If listening to the blues is what makes you happy, then there’s no better place to be than Ed Smith Stadium on Saturday.
The 22nd annual Sarasota Blues and Music Festival is scheduled to get underway at noon, and festival producer Three Zebras Entertainment promises a day full of family fun and an agenda packed with blues sensations.
“Ensuring families have a great time from the moment they enter the gates is a big part of how we approached the festival this year,” said Bill Haggett, general manager of the festival, “and continuing the tradition of bringing the best of the blues to Sarasota is apparent in the all-star lineup this year. We can’t wait for September 29th.”
The Sarasota Blues Fest is yearly tradition on the Suncoast that draws blues music fans from all across the state. It always features a star-studded roster of blues pros and newcomers and last year was no exception, as three-time Grammy winning Los Angeles band Los Lobos was the headline act.
This year’s lineup promises to be just as spectacular:
Noon — Pett Crow takes the stage to start the festival. The Columbus, Ohio blues band is comprised of Wes Crow, Brandon Pettiford, and Julia Crow. And they may be kids, but they’re not a “kid band.” Playing their instruments like seasoned musicians are drummer Brandon, who is 12 years old, Wes, 14, a vocalist, lead guitarist and harmonica player, and Julia, 13, who plays bass. The band performs both original and classic blues songs on acoustic and electric instruments.
1 p.m. — Paul Thorn is up next. This Tupelo, Mississippi native plays a rocking, Southern, bluesy kind of music. He’s a man who has done it all, even working in a furniture factory and as a professional boxer before he found his calling as a singer-songwriter. His 2010 album, “Pimps and Preachers” shed light on the two people he says most influenced his music—his father, a Church of God Pentecostal minister and his uncle, a pimp.
2:40 p.m. — Curtis Salgado is third on the lineup. Salgado, who received the Soul Blues Artist of the Year award in 2010 and 2012, delivers a seamless mix of blues, rhythm and blues and rock. After he had a health scare in 2006 that nearly cost him his life, he experienced a renewed sense of energy and purpose.
“I'm playing music with the most incredible people,” he says. “I've got everything to be grateful for. To me, I've won the lottery, and I've won all the Grammys. It makes me humble. So I'm just trying to stick to my guns, perfect my craft and make great music.”
4:20 p.m. – Royal Southern Brotherhood, a group of musicians featuring two players from legendary musical families, performs next. The band features Cyril Neville on percussion and vocals, Devon Allman on guitar and vocals, Mike Zito on guitar and vocals, Charlie Wooton on bass and Yonrico Scott on drums. According to the Brotherhood’s website, the band’s Southern rock and blues influences from the past have come together to create some exciting music today.
“They said that rock ‘n’ roll was dead, but they were wrong,” the site states. “Right now, in 2012, there’s something in the air, as Royal Southern Brotherhood drag their thrilling new brand of blues-rock and white-hot musicianship from the Southern States onto the world stage”.
6 p.m. – Ana Popovich, a blues guitarist from Serbia, hits the stage. She’s an international guitar sensation, having released six albums and being nominated for three 2012 Blues Music Awards, including Contemporary Blues Album, Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year and DVD of the Year. Popovich has appeared on stage with some of the all-time blues greats, like BB King, Buddy Guy, John Lee Hooker and John Porter. Just this summer, she moved her home to Memphis — the city of the blues, soul, gospel and rock and roll.
8 p.m. – Delbert McClinton, festival headliner, closes out the show. A legendary performer, McClinton has been making music for more than four decades, performing with and writing for all the greats. He’s also the two-time Grammy winning, singer-songwriter, guitarist, harmonica player and pianist of four blues albums that reached number one on the U.S. charts within the last ten years. McClinton even performed a duet with another performer from this year’s festival, Paul Thorn, on Thorn’s newest album, “What the Hell is Goin’ On?” This will be McClinton’s third appearance at the Sarasota Blues and Music Festival--he headlined both the 2001 and 2005 festivals.
TICKETS AND THINGS TO DO
Tickets to the 22nd Annual Sarasota Blues and Music Festival are on sale now and are available at sarasotabluesfest.com. Gates open at 11 a.m. Saturday, with the musical fun lasting until the festival’s end at 9:30 p.m. Advance sale general admission tickets are $22 and children under the age of 14 are free with a paid adult admission.
During this year’s festival, VIP tickets will include food and beverage service, upgraded beer and wine and a separate restroom area, all very close to where the artists will be performing on stage. A limited number of these VIP tickets are currently available for $75.
There will also be a Family Fun Zone at the festival, which will include a kids’ area with amusement rides and games. The Sarasota Blues Fest promises to be a day of fun for the whole family. Plus, as they do every year, the organizers of the festival have earmarked a percentage of the proceeds for a local charity—this year’s recipient will be the All Faith Food Bank’s Backpack Project.
Festival-goers can bring lawn chairs, blankets, still photography cameras and one sealed plastic water container. Everything else is available on site at reasonable prices.
Glass, illegal drugs, weapons, pets, fireworks, unauthorized vending, coolers, food and beverages (other than the one water container) are not allowed.