Blues Society Launches $50,000 Fundraising Campaign
Including a Festival Fundraiser May 3

Citing depleted coffers due to years of fighting Mother Nature, the Mississippi Valley Blues Society has announced the launch of a fundraising campaign with a goal of raising $50,000 by May 31.  The campaign targets blues fans as well as community businesses and potential sponsors.  All donations are tax-deductible, and will go towards the Blues Festival scheduled for September 5 and 6 in Davenport’s LeClaire Park.

“We are using all available media outlets, including social media, to get the word out at the grassroots level,” said Scott Klarkowski, President of MVBS.  “In addition to seeking sponsors, we aim to find at least 2,000 blues fans who are willing to donate $25 or more each to the cause of ‘Keeping the Blues Alive’ through the MVBS.”

Donations can be made through the organization’s website at Or donations can be mailed to the MVBS office at 102 S. Harrison St. Suite 300, Davenport IA 52801.

The Festival Fundraiser featuring seven local acts (many of them Iowa Blues Challenge winners) and a silent auction is scheduled for Sunday May 3 at the River Music Experience.  The Blues Society is currently seeking donations for the silent auction.  For more information about silent auction donations, contact Ellen Clow at

“We have encountered unforeseen financial challenges over the past several years,” said Klarkowski.  “Flooding forced us to move from LeClaire Park to downtown Davenport three times in seven years, which added to our expenses and cut into attendance.  Even with these challenges, we continued to offer the first-rate Blues Festival that last year earned the Keeping the Blues Alive Award from The Blues Foundation of Memphis, TN, as ‘one of the longest running, most prestigious blues festivals in the world.’ We plan to continue that excellence for the 31st annual Blues Festival September 5 and 6, but we need community support to do so.”

The Mississippi Valley Blues Society plays an important role locally, nationally, and internationally to “keep the blues alive.”   The Mississippi Valley Blues Festival is the only major blues festival in the country that is produced by an all-volunteer blues society, without major corporate support.  “The Festival is just part of what the MVBS does to Keep the Blues Alive,” according to Klarkowski.  “We also have an active Blues in the Schools educational program that reaches over 7,500 students annually, as well as our Legends Concert Series that brings live blues to the Quad Cities, and our radio shows on KALA.”

The Mississippi Valley Blues Society is not only important to individual members of the community, but also to our community’s economic wellbeing.  Over the past 30 years, the Blues Festival has contributed over $21 million to the local economy through revenue and taxes generated when attendees stay at local hotels, eat at local restaurants, and use other essential services.

Klarkowski adds, “Your tax-deductible donation will allow MVBS to offer the high-quality BluesFest that you have come to appreciate.”


Dave Moore by Sandy Dyas (1)Blues in the Schools with Dave Moore, April 20-24

Monday April 20 at the Redstone Room, Davenport, 7:00 p.m.

Tuesday April 21 at the Moline Public Library, noon

The Mississippi Valley Blues Society welcomes Dave Moore—singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and educator from Iowa City—for its April Blues in the Schools Artist-in-Residence program.  During the week of April 20 to 24, Moore will visit area schools and present two FREE open-to-the-public performances:

 Monday 20 April at 7:00 p.m.—The Redstone Room in the River Music Experience, 2nd and Main Streets, Davenport, Iowa.

  • Tuesday 21 April at noon—Moline Public Library, 3210 41st Street, Moline, Illinois.

Dave Moore’s residency is made possible by major funding from the Riverboat Development Authority.  Thanks to our sponsors The Lodge, KALA Radio, Alcoa, and the River Music Experience.

 Dave Moore is listed on both the Teaching Artists Roster and Performing Artists Roster of the Iowa Arts Council.   He has been a frequent guest of A Prairie Home Companion and appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered, World Café and Live from the Mountain Stage. In 2002, Moore was presented the annual Literacy Award from the Iowa Council of Teachers of English, in recognition of his contributions to literacy with the children of Iowa. His recordings include Juke Joints and Cantinas, Over My Shoulder and Breaking Down to Three.

Dave Moore is known for his elegant songwriting and instrumental prowess on blues guitar, button accordion and harmonica.  Coming of age in the late ’60s and early ’70s, Dave enrolled in college only to drop out to follow a girlfriend down to Guadalajara, Mexico.  Though the journey lasted only a few months, it was to be the first of many travels in Latin America and totally altered his world view.  Returning to the States for the holidays in 1971, his mother serendipitously left a harmonica in his Christmas stocking and he soon found that he could not quit playing it.  He spent the next few years traveling the Southwest and Northwest, working an assortment of jobs (lumberyard worker, fruit picker, plumber’s assistant), all the time getting deeper into music.

After his western travels and another lengthy sojourn in Latin America (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru) he found that the college town of Iowa City had turned into quite the music scene.  Folk, blues, and rock were spilling into the streets as music hangouts began to pop up all over the city. Around this time, he began to experiment with guitar and decided that he wanted to learn the instrument.  He headed back to Mexico—this time to a town that has since become a home-away-from-home, San Cristobal de las Casas.  With only a little plywood-topped Harmony 6-string, he holed up with a box of blues tapes and took occasional lessons from a Chiapas guitarist with a passion for American ragtime.

In 1980 Dave returned to Iowa City and teamed up with local songwriter Greg Brown, who was just beginning to develop a national reputation.  For the next few years Dave backed up Brown on recording projects, extensive tours and several appearances on A Prairie Home Companion on NPR. It was at this time that Dave stumbled onto his other great musical passion, the accordion.  Awestruck by an accordion album featuring Fred Zimmerle’s Trio San Antonio, he traveled to Texas where he sought out the great masters of Conjunto music: Zimmerle, Johnny Degallado, and Santiago Jimenez, Sr. (the legendary father of Flaco and Santiago, Jr.).  All three men would give him lessons and encouragement on the 3-row button box.

In 1984 at a little folk festival, Dave won a contest whose prize was free recording time in a studio.  He took the opportunity to record Jukejoints and Cantinas, an album that pulled together all of the American roots influences that had been stewing in him for years.  He passed its 14 sizzling blues and Conjunto tracks on to Bob Feldman of Red House Records. Its release led to a National Endowment for the Arts grant that underwrote three intensive months in Texas studying with accordion master Fred Zimmerle.  Occasionally sitting in with Fred’s band in the dance halls, Dave found himself completely immersed in a major American regional music tradition.   Fred quickly became one of Dave’s closest friends and until his death, the closest thing he had to a mentor.

In 1986 Garrison Keillor invited Dave to perform on A Prairie Home Companion, and after frequent appearances he became the show’s bandleader on tours to Alaska and Hawaii.  A year or two earlier he had quietly started writing his own songs, and in 1990 he released Over My Shoulder, an 11-song collection.

Moore was in preproduction of his third disc in 1994 when his wife lost a daughter in infancy.  He stopped playing for a while, and when he did return, preferred to stay closer to home and family.  Five years went by, songs accumulated and, in time, a desire to return to recording and touring.  He had written an enormous number of chilling-to-the-bone songs based on his own experiences.

In mid-1998, he announced that he was ready to record again.  Seeking a co-producer for the project, he looked to Iowa City roots-rocker Bo Ramsey, who had produced several discs for Greg Brown and had just finished touring in Lucinda Williams’ band.  Dave had long admired Bo’s work and instinctively felt he was the best man to guide the recording session.  The result was Breaking Down to 3, an album that is considered his best ever.  Recorded with an all-Iowa band, the songs are as breathtaking as they are stunning with vivid imagery drawn from the depth of his life experiences painting a picture of the quintessential American journey. 



After weathering 3 floods and multiple rain days in the past 7 years over the 4th of July weekend, the Mississippi Valley Blues Society has voted to move the date of the 2015 Blues Festival to the Labor Day weekend – Saturday and Sunday September 5 and 6. But while we are planning the Blues Fest, we still need YOU to help us defray some of the pre-fest expenses!

The Mississippi Valley Blues Society will be having a fundraiser on Sunday, May 3, at the River Music Experience, 129 N. Main Street, Davenport, IA. Doors open from 1:30pm – 10:00pm. Ticket are $15/person, with the following lined-up to play:

Ellis Kell-2:15pm

“Detroit” Larry Davison and Charlie Hayes-3:00pm

Joe & Vicki Price-4:00pm

“Detroit” Larry and Blues Rockit-5:00pm

Mercury Brothers-6:00pm

Hal Reed and Mississippi Journey-7:00pm

The Candymakers-8:00pm

Bring your $$$ – we will be having a silent auction, and 50/50 drawings. Plus great silent auction items including autographed posters, MVBS merchandise, hotel accomodations, gifts baskets and more. Food will also be available. weathering 3 floods and multiple rain days in the past 7 years over the 4th of July weekend, the Mississippi Valley Blues Society has voted to move the date of the 2015 Blues Festival to the Labor Day weekend – Saturday and Sunday September 5 and 6. But while we are planning the Blues Fest, we still need YOU to help us defray some of the pre-fest expenses!


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The Mississippi Valley Blues Society, Central Iowa Blues Society, Southeast Iowa Blues Society, and South Skunk Blues Society present the 2015 Iowa Blues Challenge (IBC). The IBC 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 2016.

The Final Round of the IBC will be held in Des Moines, IA on May 16, but first each solo/duo and band, made up primarily of Iowa based musicians, must surmount a Preliminary Round. The Mississippi Valley Blues Society Preliminary Round of the IBC will be held at the River Music Experience, 129 N. Main Street, Davenport, IA on Sunday, April 26 starting at 5:00pm. Admission price is $8 for ALL Blues Society members and $10 for non-members. Three (3) bands and three (3) 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 2015 Mississippi Valley Blues Society Preliminary Round participants are:

Down the Drain (Band)   5:00pm

Dan Peart (Solo/Duo)   5:45pm

Zach Harris Band (Band)  6:20pm

Myers Brothers (Solo/Duo) 7:05pm

Concreteslim & the Sidewalks (Band) 7:40pm

Rowdy Rooster (Solo/Duo)  8:25pm

Each solo/duo group will play a 20-minute set and each band will play a 30-minute set with 5-8 judges critiquing each act on blues content, vocals, originality, talent, and stage presence. The criteria for the 2015 Preliminary Round are similar to the standards that each group will face if they move on to the Iowa State Final Round and the International 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 money to help with travel expenses for 2016 International Blues Challenge.



Down the Drain has been together for four years, performing blues, rock, country, and funk in small towns surrounding the Quad City area. The original power trio of Levi Craft, Jim Drain, and Cooper Schou would often have Sarah Hanson sit in on gigs, but this is the first all four have worked together as a full musical unit. All four of the musicians originally met at RME programs when they were twelve and thirteen years old.

Levi Craft, guitar and vocals, has playing guitar and singing for five years now. Levi and Sarah competed in the Youth Showcase Act last year at the Blues Challenge in Memphis. Levi has been in school choir and musicals, and previously played bass in Animilia. Levi has been involved in the RME’s Rock Camp and Winter Blues, and was a member of the Winter Blues All-stars. His musical influences include Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, and Eddie Van Halen.

Jim Drain, bass, is a senior at Moline High School. Jim has been playing the electric bass guitar and the double bass since fifth grade. Jim plays in the Moline High School Orchestra, jazz band, and pep band. Jim’s activities outside of school include the River Music Experience’s Rock Camp and Winter Blues All-Stars, and he also plays for local group Culture Coup, which focuses on funk/rock/reggae. Jim’s bass playing is influenced The Beatles, Red Hot Chili Peppers, reggae, and funk music.

Sarah Hanson, vocalist, developed an interest in all forms of vocal music as soon as she realized she could manipulate the sound of her voice. She began singing in school and has since performed in various locations throughout the Quad Cities. Levi, a classmate, encouraged her to attend a blues workshop at the River Music Experience, where she met Jim and Cooper and began a great adventure with the Winter Blues All-Stars. She has been singing the blues ever since. She is influenced by the vocal stylings of Etta James, Shemekia Copeland, and Stevie Ray Vaughn.

Cooper Schou, drummer, is a junior at Pleasant Valley High School where he is in the marching band, Wind Symphony, and two jazz bands. He has been playing drums for five years after starting on piano, and has been a part of both the RME’s Rock Camp and Winter Blues programs, where he performed with the Winter Blues All-Stars for two years. Cooper has also been the drummer for the Sin City Orchestra for the past year and one-half. His influences include Snarky Puppy, Steve Gadd, and Buddy Rich.

Dan Peart (Solo/Duo)   5:45pm

Dan Peart, from Clinton Iowa, is a self-taught musician, a singer/songwriter who is a lifetime member of the Mississippi Valley Blues Society and a two-time finalist in the Iowa Solo/Duo Blues Challenge. For more information about Dan Peart, visit

Zach Harris Band (Band)  6:20pm

The Zach Harris Band is a blues-rock group from Davenport, Iowa, comprised of 4 members: Randy Leasman on bass, Nick Vazquez on keyboard, Jamie Hopkins on Drums, and Zach Harris on guitar and vocals. They have been together since early 2014. During that time they have developed their sound as a band, and worked hard to develop a reputation as a band that plays soulful blues with conviction. Their sound is heavily influenced by Chicago and Texas blues, as well as old school Mississippi Delta Blues. Each member of the band brings to the table his own unique skill set and influences. With such a collective wide range of influences, The Zach Harris Band is a melting pot of America’s finest genre.

Jamie Hopkins has been focused on drums and music since his first paying gig at 14 on his dad’s borrowed drums. Logging over 27 years of live performance Jamie has been a member of the EZ Money Band, Crusin’, The Andrew Landers Project, The Ernie Peniston Band (Iowa Blues Hall of Fame), the Curtis Hawkins Band (featuring Manuel Lopez III) and the Candymakers. He can be heard on 2013′s Keep Workin’ the Blues (Curtis Hawkins Band) and 2014′s Rediculicious (Candymakers). A career highlight included accompanying the legendary Westbrook Singers at the 2014 Mississippi Valley Blues Fest. Jamie also works for Vintage Sound 93.1FM the largest radio signal in the market playing blues in rotation or by request.

Nick and Randy, both being members of The Candymakers, are no strangers to the Iowa Blues Challenge. The Candymakers participated and won the 2011 Iowa Blues Challenge, eventually going on to reach the semi-finals in both the International Blues Challenge, and The Kings of Beale Street Competition. Since then The Candymakers have released two full length records, and played all throughout the Midwest. Nick got his start playing drums in 5th grade band. He moved onto guitar in high school and then began playing piano at age 20. His biggest influences are Dr. John and Billy Preston. Nick also received his B.A. In music from St. Ambrose University. Nick is also a piano teacher at River Music Experience in Davenport.

Zach first took an interest in music at a young age. The sounds of the electric guitar, namely when expressed by the hands of Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan, captured his attention. By saving money from odd jobs and chores, Zach purchased his first guitar at the age of 14. As a self-taught musician, he learned to hone his craft as a teenager by playing along with his favorite recordings. His influences range from BB, Albert and Freddie King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix, Derek Trucks, Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton, Tomo Fujita, Greg Koch, Philip Sayce, Eric Gales, Sean Costello and Steve Gaines.

Myers Brothers (Solo/Duo) 7:05pm

The Myers Brothers are lifelong residents of Davenport, Iowa. Born and raised on the Mississippi and listening to good blues and performing at the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival and River Roots Live, Davenport, as well as multiple festivals, private parties and events.

Kellen Myers is the oldest brother, at 17 years old, a senior at Davenport Central High School where he is an honor student, in National Honor Society and Student Council. He has played the piano since age 2 and started composing his own music at a very young age, winning his first national composition contest at age 5. He has since won several state titles and honorable mentions as well as local composing awards. He has played piano, guitar, harmonica, bass, organ, percussion, and sings in addition to his composing. Kellen has been actively involved with high school music in choir, band, orchestra, show choir pit band, jazz band and recently won best jazz soloist at All State Jazz Band.  Kellen plans to study music and music composition at Augustana College, Rock Island, IL next fall.

Logan Myers is the younger of the brothers at age 14. He has played drums since age 3. He has been active in school music in choir and band and enjoys playing music with his brother. When he is not active in school or gigging, Logan travels and plays baseball for his high school and for the Quad Cities Hitmen Elite 14U. He had the opportunity to pitch at the Elite 32 in Disney World Orlando last summer and continues to work hard as a stand out on his teams.

The Myers Brothers are currently working on their next CD project- due to release in 2016.

Concreteslim & the Sidewalks (Band) 7:40pm

Concreteslim & the Sidewalks drive outside the lines of traditional blues with blues shaped by a lifetime of bumps and bruises into an original sound that draws traditional fans and younger audiences driven by the rhythm.

William Dale Rigsby became Concreteslim on a blues journey that ran coast to coast and then some before arriving back in his hometown in middle America on the Mississippi River. Slim 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, Arizona, and later his solo act in southern California.

“My songs are days, weeks and chapters of my life, the ones where everything went right and the ones where everything went wrong.”

“Bad Day,” “Apologize” and “Two Holes” are some of the stories that Concreteslim transforms into songs that get listeners moving and thinking. Find the songs on Reverbnation, where 10,000 fans have pushed Slim to the top of the Reverbnation local charts.

Bassist Tim Rockstroh anchors the Sidewalks. “He believes in me and is willing to put in the extra work to present original music, not just covers. He’s more than just a bass player. He drives the sound.”

Drummer Danny Tapp became a Sidewalk member after a year of touring the west coast as part of a songwriting duo. Originally from the Missouri Ozarks, Tapp hooked up with Slim in 2014 and drove the band’s latest live recordings from John Taylor’s Ca’ d’Zan studio.

Rowdy Rooster (Solo/Duo)  8:25pm

Guitarist, Songwriter and Performer Billylee Janey has been compared to such greats as Clapton, Beck, and Hendrix. Even though these guitar heroes have been an inspiration to him, Billylee’s own soulful and passionate love for music clearly and creatively sets him apart, giving him his own unique style and personality. Billylee picked up his first guitar, a German Framus, at an early age. it was during the “British Invasion” that he was taking his first steps in another direction; a direction that would lead him down paths into the music that would shape his future – the blues, jazz and rock. Billylee recorded his first record in 1972 and another in 1973 which included “Pontiac Blues” by Sonny Boy Williamson.

In 1975 he recorded a full scale album titled “No Rest for the Wicked” with his blues-rock trio, Truth ‘N Janey. “No Rest for the Wicked” has achieved near cult status internationally, and has been recognized in the book by Martin Popoff, “The Collector’s Guide to Heavy Metal Volume I: The Seventies.” Recently, Janey received nominations by the Iowa Rock and Roll and Blues Halls of Fame. Also, in 2000, Billylee received a Grammy entry mention. Billylee Janey has played B B King’s in Memphis, Buddy Guy’s Legends during the Chicago Blues Fest and the Mississippi Valley Blues Fest. Billylee Janey has worked over 600 major shows in the US and Canada.

Other accomplishments; Head Flyman for David Copperfield, where Janey incorporated guitar stunts and tricks in his live show. Janey worked in theaters for 15 years working on productions such as Chorus Line and 42nd St. he also worked the ABC Network’s farm crisis with the Donahue Show and over 600 arena shows for jazz, blues and pop rock including Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn and George Thorogood. Janey was a part of production on the feature film “Miles From Home” starring Richard Gere. Janey played on stage with Buddy Guy, Little Ed and was the backing band for Bo Diddley shows in 2000. Today, Billylee continues to test the waters with his solo career and his newest release “Tear It Down” – on the Electric Mud label. While he is staying busy these days with performances, recordings and many a late night writing and composing, Billylee hasn’t forgotten what this is all about for him. “I want to share with people what I feel in my heart, continue to give something new to the people who support live music and challenge myself.”   Billylee has spent many years teaching guitar at West Music.

Freddy Jones has been playing blues harmonica since 1967. Musicians Freddy has played with include: Son Seals, Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater, Sonny Rhodes, Eddie Kirkland, Johnny Rawls, Little Ed & Blues Imperials and Bo Diddley.


Reverend Raven and the Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys

At The Muddy Waters, Sunday, April 12, 2015

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The Mississippi Valley Blues Society presents Reverend Raven and the Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys at The Muddy Waters, 1708 State Street, Bettendorf, on Sunday, April 12. The show starts at 6:00 p.m.  An $8 per person charge for MVBS members, or $10 per person for non-members will be taken at the door (application for membership will be available).

Bringing crowds to their feet at the hardest to please and sophisticated night clubs in the Midwest, Reverend Raven and the Chain Smoking Altar Boys play traditional blues, straight up with a big dose of passion. With smoking grooves, served up with hot harmonica and smooth stinging guitar, they play original songs peppered with nods to Slim Harpo, Little Walter, Jimmy Rogers, Billy Boy Arnold, Junior Wells, and the three Kings.

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.

The Reverend and Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys were chosen as Wisconsin Music Industry (WAMI) awardees for best blues band in 1999, 2000, 2004, 2005, 2008 and again in 2010.