BYRON (BBF) -- The Second Annual Byron Crossroads Blues Festival was another huge success! The number of attendees numbered about 2,500 people, exceeding last year’s inaugural event. Fans came out earlier and stayed a lot later, so the “feel” of the crowd was more vibrant for a much longer period of time.
Headliner Bryan Lee was the crowd’s favorite, wielding his mighty guitar and giving an exceptional performance along with his band. This New Orleans standout performer brought his Big Easy sound to Byron and the fans just ate it up like they would a big pot of gumbo! The closing act of the Jimmy’s also brought the crowd to their feet, swinging and grooving with their bad boy leader Jimmy Voegeli on B3 and lead vocals, Dave Potter on guitar and their sinfully delicious horn section, harp and back line beat.
Kilborn Alley made a play for the crowd's attention with soulful vocals by Andrew Duncanson and the complementary twin guitar sounds of Duncanson and Josh Stimmel. Their styles of play differ but together they blend and weave their sound into a cohesive and delectable groove. Rick Raven (aka Reverend Raven) and his Chain Smokin’ Altar boys were blazingly hot. Big Al Groth on sax and Danny Moore on keys made these guys an early fan favorite. The opening act was mellower but attracted fans to the dance floor and got things started right- Glenn Davis and Matt Goodwin on guitar and Westside Andy Linderman on harp gave the crowd their money’s worth in just the opening 90 minutes of the fest.
An added bonus was the harmonica master Joe Filisko and his harmonica workshop. 25 kids got free Blues Band harps and another 25 adults paid for harps at cost ($5) while another 50 looked on as Joe gave them a 45 minute lesson on how to play the harmonica. It was a great educational experience to learn from one the best harmonica players in the world!
The food provided by Leombruni’s Italian Village, Tailgaters, Fifth Alarm, Spanky’s, the Cave, Union and Sunrise II was delectable and delicious- not what you get from regular festival fare. Great music and great food in a wonderful small town setting make this festival one of the best summer adventures one can attend! An advanced ticket, two beers and a sandwich or two would cost the patron on a budget under $20 for 5 bands of entertainment plus a harmonica workshop. They would have to pay up to $20 just to see one of these bands in a Chicago venue.
Crossroads Blues Society's thanks go out to Exelon/Byron Nuclear Station for being the primary Platinum Sponsor who provided the stage for the event. They also thank their Gold Sponsors Byron Bank, American TV and Furniture, FM 96.7 the Eagle, Blues Blast Magazine, EA Jones Design Services, Underground Custom Printing, Back Stage Blues, The City of Byron, Byron Forest Preserve and the Byron Area Chamber of Commerce and to our Silver Level Sponsors Steve and Annette Jones, Miller Electric, Area Rental, WNIJ 89.5, and King Blacktop for their generous support. The Kiwanis Club of Byron, Adriatic cafe and Bar, Fourwinds Landscaping, IMFS Inc Lighting and Jim and Sally Krebs are also thanked for their Basic Sponsorship donations.
It was a great event and plans are already being made for the 3rd annual festival, tentatively set for August 25, 2012! Crossroads Blues Society and the Downtown Byron Bar Association hope to see you there!