Bradenton area should benefit from 'blues festival season': commentary

October 7, 2012 

Welcome to Blues Festival Season, the Bradenton area's fastest growing tourist attraction.

And my favorite way to spend a day outdoors with a large group of laid-back, like-minded people.

If you're a fan of American roost music, let me point out all the major blues festivals within a five- to 45-minute drive.

We just had a great one.

And three more, which should be equally exciting, are on the way.

Blues Festival Season started on the last Saturday in September with a most enjoyable 22nd annual edition of the Sarasota Blues and Music Festival.

More than 3,000 people were there.

We arrived in time to witness potent sets from super group Royal Southern Brotherhood, slide guitar goddess Ana Popovic (my fiancee's new fave) and the headliner, Texas music hero Delbert McClinton.

We had a great time hanging with friends.

And friendly strangers.

"I was thrilled with how this year's event went and how positive everyone's response was," Bill Haggett, general manager of the Sarasota Blues and Music Festival, told me last week. "This event certainly draws a wonderful clientele."

Expect a good chunk of that "wonderful clientele" to be here Dec. 1 for the inaugural Bradenton Blues Festival at the freshly renovated Riverwalk.

Grammy Award nominee Ruthie Foster, Louisiana Music Hall of Fame inductee Kenny Neal and another super group, Southern Hospitality led by Bradenton Beach resident Damon Fowler, are the main attractions.

Dave "Biscuit" Miller, who recently rocked Aces live in Bradenton; Johnny Sansone; Homemade Jamz; the Steve Arvey Horn Band with Henry Lawrence (also locals); and Ben Prestage round out the lineup.

In January, the new

Sunshine Blues Festival will be held across the Skyway at Vinoy Park in St. Pete.

(There also will be dates with the same all-star lineup in Centennial Park in Fort Myers and Mizner Park Amphitheater in Boca Raton.)

The Tedeschi Trucks Band, recent winner of four Blues Music Awards and a Grammy Award for "Best Blues Album," headlines.

New Orleans piano great Dr. John and numerous others are also scheduled to perform.

Blues Festival Season concludes in April with the three-day Tampa Bay Blues Festival, which has been staged at Vinoy Park since 1995.

Sarasota County resident and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Dickey Betts, a founding member of the Allman Brothers Band, is scheduled to perform with his Great Southern group which regularly wows local audiences.

Big Easy "supafunkrock" sensation Trombone Shorty, harmonica blues star Rod Piazza & The Mighty Flyers plus many more ace acts are also confirmed for the April bash on the waterfront in St. Pete.

Yes, Blues Festival Season has begun.

And it's just going to keep getting better.

And bring more people to the Bradenton area.

The Riverwalk Grand Opening is Oct. 18.

And national blues touring act (and Bradenton resident) Doug Deming and the Jewel Tones play a free show there Nov. 1.

Just another perk for us Bradenton area blues enthusiasts.

Wade Tatangelo, features writer, can be reached at 941-745-7057. Follow Twitter.com/wtatangelo.

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