The Bradenton Blues Festival always features great music, Jimi Patricola said, but that's not the only reason his website named it the nation's best blues festival.
"The location is great, right on the water," he said. "Also, Bradenton in and of itself is just a wonderful place. It's very welcoming and there's a lot to do in the Bradenton area. So instead of coming to the festival for just one day, you come for maybe three days, and maybe you come back for a vacation the next year." Patricola is the publisher of "Blues 411," a website devoted to supporting blues music and musicians. The site gets more than two million hits a year.
Each year, "Blues 411" announces winners in various categories for its Jimi Awards. The Bradenton Blues Festival was one of the finalists last year and this time it took top honors in the "Best Festival of the Year" division.
Patricola also praised the festival's sound system and its waterfront location. But although peripheral factors entered into the decision, he said, it's mainly the music that makes the Bradenton Blues Festival the best.
"They have a really high standard," he said. "The lineup is always a great combination of known acts and not-so-known, up-and-coming acts, but the standard of quality is always really high."
He also noted that the Bradenton Blues Festival always schedules a variety of blues styles every year, from blues-rock to R&B to Chicago blues and everything in between. So people who aren't necessarily blues fans can usually find something they'll like, and they may be exposed to blues music they're never heard before.
For the hardcore blues fan, he said, one thing that makes the Bradenton Blues Festival great is that is that it's in December, after the end of festival season in most of the country. Plus, the festival announces its lineup very early so people from around the country can make plans to attend.
"It sounds kind of silly, but we really are like a big family," he said. "People come from all over the world to attend blues festivals."
The 2015 Bradenton Blues Festival is set for Dec. 5 on the Riverwalk. Headliners include Janiva Magness and Rick Estrin and the Nightcats. For tickets and information, go to bradentonbluesfestival.com.
Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-708-7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.