Thursday, October 17, 2013

Party celebrates second annual Bradenton Blues Festival

    The second annual Bradenton Blues Festival is still about seven weeks away, but music lovers and community leaders gathered at Tarpon Pointe Grill Thursday evening to celebrate its pending arrival.
GrandPre's original artwork
   Officially, the event was the Bradenton Blues Festival VIP Sponsor Party. Bankers, business leaders and blues fans buzzed about how great the inaugural event was and how much better it's going to be this year.
   "They did an incredible job last year," said Tom Carter, president of the Suncoast Blues Society. "And it's going to be even more incredible this year. The lineup is just fantastic."
   This year's blues festival is set for Dec. 7 on the Riverwalk. Headliners include Shemekia Copeland and Trampled Underfoot.
   "It's one of the best, most organized events I've ever been to," said Bill Cornelius, one of the owners of the Blue Rooster in Sarasota. "All the artists were real blues artists and the setting was absolutely beautiful."
   Cornelius has lived in Sarasota for about three years and said he discovered Bradenton through the blues festival last year. Now he's gearing up to open a brewery in Bradenton.
   One of the centerpieces of the party was the unveiling of the original artwork for this year's festival. It was created by Mary GrandPre, who's best known for illustrating the Harry Potter books.
Isham, Jack Sullivan of Blues Music
 magazine, Strauss

  The painting, which retains a similar central image from last year's artwork but with a different color palette, is bring auctioned off. Johnette Isham, the executive director of Realize Bradenton, the organizer of the blues festival, started the bidding at $1,500.
   "It's worth $30,000," she said.
   Probably no one in the area has more experience staging blues festivals than Barbara Strauss, the founder of the erstwhile Sarasota Blues Festival. She came to the party to show her support for Bradenton's festival.
   "When I show up for something it means I really want to support it," she said. "I think what they did was absolutely brilliant, fantastic. They brought the community together."
   You can order tickets and get more information about the Bradenton Blues Festival at


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