BRADENTON -- The Friendly City might soon be known as the Home of the Blues.
Blues Revue, one of the music genre’s most-read magazines, is moving its headquarters from California to the Village of the Arts.
The magazine’s offices will open Monday at the Village Veranda building, 1001 11th Ave. W. And the managers plan far more than an office -- the site will also function as a gallery and a live music venue.
“The key reason we came here is the blues scene in Florida is so vibrant,” circulation director Jack Sullivan said when reached by phone at his new home on Longboat Key. “There are 21 blues festivals in Florida and great national acts that live here.”
Blues Revue calls itself “the world’s blues magazine.”
And for good reason.
“We have subscribers in 55 countries, newsstands in 21 countries and predominantly in the U.S. it can be purchased at Barnes & Noble, Borders and Books-A-Million,” Sullivan said.
Blues aficionados welcomed the news.
Larry Lisk has been at community radio station WMNF (88.5) for 13 years, hosting the popular Mo’ Blues program, which airs 6 to 8 p.m. on Mondays. He’s also cofounder and president of the Suncoast Blues Society from 1997 to 2005.
“It’s the definitive publication for the blues,” he said. “I think their moving here validates what we have been doing the last 14 years.”
Lisk credited WMNF and the Suncoast Blues Society, as well as venues such as Aces Live in Bradenton, Skipper’s Smokehouse in Tampa, Dave’s Aqua Lounge and Ringside Café in St. Petersburg, for making the area such a hotbed for the blues.
“This shows that we have as strong a blues scene here as anywhere in the country,” Lisk said. “And it continues to grow.”
Blues Revue sponsors numerous festivals nationwide, including the annual Tampa Bay Blues Festival, dating back to when it launched in 1995.
“I lived in Tampa for many years and have been all over Florida,” said Chip Eagle, publisher of Blues Revue, reached at his home in Des Moines, Iowa. “We thought about moving the office to Mississippi because of its rich history, but Florida is a growing market for the blues -- even in this economy.
“Then we got turned on to the Village of the Arts and knew this was home for us.”
Eagle will continue living in Des Moines but plans to visit the new office often.
In addition to Sullivan, Kyle Morris (fulfillment director) and Susan Lujan (customer service director) will be working at the Village Veranda office full-time.
Morris and Lujan have also found homes in Bradenton.
“We plan on adding more staff as needed,” Sullivan said.
Blues Revue’s new office will be open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. The public is welcome to stop by and purchase a current or past copy of the magazine that recently celebrated its 20th anniversary.
Beginning later this month, the gallery at the front of the building will be adorned by photos of artists such as Eric Clapton, B.B. King and Muddy Waters -- just to name a few -- who have graced the magazine’s cover over the years. People interested in purchasing a picture will be put in contact with any of the numerous, world-class photographers who have done work for Blues Revue.
The magazine will continue to be printed by Dartmouth Printing Company in New Hampshire.
Music enthusiast Annie Russini, founding executive director and consultant for Village of the Arts, has owned Blues Revue’s new home since shortly after the artists’ community formed in 1999.
“This is the most exciting event since the Village of the Arts opened,” Russini said. “At least in my book.”
Blues Revue will have an open house Aug. 5 that will feature live music outside. Concerts will then continue to be held there during the ArtWalks that take place the first weekend of every month on Friday evenings and Saturdays.
“Annie and I have discussed a long-term relationship with the Village Veranda as the home of Blues Revue,” Sullivan said.