Candlebox headlines Sarasota festival

Muscle Madness XVIII also features Saliva and Mad Margritt

mclear@bradenton.comJuly 4, 2013 

This will be the last year for Muscle Madness.

The annual rock festival has outgrown its name, promoter Dave Branch said. This year he's starting the transition to the new name, Big Cat Love.

So next year will be the first Big Cat Love festival, but Muscle Madness is going out with a bang.

The 18th annual Muscle Madness festival set for July 6 on the grounds of Robarts Arena at the Sarasota Fairgrounds, features Candlebox, Saliva and Mad Margritt. There's also an aerial circus performing above the bands.

"I started this as a festival that everyone could come to," Branch said. "It was free, you could just leave a donation, and we had bands and strippers. Now it's coming of age and we'll have Cirque du Soleil-style performers, and we're taking it on tour."

As cool as aerial performers will be, it's a safe bet most fans are coming for the music.

By far the biggest of the three bands is Candlebox, which this year is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its multi-platinum first album.

"It's hard to believe we've been at it this long," singer Kevin Martin said.

Candlebox came out of Seattle just as its music scene came to dominate popular music. But Candlebox was never part of the Nirvana-Soundgarden-Pearl Jam scene.

"We're a lot younger than those guys," Martin said. "They're all around 50, I just turned 44. They all grew up together, they played together and they were all in bands together. I moved to Seattle when I was 14 from Texas and I didn't know anything about those bands. I came from blues-based rock."

The original Candlebox members, four of whom are still with the band, mostly didn't know each other until mutual friends brought them together. They all had different musical tastes and backgrounds. Martin was into blues-rock; the others were into metal, grunge and British punk.

"Somehow it all came together," Martin said. "Candlebox is the happiest accident any of us could have had. I don't even know how you would describe the music we play."

But however you might describe it, two decades of being in a band together have enhanced the music, Martin said.

"We've learned each other's musical strengths, and we've learned how to play to those strengths in our songwriting," he said. "That makes the songwriting better. And that only comes from years of touring."

Details: 5 p.m. July 6, grounds of the Robarts Arena, Sarasota Fairgrounds, 3000 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota. Tickets: $30. Information: www.bigcatlove.com.

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