A large stage has been erected for the Blues Festival which is to be held Saturday in the pavilion area of Bradenton’s Riverwalk. TIFFANY TOMPKINS-CONDIE/Bradenton Herald TTOMPKINS@BRADENTON.COM
The wait is over.
The inaugural Bradenton Blues Festival is today at the centrally located pavilion and event area of Manatee County's most popular new destination spot Riverwalk.
Grammy Award nominee Ruthie Foster headlines a first-rate lineup that includes Louisiana Music Hall of Fame inductee Kenny Neal and super group Southern Hospitality, which is led by Bradenton Beach resident Damon Fowler.
Dave “Biscuit” Miller, Johnny Sansone, Homemade Jamz, the Steve Arvey Horn Band with Henry Lawrence also a pair of local favorites and Ben Prestage round out the lineup.
In addition to the live music along the Manatee River, there will be an array of food, drink and art vendors.
Attendees are asked to bring a non-perishable food item or canned good to the Blues Appetizer and Bradenton Blues Festival to help donate food items to Meals on Wheels of Manatee County.
After the Bradenton Blues Festival ends at 8 p.m. today there's the official after party featuring acclaimed Tampa blues man Sean Chambers at Tarpon Pointe Grille & Tiki Bar, the popular eastern anchor of Riverwalk that celebrated its first anniversary in July.
"Sean Chambers has invited all the festival performers to sit in with him," said Jack Sullivan, operations officer of Blues Revue magazine and the co-founder of the Bradenton Blues Festival. "I'm sure there's going to be a great jam."
Also, Old Main Street will be closed today between Manatee and Third Avenues for the Farmers Market (8 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and then from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. to accommodate the crowd from the Bradenton Blues Festival.
Bradenton Blues Festival schedule
Steve Arvey Horn Band featuring Henry Lawrence: 11-11:40 a.m.
Bradenton area blues man Steve Arvey has teamed up with local hero Henry Lawrence, the superb soul singer who earned three Super Bowl rings and made two Pro Bowl appearances while playing with the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders.
Homemade Jamz: 11:55 a.m.-12:55 p.m.
Ryan, Kyle and Taya Perry are siblings in their teens who play rocking blues.
Southern Hospitality: 1:10-2:10 p.m.
Bradenton Beach resident and Blind Pig Records artist Damon Fowler recently joined forces with fellow Florida guitarist/vocalist JP Soars and Memphis-based keyboardist/singer Victor Wainwright to form one of the most in-demand groups on the blues festival circuit. See accompanying interview with Fowler.
Johnny Sansone: 2:25-3:25 p.m.
The New Orleans-based harmonica player and vocalist offers plenty of emotional punch as a performer while also excelling as a songwriter.
Dave “Biscuit” Miller: 3:40-4:40 p.m.
A superbly funky bassist and outstanding showman , Miller has become a favorite at Aces Live in Bradenton with songs ranging from the funky double entendre “Butter My Biscuits” to the somber, soulful “Never Seen it Coming.”
Kenny Neal: 4:55-6:05
Baton Rouge swamp blues master has been elating audiences since the 1970s with his explosive guitar licks, hot harp and potent vocals.
Ruthie Foster: 6:20-7:35
Grammy Award nominate singer’s latest album “Let it Burn” finds Foster putting her own glorious vocal stamp on songs ranging from the Johnny Cash classic “Ring of Fire” to Adele’s recent smash “Set Fire to the Rain.” Read my interview with Foster.
Ben Prestage: performs between acts
One-man-band who grew up near the Everglades sings, plays finger-style guitar, harmonica, banjo, lap-steel, fiddle, resonator guitar and foot-drums.
Details: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 1, Bradenton Riverwalk, 425 Third Ave. W., Bradenton. Tickets: $30. Information: 941-681-0708 or www.bradentonbluesfestival.org.
—Bradenton Blues Festival poster (below) by 'Harry Potter' illustrator Mary GrandPré provided by Realize Bradenton.