You don't have to wait until the Bradenton Blues Festival to see Rick Estrin & the Nightcats.
The blues greats, led by one of the greatest harmonica players in the genre, will play Friday at Ace's Live in Bradenton. They'll also be among the headliners at the Bradenton Blues Festival Dec. 5.
The band, in its current form, has been around since 2008. It evolved out of Little Charlie & the Nightcats, which had been a major force in the blues scene since the 1970s. Guitarist Little Charlie Baty retired, from the band at least, and Estrin took over. (He was already the band's frontman.)
In 2013, Estrin won the Blues Music Award for Best Instrumentalist -- Harmonica. He's almost as renowned for his songwriting as for his fiery Chicago-style harp playing. His song "My Next Ex-Wife" won the Blues Music Award for Song of the Year in 2009, and other songs he's written have been recorded by such great as Koko Taylor, John Hammond and Robert Cray.
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The band's appearance at Ace's is part of Realize Bradenton's "Blues Bar Buzz" series that's meant to start building excitement for the festival.
Details: 9 p.m. Sept. 4, Ace's Live, 4343 Palma Sola Blvd., Bradenton. Tickets: $15 advance, $18 at the door. Information: 941-795-3886, aceslivemusic.com.