NIBA News & Articles


2017 NIBA Officers & Board of Directors

· President:           Tom Gerber     (815-312-3964)


· Vice President:    Kim Kraemer    (312-730-7469)


· Treasurer:           Cindy Kline      (224-569-6210)                     

· Secretary:           Mary Krasko    (815-879-2414)                


Board Members

Jim Berkland            630-479-6610

Bill Fulton                815-673-8694

Joyce Kraemer

Rich Krasko             815-879-2414 

Ray Ward                 815-732-4641




Please make all submissions for this newsletter by the 15th of each month to Send all printed copy and photos to:  NIBA, PO Box 310, West Dundee, IL 60118. This newsletter is copyrighted by the NIBA. 


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Including (but not limited to) member submissions, bio/song of the greats


36th Annual Eden Valley

Old Time & Bluegrass Gathering

the deer didn’t sing or play anything

The singin’ women far right is Rick Faris’s Aunt



Tribes Jam





NIBA Dates to Remember:


      Dec 2    : NIBA Christmas Party,

                      Harding Community Center 


      Jun 2   : NIBA 2018 Festival

            (Put the festival on your calendar!)



Evolution of a Festival

By Bill Fulton


    About 30 years ago, I was becoming a serious bluegrass fan.  During the “Folk Era,” when Hootenanny was on TV, I was attempting to play guitar (sorta, kinda could).  I tried a bit of folk and country/pop and such things, but most enjoyed Flatt and Scruggs, Bill Monroe, and the Country Gentlemen, all of whom also appeared occasionally on the country stations.  And, of course, there was The National Barn Dance on Saturday nights.


    So, when a Father’s Day Bluegrass Jam was started at the (now) Monticello Railway Museum, where I was very active, I quickly became involved.  I emceed the second year and became event chairman for most of its twenty-four year run.  To promote the event, I attended as many of the similar events throughout Central Illinois as I could.  I also started trying to play bluegrass, first on guitar, then reviving the family fiddle and eventually moving on to mandolin.  My first real festival was the “Twenty-fifth Anniversary Bean Blossom Festival” where I met Bill Monroe and first heard several bluegrass stars I would later see frequently and a few for the only time.  More festivals followed.


    After becoming active in Threshermen’s Reunion nearly thirty years ago, I began encouraging them to add bluegrass to the show.  Tom Turner was a C.S.T.R. board member, Dobro player and husband of one of my high school classmates.  We started an informal late evening jam at the reunion.  It was a small group, mostly folks otherwise involved in the show.  It was a small start but a good time was had and it opened a door.

    John Allison and son Jim, Doyle Hurd and son Jay had a comedy bluegrass band, “The Peavine Family.”  Eventually they and other friends announced their intent to start a festival, with the Chamber of Commerce and C.S.T.R. as main sponsors.  Again, I signed up.


    A crew was put together of interested and enthusiastic folks.  We had a good manager from the Chamber of Commerce and Terry Lease was engaged to book bands and help run the shows.  We were on our way.  As the years went by, our shows grew, but the committee consensus was that we could perhaps save some money and continue to grow on our own.  The Chamber manager was gone and we thanked Terry and Jan and went independent.  Doyle took on the bookings as he already knew a number of acts, as did I, and we continued to attend festivals and see new acts. Various committee members also recommended special acts they had seen, bringing some bands not previously seen hereabout to our festival.


    And as they say, the rest is history.  The N.I.B.A has had a close connection to the Thresherman’s Festival for most of its history.  As attendees, as participants after I convinced the committee to add open stage, and even as paid performers.  Three of four N.I.B.A. member bands performed as contracted acts or emergency fill-ins.  Shirley Noble hosted her famous pot luck dinners here for several years, appreciated by everyone including several bluegrass stars like Larry Sparks and Little Roy.


    On behalf of the Thresherman’s Bluegrass Committee, I want to thank everyone who joined us or supported us from a distance for twenty-five years.  It was FUN… and it could still revive?  Keep fingers crossed!

Harding Jam

Text Box: 



                    Streater Jam


    Traditional closing ‘Will the Circle be Unbroken’



Text Box: Note from your Pres.
  Hello Fellow Bluegrassers.

    Well, the fall and spring jam sessions are in full swing now. Also, there are many events that provide an evening of entertainment. Be sure to see the jams section further on in the paper. 
    I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Pontiac Thresherman’s Bluegrass organization for the donation to the Scholarship fund. It is a very nice gift for a very worthy cause. We will continue to have scholarship events in the spring.
    The weather has not been perfect for the last few week ends, but that did not put a damper on the fun that we had at the Eden Valley Refuge event. I think this was the 36th year for this. We were forced to have the event in the nature center, so we were dry and warm. The acts and the food were great as always. You can’t go wrong with chili by the pot-full! – and all the other food that was brought. Thank you Mary McAndrews for such a beautiful event, and to all her helpers who I cannot even remember. It was a great time had by all.
    Please remember all our shut ins that cannot make the jams from time to time. We miss seeing them.
    There is still time to accept nominations for the NIBA board. I will repeat what I have said in the past. Without the help of volunteers there would be no NIBA. Let’s get out there and help out! It requires about 1 hour of your time per month. Is this too much to ask? Come on, step up to the plate. Usually this hour is accomplished at the beginning of a jam session so that no time is lost. 
    Thank you for being a member of the Northern Illinois Bluegrass Association. I hope you continue to support this fine organization. Keep up the good work. See you at the jams and events. 
   One last thought – If you know of anyone who is interested in our music and plays an acoustic instrument (not drums) please have them join in our jams. It is a great time and the fellowship is remarkable!  See you there!

Tom Gerber, President, NIBA



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