BRADENTON, Fla. — The Bradenton Blues Festival weekend returns to downtown Bradenton, bringing three days of events and acclaimed blues musicians, Nov. 30–Dec. 2, 2018. Kicking off the blues weekend is the “Blues Appetizer” Concert, a free event, Friday, Nov. 30; followed by the Bradenton Blues Festival, Saturday, Dec. 1; and wrapping up the weekend is the Blues Brunch, Sunday, Dec. 2. Festival and brunch tickets are available online at www.bradentonbluesfestival.org
“The Bradenton Blues Festival has been at-capacity every year, but last year we sold out earlier than ever, well before Thanksgiving,” says Holly Eisemann, Events and Creative Services Manager for Realize Bradenton, the nonprofit that produces the annual event. “Fans traveled from 33 states and 5 foreign countries to attend in 2017, and we have even more interest this year with over six-hundred individuals signing up to receive an alert when our box office opens.”
Musicians of national and international acclaim will take the stage on Saturday, including seven-time 2018 Blues Music Award nominee, The Welch-Leadbetter Connection; 2016 Blues Music Award Best New Artist Debut winner, Mr. Sipp; 2008 International Blues Challenge runner-up, Shakura S’Aida; four-time W.C. Handy Blues Award nominated artist, Chris Cain; winner of 14 awards in four different countries, Harper and Midwest Kind; 19-year-old, 2015 R&B Hall of Fame Robert Johnson Rising Star Award winner, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram; talented singer, songwriter and musician, Kelley Hunt; and 15-year-old, local blues guitarist and singer-songwriter, Trey Wanvig.
“The lineup this year is spectacular. Each artist brings a different flavor of blues that will delight any live-music fan,” said Paul Benjamin, festival artistic director and International Blues Foundation chairperson. “Realize Bradenton successfully blends talented blues musicians with a premier festival experience that consistently attracts a sellout crowd every year. You can’t beat listening to the blues in December on the Bradenton Riverwalk.”
The Bradenton Blues Festival is more than just a good time; festival ticket-buyers enable Realize Bradenton to offer youth, art, and music education programs that are free to the community, including “Blues in the Schools.”
“To date, our ‘Blues in the Schools’ program has provided a platform to inspire and educate over 3,200 students about the history of blues music in the United States,” said Johnette Isham, executive director of Realize Bradenton. “By purchasing a ticket you enable Realize Bradenton to continue spreading the love of blues music with the next generation of fans and aspiring musicians.”
“Blues in the Schools” takes place Friday, Nov. 30, when 19-year-old Bradenton Blues Festival headliner, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, visits Manatee High School to perform and discuss his experience as a young musician with students. This year, 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 2017 event have already pledged their support to the 2018 Bradenton Blues Festival. “Many of the businesses and organizations that supported the festival last year asked to be part of it again, they recognize that the blues means big business for Bradenton,” says Isham, adding that BMO Harris Bank is the festival’s Presenting Sponsor for the seventh year in a row.
The free “Blues Appetizer” Concert, presented by Mojoe Productions, Inc., is Friday, Nov. 30, 2018, on the Bradenton Riverwalk, and features 2015 and 2016 International Blues Challenge Semi-Finalist, Bridget Kelly Band and local, high-energy favorite, Memphis Rub Band. Gates open at 5 p.m. Tickets are not required for this community concert. Music begins at 6 p.m. and ends at 9 p.m. Food and drink will be available for purchase.
The Bradenton Blues Festival, presented by BMO Harris Bank, is Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, 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 $40 in advance; $50 at the gate (if available); $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 $100 per person. Advanced ticket sales are available online at BradentonBluesFestival.org. General Admission tickets may also be purchased in-person at Keeton’s Office & Art Supply, 817 Manatee Ave. West, in 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. 2, 2018. Hosted by Mattison’s City Grille Bradenton Riverwalk, the event features 2010 Grammy Award nominated Bryan Lee, the “Braille Blues Daddy.” Check in begins at 10:30 a.m. A limited number of tickets are available for $50 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 City Grille Bradenton Riverwalk.
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 the Bradenton Blues Festival