Beginning Nov. 30 and running through Dec. 3, the Bradenton Blues Festival continues to draw some of the biggest names in blues, and 2018 will be no different.
“The Bradenton Blues Festival has been at-capacity every year, but last year we sold out earlier than ever, well before Thanksgiving,” said Holly Eisemann, events and creative services manager for Realize Bradenton, which produces the annual event. “Fans traveled from 33 states and five foreign countries to attend in 2017, and we have even more interest this year with over 600 individuals signing up to receive an alert when our box office opens.”
Kicking off the annual event is the “Blues Appetizer” concert, a free event on Nov. 30, followed by the festival on Dec. 1 and the Blues Brunch on Dec. 2. Festival and brunch tickets are now on sale at BradentonBluesFestival.org.
This year’s festival will include seven-time Blues Music Award nominee The Welch-Leadbetter Connection; 2016 Blues Music Award Best New Artist Debut winner Mr. Sipp; 2008 International Blues Challenge runner-up Shakura S’Aida; four-time W.C. Handy Blues Award nominated artist Chris Cain; winner of 14 awards in four different countries, Harper and Midwest Kind; 19-year-old 2015 R&B Hall of Fame Robert Johnson Rising Star Award winner Christone “Kingfish” Ingram; singer, songwriter and musician Kelley Hunt; and 15-year-old local blues guitarist and singer-songwriter Trey Wanvig.
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“The lineup this year is spectacular. Each artist brings a different flavor of blues that will delight any live-music fan,” said Paul Benjamin, festival artistic director and International Blues Foundation chairperson. “Realize Bradenton successfully blends talented blues musicians with a premier festival experience that consistently attracts a sell-out crowd every year. You can’t beat listening to the blues in December on the Bradenton Riverwalk.”
Your tickets not only get you into an award-winning festival featuring award-winning artists, but help make local music educational programs like Blues in the Schools remain free to the area youth.
“To date, our ‘Blues in the Schools’ program has provided a platform to inspire and educate over 3,200 students about the history of blues music in the United States,” said Johnette Isham, executive director of Realize Bradenton. “By purchasing a ticket you enable Realize Bradenton to continue spreading the love of blues music with the next generation of fans and aspiring musicians.”
Blues in the Schools takes place Nov. 30, when 19-year-old Ingram, a festival headliner, visits Manatee High School to perform and discuss his experience as a young musician with students. This year, Art Tripaldi, editor of Blues Music Magazine, will teach a blues history component. The program is possible through funding from R.M Beall, Sr. Charitable Foundation, and proceeds from festival ticket sales. More than 50 sponsors from the 2017 event have already pledged their support to the 2018 Bradenton Blues Festival.
“Many of the businesses and organizations that supported the festival last year asked to be part of it again, they recognize that the blues means big business for Bradenton,” says Isham, adding that BMO Harris Bank is the festival’s Presenting Sponsor for the seventh year in a row.
The free “Blues Appetizer” Concert, presented by Mojoe Productions, Inc., is Nov. 30, on the Bradenton Riverwalk, and features 2015 and 2016 International Blues Challenge Semi-Finalist the Bridget Kelly Band and local, high-energy favorite, Memphis Rub Band. Gates open at 5 p.m. Tickets are not required for this community concert. Music begins at 6 p.m. and ends at 9 p.m. Food and drink will be available for purchase.
Details: The Bradenton Blues Festival, presented by BMO Harris Bank, Dec. 1, on the Riverwalk. Gates open at 10 a.m. Music starts at 11 a.m. and ends at 8 p.m. Festival tickets are $40 in advance; $50 at the gate (if available); $20 for students; and $10 for children, ages 5-12. Children ages 4 and under are free. Reserved front-of-stage seats are available for $100 per person. Advanced ticket sales are available online at BradentonBluesFestival.org. General Admission tickets may also be purchased in-person at Keeton’s Office & Art Supply, 817 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton. Each online ticket purchase includes a one-year bonus subscription of Blues Music Magazine. The Bradenton Blues Brunch Dec. 2. Hosted by Mattison’s City Grille Bradenton Riverwalk, the event features 2010 Grammy Award nominated Bryan Lee the “Braille Blues Daddy.” Check in begins at 10:30 a.m. A limited number of tickets are available for $50 and include a three-course meal created by award-winning Chef Paul Mattison. The Bradenton Blues Brunch is produced by Mattison’s City Grille Bradenton Riverwalk.