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A Hand From the Past , A Glimpse of the Future

by Ben Cox

David “Honeyboy” Edwards and Michael Frank
Kilborn Alley Blues Band with special guests Dave Faubel and Deak Harp

Block’s Brewery, Decatur IL February 28, 2008

Photos by Bob Kieser © 2008  -  Click any photo to see full size image!

To see ALL the pictures of the fun, CLICK HERE

“He won a Grammy only a few weeks ago and now he’s on stage with us in Decatur, Illinois,” said a jubilated Andrew Duncanson, lead singer of Kilborn Alley Blues Band about his evening performing with and listening to the legendary Delta bluesman David “Honeyboy” Edwards. It was truly a night to remember for the packed house at Block’s Brewery just off Main Street in Decatur. You couldn’t have squeezed one more person into the place, as you could feel the room’s anticipation just waiting for a glimpse of Honeyboy to come out and play.

As Earwig Records President and close friend Michael Frank led Honeyboy to the stage in his ball cap and guitar, even before the first note was hit, a huge cheer went up. After set-up was done and Honeyboy had settled in, he and Frank lit up the room for the next hour, doing a tour de force of anything and everything you could possibly imagine and hear from the Delta. This man, this legend wasn’t merely interpreting a genre of music and a story, he was the story still living and breathing every bit of the blues.  With each jerk on his guitar and each ear-piercing sting of his slide, howls and cheers went up. As label-friend Frank would recall later, “I’m the guy that everybody forgets to introduce,” he’d say with a smile. He smiled because he knew that Edwards’ praise was just deserts for a man with a long and storied career that continues to roll on with each mile he travels to play his next show.

Midway through Honeyboy’s first set, the cold winter of Illinois unleashed its fury, drenching the outside in a blanket of snow and cold. The crowd would not be moved and hung on every note. Honeyboy and Frank then met the crowd of well-wishers, admirers, and old friends for an hour with autographs, pictures, and hand shakes.

Kilborn Alley started their show a little after 9:30, doing cuts from their latest BMA-nominated album Tear Chicago Down, kicking it off with “Fighting Fire With Fire” and a stirring rendition of “Everyday I Have the Blues,” which Honeyboy watched attentively off to the side of the stage. Honeyboy then joined the band for an hour set, taking them through Delta-meets-Chicago stylings. The young fellows were a little uneasy at first, but anchored by the watchful eye of Kilborn’s elder statesmen Ed O’Hara on the ruff and tumble drums and the king of groove Chris Breen, the boys managed to keep the groove going.

An amazing point in the show was when guitarist Josh Stimmel and harp smith Joe Asselin traded lead riffs with Honeyboy. After another hour, Honeyboy turned the stage over to Kilborn and calmly took his seat at the side of the stage, clapping and singing along with many familiar Chicago Blues tunes that Kilborn had in their days before the BMAs. Such numbers like Buddy Guy’s “The Dollar Done Fell,” Little Walter’s “My Babe,” Muddy Waters’ “Long Distance Call,” and the seminal “Catfish Blues” which Honeyboy himself had played earlier in the evening and now sang along at the side of the stage.

Kilborn was also joined by a few special guest, fellow harmonica man Deak Harp joined the set and played four numbers, bringing the house down on the final song dueling with Asselin on “Got My Mojo Working.”  Kilborn also had saxophone-man and Quincy IL native Dave Faubel, whom some may remember from Kilborn’s first BMA-nominated album Put It In the Alley. Honeyboy reaped praise on the young men after the show saying, “You boys have got something. Keep doin’ what you’re doin’. You’re almost there.”

With well over three hours of music, the twenty dollars at the door was a complete bargain for the history and the quality of music one was blessed to have heard in the little bar and grill off Main Street in Decatur one cold and snowy night in February. For the young folks in the crowd, it’ll become a story that they’ll tell friends, family, and fellow music lovers for years to come. They’ll say that they got to hear and shake the hand of the man who was a part of where all American roots music was born.

Ben Cox is a Blues Songwriter, Musician, DJ and Journalist.

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