The 3rd Annual Suncoast Blues Festival producers and promoters are busily setting up the myriad and exhausting list of things to do to make this year’s festival bigger and better than ever. The date is set for Fri. Jan. 27th and Sat. Jan. 28th, 2017 to ensure ‘cool blues’ weather and the convenient location is at the Sarasota Fairgrounds.
The fest is being produced by some of the area’s top guns in the blues festival and entertainment industry with a combined 75 years of experience – making sure everything from sound and lighting to bands and vendors is top notch.
Start with: Paul Benjamin, Blues Booking Agent, Founder of the North Atlantic Blues Festival, and Chairman of the Board of the Blues Foundation. Add: Greg Herndon, President and Owner of Mojoe Productions, Inc., an interstate production company that supplies sound, stage and lighting for countless events all over the eastern US. They’re both paid consultants for festivals, and they bring to their mix Roseann Herndon, the ‘anchor,” as Greg calls her, a self professed, diligent, detail-oriented administrator- making sure every little thing comes off without a hitch.
People that attend concerts rarely think about the sound, stage, lights and all that goes into making these festivals a success. With veteran producers, you’re more likely to experience a better show.
“We started planning this year’s event the day after last year’s…people don’t realize what goes on to make this all happen,” Greg said. “We moved the stage back farther this year, in the grassy spot near the trees….we think it’s a nicer ambience.”
“We give 1,000 percent to our attendees, sponsors, vendors, and artists,” Roseann said. “We want to make this an unforgettable, positive experience for all involved.”
Since the crowd has doubled each year since its inception, expect to be close to plenty of blues buddies and to make some more friends at this one.
To Benefit Displaced Children and Families
Not only can you look forward to a great show, you can feel good that part of your ticket purchase or sponsorship will benefit Family Promise. This non-profit organization assists displaced families with minor children in need of housing, counseling, supplies and referrals.
This year alone, there are 1,200 homeless students enrolled in Sarasota County Schools. Families are the fastest growing population of the displaced at an estimated 41% of the homeless population.
Development Director of Family Promise Caroline Chambliss says Family Promise has served more than 10,000 meals and provided 3,200 bed nights to children and families in need during the past 10 years. The proceeds from this event will make a substantial impact on serving more families and children.
When they received the word they’d be the recipient of the proceeds from the Suncoast Blues Festival, Caroline said,
“We were thrilled! We’ve never been the recipient of this large of an organization that has this kind of visibility. I’ve been listening to a lot of blues, from as far back to Bessie Smith to today’s artists and so much of blues involves poverty and homelessness…this is such a good fit!”
The Band Line Up
Drumroll, please…Expect the most diverse and talented line up of TRUE BLUES national acts you’ve seen yet as this year’s performers rock the stage.
“We wanted to give people the opportunity to see national acts they otherwise wouldn’t catch …and we’ve piled up a bunch on one bill – Yee Haw!” Greg said.
You won’t want to miss on Friday: Balkun Brothers, Jordan Patterson and Chris Duarte. Saturday: Tommy Z, Charles Wilson, Annika Chambers, Studebaker John, Carl Weathersby and Selwyn Birchwood! You can listen to and learn more about these super stars on the event’s website at www.suncoastbluesfestival.com.
Insider’s Tip: Both Friday and Saturday shows will feature a jam with all of the performers at the end of the evening – something truly unique to Suncoast’s format and a spectacular, crowd-pleasing grand finale.
There’s still time to sign up as a sponsor for this important charity event but time is of the essence. So far, the Suncoast Blues Festival and community have been blessed with the support of: TextMaxx Pro– the presenting sponsor, offering text message solutions for businesses to reach consumers.
According to a spokesperson at TextMaxx Pro, “We appreciate the opportunity to be headquartered in such a strong community. As we grow we want to support the events and groups that make up the fabric of Sarasota and Manatee Counties. The Suncoast Blues Fest is one of these events.”
Gettel Toyota, Edward Jones Investments, Absolute Aluminum and Sustainable Building Solutions have also jumped on this blues bandwagon as generous supporters thus far. Give these folks a round of applause and join them in the cause.
Legendary blues guitarist Brownie McGhee once said, “The blues is life.”
Blues music has been at the core of American music since the early 20th Century and it’s been revived, expanded, and incorporated as a basis, many blues artists will attest, to everything from rock ‘n roll and jazz to heavy metal, rap and country.
Today it’s still being picked on the front porches of broken-down country shacks, but it’s just as frequently fired up loud and proud in front of stadiums packed full of all ages of enthusiasts (millenials are starting to catch on I’m told). In either case, the blues remain a genre that reflects hard times, strife, love and more but the artists take that, shake it up, and slam it back in a way that shows strength and perseverance.
The producers and supporters of this show, along with the artists, are proud to be a part of this soulful blues event that is helping our most vulnerable population, and maybe even a few folks in the crowd, rise above some difficult challenges. Please be a part of it all. It’ll touch your soul and raise your spirits.
Times, Dates and Things to Know
Last year’s food vendors are all coming back. That’s a testament to success. There will be plenty of food, beer, beverages and a wide variety of shopping booths for your enjoyment. If you’d like to be a vendor, please call the office at (941) 758-7585.
Oct. 31, 2016: Tickets and Discount Deadline
The Early Bird Catches the Blues! You have until Halloween to purchase your general admission ticket at an incredibly low price of $30 for BOTH DAYS! Smart folks will take advantage of this and have extra cash to spend on food and beer and souvenirs. Tickets to this date are online only and can be purchased at suncoastbluesfestival.com. Businesses carrying tickets will be announced in the near future.
Daily Tickets are: Friday, $15 advance, $20 gate.
Saturday $25 advance, $30 gate.
Two Day Passes, $35 advance, $45 gate.
Reserved Seats Two Day Passes only, $60 in advance.
Friday, Jan. 27 6 to 10 pm (gates open 5 pm)- Balkun Brothers, Jordan Patterson and Chris Duarte.
Saturday, Jan. 28, noon to 9 p.m (gates open 11 am): Tommy Z, Charles Wilson, Annika Chambers, Studebaker John, Carl Weathersby and Selwyn Birchwood.
After Parties: The 5’O Clock Club at 1930 Hillview, Sarasota and Aces Live at 4343 Palma Sola Blvd. off Cortez Road West in Bradenton are the places to be after the concerts. Bands are to be announced, but word has it that the Blues Fest musicians often pop in to these shows for an up close and personal experience.
Camping: RV sites are available for $40 and includes water, 30-amp power and dump stations. Tent camping is $25. Restroom facilities are available but do not include showers.
For More Information
If you have questions about sponsorship, being a vendor, or tickets, call: (941) 758-7585. Visit www.suncoastbluesfestival.com for up-to-the-minute information. And also check back at www.sarasotapost.com for updated news on the blues fest and more.
photos by Rock the Lens Photography and Bosk Photography