After months of anticipation, the inaugural Bradenton Blues Festival will take over Riverwalk's main pavilion and event area Saturday.
Grammy Award nominee Ruthie Foster headlines a first-rate lineup that includes Louisiana Music Hall of Fame inductee Kenny Neal and super group Southern Hospitality, which is led by Bradenton Beach resident Damon Fowler.
Dave "Biscuit" Miller, Johnny Sansone, Homemade Jamz, the Steve Arvey Horn Band with Henry Lawrence -- also a pair of local favorites -- and Ben Prestage round out the lineup.
In addition to the live music along the Manatee River, there will be an array of food, drink and art vendors.
The festival is produced by Realize Bradenton, the non-profit organization that played a key role in creating the renovated Riverwalk.
Tickets are $25 until noon Friday and can be purchased at www.bradentonbluesfestival.org. Tickets at the gate are $30 cash only and ATMs will be available. Attendees are being told to please leave coolers and dogs at home. Call 941-681-0708 for more information.
Realize Bradenton is also offering the community a free preview to the festival at the Riverwalk pavilion. The Blues Appetizer Concert is 6-9 p.m. Friday with performances by Tampa blues man Selwyn Birchwood Band and Sarasota roots rockers Kettle of Fish. Food and beverage available for purchase.
Attendees are asked to bring a non-perishable food item or canned good to the Blues Appetizer and Bradenton Blues Festival to help donate food items to Meals on Wheels of Manatee County.
The Women's Resource Center of Manatee's annual fundraiser, "Bringing on the Blues," will be held Friday as well starting at 7 p.m. in the historic "Brickyard" area behind O'Bricks on Old Main Street in downtown Bradenton.
The cost is $125 per person and includes live entertainment, food and premium open bar. For more information call 941-747-6797 or go to www.wrcmanatee.org.
Bradenton Blues Festival schedule
Steve Arvey Horn Band featuring Henry Lawrence: 11-11:40 a.m.
Bradenton area blues man Steve Arvey has teamed up with local hero Henry Lawrence, the superb soul singer who earned three Super Bowl rings and made two Pro Bowl appearances while playing with the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders.
Homemade Jamz: 11:55 a.m.-12:55 p.m.
Ryan, Kyle and Taya Perry are siblings in their teens who play rocking blues.
Southern Hospitality: 1:10-2:10 p.m.
Bradenton Beach resident and Blind Pig Records artist Damon Fowler recently joined forces with fellow Florida guitarist/vocalist JP Soars and Memphis-based keyboardist/singer Victor Wainwright to form one of the most in-demand groups on the blues festival circuit. See accompanying interview with Fowler.
Johnny Sansone: 2:25-3:25 p.m.
The New Orleans-based harmonica player and vocalist offers plenty of emotional punch as a performer while also excelling as a songwriter.
Dave "Biscuit" Miller: 3:40-4:40 p.m.
A superbly funky bassist and outstanding showman , Miller has become a favorite at Aces Live in Bradenton with songs ranging from the funky double entendre "Butter My Biscuits" to the somber, soulful "Never Seen it Coming."
Kenny Neal: 4:55-6:05
Baton Rouge swamp blues master has been elating audiences since the 1970s with his explosive guitar licks, hot harp and potent vocals.
Ruthie Foster: 6:20-7:35
Grammy Award nominate singer's latest album "Let it Burn" finds Foster putting her own glorious vocal stamp on songs ranging from the Johnny Cash classic "Ring of Fire" to Adele's recent smash "Set Fire to the Rain."
Ben Prestage: performs between acts
One-man-band who grew up near the Everglades sings, plays finger-style guitar, harmonica, banjo, lap-steel, fiddle, resonator guitar and foot-drums.
Details: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 1, Bradenton Riverwalk, 425 Third Ave. W., Bradenton. Tickets: $25 (until noon Friday); $30 (gate). Information: 941-681-0708 or www.bradentonbluesfestival.org.
Wade Tatangelo, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7057.Follow Twitter.com/wtatangelo.