Last year, tickets to the Bradenton Blues Festival sold out long before the event.
Now that seems like an off year.
“Last year, we sold out,” said Johnette Isham, the executive director of Realize Bradenton, which organizes the festival. “This year, ticket sales are 300 percent faster.”
Isham was among about 100 people in attendance at the Bradenton Blues Festival thank-you party Thursday evening for sponsors at Ace’s Live Music in Bradenton. Besides feting the people and businesses that help make the blues festival happen, the party celebrated what blues and the blues festival have done for Bradenton.
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Jack Sullivan, the publisher of Blues Music Magazine, moved his publication from California to Bradenton seven years ago. His magazine has an international readership, and he said blues aficionados all over the world are talking about Bradenton.
“A few thousand of my friends have put the Bradenton Blues Festival on their bucket list,” Sullivan said.
This year’s sixth annual festival is set for Dec. 2 on the Bradenton Riverwalk. The lineup includes Sean Chambers, Curtis Salgado, Joe Louis Walker, Sugar Blue, Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band, the Nick Moss Band, Vanessa Collier and Brody Buster.
Doug Demning & the Jewel Tones rocked the crowd at Thursday’s party, and they’ll also perform with TC Carr & Bolts of Blue at the free annual Blues Appetizer concert on Dec.1 at the Riverwalk Pavilion.
The artist on the lineup whose work is most widely known outside of blues circles is Sugar Blue, the Grammy Award-winning musician who played memorable harmonica part on the Rolling Stones hit “Miss You.”
Last year we cold out. This year ticket sales are 300 percent faster.
Because the festival sells out quickly, some people have suggested expanding it, perhaps by finding a larger venue. That’s not likely to happen anytime soon.
“We want quality, not quantity,” said Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston. “At some music festivals, you’re so far away that you can barely see the stage. At this one you can feel the music go right through you.”
For more information about the festival and related events, go to bradentonbluesfestival.org.