Third Annual Prairie Crossroads Blues Fest

The Prairie Crossroads Blues Society announces their third annual Blues Fest will take place Saturday, August 14 from 1:30 to 10:00 p.m. at the Champaign County Fairgrounds, Urbana, IL. Gates open at 1:00 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance through August 12 at or $20 at the gate.

Kilborn Alley Blues Band, a homegrown legend of the Champaign, IL area, will headline the show. Other bands include Johnny Rawls, Ivy Ford, Smiley Tillmon featuring Kate Moss and William Marsala. Gerry Hundt’s Legendary One Man Band and Jesse Cotton Stone will dominate the solo/duo stage. Music will alternate between two stages for nearly continuous blues music.

Lots more details on the Blues Fest web page!

News about Paul Wirth at the Iron Post

We are sad to report that Paul Wirth, owner of The Iron Post in Urbana, has passed. Paul ran the Iron Post for about twenty years, and he ran the Embassy Tavern for many years before that.

Paul did as much (or more) as anyone in the C-U area to keep our local music scene active through thick and thin. At the Post, he booked shows just about every night of the week, many times with two shows on Friday and Saturday. He gave new bands and up-and-coming performers a place to play. All genres were welcomed. The Post hosted many fundraising events for community organizations, and Paul was always accommodating.

From the first year of the C-U Folk & Roots Festival, Paul was very supportive and loved the idea of having the festival in downtown Urbana. Over the years, the Iron Post hosted many festival performances, often to a packed room, as well as jams, workshops, and the end-of-festival (into the wee hours) closing jam. The Iron Post also hosted several “Winter Weekend” performances.

Last year, through the pandemic, Paul kept the patio open and featured many evening performances there. Deep down, Paul was a music fan, and he really appreciated a good performance.

Paul was a good friend of the festival and through his efforts, the Iron Post was a key venue for C-U Folk & Roots Festival performances and activities. RIP Paul. We will miss you.

Iron Post Update

We’ve just learned of Paul Wirth’s passing. You can see his obituary at the News-Gazette.

Services for Paul will be private. A memorial service will be held at a later date.

Paul Wirth, owner of the the Iron Post, has been a friend to the festival from its earliest days. The Post has been a gem of downtown Urbana–a hub of musical culture for the region, and a much-loved festival venue. But recent events have endangered the survival of this treasured institution, and our hearts are heavy.

Paul, we are holding you and your family in our hearts and praying that you recover your health. You will always have our appreciation and admiration for the work you have done to keep the live music scene thriving in C-U. If you have to pass the torch, many hands will work to keep that scene burning bright.

The message below, from Paul’s family, lays out the situation.

Firstly,  we would like to thank everyone for their donations so far. These  donations were a major factor in allowing The Post to survive through  the winter with any hope of re-opening this spring, as they have helped  pay rent, insurance, and other operating expenses that did not go away  even while the doors have been closed.

Paul,  The Post’s sole owner and operator, had every intention of re-opening  this spring. However, in early March he experienced a serious medical  event which has made it impossible for him to continue to own and manage  The Post going forward, and will in fact require long-term intensive  health care and therapy. It is necessary to sell The Post, in one form  or another, in order to cover medical expenses and comply with federal  medical assistance rules. Paul’s family has been communicating with many  members of the community to try to identify possible solutions that  would allow for The Post to re-open in some form that would keep its  spirit alive. Sadly, we keep discovering new issues that are out of our  hands that complicate any efforts to take over The Post (both the name  and the location) and it is seeming increasingly unlikely that The Post  will be able to re-open at all, even under new management.

We  are not asking for additional donations at this time to cover medical  costs. You have all already done so much to help both Paul and The Post,  but unfortunately the numbers we are dealing with across various debts  are so large that it is nigh impossible that any additional donations  you all might provide would prevent the sale of Paul and/or The Iron  Post’s assets. Times are tough for many right now, and we would prefer  that any funds you might want to donate instead be contributed to other  efforts that enable and celebrate live music (whether it be jazz, soul,  R&B, rock, or classical) in Champaign-Urbana.

Due  to the change in circumstances, we totally understand if any of you  wish to ask for a refund of your previous donations and are working with  GoFundMe to facilitate that. As previously stated, all funds already  spent from donations were used to keep The Post alive this long, and any  as of yet unspent funds that are not refunded will be used to work  towards resolving any outstanding business debts, closing down the  business in an orderly manner, and ensuring that the more sentimental  assets of The Post are distributed to those who will appreciate them and  hopefully use them to create a successor institution some time in the  future.

Paul’s  family thank you for all of your generosity so far, and we know that  this is a blow to the C-U Music community, not just our family. We hope  you will honor Paul and The Post by doing everything you can to support  live music this spring and summer.

The Upper Bout

The Upper Bout

Stop by this beautiful store to see what brick and mortar can be. The Upper Bout offers a human connection and personalized experience. They sell and work on just about anything with strings. Thanks, TUB, for your loyal support of the Festival and the musicians who participate!

Common Ground Food Co-op

Common Ground Food Co-op

Downtown Urbana’s full service, cooperatively owned grocery store. Beyond monetary donations, the co-op has sustained the festival with food and offered us performance space. Over the years it’s been a warm and welcoming hangout for festival goers, and we thank them for all their support. We thank downtown Urbana’s full service, cooperatively owned grocery store for the many types of sustenance they have provided the festival over the years.

Urbana Country Dancers

The UCD is a community of people in Champaign-Urbana and east central Illinois who support and promote the history, artistry and enjoyment of contra dancing. The warmth and generosity they extend at the Festival dances will be sorely missed this year, since those events are hampered by the COVID-19 outbreak. We thank them for their continued support and hope to have lots of dancing back on the schedule in 2021!

Sponsored in part by an Urbana Arts Grant

Urbana is an Illinois Arts Friendly Community, designated by the Illinois Arts Alliance and Illinois Municipal League. Through public support for the arts, the City of Urbana increases opportunities for the creation of art, thereby enhancing the quality of life, economic development, citizen participation, cultural awareness, and vibrancy of the community.

Thank you Urbana Arts & Culture program for being a major sponsor of the C-U Folk and Roots Festival! Art thrives in Urbana.