Prairie Crossroads Blues Society

Champaign-Urbana IL

The Backstory of the Prairie Crossroads Blues Society
by Sandy Hannum

(originally published in 2010)

Local blues buffs Rich and Sherry Cibelli had been attending Memphis in May for many years. They enjoyed hanging around in the blues tent with fellow Illinoisan Bob Paleczny. All were members of The Blues Foundation, and were enthused about the work of the organization. About 2 Ĺ years ago these characters started tossing around the possibility of starting a local blues society. They talked to their friends in local bands, Kilborn Alley and The Blues Deacons, to see what they thought. Would they support the idea? The response was all positive. However, it was possible that there might be a lot of work involved.

Two years ago Rich and Bob headed over to Bloomington to attend a meeting of the Blow Torch Blues Society. They got some good info, but right about then, the recession hit hard. Bob started to volunteer at WEFT, and had less free time. However, these blues buffs started going to even more blues festivals, along with some other friends. They were joined by Dennis Wismer, who had grown up with the Chicago blues scene, and had been involved in writing reviews of blues music. After every outing, they always had a good feeling about the music, the venue, and especially about the local blues societies they encountered -- The friendliness, the sharing of information, the sheer joy!

Finally last winter Bob wrote an e-mail to Rich reviving the idea of a local blues society. The economy was bad, there was no place to meet, it would be hard, but hey Ė thatís the blues! They talked to people in the Blues Foundation about how to go about starting a local blues society that could become an affiliate. The advice was: 1. Pick a meeting date; 2. Choose a Board of Directors; 3. Form a non-profit corporation

So, this core group and some close friends got together, and between their careful ground work, and their enthusiasm for the music, the rest is history! There was no organization here, so there was a definite need. The Prairie Crossroads Blues Society has filled a void. We will do our part to support local blues music and artists. In the near future we will do our best to send a local blues band to the International Blues Challenge. Itís only up from here.

[UBB & BBQ 2010 Sandy Deak Rich & Louie]