocals pleading with a wavering lover while his guitar is at some of its melodic best above a chunky rhythm. "Change of Heart" is another killer track. Howlin’ Wolf fans will enjoy the “Forty Four” inspired “Mindin’ My Own

Business.” The set closer “Looking Good,” is a ferocious instrumental created by the late Magic Sam and the only non-original on the CD.


Also available for 2010, in both Europe and here, is his seventh release, the aptly titled “Too Hot” (not a slow Blues song on it!). It was recorded in 2009 in a studio in Italy on Pittman and the band’s only day off from his tenth tour across the pond. They recorded “live” in the studio and knocked out 15 songs for Feeling Good Productions.


Too Hot’s title track is the Jerry “Boogie” McCain number that was the impetus for the recording session in Italy. The Italian back up band is solid across all 15 original and cover songs adding bass, drums, and harmonica. “Too Hot’s” tasty harp work is eclipsed only by Pittman’s scorching guitar runs. Another McCain song, “Geronimo Rock” is laid down as a dance floor filling rip snorting Texas shuffle.


By age 18, this Oklahoma born (1974), Texas honed singer, songwriter, and guitarist was making a name among Texas guitar slingers. Critically lauded and popular by age 23, Pittman released his first two records on Minnesota’s now defunct Cannonball label.


But, by 2004, Shawn completely retired from the music scene to stop the loose caboose his career had become from completely jumping the tracks. A couple of years at an office job, and after some serious self-examination and resulting positive changes, Pittman in mid-2008 resolved to make another serious attempt at a music career. He has

since done marathon tours of Texas, US dates, and Europe and released four CDs across 2009 and 2010.


Still considered “young” at 35, Pittman is a lot older and wiser than he was at 23. His dedication and perseverance has paid off while maintaining a soulfulness that simmers to a boil. Fans of a hard driving Texas shuffle who have yet to discover Shawn Pittman will be well rewarded.


Pittman, who has just been signed to Delta Groove

Records, will be performing at Buddy Guy’s Legends on Saturday, February 5, opening for Magic Slim.




Man, these young guys have talent!

Yeah…Looks like the Blues is alive and well.

Mmmhmm. Going to Memphis on Main Sunday! Can’t wait for the IBCs!!


Band Memberships

The Kilborn Alley Blues Band have been nominated for Band of the Year by the Blues Music Foundation. Good Luck Guys. Kilborn is also playing at Buddy Guys Legends February 22.

The Sugar Prophets  have a new CD and are ready to compete in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis February 1-5.  Good Luck, Guys.

The Painkillers have been playing an early Saturday evening set at the Iron Post in Urbana about once a month.

A Few Thoughts

By Rich Cibelli


If you would allow me, I’d like to make mention of two very important items related to the world of blues music that recently caught my attention and should yours. The first of these is news that The Pocono Blues Festival scheduled for 2011 has been canceled. However, even more troubling is the talk circulating that would make the famous Chicago Blues Festival a paid event. I’ll take each of these subjects one at a time.


For a long time now I’ve wanted to travel to The Pocono Blues Festival at Beautiful Big Boulder Resort in Lake Harmony, PA. I guess I won’t get my chance now. I can’t really recall how many times this festival was promoted in the blues magazines I subscribe to, but it was a lot. Moreover, it was well respected as one of the best blues festivals around anywhere. 2011 would have marked the 20th year this event would have taken place.


The promoters claim that the troubled economy caused them to decide to cancel the event and look elsewhere for revenue sources. In this day, we have to face the fact that many more businesses may choose to follow this same path in order to sustain operations. Let’s hope our local blues events continue to prosper and we don’t have to face this sad reality.


My mention of the Chicago Blues Festival is noteworthy as well. This is the festival that really opened my eyes to the blues and showed me why it is so important to our history. I had heard about it from friends. They even mentioned repeatedly how good the performers were and how you could walk from stage to stage and see someone else. The event was free and easy to travel to, which made it even more attractive.


I have attended the event twice now and both times impressed me immensely. Not just because of the great music, but more so about the people who go year after year. They came from all over just to be able to share this event and to meet their

favorite blues musicians, just as I do.


It was here that I got to see John Primer, Eden Brent, the late Lil’ Dave Thompson, Billy Gibson and many more. While later one night after the festival in 2009, I got to enjoy a memorable trip down South Michigan Avenue to the home of “Chess Records,” or “2120,” as they used to call it. Yes, this was the home of the blues during the days of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and many other great Chicago blues performers.  Now it is home to Willie Dixon’s Blues Heaven, a foundation dedicated to the blues run by his surviving family.


It was on this night that really made my trip to Chicago for the blues festival an event to remember. Koko Taylor, the undisputed queen of the blues had passed away just days before and her spirit was alive and well.


I sadly recall earlier in the day when my wife and I stopped to sign our names on a card that was designed as a memorial. This really touched my heart as had each time I got to hear her great voice and see her big smile. Over the years I have been able to take some real nice photos of Koko that I will forever treasure.


But one thing that I will not forget is the current talk in Chicago. It seems the city that is known more for political games and back room deals is at it again. This time the powers are talking about charging to go to the Chicago Blues Fest. And that’s not all.


Seems there’s some deal in the works that would give the rights for all of the city’s big events to one player. What will they think of next? Sure times are tough, we all know that, but charging admission to this event is in my opinion a real slap in the face to the people and the performers who show up each year. 


Moreover, politics is the best way to ruin what has been for many years one of the best festivals to attend anywhere. However, Greg Kot, an on-line music critic for The Chicago Tribune, wrote in a January 4th piece that he believes “charging admission to some of Chicago’s bigger festivals would allow the promoters to bring in better acts”. He goes on to say that “too many of the bands are amateurish and play too many covers.”


I say horse feathers, and wonder if Kot has even gone to the Blues Fest. “Better bands” I say?  What’s wrong with the bands that are playing now? Don’t blues bands play covers, and if they do what’s wrong with that? Who doesn’t play “Crossroads” or “Mustang Sally” once in awhile? Bottom line, my friends, if this idea becomes reality it will really turn some heads.


So here’s my solution. Let’s forget about Chicago for now and instead turn our attention to the folks right here in Champaign-Urbana where we can make a difference. Moreover, I don’t need politics to help me decide what band I’m going to go hear or what venue I’m going to spend my money at.


Sure The Chicago Blues Festival is a one of a kind that I have attended and really enjoyed being a part of, but at this point I have more important things to worry about than political games. Enough said!


Writer’s note:


I began writing this story soon after it was announced that the 2011 Pocono’s Blues Festival had been canceled. I’m happy to tell you that since then another event has been scheduled to take its place. I wish the promoter the best of luck this year and beyond.


PCBS Business

The February Prairie Crossroads Blues Society Meeting is scheduled for February 16 at the Champaign Public Library.

Recommended deadline for submission of articles for consideration and ideas for articles to appear in the Inclusive newsletter is February 16. Time-sensitive exceptions will be taken on an individual basis.




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 Writers       James Walker

                                                Rich Cibelli

Tech Consultant               Bob Paleczny at BP Computers

Mojo Tech                          Sherry Cibelli



Jan 29 - Kilborn Alley Blues Band - Downtown Marriott -

         Des Moines, IA

Jan 30 - Sugar Prophets and Kilborn Alley Blues Band - 

         Memphis On Main - Champaign – 2 pm

Jan 31 - Sugar Prophets - Alamo Club – Springfield, IL

Feb 1-5 – Sugar Prophets - International Blues

          Challenge - Memphis, TN

Feb 2 – Kilborn Alley Blues Band - D.R. Digger’s -


Feb 5 – Candy Foster and Shades of Blue – Memphis on

          Main - Champaign

Feb 11 – Kilborn Alley Blues Band – Memphis on Main -


Feb 11 – Sugar Prophets – Diligaff Pub – Leroy, IL

Feb 18 – The Impalas – Bentley’s Irish Pub – Champaign

Feb 22 – Kilborn Alley Blues Band – Buddy Guy’s

           Legends – 700 S. Wabash, Chicago, IL

Feb 24 – Sugar Prophets – Ko Fusion – Champaign

Feb 25 – Chainsaw DuPont – Memphis on Main –


Feb 26 – The Impalas – Huber’s Pub – Champaign

Mar 4 – Sugar Prophets – Bentley’s – Champaign

Mar 4 – Charlie Musselwhite – U of I Sangamon

           Auditorium – Springfield, IL

Mar 5 – Sugar Prophets – Uncle Buck’s Sports Bar –

          Mahomet, IL

Mar 8 - Blues at the Crossroads – Krannert Center –

          7:30 pm

Mar 9 – Joe Bonamossa – Peoria Civic Center –Peoria, IL

Mar 12 – II Ton Heavy Thing – East End Tavern –


Mar 17 – Sugar Prophets – Pop’s Place – Ludlow, IL

Mar 31 – Sugar Prophets – Ko Fusion