Deep Blue Innovators Blues Festival

The Deep Blue Innovators Blues Festival descends on the Rivloli Theatre stage every Fall. Bringing nationally-recognized, award-winning blues musicians to Monmouth, this day-long festival draws friends and fans from around the country.

Sign Up for our weekly mailing list as we approach the festival!

2014 Performer: Bobby Rush

The creator of a singular sound which he dubbed “folk-funk,” multi-instrumentalist and multi-Grammy nominee Bobby Rush was among the most colorful characters on the contemporary chitlin circuit, honing a unique style which brought together a cracked lyrical bent with elements of blues, soul, and funk.

Born Emmit Ellis, Jr. in Homer, LA, on November 10, 1940, he and his family relocated to Chicago in 1953, where he emerged on the West Side blues circuit of the 1960s, fronting bands which included such notable alumni as Luther Allison and Freddie King. However, as Rush began to develop his own individual sound, he opted to forgo the blues market in favor of targeting the chitlin circuit, which offered a more receptive audience for his increasingly bawdy material; he notched his first hit in 1971 with his Galaxy label single “Chicken Heads,” and later scored with “Bow-Legged Woman” for Jewel.

He appeared on a wide variety of labels as the decade progressed, culminating in the 1979 LP Rush Hour, produced by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff for their Philadelphia International imprint. During the early ’80s, Rush signed with the LaJam label, where he remained for a number of years; there his work became increasingly funky and deranged, with records like 1984′s Gotta Have Money and 1985′s What’s Good for the Goose Is Good for the Gander often featuring material so suggestive he refused to re-create it live. During the mid-’90s, Rush moved to Waldoxy, heralding a return to a soul-blues sound on LPs including 1995′s One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show, 1997′s Lovin’ a Big Fat Woman, and 2000′s Hoochie Man.

2014 Performer: Selwyn Birchwood

With his band feeding off his drive and exuberance, the striking 6' 3" 29-year-old with his trademark Afro roams the stage (often barefoot), ripping out memorable guitar licks with ease. His ability to win over an audience -- any audience -- is proven night after night on the bandstand. With his warm, magnetic personality, Selwyn Birchwood is as down-to-earth as his music is fun, thought-provoking and vital. His mission is to spread his music far and wide, to share his joy, to play his heart out, and to push the blues into the future. "There's nothing I'd rather be doing than playing the blues," he says. "And I try to convey that with every song and with every performance."

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.

The Tampa Tribune says Birchwood plays with "power and precision reminiscent of blues guitar hero Buddy Guy. He is a gritty vocalist [who is] commanding with his axe." According to Iglauer, Birchwood is the real deal. "Selwyn Birchwood is a terrific young blues talent with a huge future. He writes smart, infectious, fresh songs and delivers them with a warm, conversational vocal style and a fun-loving attitude. He's a killer guitarist, switching between a regular six-string and lap steel. Live, he's a ball of energy, interacting with the audience like they were in his living room. Selwyn is destined to be one of the next stars in the blues world."

2014 Performer: Brian Keith Wallen

Out of the Rust Belt springs forth a new kind of blues. Inspired by the energy of Jack White, the chops of Joe Bonamassa, and the gritty soul of the Delta Blues, Brian Keith Wallen is on a mission to bring his music to the world. His energetic performances have landed him gigs at venues like Dollywood, Beale Street, Cincy Blues Fest, the Indiana State Fair, and hundreds of other venues across America.

Brian is the winner of the 2011 Cincy Blues Challenge, the 2013 Dayton Blues Challenge, and he was also named Blues Artist of the Year by the Star Gennett Foundation. He was a Semifinalist in the 2014 International Blues Challenge, ranking in the top 32 solo Blues performers in the world. Upon viewing his performance at the Cincy Blues Fest, iSpy Cincy wrote that “his raw passionate sound encompassed the blues soul with perfection," and Metromix called him a "rising guitar star."

2014 Performer: Hayes and Fleming

Charlie Hayes and Joel Fleming have been fixtures on the local music scene for decades. Together, they make a powerful blues duet, sensing each other’s musical energy and crafting brilliant blues improvisations.

Charlie’s acoustic blues range from the classic sounds of Robert Johnson to the contemporary picking of Keb Mo. Charlie is known for his rock-solid back beat (both mono and alternating bass) and multi-string leads, coupled with searing vocals and the ability to either play dead-on “in the pocket” or mix it up with some rough and savage playing. Charlie has also been working on blues banjo and the pedal bass, which provides him with even more musical territory to explore.

Joel performed in the mid-1980s with the Air Force Tops in Blue, a musical showcase, touring overseas. In the 1985 Hohner Harmonica contest he placed second in the nation. He is an accomplished harmonica player on both diatonic and chromatic. Joel plays with a unique, jazzy style, employing subtle tones, phrasing and echo effects to create a compelling, mesmerizing counterpoint to Charlie’s guitar.

Joel has been playing harp for over 40 years and Charlie has been playing professionally for over 30 years. On October 25th, they’ll take those 70+ years of combined experience to deliver an amazing opening act for this year’s Deep Blue Innovators Blues Festival.

What You Need to Know for the 2014 Festival

The 2014 Deep Blue Innovators Blues Festival is on Saturday, October 25th at the historic Rivoli Theatre in Monmouth, Illinois.

To see a map of the Rivoli's location, click here.

Tickets are $15 before the show and are available online (see the link above) and are on sale at the Buchanan Center for the Arts, Daw Violins, the Bijou and Market Alley Wines in Monmouth. In the region, you can buy them in Galesburg (Cherry Street Guitar, Music Makers, Fat Fish Pub), Macomb (Capitol Music) and Burlington (Weird Harolds). 

You can also get tickets for $20 at the door on the day of the event.

The Rivoli is connected to the Bijou, which offers a full bar. There will also be a limited bar in the Rivoli with servers.

Eddie B. will be smoking his famous ribs outside all day, and the Bijou Grill will also offer their full menu.

T-shirts for the event will be available for $15.

We'll see you at the show!!!

2014 Event Schedule

Please remember all times are approximate. This is a single stage event, so each band needs to set up and tear down, as well as sound check. But hey, that's part of the fun!

2:00pm: doors open

2:30pm: Hayes and Fleming perform

4:00pm: Brian Keith Wallen performs

6:00pm: Selwyn Birchwood performs

8:00pm : Bobby Rush performs

2014 Festival Line Up

We’re pleased to announce the line up for the 2014 Deep Blue Innovators Blues Festival, which will be on Saturday, October 25, 2014 at the Rivoli Theatre in Monmouth, Illinois. This year, we'll be bringing in some world-class, grammy and award--winning artists who all have deep blue souls and deeply innovative approaches to the blues. We'll see you at the show!

2014 Festival Date Set!

The 2014 Deep Blue Innovators Blues Festival date is locked down: Saturday, October 25th! Of course, it will be at the awesome Rivoli Theatre here in beautiful Monmouth, Illinois. Check back soon to see the line-up announcement - it'll be a good one!