The Bradenton Blues Festival weekend returns to downtown Bradenton, bringing three days of events and live music from celebrated blues musicians, Dec. 4–6, 2020. Kicking off the blues weekend is the “Blues Appetizer” Concert, a free community performance on Friday, Dec. 4; followed by the Bradenton Blues Festival, Saturday, Dec. 5; and wrapping up the weekend is the Bradenton Blues Brunch, Sunday, Dec. 6.
“This will be another banner year for the Bradenton Blues Festival,” said Holly Eisemann, Events and Creative Services Manager for Realize Bradenton, the nonprofit that produces the annual event. “The festival has become renowned on the national and international blues circuit as a premier, sellout event—and our box office numbers support that. We have already sold over 15 percent of our General Admission tickets and over 50 percent of our Reserved Front of Stage seats, even before announcing the lineup. We’re projecting to be sold out earlier than ever.” Eisemann adds that individuals and groups travel from across the country and the globe to attend, filling hotels, visiting local businesses, and exploring the unique assets of downtown Bradenton and Manatee County.
Musicians of national and international acclaim will take the stage on Saturday, including three-time Grammy Nominated Billy Branch & the Sons of Blues; internationally touring Marquise Knox; master guitarist and legendary American bluesman Lucky Peterson; Muddy Water’s eldest son and Living Blues Album of the Year award winner Mud Morganfield; Blues Music Award and Living Blues Critics Award winner Selwyn Birchwood; International Blues Challenge and Black Music Award for Best Female Blues Artist winner Terrie Odabi; and 2019 MAMAs Hall of Fame-Blues Band Award winner The Jimmys.
“We bring a variety of talented and award-winning musicians to the Bradenton Blues Festival stage every year,” said Paul Benjamin, festival artistic director and International Blues Foundation chair. “The outstanding lineup this year is guaranteed to please nearly every blues fan and live-music supporter. Besides the spectacular music, you can’t beat the well-run experience of this premier, annual event on the award-winning Bradenton Riverwalk.”
The Bradenton Blues Festival is more than just a weekend event. Realize Bradenton, the nonprofit that produces the annual festival, uses proceeds from ticket and merchandise sales to produce youth, art, and music education initiatives that are free to the community, including “Blues in the Schools” program.
“Attendees are giving back to the community just by purchasing a ticket to attend the Bradenton Blues Festival,” explained Johnette Isham, executive director of Realize Bradenton. “Festival attendees are thrilled to know that our ‘Blues in the Schools’ program has educated nearly 4,500 students about the history of blues music in the United States and the profession of a musician.”
“Blues in the Schools” takes place Friday, Dec. 4, when Marquise Knox visits Manatee High School to perform and discuss his experience as a young musician with students. 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 Bradenton Blues Festival ticket sales.
More than 50 sponsors from the 2019 event have already pledged their support to the 2020 Bradenton Blues Festival. “Nearly every organization and business that supported the festival last year wanted to be part of it again. They recognize that Bradenton buzzes with the blues every December and that means big business for our area,” says Isham, adding that BMO Harris Bank is the festival’s Presenting Sponsor for the ninth year in a row.
The free “Blues Appetizer” Concert, presented by Mojoe Productions, Inc., is Friday, Dec. 4, 2020, on the Bradenton Riverwalk, and features soulful powerhouse Crystal Shawanda Band, and talented singer and multi-instrumentalist Tullie Brae Band. Food and drinks will be available for purchase starting at 5 p.m. Tickets are not required for this community concert. Music begins at 6 p.m. and ends at 9 p.m.
The Bradenton Blues Festival, presented by BMO Harris Bank, is Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, on the Bradenton Riverwalk. Gates open at 10 a.m. Music starts at 11 a.m. and ends at 8 p.m. Festival tickets are available online for $45 for adults; $20 for students; and $10 for children, ages 5–12. Children ages four and under are free. Reserved front-of-stage seats are available for $125 per person. Advanced ticket sales are available online at BradentonBluesFestival.org. General Admission tickets may also be purchased in-person at The Rusty Crickett, 1304 6th Ave W, in downtown Bradenton. Each online ticket purchase includes a one-year bonus subscription of Blues Music Magazine, a $12.95 value. Blues Music Magazine is delivered in January, April, July, and October each year.
The Bradenton Blues Brunch is Sunday, Dec. 6. Hosted by Mattison’s Riverwalk Grille Downtown Bradenton, featuring Damon Fowler and Greg Poulos. Check-in begins at 10:30 a.m. A limited number of tickets are available for $55 and include a three-course meal created by award-winning Chef Paul Mattison. Tickets may be purchased online at BradentonBluesFestival.org. The Bradenton Blues Brunch is produced by Mattison’s Riverwalk Grille Downtown Bradenton.
About Realize Bradenton
Realize Bradenton is a nonprofit organization that transforms public places and engages people using arts, culture, heritage, and food to build a vibrant, healthy Bradenton. Bringing people together, our work results in social, physical, and economic revitalization and shapes a community where people want to contribute, live, work, and visit. For more information visit: RealizeBradenton.com.
About the Bradenton Blues Festival
Produced by Realize Bradenton, the Bradenton Blues Festival is a weekend concert featuring top blues musicians on the award-winning Riverwalk in downtown Bradenton. Proceeds from the Bradenton Blues Festival support Realize Bradenton’s youth, art, and music programs that are free to the community, including the “Blues in the Schools” education program.
Photos from Realize Bradenton