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New Web Home for the Blues Festival!

The Deep Blue Innovators Blues Festival is moving to a new home on the Web!

As part of a community-wide effort to promote live music, Monmouth has launched It’s your one-stop shop for all live music information in and arround Monmouth, from the blues fest to the Maple Leaf Community Concert Series to the local band playing in your favorite bars.

The DBIBF will have it’s own page on the site and you can buy tickets and reserve tables online as well. See you at and see you at the fest!

2012 Line Up!

We’re pleased to announce the line up for the 2012 Deep Blue Innovators Blues Festival, which will be on Saturday, October 20, 2012 at the Rivoli Theatre in Monmouth, Illinois. This year, our theme is fan-favorites! We’re bringing back some amazing musicians that the fans just couldn’t stop raving about!

  • Hayes & Fleming and friends
  • Scott Ainslie
  • Blue Mother Tupelo
  • The Matthew Skoller Band

2012 Festival Date Set!

The date for the 2012 Deep Blue Innovators Blues Festival has been set! Marke your calendars and save the day: this year’s event will be on Saturday, October 20th, at the historic Rivoli Theatre, right here in Monmouth, Illinois. We are close to finalizing the line-up for the event – it’s going to be an amazing show – we’ll see you there!

Guitar as Catherdral

This gorgeous photograph was taken by Bjoern Ewers as part of a series of posters for the Berlin Philharmonic. Simply astounding!

Rivoli Theatre Map

View Larger Map

The Rivoli Theatre is located at 219 S. Main Street in Monmouth, IL. There is street parking, parking around Public Square, a city lot across the street and a parking lot behind the Bijou (which is next to the Rivoli). Doors open at 2pm and the first act begins at 2:30. We’ll see you at the show!

Our 2011 Sponsors: We Couldn’t Do It Without You!

A blues festival like the 2011 Deep Blue Innovators Blues Festival can’t be done in a vacuum. We need deep commitments from sponsors and we need the hard work of a team of volunteers, and we’re lucky on both fronts. I want to send out a huge Thank You! to all of our 2011 sponsors:

We’ll see you all at the show!

2011 Festival Schedule

At Market Alley Wines, October 28th:

  • 6pm: Blue Mother Tupelo acoustic set

At the Buchanan Center for the Arts:

  • 10-11am: Blue Mother Tupelo workshop
  • 11:10-12:10pm: Paul Rishell & Annie Raines workshop

At the Rivoli Theatre:

  • 2:00pm: doors open
  • 2:30pm: Hayes and Fleming perform
  • 4:00pm: Blue Mother Tupelo performs
  • 5:30pm: Paul Rishell & Annie Raines perform
  • 7:15pm : The Michelle Malone Banned performs
  • 9:00pm : Rory Block performs
  • 10:45pm : open jam

Blues Workshops At Buchanan Center!

Once again, blues fans and guitar geeks have a chance to get up close and personal with some of the acts performing at the Deep Blue Innovators Blues Festival on October 29th. This year we’re hosting not one but two music workshops!

Starting at 10am at the Buchanan Center for the Arts (less than a block from the Rivoli), the festival will host two guitar masters for workshops on style, history and how to play the blues.

First, Blue Mother Tupelo will introduce you to their music and playing techniques. Next, Paul Rishell and Annie Raines will showcase their unique approach to deep authentic blues.

The workshops are free and open to the public, but seating is limited, so please RSVP to to reserve your seat.

All levels of players and blues fans are welcome.

This is an amazing opportunity and a great way to get you in the mood for a day of great live music. We’ll see you there!

2011 Performer: Rory Block

“… Rory Block is currently stretching the limits… hugely talented… She is one of our national treasures.”
-The New York Blues & Jazz Society
Heralded as “a living landmark” (Berkeley Express), “a national treasure” (Guitar Extra), and “one of the greatest living acoustic blues artists” (Blues Revue), Rory Block has committed her life and her career to preserving the Delta blues tradition and bringing it to life for 21st century audiences around the world. A traditionalist and an innovator at the same time, she wields a fiery and haunting guitar and vocal style that redefines the boundaries of acoustic blues and folk. The New York Times declared: “Her playing is perfect, her singing otherworldly as she wrestles with ghosts, shadows and legends.”

Aurora “Rory” Block grew up in Manhattan a family with Bohemian leanings. Her father owned a Greenwich Village sandal shop, where musicians like Bob Dylan, Maria Muldaur and John Sebastian all made occasional appearances. The rich and diverse Village scene was a constant influence on her cultural sensibilities. She was playing guitar by age ten, and by her early teens she was sitting in on the Sunday jam sessions in Washington Square Park.

During these years, her life was touched – and profoundly changed – by personal encounters with some of the earliest and most influential Delta blues masters of the 20th century. She made frequent visits to the Bronx, where she learned her first lessons in blues and gospel music from the Reverend Gary Davis. She swapped stories and guitar licks with seminal bluesman Son House, Robert Johnson’s mentor (“He kept asking, ‘Where did she learn to play like this?’”). She visited Skip James in the hospital after his cancer surgery. She traveled to Washington, DC, to visit with Mississippi John Hurt and absorb first-hand his technique and his creativity.

“This period seemed to last forever,” Block recalls nearly forty years later.” I now realize how lucky I was to be there, in the right place at the right time. I thought everyone knew these incredible men, these blues geniuses who wrote the book. I later realized how fleeting it was, and how even more precious.”
“Rory Block has been an inspiration to me since we started out years ago. Her guitar playing, singing and songwriting are some of the most soulful in traditional and modern blues.”
-Bonnie Raitt
Even though she had been playing and touring for two decades, the world finally started taking notice of Rory the early 1990s, and Block scored numerous awards throughout the decade. Her visibility overseas increased dramatically when Best Blues and Originals, fueled by the single “Lovin’ Whiskey,” went gold in parts of Europe. She brought home Blues Music Awards four years in a row – two for Traditional Blues Female Artist of the Year, and two for Best Acoustic Blues Album of the Year. Then in 1997, she won the Blues Music Award for The Lady and Mr. Johnson, a tribute to Robert Johnson, taking home Acoustic Album of the Year.

Today, after more than twenty highly acclaimed releases and five Blues Music Awards, Block is at the absolute height of her creative powers, bringing a world full of life lessons to bear on what she calls “a total celebration of my beloved instrument and best friend, the guitar.”
“When I hear Rory Block’s music, it’s as if my grandfather is here all over again.”
-Greg Johnson, grandson of Robert Johnson
For more information on Rory Block, please visit her website:

2011 Performer: The Michelle Malone Banned

”A proper American cocktail best drunk straight up.”


Armed with a bottleneck slide, harmonica, and her signature soul-filled vocals, Michelle Malone was born in the Deep South and grew up listening to her mother sing in the church choir every Sunday. When it came time to craft her own sound, she took those religious roots, and blended in enough rock, folk, and country-blues to satisfy.

Debris, Michelle’s 10th release, is easily her most revealing and emotional recordings to date. Malone found herself tackling some serious subject matter while at the same time making that spirited soul-shaking music that she loves. She says, “I have to play these songs every night, so I need them to be fun – I want to have a good time, too.” If one line could capture the sentiment of Debris it would be, “Don’t you think it’s time to let your childhood go?” Michelle expounds, “Debris is basically a breakup record about a relationship that had me in a state of arrested development for over a decade. I wrote about the anger, the heartbreak, the humor, and the relief I finally found in the end.”

“On this loose and blues-stoked new album, Malone churns up those Southern roots with the vigor of Lucinda Williams while embracing her inner Keith Richards.”

Over the course of her 20 year career, Malone has appeared on countless “best of” lists and has been the recipient of such awards as Best Female Vocalist (five times) and Best Acoustic Guitarist (three times) Creative Loafing, Studio Album of the Year (Atlanta Magazine), and Live Album of the year. Her albums Sugar Foot and Debris, released on SBS Records, were both on the Grammy Award ballot for best Contemporary Blues and Best Americana Albums respectively. Her songs have appeared in the films Bam Bam and Celeste, All Over Me, Shotgun Jesus and television programs True Blood, Dawson’s Creek, Felicity, Brooklyn South, have been recorded by Indigo Girls (for which Malone received both gold and platinum records), Antigone Rising, Hannah Thomas, and Vistoso Bosses. Here are a few little known facts about Michelle Malone: Malone has also been featured in a Georgia Tourism TV commercial with Elton John. The Collectible card game Magic: The Gathering was named in part after her song The Gathering (copyright 1988, Sony Music/Famous Music/Cold Cocked Music).

Michelle has never done anything nice and easy. She bit the major label lure (signed by both Clive Davis and Walter Yetnikoff) and despite promises broken, indulgences and expected excess, Michelle has continued her musical journey into forays of introspective, energetic and award-winning Americana, country blues and rock. This wealth of material has enabled Malone to tour and record for over 20 years, averaging over 150 days a year on the road and making fans all over the world.

The Michelle Malone Banned (Phil Skipper on Bass, Jon Radford on drums, Tim Tucker on Keys and vocals, Trish Land on vocals and Tamborine) is currently touring the USA and abroad in search of the perfect cup of coffee. On October 29th, they’ll stop here in Monmouth – let’s get the Innkeepers beans roasted and the coffee press ready!

“Why Michelle Malone hasn’t knocked the likes of Sheryl Crow and Bonnie Raitt off of their roots-rock and blues pedestals blows the mind. Maloneʼs authentic interpretation of good old Southern rock and hard-edge blues should have her rubbing shoulders with the Allman Brothers and Buddy Guys of the world. Sugarfoot and Stompinʼ Ground, are rousing and relentless toe-tapping beauties deserving of a boatload of attention.”

-The Village Voice

Michelle’s live show is not to be missed—she can make the biggest venues seem as cozy as a campfire, and an intimate venue feel like the center of the universe. Michelle Malone has collaborated on stage and/or in the studio with such artists as with blues legends Albert King, Charlie Musselwhite, Johnny Winter, Little Feat, Robert Cray, Keb Mo, Sonny Landreth, Marsha Ball, Lonnie Brooks and Chris Whitley, as well as Indigo Girls, John Mayer, SugarLand, Shawn Mullins, Steve Earle, K.T. Tunstall, Shawn Colvin, Jackson Browne and Joan Osborne, to name a few.

For more information on Michelle Malone, please visit her website:

2011 Performer: Paul Rishell and Annie Raines

We are proud and thrilled to welcome to the Rivoli stage the amazing duo of Paul Rishell and Annie Raines. The duo has racked up hundreds of thousands of miles touring the US and Europe and has been nominated for many W.C. Handy and Blues Music Awards, winning the W.C. Handy award for the acoustic blues album of the year in 2004.
“Rishell is a master of country/blues styles, particularly slide played on a National steel guitar. Raines, a rare female ace blues harmonica blower, shows that she is as strong an acoustic country harp accompanist as she is a harder-edged, electrified Chicago-style lead player à la the great Little Walter” -Billboard
When 22-year-old harmonica ace Annie Raines first sat in with 42-year-old country blues guitarist Paul Rishell in a Boston bar in 1992, few in the crowd suspected that they were witnessing the beginning of a musical partnership that would span the next fifteen years and counting.

Despite the difference in their ages, Paul and Annie are equally passionate about their craft and devoted to the study and performance of a wide range of blues styles, from the syncopated acoustic guitar wizardry of Blind Lemon Jefferson and Son House to Chicagoan “Little” Walter Jacob’s swinging amplified harmonica.

Paul has reached what Boston Phoenix writer Ted Drozdowski called “a place deep and resonant as Robert Johnson’s crossroads, where authenticity, soul, and a sense of purpose and commitment ring out in every note he sings and plays.”

Annie is recognized by top professionals and fans worldwide as the “queen of the blues harmonica.” Says blues legend Pinetop Perkins, “She plays so good it hurts!”
“There must be some physical explanation for the sheer joy they bring to the blues…lots of heat but also plenty of subtle variation under the theme.”
-Atlantic Monthly
For more information of Paul Rishell & Annie Raines, please visit their website:

2011 Performer: Blue Mother Tupelo

Rising up from the dusty Delta lowlands and muddy bayou banks of Indianola, Mississippi through the bluffs of Memphis to the mountains of east Tennessee, comes the unique Southern Soul sound of Blue Mother Tupelo.

Blue Mother Tupelo, the husband and wife team of Ricky and Micol Davis, deliver deep Mississippi Delta Blues seasoned with a delicious and eclectic blend of musical spice. Formed in 1995, the duo has paid their dues in Southern juke joints and festivals here and abroad, sharing the stage with some of the blues’ living legends.

It’s been said that a Blue Mother Tupelo performance is like stepping into a “pentecostal revival” — with Ricky and Micol’s gritty, sweet, soulful harmonies, earthy sounds of gutbucket guitar and slide, gospel piano & roadhouse pounding of tambourines. But the foundation to all of their work is to channel what is innately deep within them and to let it come forth naturally without definitions or restrictions.

Blue Mother Tupelo has been nominated several years in a row as “Best Acoustic Blues Act” and Micol as “Female Vocalist of the Year” by the Music City Blues Society in Nashville.

“It’s Tupelo, honey… the songs blend N’Awlins-style blues with spare Appalachian acoustic grit, Southern rock grooves, 60s flower-power dreaminess and rootsy rock. Ricky’s dobro is slick and juicy as a ripe peach and Micol’s voice is both steely and delicate, a cross between Bonnie Raitt and Emmylou Harris’ ”

-Tallahassee Democrat

“Like a meal of homegrown vegetables: fresh, authentic, lovingly cared for and hand-crafted. Earthy, gritty, celebratory. It’s a slurry of sound from a grab-bag of Southern soil. The sound of two people not afraid to get that dirt beneath their nails… ”

-The Maryville Daily Times

For more information on Blue Mother Tupelo, please visit their website:

2011 Performer: Hayes and Fleming

Charlie Hayes and Joel Fleming have been fixtures on the local music scene for decades. Together, they make a powerful blues duet, sensing each other’s musical energy and crafting brilliant blues improvisations.

Charlie’s acoustic blues range from the classic sounds of Robert Johnson to the contemporary picking of Keb Mo. Charlie is known for his rock-solid back beat (both mono and alternating bass) and multi-string leads, coupled with searing vocals and the ability to either play dead-on “in the pocket” or mix it up with some rough and savage playing. Charlie has also been working on blues banjo and the pedal bass, which provides him with even more musical territory to explore.

Joel performed in the mid-1980s with the Air Force Tops in Blue, a musical showcase, touring overseas. In the 1985 Hohner Harmonica contest he placed second in the nation. He is an accomplished harmonica player on both diatonic and chromatic. Joel plays with a unique, jazzy style, employing subtle tones, phrasing and echo effects to create a compelling, mesmerizing counterpoint to Charlie’s guitar.

Joel has been playing harp for over 40 years and Charlie has been playing professionally for over 30 years. On October 23rd, they’ll take those 70+ years of combined experience to deliver an amazing opening act for this year’s Deep Blue Innovators festival, plus they’ll also manage and run the after-show jam and open mic.

In keeping with our Women in the Blues theme this year, Hayes and Fleming will also be joined by some special guests: Tami Rankin will be belting out some powerful blues vocals and Mari Hauge will be performing some blues cello. Who says the blues aren’t innovative?

The 2011 Deep Blue Innovators Blues Festival

2011 Blues Festival Tickets For Sale Online

Deep Blue Innovators Blues Festival concert tickets are now on sale! Tickets are $15 each for advance online purchase and $20 at the door on the day of the event. Pick up a few pair to secure your place at the best show you’ll hear all year! Tickets will also be on sale locally in late July : Monmouth (Bijou Pub, Daw Violins, Buchanan Center for the Arts), Galesburg (Cherry Street Guitars, MusicMakers, Capitol Music), Macomb (Capitol Music) and Burlington (Weird Harolds).

Just head on over to our Store page to pick up a pair!

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