A 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 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
The 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.