Tickets go on sale March 1!
Building on the success of the past two years, the Bradenton Blues Festival is back again with an all-star lineup of acclaimed blues acts, including Marcia Ball, Samantha Fish and Little Ed and the Blue Imperials.
(Bradenton, FL) The word is out. In just two short years the Bradenton Blues Festival, organized by Realize Bradenton, has become one of the region’s preeminent live music events. Blues fans showed up in the thousands for the 2013 outdoor festival in December, which incorporated a full weekend of activities that had people from Bradenton and beyond celebrating the blues. The 2014 Bradenton Blues Festival returns to downtown Bradenton’s Riverwalk, December 6, 2014, with an all-star lineup that includes veteran singer and songwriter Marcia Ball, the double-edged guitar dynamics of Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers, the rollicking Little Ed and the Blue Imperials, multiple Grammy nominee Bill Branch & The Sons of Blues, young whirlwind Samantha Fish, “Georgia Songbird” EG Knight, local stars Doug Deming and the Jewel Tones with harmonica virtuoso Dennis Gruenling; and refined finger-style blues guitarist Dave Muskett, who will entertain audiences between the major acts. Food, drink, and an array of vendors complement the live music to create a comfortable, family-friendly experience in the park-like setting alongside the scenic Manatee River. Proceeds from the festival support Realize Bradenton’s free youth, art, and music outreach programs.
“The festival’s artistic director Paul Benjamin has yet again assembled a lineup of top-notch artists of national and regional acclaim,” says Johnette Isham, executive director of Realize Bradenton. “This is going to be another sizzling, sold-out festival.”
Benjamin, a veteran music festival producer who books acts for blues festivals around the country, says that word about the festival has spread quickly throughout the music world. “There’s a positive buzz out there about this festival—and artists are eager to be part of it,” he says. “The musicians who will be part of the 2014 festival represent a variety of traditional blues styles, as well as many of whom stretch musical boundaries in innovative, new ways.”
Realize Bradenton’s educational initiative will again be a major component of the festival. On Friday, December 5, 2014, “Blues in the Schools,” an outreach program at Manatee High School, will feature an appearance by festival headliner Samantha Fish, who will share her talents and professional advice with students. And, in keeping with the community outreach feature of the festival, Realize Bradenton will again partner with Mojoe Production to offer a free concert on Saturday, December 5, at the festival site on the Riverwalk.
According to Isham, the community is already showing its support for the 2014 festival.
“The dozens of Bradenton-based businesses and organizations that have embraced and supported this festival and are lining up to be part of it again,” says Isham, adding that BMO Harris Bank, will be the festival’s Presenting Sponsor for the third year in a row. A limited number of sponsorships are still available. Interested businesses should contact Johnette Isham by emailing johnette@RealizeBradenton.com.
“The Bradenton Blues Festival unites some of the nation’s most popular blues artists,” says Isham. “But it also unites area-based businesses and organizations to form common cause with one of the area’s most important economic multipliers—the regional arts and cultural industry. These forward-thinking companies and organizations join us in celebrating the Bradenton area’s cultural distinctiveness. As savvy business people, they understand that the arts and cultural industry is big business and that events like the Bradenton Blues Festival are a major part of how we promote our region to the world. The 2013 festival attracted a lot of snowbirds who were either already here visiting—or came especially to enjoy an outdoor music festival—in the sunshine!”
Tickets for the 2014 Bradenton Blues Festival go on sale March 1 and are $30 in advance; $40 at the gate, cash only; $25 per person for groups of 10 or more; $20 for students; and $10 for children, ages 5-12. Children four and under will be admitted free. A limited number of reserved front-of-stage seats are available for $75 per person. Tickets are available online and at Keeton’s Office & Art Supply, 817 Manatee Ave. West, in Bradenton. For more information and to buy tickets online, visit www.BradentonBluesFestival.org.
About the Artists
The Boston Globe calls Marcia Ball, “An irresistible, celebratory blend of rollicking, two-fisted New Orleans piano, Louisiana Swamp rock and smoldering Texas blues from a compelling storyteller.” Singer/pianist Ball knows how to raise roofs and tear down walls with her infectious, intelligent and deeply emotional brand of southern boogie, rollicking, roadhouse blues and heartfelt ballads. Over the course of her three-decade career, Ball has earned a huge and intensely loyal following all over the world. Her exquisite piano playing and passionate, playful vocals fuse New Orleans and Gulf Coast R&B with Austin’s deep songwriting tradition into a sound No Depression described as, “a little rock, a lot of roll, a pinch of rhythm and a handful of blues.” Ball was nominated for the 2014 Blues Music Awards—her 16th nomination in this category for which she’s won five times in nine years. A two-time winner in the best Contemporary Blues: Female Artist category, Ball has also won Blues Music Awards for best Contemporary Blues Album of the Year for her CDs “So Many Rivers” and “Presumed Innocent.” She was awarded Most Outstanding Musician in the 2013 Living Blues Awards and inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2012. Ball has regularly appeared on Austin City Limits, Late Show With David Letterman, Today Show, CNN, and Treme, and was featured in performance at the White House with B.B. King and Della Reese, broadcast on PBS. She was featured in the films Angels Sing (2013) starring Harry Connick Jr. and Willie Nelson, and Piano Blues (2003; directed by Clint Eastwood). Ball also performs on NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion, World Café ,Whad’Ya Know?, and Studio 360. “For more info, visit www.rosebudus.com/bal/.
Jimmy Thackery& The Drivers
Whether Jimmy Thackery headlines a festival in South Dakota or jams for hours in one of numerous blues bars that dot the musical landscape, he’ll always unleash an intense volley of rockin’ blues guitar guaranteed to leave crowds emotionally spent. His double-edged guitar dynamics allow him to fire off tracer missiles, bend a note so it will fit under a limbo bar, run off dive bomber riffs, and find space within the trembling of one stinging note. Thackery is one of the few blues guitarists who learned first-hand from the masters of the blues—and not off a record or DVD. Though most associate Thackery with his 15 years as the co-founder of the Nighthawks, he ended his time with them in 1987. Since then, Thackery has been on the road as a solo musician doing nearly 300 shows a year and proving each night that he is still a blues guitar powerhouse. For more info, visit www.jimmythackery.com.
Little Ed & The Blues Imperials
From working at Chicago’s Red Carpet Car Wash to appearing on national television, from gigging at the smallest ghetto blues bars to performing on the biggest international concert stages, master bluesman Lil’ Ed Williams has come a long way. Mixing smoking slide guitar boogies and raw-boned Chicago shuffles with the deepest slow-burners, Lil’ Ed and his blistering Blues Imperials (bassist James “Pookie” Young; guitarist Mike Garrett; and drummer Kelly Littleton) deliver the blues—from gloriously riotous and rollicking to intensely emotional and moving. Not since the heyday of Hound Dog Taylor & The House Rockers has a blues band made such a consistently joyful noise. Currently celebrating 24 rip-roaring years together, Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials ply their musical talents with skills that have been honed to a razor’s edge. As much a family as a band, they continue to make blues history with each and every performance and new recording. For more info, visit www.alligator.com/artists/lil-ed-and-the-blues-imperials/.
Billy Branch & The Sons of Blues
Billy Branch was discovered by Willie Dixon, the “father of modern Chicago Blues,” while Branch was still in college. Dixon encouraged Branch to finish his college education, which he did, but instead of going to law school after receiving his political science degree, Branch began touring with the Willie Dixon Chicago All-Stars. This gave Branch the unique opportunity to travel and work as an understudy for the legendary Carey Bell who was planning to leave the All-Stars and form his own band. When Bell took his leave, the young Billy Branch took his place, touring with Willie Dixon for six years. Since those early days, Branch has played on more than 150 different recordings, including 12 under his own name. He’s recorded with Willie Dixon, Johnny Winter, Lou Rawls, Koko Taylor, Eddy Clearwater, Honeyboy Edwards, Syl Johnson, Lurrie Bell, Ronnie Baker Brooks, John Primer, and TajMahal, just to name a few. In addition, he has received three Grammy nominations (losing one nomination to B.B. King and Eric Clapton). He served two consecutive terms on the Grammy Board of Governors, and founded the Grammy Blues Committee. In addition, he has won multiple W.C. Handy Awards from the Blues Foundation, an Emmy Award, an Addy Award, two Chicago Music Awards, and numerous humanitarian achievement awards. Branch’s internationally recognized “Blues in Schools Program” is dedicated to teaching both young and old about the blues as the roots of America’s music. He has brought this interdisciplinary program to Europe, South America, Asia and Mexico. For more info, visit www.billybranch.com.
Kansas City-based Samantha Fish has been on a major roll ever since she teamed up with Cassie Taylor and Dani Wilde on Ruf’s 2011 release, “Girls with Guitars,” and created an international buzz in the blues world. Later that same year, Fish recorded “Runaway,” her solo debut on Ruf, which mixed gutsy riff-blues rockers like “Down In The Swamp” with the mellow small-hours jazz of “Feelin’ Alright,” while marinating her songwriting in the groove of the Rolling Stones and even tipping a hat to Heart. Hitting a receptive international blues and rock press, “Runaway” was hailed as a thrilling opening statement, earning a string of rave reviews and radio airplay, climaxed by Fish winning the Blues Music Award (BMA) for “Best New Artist Debut” in 2012. Fish’s most recent album, “Black Wind Howlin’,” is already critically acclaimed. The 25-year-old whirlwind continues to “defy every blues cliché by combining grungy but rhythmic guitar with bitter-sweet vocals that have none of the affected toughness of some of her male counterparts.” For more info, visit www.samanthafish.com.
Early in her career, EG Kight was dubbed “The Georgia Songbird,” and today she is celebrated as a major blues vocalist. With her rich voice and a mastery of the guitar that has her holding her own next to any other player, Kight mesmerizes audiences of all ages, both as a solo and with her band. Kight’s musical style—a blend of Americana, southern rock, blues, pop, jazz, gospel and funk—transcends musical boundaries and has been called “country-flavored southern-fried blues.” A veteran of the road, Kight headlines at clubs, theaters and festivals across America and in Europe, has worked with B. B. King and appeared on NPR’s “A Prairie Home Companion.” She was nominated for two 2012 Blues Blast awards, and has had six Blues Music Awards nominations, twice for Song of the Year. Her songs have landed on two of Koko Taylor’s Grammy-nominated albums, and on two blues compilations that maintained Billboard chart positions for over a year. Other artists who have recorded Kight’s songs include the legendary Dorothy Moore, Shakura S’Aida, and the late Ann Rabson. Kight’s songwriting savvy has led her to teach songwriting workshops in Italy and Germany. For more info, visit www.egkight.com.
Doug Deming and the Jewel Tones with Dennis Gruenling
Traditional blues, West Coast and Texas Swing, early rock, country and roots music; Doug Deming & The Jewel Tones runs the gamut and brings it all together while consistently delivering originality. Deming’s swinging jump blues style has earned him great respect in the blues world, where he has backed such notables as Chicago Pete, Johnnie Dyer and the legendary Lazy Lester. Deming is joined by award-winning blues harmonica player Dennis Gruenling, hailed as “one of the baddest, swingingest, most innovative harmonica blowers on the planet.” Deming is the recipient of the 2013 Blues Blast Music Awards Sean Costello Rising Star award. For more info, visit www.dougdeming.com and www.dennisgruenling.com.
Dave Muskett is a sophisticated finger-style blues guitarist, serving classic masters such as Doc Watson, Fury Lewis, and Robert Johnson, along with contemporary giants, including Taj Mahal, Roy Bookbinder, and Chris Smither.
Muskett’s original songs range from fun, up-tempo numbers to pieces with moody and soulful overtones that put the listener in mind of the deep and dark origins of the blues. Piedmont, rag time, traditional and country-blues all blend and fuse to form the refined composite that is the sound of Dave Muskett. For more info, visit www.muskettmusic.com.
About Realize Bradenton
Realize Bradenton is a non-profit organization that brings people together to create a vibrant and prosperous Bradenton area. For more information, visit: www.RealizeBradenton.com.