The blues tells a story. Every line of the blues has a meaning.
-John L. Hooker

Events News

News, Upcoming and Past Events from the MVBS Events Committee.

Mississippi Valley Blues Society Presents Rippin’ Blues Band, Hector Anchondo, August 28

Hector AnchondoThe Mississippi Valley Blues Society is proud to present the Hector Anchondo Band at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, August 28, at Kavanaugh’s Hilltop Tap, 1228 30th Street, Rock Island, IL. The cost to see this performance will be $8 if you are a Mississippi Valley Blues Society member, or $10 if you have not joined the Blues Society (application will be available at the door).

Hector Anchondo started living and breathing the blues when he picked up his first guitar at the age of 16. Finding himself drawn to the Fender guitar, Anchondo fixated on artists who played the Fender Stratocaster - artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Eric Clapton. He also respected the country greats such as Johnny Cash and Hank Williams Sr.

“I’ve been actively working on guitar to get to the point where I could hang with Jimi or Stevie,” Anchondo says. “Its things like that that keep me pushing to play better, faster, and with style. I knew at a young age that I loved everything about music and I want to do it professionally for the rest of my life.”

By the time Anchondo was 22, he had pursued his musical dream with years of touring, thousands of sold out shows, and three albums under his belt. Now, at the age of 30, Anchondo has boasted the fact that he has shared the stage with notable artists such as Styx, CCR, Johnny Winter, Marshal Tucker Band, Robert Randolph & The Family Band, Magic Slim, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Indigenous, and many more. He has five albums recorded and is in the midst of recording a sixth. With shows booked until the end of the year, Anchondo is on his way to becoming a well-established blues veteran, and it won’t be long before he’s up there with his heroes.

MVBS Presents Reverend Raven and the Chain-Smokin' Altar Boys at the Establishment, Sunday, June 26

Rev. RavenThe Mississippi Valley Blues Society is proud to present a Midwestern’s-blues-fan-favorite, Reverend Raven and the Chain Smokin' Altar Boys, at The Establishment, 220 19th Street, Rock Island, IL. The show will take place on Sunday, June 26, 2016, at 6:00 p.m. The cost to see this performance will be $10 if you are a Mississippi Valley Blues Society member, or $12 if you have not yet joined the Blues Society (applications will be available at the door).

“Hard-driving, passionate blues” is how Raven describes the sound of his group. “I’d like to say ‘50s and ‘60s inspired Chicago blues, and I’ve had bands and been in bands where we’ve done that, but we’re really not like that. We try and present our music like what I saw back in the early ‘70s when I went to the clubs in Chicago to see these great blues bands. They were there to entertain you and make you have a great experience so you’d come back and drink more. So that’s what we try and do.”

Born and raised on south side of Chicago, the Reverend has been playing the blues since 1971 when he first saw Freddy King play at the Kinetic Theatre in Chicago. After a 15 year hitch in the Navy, he moved to Milwaukee where he began a long friendship and collaboration with Madison Slim, long time harmonica player for Jimmy Rogers. Since 1990 he has opened for B.B King, Gatemouth Brown, Pinetop Perkins, Koko Taylor Band, Junior Wells, Billy Branch, Magic Slim, Elvin Bishop, Sugar Blue, Lonnie Brooks, William Clarke, Lefty Dizz, and numerous others at festivals and at Buddy Guy's Legends.

Reverend Raven and Chain Smokin' Altar Boys were chosen by the Wisconsin Music Industry (WAMI) for best blues band in 1999, 2000, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2010, and again in 2015. They also received the People's Choice Award in 2006, 2008 and 2010. The band has played in the Quad Cities several times since their 2013 appearance at the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, but this will be a first-time show at The Establishment, Rock Island, IL. The Establishment features a large dance floor, state of the art sound system, and plenty of seating.

MVBS Presents Guitarist Dave Fields & Band, Sunday, May 8

dave fieldsThe Mississippi Valley Blues Society presents "New York Boss Man" Dave Fields and his band at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 8, at Kavanaugh's Hilltop Tap, 1228 30th Street, Rock Island, IL. The cost to see this performance will be $8 if you are a Mississippi Valley Blues Society member, or $10 if you have not joined the Blues Society (application will be available at the door).

Dave Fields is a "genre-busting" blues-rock guitarist/singer/composer/producer whose performances have been electrifying audiences from New York City, Oslo, Moscow, Sardinia, and San Diego for many years. Todd Fitzsimmons of The NY State Blues Festival says, "Dave deserves to be heard by every blues fan...". And fortunately for blues lovers, his music has been heard on TV, radio, and the web, used for the 2004 Olympics, VH1, IBM, and much more.

Dave's musical path has been quite a journey. "Unlike many blues musicians, I was raised to be a musical 'hit man'", states Dave. From the time Dave was a young child was exposed to noteworthy musicians. He grew up in his noted gifted composer/arranger/producer/father's, Sammy "Forever" Fields, recording studio being exposed to the likes of Sammy Kahn, Rupert Holmes and Stevie Wonder. After attending Berklee College of Music, Dave was immersed in the NYC music scene as a first-call guitarist and multi-instrumentalist. This allowed Dave his unmatchable music experience which lead to him doing sessions with many famous musicians and producers like Tommy James and Ahmed Ertegen (to name a few) and even was on staff of one of the top five jingle companies in "NY Look Music". As Dave's notoriety grew, he was able to add playing/recording with Aretha Franklin, performances with the likes of Hubert Sumlin, The Drifters, Lenny Kravitz, and Blues Traveler, and his appearance in the U2 movie "Rattle and Hum", to his resume.

But not long into his musical career, Dave made the decision that he was going to make a stand in his life. He was going to do what was really important to himself. So he set out on his new career path - being Dave Fields the artist. "I had backed up and produced so many other artists and one day it dawned on me, why am I doing this for everyone else? Why can't I do it for me!". This turned out to be a remarkable decision for him - in 2006 Dave won Best Self Produced CD at the International Blues Challenge for producing "Back in Bluesville", and on May 20, 2012 he was inducted into NY Blues Hall Of Fame along with John Hammond and Gary US Bonds. "As a musician I was put on this this earth to spread joy, love and life to everyone. I try to do that what every note I play, with every lyric I write and sing," Dave Fields.

Iowa Blues Challenge Quad Cities Preliminary Round, Sunday, May 1 at the Redstone Room

Iowa Blues ChallengeThe Mississippi Valley Blues Society is presenting the Quad Cities Preliminary Round of the Iowa Blues Challenge (IABC) at the Redstone Room in the River Music Experience, 129 N. Main Street, Davenport, IA on Sunday, May 1, starting at 5:00pm. Admission price is $8 for ALL Blues Society members and $10 for non-members. Two (2) bands and four (4) solo/duo acts will be competing with only one (1) solo/duo act and one (1) band moving on to the final round in Des Moines.

The Mississippi Valley Blues Society is partnering with the Central Iowa Blues Society, Southeast Iowa Blues Society, and South Skunk Blues Society to present the 2016 Iowa Blues Challenge. The IABC is a cooperative effort among the four organizations to select a solo-duo and band participant to represent the State of Iowa at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN, in January 2017.

The Final Round of the IBC will be held in Des Moines, IA on June 18, but first each solo/duo and band, made up primarily of Iowa based musicians, must advance from the Preliminary Round. 

The 2016 Mississippi Valley Blues Society Preliminary Round participants are:

· 5:00pm – Concreteslim (solo/duo)

· 5:30pm – Bruce Kort (solo/duo)

· 6:00pm – Winter Blues All-Stars (band)

· 6:45pm – Dan Peart (solo/duo)

· 7:15pm – The Royal Blues (band)

· 8:00pm – Y Monkey Y (solo/duo)


Each solo/duo act will play a 15 minute set and each band will play a 30 minute set with 8-10 judges critiquing each set on blues content, vocals, originality, talent, and stage presence. This preliminary round will be judges similar to the panel of judges that each group will face if they move on to the Iowa State Final Round and the International Blues Challenge competition.

Bands and solo/duo acts moving on to the Iowa State finals will also have a chance to win cash prizes, recording time, opportunities for paid performances and paid expenses for 2017 International Blues Challenge in Memphis TN.

Iowa Blues Challenge Quad Cities Preliminary Round Bios


ConcreteslimA lifetime in music led Rock Island’s native Dale Rigsby across the country, back home again, and now to the Iowa Blues Challenge to present his best-of- blues performance.  Concreteslim has previous competed as a band in the Iowa Blues Challenge, where judges hailed his self-written songs and contagious rhythms. For the 2016 competition, Rigsby appears as Concreteslim solo, still performing his original songs and adding in some unique interpretations of popular covers. “I’m coming out fresh with a lot of high energy that seems to make people move,” he said.

Rigsby has written and performed as long as he can remember, beginning in his Army years tending a Florida missile silo. The songwriter’s folk and jazz bent drove a duo that performed for years in Tucson, AZ, and later his solo act in southern California. That’s where he picked up the moniker. Co-workers pegged him as Concreteslim, calling him “solid as a rock,” for his reliability and fairness as a supervisor (and for his thin frame).

After returning to Rock Island, IL, Rigsby fell in with some new players and reunited with some old friends. Armed with a Stratocaster instead of an acoustic guitar, Rigsby penned more real-life tunes for his blues act. His parents were songwriters, too, in the Hank Williams tradition. In fact, it was a Hank Williams bio-pic that encouraged Rigsby to write down the songs and lyrics swirling in his head. “He could write a song in a minute,” Rigsby said. Concreteslim’s compositions are slices of his life and observations of others’, almost always delivered with a raw energy that brings crowds to their feet. “I feed off that. What they’re feeling is what I’m feeling, too.”


Bruce Kort

Bruce KortBruce Kort is a musician traveling the Midwest who is best known for his lifelong career in the blues field, in addition to his repertoire of old jazz and tin pan alley, hard country and bluegrass and anything else that is native to North America.

Born in Elgin, Illinois, he grew up and spent most of his life in the Chicago area, soaking up the sounds of the then vibrant Chicago blues scene. He started playing professionally in the late 70’s with various local musicians, picking up on any influence that came through the area. It wasn’t until the late 80’s that Kort started to gain some notice with his blues band, “The Dairyland Aces”. Aside from their own shows through northern Illinois and Wisconsin, they also opened for legendary bluesmen, including Lonnie Brooks, Son Seals, Eddy Clearwater, Phil Guy, The Mellow Fellows, Eddie Shaw, Barkin’ Bill Smith and a host of others. They also hosted the Budweiser Bluesbreakers Battle of the Bands for several years, as well as making several appearances at Wrigley Field in the early nineties, playing prior to Cubs games. As the nineties wound down, he concentrated on solo as well as duo performances with blues piano player Randy Adolf, working on songs as well as improving his technique and vocal style.

Now a resident of the Driftless area of northwestern Illinois, he travels and plays throughout the tri-state region as well as other Midwest venues. He also occasionally makes appearances with his blues band, “The Infarctions!” playing regularly at Flatted Fifth, Bellvue, IA, as well as other festivals and venues.

Be prepared to hear raw, Chicago style blues as well as jump blues and boogie on guitar and harmonica, along with full bodied vocals.


Winter Blues All Stars 2016

Winter Blues All Stars 2016The Winter Blues All Stars 2016 band was formed after they had participated in the Winter Blues Camp hosted by the River Music Experience in December, 2015. These 7 musicians were selected by the instructors as the All-Stars for 2016. They have been practicing weekly since January and have performed at various venues including the Col Ballroom for a fundraiser, opening for John Primer at the River Music Experience, and hosting the monthly Blues Café on the Community Stage at Falbo’s Pizza. Even though they have been together only a few months, they have years of experience performing between them.

Sylvia Friedhof-Cruz, 15 is a freshman at Bettendorf High School. She has been singing vocals for the past 9 years. She participates in the Show Choir at Bettendorf High School. She has performed in the productions of 101 Dalmatians and The Jungle Book at the Center for Living Arts in Rock Island, IL. This past December was her first Winter Blues Camp at the River Music Experience. She credits her family with her music influences.

Konnor Kirkbride, 16 is a sophomore at Rock Island High School. It is a long running joke among his family that Konnor sang before he talked. His love of performing began at the age of 6 when he played King Louie in a production of The Jungle Book. He was hooked! His passion for music grew to include the acoustic guitar (10 yrs), the electric guitar (5 yrs), and the ukulele (6 yrs). Konnor has had the opportunity to work with some of the best talent in the Quad Cities in such genres as the Moline Boys Choir, Center for Living Performing Arts in Rock Island, Rock Island High School Chamber Choir and Drama Club. He joined the River Music Experience family in the summer of 2015 for Rock Camp and returned for the 2015 Winter Blues Camp.

Kaleb Dykema, 17 is a junior at Pleasant Valley High School. He has been playing the guitar for 9 years. He has participated in several Rock Camps and Blues Camps at the River Music Experience. He is also in band and Jazz band at his school. His music influences are varied. They include the bands Pantera and Iron Maiden and blues legend Stevie Ray Vaughan. Kaleb also plays in 2 other bands besides the Winter Blues All Stars.

MVBS Presents Alligator Records Recording Artist Selwyn Birchwood, Sunday, April 10

Selwyn BirchwoodThe Mississippi Valley Blues Society presents Alligator Records recording artist Selwyn Birchwood, and his band at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 10, at Kavanaugh’s Hilltop Tap, 1228 30th Street, Rock Island, IL. The cost to see this performance will be $10 if you are a Mississippi Valley Blues Society member, or $12 if you have not joined the Blues Society (application will be available at the door).

Florida native Selwyn Birchwood first grabbed a guitar at age 13 and soon became proficient at mimicking what he heard on the radio. But the popular grunge rock, hip-hop and metal of the 1990s didn't move him, and he quickly grew bored. And then he heard Jimi Hendrix. "He was larger than life. What he did was mind-blowing. When I realized Hendrix was influenced by the blues, I found my path," he says.

By 17, he was deep into the blues, listening to Albert King, Freddie King, Albert Collins, Muddy Waters, Lightnin' Hopkins and especially Buddy Guy. As luck would have it, just as Birchwood was discovering Guy, the blues master had a concert scheduled in Orlando. Birchwood was there, front and center. "I was floored," he recalls. "I completely connected with the blues. I knew I had to make this music."

In 2013, Birchwood catapulted from local hero to shooting star. In addition to winning the world-renowned International Blues Challenge, Birchwood also took home the Albert King Guitarist Of The Year Award. It wasn't long before Alligator Records president Bruce Iglauer offered Birchwood a contract.

Now known as a rising young blues fireball, Selwyn Birchwood steps onto the world stage, bringing a new wave of blues to a new generation of blues fans. "If I can play my music, travel the world, bring happiness to people, then I'm blessed and happy," he says. "It's like Sonny Rhodes always told me, ‘If you follow your heart, you'll always get what you want.'"

MVBS Presents Rare Gathering of Quad City Blues Legends, Friday, March 11

QC Blues LegendsThe Mississippi Valley Blues Society presents local blues legends Ernie Peniston, Hal Reed, and Ellis Kell in concert on Friday, March 11, in a large tent at Kavanaugh’s Hilltop Tap, 1228 30th Street, Rock Island, IL on Friday, March 11. The show will start at 8:00 p.m. and admission for this performance will be $10 if you are a Mississippi Valley Blues Society member, or $12 if you are have not joined the Blues Society (application will be available at the door).

“To the best of my memory, the three of us have never played together as a group before. Total, we have played in the Quad Cities for over 70 years, but this will be an exceptional and unique experience for the band and audience as well,” says Ernie Peniston. Joining the three icons will be band members Roger Alexander (bass), Zach Harris (guitar), Jamie Hopkins (drums), Kellen Myers (piano).

Ernie Peniston formed The Ernie Peniston Band in the Quad-Cities in the late 80’s, performing a tight fusion of original music, Chicago-style blues, and R&B. He has shared the stage with Prince, The Temptations, Koko Taylor, Lonnie Brooks, James Brown, Albert Collins, and many others. He also spent four years as the frontman with Blind Pig recording artists, Chicago Rhythm & Blues Kings, traveling the US and Europe. Ernie Peniston was inducted into the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame in 2003, and was also recently (Aug 2015) inducted into the Mid-America Music Association Hall of Fame (MAMA).

Though Blues harpist, singer, and educator, Hal Reed is currently living in Bettendorf, IA, he was born just a few miles from the Mississippi Delta and grew up surrounded by authentic Mississippi, Gospel and Chicago style blues pumping through his heart. His first exposure to blues music was when he heard his grandfather Lucius Smith play—a southern folk-blues artist who taught Reed insightful glimpses into early 20th century African-American music culture. Also passing down generational natural talent was his father, James T. Reed, and his grandmother, who was a devout member of the local Pentecostal Church, and his uncle, the great Lester "Big Daddy" Kinsey. While listening to these and other blues musicians, Reed became infatuated with the music and though blues has never had a wide-mass appeal, Reed never compromises on his passion for playing and has done so for over 40 years.

Ellis Kell is the founder and vocalist of The Ellis Kell Band, a blues group that has proven to be a favorite of Quad-Cities music fans. The group performed for the first time in 1990, and since then, it has won awards in Band categories many times. Ellis Kell has performed for more than half of his life on stages with a variety of celebrities, including B. B. King, Etta James, J. Geils, Johnny and Edgar Winter, Bo Diddley, Smokey Wilson, The Neville Brothers, Albert Collins and even former Vice-President Al Gore. The Ellis Kell Band has been featured on the nationally syndicated radio shows, The House Of Blues Radio Hour and The Red Rooster Lounge. The multitalented Ellis Kell also is a blues columnist and an expert on the musical heritage of the Midwest.

“Our Blues Society often talks about how Blues were formed and the different styles of music that sprang from its birth. This concert will be a perfect opportunity to show three different styles of musicians and still come together to form one exploding night of Blues,” says Hal Reed.

This concert will benefit the Mississippi Valley Blues Society in their efforts to educate the general public about the native art form of blues-related music through performance, interpretation and preservation, thus enhancing appreciation and understanding. Special thanks to the support and sponsorship of Kavanaugh’s Hilltop Tap for making this concert possible.

The Mississippi Valley Blues Society Presents the Chris O’Leary Band, Sunday, Feb. 14 at Harley Corin's

Chris O'Leary BandThe Mississippi Valley Blues Society presents blues harp player/vocalist Chris O’Leary and his seven-piece band on Friday, February 14, at Harley Corin’s, 1708 State Street, Bettendorf, IA on Sunday, February 14. The evening of blues will start at 5:00 p.m. The cost to see this performance will be $10 if you are a Mississippi Valley Blues Society member, or $12 if you are have not joined the Blues Society (application will be available at the door).

Chris O’Leary and his band have been impressing audiences around the New York’s Hudson Valley and Capital Region with blues and roots music since 2009. O’Leary’s musical background includes a 6-year stint as lead singer and front man for Levon Helm and the Barnburners. O’Leary has also appeared on stage with the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Jimmy Vivino, and Albert Lee.

As any good student should, O’Leary not only absorbed the lessons he learned while fronting for Levon Helm & the Barnburners, he put that tutelage to good use. He won the 2011 Blues Blast Music Award for Best New Artist Debut (For his album, Mr. Used To Be) and was also nominated in the same category at that year’s Blues Music Awards (BMAs) in Memphis.

Chris’ sound can easily be defined as traditional blues, but there’s more to O’Leary’s tunes than strictly Chess-era blues. His time with Helm will understandably never be forgotten and it continues to have a major impact on the way that O’Leary creates music to this very day. But there’s something more eclectic and more modern contained within the body of his songs that make them uniquely their own thing, giving them their very own legs to stand on.

MVBS Presents Ghost Town Blues Band, Sunday, January 17

Ghost Town Blues BandAs part of an initiative to raise support for The Mississippi Valley Blues Society, MVBS will be presenting Ghost Town Blues Band at Kavanaugh's Hilltop Tap, 1228 30th Street, Rock Island, IL, on Sunday, January 17. The show will start at 5:00 p.m. Admission is $10 for members of the Mississippi Valley Blues Society or $12 if you are not a member (membership applications will be available at the door). All college students with a school ID will only be charged $5.

Ghost Town Blues Band is Beale Street's latest success story and 2014 International Blues Challenge 2nd Place Winner. They are not your grandpa's blues band - Ghost Town Blues Band is a modern blues band with an intimate knowledge of both blues, rock and improvisational jams.

"GTBB shows what can happen when the past is distilled through young sensibilities, voices, and instruments. This is 21st century blues at its best." - Living Blues Magazine 2011

Their live show has been captivating audiences in the U.S. and Canada with a second-line horn entrance, cigar box guitars, and electric push brooms to Allman Brothers style jams and their rapping trombone player. At the same time, the band's raw energy and intensity is reminiscent of some of the best blues that rock n' roll has ever offered. The band can turn on a dime from North Mississippi hill country grooves to classic electric urban blues and funk and Allman Brothers style jams.

"With a shoot-from-the-hip Memphis attitude, and a STAX-busting explosion of modern blues vision, GTBB represents a welcome changing of the guard." -
Living Blues Magazine 2012