Monmouth, IL, October 12, 2009 — For the fourth time in as many years, innovative blues artists will hit the old vaudeville stage of the historic Rivoli Theatre in Monmouth, Illinois to participate in the Deep Blue Innovators Blues Festival on Saturday, October 23rd.
The Rivoli Theatre is a venerable old venue, starting its life as a vaudeville theater and then as the fanciest movie house in Monmouth. The greenroom under the stage has played home-away-from-home for eighty plus years of performers, yet the 60,000 watt computer-matched sound system delivers sweet blues music to every seat in the house.
As 2009 headliner Watermelon Slim mused: “I’m a man who loves old theaters and old hotels– I’m a historian, and I’m old now, so I guess I just like old things even more now. I am looking forward to breathing the air inside such a veteran theatre, seeing the places backstage where the dust has long settled because the broom or vacuum nozzle couldn’t get to them– there won’t be many places like that, of course– and imbibing the entertainment history represented in the years of accumulation.”
This year’s festival will feature local guitar hero Charlie Hayes opening up with his long-time harpist, Joel Fleming. The two of them together have close to 70 years combined musical experience and have delivered the opening set for each year of the festival. Hayes also works the stage for the festival and leads the open mic after the evening’s sets wind down.
Little Joe McLerran will hit the stage next as a three piece outfit, with Little Joe stomping out the beat, playing old school blues guitar and delivering his rich, intoxicating vocals. He’ll be accompanied by bassist Robbie Mack and long-time reed man Dexter Payne. Little Joe was the 2009 winner of the International Blues Challenge and is perhaps the finest Piedmont-style blues player in the world today.
Next, Vermont’s own Scott Ainslie, a 40 year veteran of deep blues guitar will hit the stages with his stories, his wicked slide technique (he is a master of the Robert Johnson style of slide playing and internationally known as a preeminent blues guitar teacher) and his deep, earth-shaking vocals.
Next on the stage will be the Dave Specter Band, from Chicago, Illinois. Dave is a long-time master guitarist, best-known for his fusion of jazz and blues guitar techniques. With nine solo albums and over 30 titles in his discography, Specter is at the top of his game. Dave will feature songs from his just released and critically acclaimed “Spectified” album, which stretches his style even further, incorporating TexMex overtones into his masterful guitar compositions.
Headliners are the internationally acclaimed Carolina Chocolate Drops. Fresh from the release of their latest album, “Genuine Negro Jig,” the Drops will be trading their giant touring venues (such as the Grand Ole Opry, Bonaroo and the Telluride Blues Festival) for the intimacy of the Rivoli stage to deliver an intimate set of deep roots blues and jigs.
“Being able to play in an old vaudeville theater really creates an amazing atmosphere since so much of this music was performed in nice houses like this,” said Dom Flemons of the Carolina Chocolate Drops. “This is for both the performers and the audience. They are transported to an earlier time just by being entertained the way that people have been entertained for over a century.”
Earlier in the day, both Little Joe McLerran and Scott Ainslie will deliver free guitar workshops at the Buchanan Center for the Arts. Though these events are free and open to the public, seating is limited, so it’s recommenced that you head over to the MonmouthBlues.com website and reserve your spot.
Also returning for the fourth year will be Eddie’s B and his famous ribs – he’ll set up his smoker right in front of the Rivoli and smoke ribs and pulled pork throughout the day, providing the aromatic back-drop for a day of deep, intimate blues.
The Deep Blue Innovators festival is a labor-of-love for lifetime MVBS member Paul Schuytema. “My favorite event of the entire year is the MVBS festival – it’s a fourth of July ritual. That event inspired me to try something in the fall. The MVBS helped me with logistics that first year (many thanks to Ricardo Burris!), and the fest has taken on a life of it’s own.”
“The Rivoli is a small venue,” said Schuytema, “full at 300 people, but the setting is so intimate, and the fans and musicians mingle for the whole day. The fans have an amazing day of music and the performers seem to have a ball… every year, they ask if they can come back again! Last year, after the show, Watermelon Slim called me a few days later and told me ‘You truly have a world-class festival there… I’ll play any time you’ll have me’… that’s when I knew we were onto something!”
“I’ve played house concerts and sold out 1800 seat auditoriums, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’d enjoyed them both,” reflected 2010 performer Scott Ainslie. “But, if I had to choose my favorite setting, it would be something in between: a small theater whose stage has seen generations of my brothers and sisters over the years where, rather than separating the audience and the artists, the stage is a place where we come together and get to know each other. The Rivoli is one of those places. It has soul, a history, and when it’s filled up with people and artists, a living presence. It is going to be a real pleasure to join the ranks of musicians and performers who have walked onto that stage.”
“These small events need the fans…I’d love to see tall our local blues fans there in force. That’s how we can keep this event going,” concluded Schuytema. “I’ll see you at the show!.”
Tickets are $15 prior to the show and will be $20 at the door. Tickets can be purchased online now or at the following local businesses: Monmouth (Buchanan Center for the Arts, Bijou Pub, Daw Violins), Galesburg (Cherry Street Guitars, MusicMakers, Capitol Music, Fat Fish Pub), Macomb (Capitol Music) and Burlington (Weird Harolds). Doors will open at 2pm and the show will start at 2:30pm.
MonmouthBlues.com is an initiative to bring great live blues music to the Monmouth area, as well as highlight local talent already playing around the region. Concert information, local events and event tickets can all be found online at www.MonmouthBlues.com.