January 2011


The Kilborn Alley Blues Band nominated for BMA Band of the Year!

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By Dennis Wismer

The Kilborn Alley Blues Band has been nominated for 2011 BMA Band of  the Year by the Blues Foundation!!!

It has been an amazing run for The Kilborn Alley Blues Band. They have grown from a good local blues band to a world class touring act of international acclaim. Fortunately I was able to jump on board at an early stage of their career and enjoy the growth. While they were honing chops they got a warm up gig at the Canopy Club for guitar virtuoso Monte Montgomery, which close friend, blues dj and music historian Bob Paleczny had opened my eyes to.  

We were planning on seeing the show and I came across an ad for the show touting The Kilborn Alley Blues Band as the opening act.  One word grabbed me like it usually does and ensured I would arrive for the full opening set.  A band with the word blues in the name is worth my time, any time. Some time it pays off and other times not so much.

This time it paid off. Not necessarily for the set I witnessed that evening but for the baseline of quality I witnessed from some youthful musicians playing the blues the “right way” to quote Josh ‘The Hit Man’ Stimmell KABB’s rhythm guitarist. These guys were playing real deal blues from start to finish. 

Stimmel has developed quite nicely over the years filling out the Kilborn sound with unique finger picking rhythms keeping the band fresh while still grounded in blues roots.  His partners in the rhythm section Chris Breen on bass and Ed O’Hara provide a steady base and at times move the progressions with their sound intuitive techniques.  This ensemble band with its four main members can lay down a groove which Andrew Duncanson only hypes up to levels unknown with his textured vocals and stellar guitar. Well let’s not get carried away Luther Allison could do it as well. Did I say NOT get carried away, high praise indeed.

Fortunately I got a few chances to see Kilborn Alley since it turned out they were from Champaign Urbana, IL, my home.  It also was serendipitous that I ran into the lead vocalist, songwriter and guitarist Andrew Duncanson and his father Tom at the Chicago Bluesfest. It also helped cement a relationship when the band got a weekly spot at a bar that also sponsored my softball team. It was at these weekly shows I got to know the band and really appreciate the development. It became something special. These guys really became profound in their performances.  And they didn’t need to have the same members to rustle up some smoldering blues. Quite the contrary, I came to enjoy the different lineups the band would employ. It seemed that when a regular member needed a break the other members used that opportunity to stretch out and expand the groove.


Of course anytime Abraham Johnson is in the house Exciting Abraham dispels any rumors that he might take kindly to rap singers and he always sticks the soul from his big heart right smack dab in your ear hole. He is a one of a kind performer and helps expand the Kilborn experience.

Some of my favorite Kilborn shows happened when Dave Fauble showed up to fatten the rhythm section with some warm sax licks. Fauble fits into the ensemble like honey. He soothes and sweetens up hot tea and provides sweet sticky texture to warm toasty jams. Fortunately Fauble makes it to many of the monthly local DR Diggers shows and as many shows as he can.

 Speaking of the Wednesday show the midnight set seems to be a sit in set where many of the local musicians can be found twisting up some blues or soul songs with various members of the Kilborn crew.

Another interesting thing about KABB is the way they can replace core members and seem to always come up big.

Joe Asselin left to pursue other avenues and Deak Harp steps in and adds a distinct dimension to the band.  Harp leaves to do his own thing and the band tightens it up and does an East Coast tour and impresses none other than new fan James Woods at the legendary Chans.  If that chance meeting can put the Kilborn sound on film the exposure would be nice.

 Drummer is another area the band has had changes and notable sit ins, but with Ed O’Hara providing killer drums, vocals and the occasional harp the drums are in capable hands. Early drummer Jaden Brooks is regularly seen at Kilborn shows and Aaron Wilson of the Sugar Prophets makes regular appearances and sits in occasionally as well.

With the current lineup of Duncanson, Stimmel , Breen  and O’Hara  the band glides from tight smooth ensemble pieces to gritty funky urban blues with dexterity usually reserved  for nubile Romanian gymnasts. But these guys always stick their landing.

 From slightly populated local taverns, warm up gigs and the usual struggles a band must endure The Kilborn Alley Blues Band churns along gaining fans and awards. With the help of Nick and Kate Moss of Blue Bella records they have put out three widely acclaimed and award winning albums to go with a self produced early recording.

 And now during the holiday season of 2010 they have received a prestigious Band of the Year nomination for a Blues Music Award from the Blues Foundation. Heady stuff from some musicians that had the stones to include Blues in their name and the style to back it up.



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 Honors Keith Harden

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PCBS President Rich Cibelli gives Keith Harden an Honorary Lifetime Membership Award   

Prairie Crossroads Blues Society Welcomes First Honorary Member - By Rich Cibelli

Keith Harden, a long time supporter of “Blues Music,” was recently awarded the first Honorary Membership in The Prairie Crossroads Blues Society. The event took place on December 23rd at The Iron Post in Urbana during Harden’s annual “Keithmas,” acoustic show. To mark the occasion, Harden was presented with a certificate and Prairie Crossroads Blues Society t-shirt. Thanks to those members who attended.

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Keith Harden, PCBS Entertainment Committee Chair Bob Paleczny, and Rich Cibelli at presentation ceremony

Now residing in Nashville, Harden continues his work as a singer, songwriter and producer. He is well known for his guitar, dobro, harmonica and occasional piano work.

Originally from Tolono, Harden has played professionally now for more than four decades and has devoted much of that time to his love for “The Blues.” While in Champaign, Harden was one of the most sought after performers for his style and versatility which earned him the chance to open many shows for some of the biggest names in “Blues Music.”


The Prairie Crossroads Blues Society congratulates Keith Harden and wishes him continued success in his musical career and his long dedication to “The Blues.”

To find out more information about Keith please visit his web site at www.keithharden.com.


The Sugar Prophets prepare for CD release party and upcoming IBC trip

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What do you get when you add a charismatic young singer with a voice made for the blues to three savvy blues veterans with experience and unlimited talent?  The Sugar Prophets, Champaign-Urbana’s hottest new Blues band.

The band is in the midst of preparing their debut CD. Plans call for them to head down to Memphis in early January to master it with Larry Nix, the same fellow that mastered all the legendary Stax records!

A Champaign-Urbana CD release party will take place Sunday, January 30th at Memphis on Main, 55 E. Main St. in Champaign. Josh Spence, who handles vocals and harp work, says plans are to have a couple other bands play in support of the Prophets that afternoon. Along with their CD, some great BBQ food will be available for sale. Spence says the event will help the Prophets raise money for their February trip to the IBC’s in Memphis.  The Prairie Crossroads Blues Society will be there to help out at the event as well.

The Sugar Prophets won the Illinois Central Blues Club’s IBC Challenge in the summer of 2010. They will be competing in The Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge February 1st thru 5th 2011, in Memphis. The Prairie Crossroads Blues Society wishes them luck.

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Robin Rogers Doing Her Thing

Another Blues Singer, Another Name

By Rich Cibelli

These days it seems we hear way too often the sad news that we’ve lost another friend in the blues community. For me, many of the names are unfamiliar. Moreover, most often we only hear about the folks who have gained notoriety as opposed to those that haven’t. 

Consequently, with so many performers, festivals and shows all over the world it’s hard enough to remember who everybody is let alone their names or if they play a particular instrument or just sing. On the contrary, if you’re lucky you will get the chance to meet one. Someone whose name really stands out.

We lost another blues performer on Friday, December 17, 2010 that really made an impression on me. In fact, I even got to spend a few minutes chatting with her. Her name was Robin Rogers.

I first heard the name Robin Rogers mentioned not so long ago. Turns out she was listed as one of the performers scheduled to participate in the 2009 Mississippi Valley Music Festival held each year in Davenport, Iowa. My wife and I listened to a sample or two of her recordings and something about her voice stood out more so than other performers who we’d heard of before. So we decided we were going to Davenport to see Robin, period.


So we went, and what a great show Robin and her band with husband Tony on lead guitar put on that night. The crowd was very gracious in its applause. My wife and I were truly amazed and glad we had witnessed such a true performer with so much talent and energy. We even got a chance to meet Robin and thanked her and her husband for coming. She even signed a copy of her CD for us. We told her we would try and catch her again sometime soon.

My wife ran into her at this year's Blues Music Awards Show in Memphis. She told me later that something didn’t seem right. She said Robin looked worn out and weak that night. Turns out Robin was very ill.

No, Robin Rogers won’t be the last blues singer to pass, but she will forever stand out in my mind as being one of the best. Meeting her was truly an honor and her name is one I will not easily forget. She will be missed by many.


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  have a new CD completed  and 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 January 15th with the Kilborn Alley Blues Band for a great start to the weekend.



Ana Popovic Band

DVD: An Evening at Trasimeno Lake (Live from the Heart of Italy) – ArtisteXclusive  AErec001


By James “Skyy Dobro” Walker

Reprinted with permission by Blues Blast magazine


14 Songs - 1 hour 12:33 minutes; Bonus material - over 30 minutes of 2 Solo Acoustic Tracks and a Full Interview

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Rating: Library Quality

Styles: Modern Electric Blues-Rock; Blues; Jazz; Acoustic ballads

Inspired by Fantasy sports leagues, I invited my friend and fellow Blues fan, Holden McGroin, to create his fantasy Blues artist. Here is what he created:

1. A brown-eyed girl, young and gorgeous like a runway fashion model.

2. Skilled enough to play an electric guitar like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix.

3. A wonderful singer with edge and power who writes her own songs.

4. Friendly with a warm personality and an exotic accent when speaking.

I had to tell him, “Holden, that is no fantasy; you have perfectly described Serbian born, International Blues-Rock star Ana Popovic!” (pronounced Papa-veech).

Ever since the collapse of Eastern European communism allowed Popovic to emerge from her Belgrade, Serbia (then Yugoslavia) home, Ana has gained fans and critical acclaim worldwide. The Ruf label released her major debut “Hush” in 2001. Since then, Ana has released four more CDs and two DVDs.

Filmed at a historic Medieval castle in Italy (completed 1247), the concert features some songs with an eight piece band performing to a 5000+ audience. A six-camera crew captured the energy and passion of not only Popovic, but also the entire band. Additionally, one sees memorable views of the lake and the castle. Overall, the DVD pairs an incredible performance with a remarkably beautiful location to create a winning masterpiece combination.

Beyond the incredible music, I thoroughly appreciated the 7:16 minute interview which  confirmed her “real person” warmth, her love for her infant son Luuk, her long range plans, and it revealed insights like her workout regimen to keep in such great tour-ready shape.

Fans of Ana Popovic have probably already pre-ordered their copy, and new comers will find no better introduction and personal music library entry than this DVD. Ana is no fantasy; she’s the real deal!



PCBS Business

The January Prairie Crossroads Blues Society Meeting is scheduled for January, 20th at the Champaign Public Library.

Deadline for submission of articles (and ideas for articles) to appear in the Inclusive newsletter is January 19 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.




You say Buddy is doing a homestand at his new club  at 700 S Wabash in Chicago.  Uh yeah you heard me right.

What else is going on?

Man I heard rumblings about some dadgum bus trip.

What. That sounds real cool.

Sugar Prophets have a new release? OUTSTANDING


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




Sugar Prophets

 Jan 15th Proud Mary’s Tuscola

Jan 29th Pop’s Place Decatur

Jan 30th Memphis On Main – Champaign – CD Release

Jan 31st Alamo Club Springfield

International Blues Challenge Memphis

Feb 2-5 various venues Memphis TN

Kilborn Alley Blues Band

Jan 5th DR Diggers Food with Friends

Jan 15th Iron Post - late set following Painkillers


Jan 15th early set 6 pm

Bruiser and the Virtues

Jan 16th Urbana Free Library - 2 pm


Jan 21st Memphis on Main - 9 pm

The Surreal Deal

Jan 8th  Memphis on Main