June 2011



You Say It’s Your Birthday!

                                       By Rich Cibelli


“You say it’s your birthday, it’s my birthday too,” sang the Beatles on their famous White Album some years ago. Yes you can -- go ahead and keep singing. I turned off the PCBS spy camera a while ago so no one will know. Go to it and have some fun!


That being said, we all celebrate birthdays differently. For example, when I was young my parents used to throw a party with fancy hats and invited all my friends over to the house to sing “Happy birthday to you.” Then everybody would enjoy a nice cake and maybe some ice cream. Older folks on the other hand I’ve been told might celebrate their birthdays with a meal out and an extra nap or two.


All kidding aside, birthday celebrations are supposed to be a good time. In the case of our very own  Prairie Crossroads Blues Society, we are celebrating the end of our first year together supporting blues music in our community and the beginning of what I hope are many more. This is something to be very proud of.


As I look back on the year that’s gone by I realize that our organization has accomplished some amazing things. For example, we are already an Affiliate Member of the Blues Foundation. Our membership has grown tremendously, including four fabulous bands and one amazing corporate


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member, Memphis on Main. The PCBS even has three incredible honorary members – Keith Harden, Honeyboy Edwards, and Hubert Sumlin. The PCBS has made a name for itself through several wonderful blues music events featuring our own bands  -- sometimes with additional special guests like Eric McSpadden and Andrew “Jr. Boy” Jones. Bob Paleczny, Andy Duncanson and others in the society were generous in offering hospitality help for Jr. Boy’s band when they came through town. This is what the blues society is all about.


We are proud of the logo created by Steve Stoerger, which now appears on two versions of the PCBS T-shirt. In addition we’ve created our own website, and a monthly newsletter. Believe me when I say I’m just scratching the surface of the many things that all of you, the members of The Prairie Crossroads Blues Society, have contributed in reaching these goals.


Nevertheless, I’m also reminded that there is much more for us to do as we go forward into our second year. More importantly, as we do, we must remember to hold true the very reasons we created our blues society in the first place -- to support blues music.


Yes, times are tough and unfortunately people will come and go. That is human nature. However, in the end our organization and its future will be determined by what we do from this point on. That is why it is so important that we continue to promote our name whenever possible and work together to come up with new ideas and challenges.


That being said, remember that this is a team effort and team players are needed now more than ever. If you have been hovering about on the sidelines, we invite you to become more fully involved. The more into it you are, the more fun you will have.


So, as we embark on this new chapter in the life of the Prairie Crossroads Blues Society, I ask you to join with me and celebrate, because I’ve got a hunch that next year around this same time we’ll have an even bigger celebration.  Congratulations!


 Shemekia glamour shot

Photo by Carol Friedman, Shemekia Copeland Press Kit


Shemekia Copeland -- Close to Wearing the Crown

                           By Sandy Hannum


Shemekia Copeland was born in Harlem, NY in 1979, the daughter of Texas blues guitarist Johnny Clyde Copeland. She grew up surrounded by music and fabulous blues artists. Her father encouraged her to sing, and took her up on the stage of the Cotton Club when she was only eight years old, but she was shy and embarrassed. According to an interview with the Boston Blues Society, Shemekia once asked her father to teach her to play guitar. He declined and said, “I play guitar ‘cause I can’t sing as good as you.”


As a teenager, she found her voice and her attitude. In 1998 just one year after graduating from high school she produced her debut album with Alligator Records, Turn the Heat Up! which was a major hit, and brought instant name recognition.


Two years later she released her second album, Wicked. This included an amazing duet with the legendary Ruth Brown, a long-time friend and mentor. Wicked won three Blues Music Awards.


In 2002 she made another album called Talking to Strangers produced by the New Orleans R&B legend Dr. John. In 2005 Shemekia made an album entitled The Soul


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Truth, produced by Steve Cropper, which had a Memphis soul and funk flavor.


For a while during these years Shemekia hosted a blues show on Sirius Radio. It was always fun and interesting to hear her commentary as she introduced the songs. Her perspective was unique because so many of the artists were old friends of the family.


She joined Telarc International in 2009. That year she was named Rising Star – Blues Artist in the DownBeat Magazine critic’s poll. In 2010 Shemekia was named Best Female Blues Artist by Blues Blast Magazine, and Female Blues Artist of the Year by Living Blues Reader Awards.


At Telarc she put out her latest recording, Never Going Back. Shemekia has explored various offshoots from blues music, but it is the blues that is at the very core of her being and all of her music. When she was growing up, Shemekia also knew and loved Koko Taylor, the Queen of the Blues. Now that we have lost Koko, there are many who believe that Shemekia is well on her way toward taking over that title. 


You may remember when Shemekia was in town a few years ago playing a gig at the High Dive. I was there with my husband, Jim. What a fabulous show. Several of us were up on the dance floor in front of the stage. When she finished the show with “It’s 2 A.M.” everybody was going wild. Finally she walked down off the stage by herself, and I just spontaneously ran up and hugged her. She looked a little startled, but nothing happened. There were no bodyguards or anything! Later on I was thinking – Geez. If this was New York or LA I would probably have been arrested for assault. That’s another reason why it’s great living here in Chambana.


Lucky for Illinoisians, Shemekia Copeland now makes her home in Chicago. She is married to Orlando Wright, who is a bass player with Buddy Guy. Shemekia will be performing at the Chicago Blues Fest on Sunday June 12 at the Petrillo Music Shell at 6:00 pm. I’ll see you there.



See Shemekia Copeland

At the Chicago Blues Fest

Sunday June 12, 6:00 pm

at the Petrillo Music Shell







Through These Eyes

By Rich Cibelli


To say Rocky Maffit is a good percussionist is an understatement. In fact, in my opinion he’s much more. And he showed me why during a recent afternoon performance at Champaign’s Public Library. The event took place on Sunday, May 1st, or as it’s referred to by many as “May Day.”


A professional musician since high school, Maffit has performed for audiences big and small all over the world, but on this day he really showed his true ability to connect with both young and old by encouraging those in attendance to be part of his performance.


For example, he invited members of the audience to participate as he demonstrated the different pitches and sounds that could be made from a percussion instrument that looked more like pieces of a fence, but were really pieces of bamboo. Maffit said the instrument originated from Thailand. I don’t recall the specific name.


Another time during his performance Maffit held up a Chinese Gong explaining its sound would get louder with vibration and it did, just as he said it would. Maffit even took time during his show to talk about what is referred to as the call and response going as far as to ask audience members to try it out.


For those familiar with the origins of blues music especially, you know this method of communication existed in Africa many years before it made its way to the Delta. We’re often reminded of this time in our history in stories told about field workers and others who would sing out about hard times and the hard lives of those who picked cotton.  


For those interested in learning more about the origins of call and response I suggest reading “Deep Blues, A Musical and Cultural History, from the Mississippi Delta to Chicago’s South Side to the World,” by Robert Palmer.


Throughout his nearly 90 minute show Maffit made reference to several shows he had performed in different parts of the world. In one case in particular he talked

about being in Asia where all the women in the audience thought he looked like Robert Redford.


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He also spoke about playing a series of shows at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. Maffit describes the setting by explaining there were “five different rooms set up for his show and each had its own sound and acoustics,” which were amazing he said.





           Rocky Maffit at the Champaign Public Library

                                                        Photo courtesy of Rich Cibelli



Most people familiar with Maffit over the years know him as the percussionist from the group Champaign. According to All Music.com, the group made it big in 1981 with their hit single “How ‘Bout Us, in 1981. But playing in the band Champaign is only a small part of what Maffit has done in his career so far.


For example, in addition to being an accomplished musician with a few CDs to his credit and a schedule of performances that takes him around the world Maffit is also an excellent writer who in 1999 penned his first book” Rhythm and Beauty: The Art of Percussion,” To read an excerpt you can visit http://www.rockymaffit.com/book.html.


As already mentioned, in my eyes Maffit is much more than just a percussionist. I urge you if to catch one of his performances. Moreover, if you’re like me and enjoy the opportunity to see someone who lives his life to the fullest by giving back to the community, then go see Rocky Maffit, you won’t be disappointed. 




          Urbana Blues, Brews & BBQ Festival

                       By Sandy Hannum


The Prairie Crossroads Blues Society will have a definite presence at the Urbana Blues, Brews & BBQ Festival on June 24 and 25.


Watch for info in your e-mail about our location and our need for volunteers to sit at the table under our tent during the event.


Sign up for a time slot. Believe me, it is nothing like work! We had a great time last year (see photos), and at that point we had only a few members and no PCBS merchandise. Heck! We didn’t even have our logo yet. We’ve come a long way, Baby!


The line-up of artists is as follows:

Friday June 24 – Main Stage

5:30-6:30 – Keith Harden & Kathy Harden

7:00-8:30 – Guitar Shorty

9:00-10:30 – Lil’ Ed & the Blues Imperials

Late Night – 88 Broadway

10:30-12:30 – The Kinsey Report

Saturday June 25 – Main Stage

12:00-1:00 – Kings Highway

1:30-2:45 – Jim Suhler & Monkey Beat

3:15-4:30 – John Primer

5:00-6:30 – Jimmy Thackery

7:00-8:30 – Duke Robillard

9:00-10:30Coco Montoya

Late Night – 88 Broadway

10:30 – 12:30 – Chris Duarte Group


We’ll be there enjoying the music, and promoting the Prairie Crossroads Blues Society. We will have merchandise, including CDs from our member bands and PCBS T-shirts. Hopefully, we will attract some interest and some new members. Come out and join us at the fest!


BB&B 1          





BB&B 3


BB&B 2


BB&B 4


BB&B 5


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.



Memphis on Main.png




We are grateful to the following individuals and businesses that have provided donations to support the work of the Prairie Crossroads Blues Society.


Cody Sokolski and Marci Dodds

One Main Development, LLC

Slumberland Furniture




Band Memberships


Alex Jenkins & the Bombers are working on a CD, and we are all looking forward to hearing it! They’ll be playing a late night show at the Slippery Noodle in Indianapolis on July 9 that sounds very exciting. Check the events listings for other gigs.


The Kilborn Alley Blues Band has also been working on a new CD. Can’t wait to hear it! They will be playing in the Chicago Blues Fest on June 9. Check the events listings for other gigs.


The Sugar Prophets are hosting regular open blues jams at Ko Fusion on the fourth Thursday of every month. Come out and join in! Check the events listings for other gigs.


The Painkillers are playing at Alto Vineyards July 30. Go out and enjoy some wine while listening to great blues.


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



PCBS Business


The next Prairie Crossroads Blues Society Meeting is scheduled for June 15 in Room 222 of the Champaign Public Library.


Inclusive, a newsletter of the PCBS, is always looking for new contributors and submissions of finished or unfinished content. Deadline for the next newsletter is June 15, but time-sensitive exceptions will be considered. Please submit articles, ideas, or comments to smhannum@gmail.com. 



Inclusive  Staff


Editor:                                   Sandy Hannum


Contributing Writers:     Rich Cibelli

James Walker   

Dennis Wismer


Tech Consultant:              Bob Paleczny and BP Computers


Mojo Tech:                         Sherry Cibelli




It may be time to renew your membership in the PCBS! Check the

date on your membership card.












June 1Kilborn Alley Blues Band – D.R. Digger’s – Champaign – 9 pm

June 3Kilborn Alley Blues Band – TimbuktuDecatur, IL9 pm

June 4 – The Sugar Prophets – Dale’s Harley Davidson – Mount Vernon, IL3 pm

The Blues Deacons – Barb’s Place – Decatur, IL4 pm

Kilborn Alley Blues Band – Oakland Street Fest Series – Decatur, IL4:30 pm

Alex Jenkins & the Bombers – Old Store – Dewitt, IL7 pm

Kilborn Alley Blues Band – Boomerang’s – Urbana9 pm

June 8 – Matt Hill – Goodfella’s Pub & Pizza – Pekin, IL – 7 pm

June 10Kilborn Alley Blues Band – Chicago Blues Fest – WCBS Stage – Chicago5:30 pm

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

June 11 – The Painkillers – The Iron Post – Urbana – 6 pm

Alex Jenkins & the Bombers – American Legion – Westville, IL – 7 pm

Kilborn Alley Blues Band – Uncle Buck’s – Mahomet, IL9 pm

June 12Memphis on Main Blues Show – Eli Cook, Terry Quiett Band , Kilborn Alley – 3 pm

June 15 – Lionel Young Band – Goodfella’s Pub & Pizza – Pekin, IL7 pm

June 16 – Lionel Young Band – Blues in Central ParkDecatur, IL7 pm

The Sugar Prophets – Doherty’s Pub & Pins – Decatur7:30 pm

June 18 – The Sugar Prophets Wild Dog Saloon – Harristown, IL7 pm

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

June 23 – Sean Chambers – River Bend Bar & Grill – Kankakee, IL7 pm

The Sugar Prophets – Ko Fusion – Open Blues Jam – Champaign10 pm

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

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


July 1 – Lil’ Ed & the Blues Imperials – The Castle Theatre – Bloomington, IL8 pm

July 2 – The Sugar Prophets – Alto Vineyards – Champaign7:30 pm

Albert Castiglia – River Bend Bar & Grill – Kankakee, IL – 8 pm

July 3 – The Sugar Prophets – Willow Ridge Winery – Shelbyville, IL2 pm

July 6 – Laurie Morvan Band – Goodfella’s Pub & Pizza – Pekin, IL – 7 pm

Kilborn Alley Blues Band – D.R. Diggers – Champaign9 pm

July 9 – Alex Jenkins & the Bombers – Slippery Noodle – Indianapolis, IN9:30 pm

July 13 - Reverend Raven & CSAB – River Bend Bar & Grill – Kankakee, IL – 7 pm

July 21 – Devon Allman’s Honeytribe – Blues in Central ParkDecatur, IL7 pm

July 28 – The Sugar Prophets – Ko Fusion – Champaign – Open Blues Jam – 10 pm

July 30 – The Painkillers – Alto Vineyards – Champaign – 7:30 pm  

Aug 3Kilborn Alley Blues Band – D. R. Digger’s – Champaign – 9 pm  

Aug 13 – The Painkillers – The Iron Post – Urbana – 6 pm

Aug 18 – Eddie Shaw & the Wolfgang – Blues in Central Park – Decatur, IL – 7 pm

Aug 23Morry Sochat & Special 20’s – River Bend Bar & Grill – Kankakee, IL7 pm

BB King – Virginia TheaterChampaign7:30 pm

Aug 25 – The Sugar Prophets – Ko Fusion – Champaign – Open Blues Jam – 10 pm




Watseka Theatre Blues & BBQ Festival

June 4  www.watsekatheatre.com

Chicago Blues Festival

June 10 – 12  http://www.chicagofestivals.net/category/city-of-chicago-festivals/blues-festival

Aurora Blues on the Fox Festival

June 17 & 18  www.downtownaliveaurora.com/

Urbana Blues, Brews, & BBQ Festival

June 24-25  http://www.urbanablues.com

Mississippi Valley Blues Festival

Davenport IA

Fri – Sun, July 1 – 3 www.mvbs.org

Ain’t NothinBut The Blues Festival

Bloomington IL

July 15 – 16  http://www.aintnothinbuttheblues.com



Mt. Bluesmore





How ‘bout those Champaign bands. Whew! Did you take a look at their schedules?


Yeah. I swear that some days they have to be in two places at the same time!


Heh heh. I hope those guys have huge gas budgets.