Bradenton's downtown bursting with activities during the blues festival

There's plenty of other great stuff to do downtown

mclear@bradenton.comDecember 5, 2013 

All the talk's about the Bradenton Blues Festival, but it's not the only show in town.

In fact, there's a ton of other stuff going on around Bradenton on Blues Festival weekend.

Maybe the best bets if you're looking for a some non-musical diversion are the DaVinci Machines Exhibition (http://discoverdavinci.com) at the Bradenton Auditorium and the spectacular Bishop Planetarium at the South Florida Museum (www.southfloridamuseum.org). Both are just a few steps from the Riverwalk.

The DaVinci exhibit, on loan from the DaVinci Museum in Italy, shows off about 60 beautifully crafted DaVinci inventions, built from DaVinci's own drawings.

The planetarium has been newly upgraded and is now as high-tech as any planetarium in the world and it's spectacular. You can go to either of the museum of the DaVinci exhibit, or buy admission that will get you into both for a reduced price.

One of the best non-festival music events will be going on at Aces Live, 4343 Palma Sola Blvd., Bradenton, (www.aceslivemusic.com), where one of the area's best bands, the good-timey Applebutter Express, plays at 9 p.m.

Closer to the festival, downtown Bradenton's Old Main Street will have the blues all weekend. Friday night, three blues duos play along the street, and on Saturday, during the festival, Sarasota Slim, one of the area's best and best-known blues guitarists, plays on the street, which will also be packed with food trucks and local vendors.

Friday night, at the Riverwalk Pavilion, right at the site of the festival, is a Blues Appetizer concert with Selwyn Birchwood and Steve Arvey. It's free and runs from 6 to 9 p.m.

Also on Friday, one of the festival's headliners, Johnny Rawls, will play at O'Brick's Irish Pub & Martini Bar on Old Main Street. It's $125 per person but that includes food and an open bar, and the proceeds go to the Women's Resource Center of Manatee. Go to www.wrcmanatee.org for information and tickets.

Also on Saturday night, Texas blues-rocker Chris Duarte plays at the Tarpon Pointe Grill & Tiki Bar (www.TarponPointeGrill.com) from 7 p.m.-midnight.

Then on Sunday, Old Main Street is home to a Gospel Blues Bunch from 11a.m. to 1 p.m. You'll have your choice of food from food trucks and downtown eateries, and the music comes from the Sarasota's excellent Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe.

Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-708-7919.

Follow twitter.com/martinclear.

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