Kenny Wayne Shepherd to headline blues festival in Sarasota

mclear@bradenton.comJuly 16, 2013 

Kenny Wayne Shepherd will headline the Florida Blue Blues and Music Festival.PHOTO PROVIDED

The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band and Rick Estrin & the Nightcats are among the headline acts for the Florida Blue Blues and Music Festival.

The new festival, set for Oct. 26 at the Sarasota Fairgrounds, was announced in May, but organizers didn't reveal any performers until Monday.

Other acts include Popa Chubby and Samantha Fish.

Shepherd, 36, is a former wunderkind who has been topping the blues charts since his 1995 debut album, "Ledbetter Heights," hit No. 1 and went platinum.

Estrin is widely acknowledged as one of the best harp players in contemporary blues. He was a member of Little Charlie & the Nightcats, and the band's name changed when Charlie Baty went into semi-retirement in 2008. Baty will join the band as a special guest in Sarasota.

Rock-influenced guitarist Popa Chubby has been touring steadily since the early '90s and has released more than 20 albums. Fish is a highly touted young guitarist from Kansas City who's

just starting to build a national reputation.

The new festival was created to take the place of the Sarasota Blues Festival, which was canceled without explanation, at least for this year, and possibly for good.

Some organizers of the Sarasota Blues Festival in 2012 are involved with the new festival, which they say will be an annual event.

"When we heard they weren't going forward with it, we didn't want the tradition of a blues festival in Sarasota to die," said Ed Morrell of Turnstile LLC, the St. Petersburg company organizing the Florida Blue Blues and Music Festival.

He used to head the entertainment division of ExtremeTix, which produced the Sarasota Blues Festival the past two years.

A message on the Sarasota Blues Festival website implies the festival will be back in 2014. If it does return, Morrell said: "I guess we'll be competing."

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. July 19 at floridabluesandmusicfest.com.

Marty Clear, Herald features writer, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 7919.

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