BRADENTON -- Doug Deming & The Jewel Tones performed on stage at Ace's Live Music -- band member bodies and instruments coated in colorful lights before an estimated 185 people Wednesday evening in the barn-like tavern.
The band meshed tightly behind Deming's voice and guitar playing, Andrew Gohman with bass sounds, Devin Neel on drums and Madison Slim with his harmonica.
"What a beautiful, beautiful crowd, I'll tell you what," Deming said into his microphone after one set. "Thanks so much!"
The band's performance was part of the kickoff party for the 2015 Bradenton Blues Festival, an annual festival featuring top blues artists.
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Produced by Realize Bradenton, proceeds from the festival support the nonprofit organization's free youth, art and music programs. The Bradenton Blues Festival kicks off officially Dec. 5.
Deming's wife, Claudia Deming, danced in front of the stage Wednesday evening. Smiling, the 54-year-old leaned forward and back, spun her arms in tight circles and couldn't stop dancing, she said.
"I have always been a blues fan but I was kind of a blues novice when we met and so my husband is a very traditional blues guy," Deming said. "He turned me on to a lot of the really, re
ally great music over the years. It's kind of opened my eyes to what blues really is."
Johnette Isham, Realize Bradenton's executive director, took time to thank her team and the crowd of sponsors for their support.
"This is amazing to see the kind of community support we get for live music, for the blues -- and for Realize Bradenton and downtown," she said.
Perry Minas, 59, and his partner, Nancy Thompson, 62, also let the music also move them while they held hands and tapped their feet on the dance floor. Thompson said she and Minas moved to Sarasota from Portland, Ore., for the many blues festivals in Florida. Bradenton has a really great festival, she pointed out.
"It's great music. Doug Deming & the Jewel Tones is a great band, always playing some good local music," Minas said.
"It's great to see all the sponsors here and the money that they're raising for this. It's great to be part of a community, to help in such a good cause."
And, Thompson added, it keeps blues alive.
"Blues has always been a hard thing to keep alive but blues people are real blues people," she said. "We are."
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.