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Music & Concerts
Sunshine Music & Blues Festival
Tedeschi Trucks Band returns as headliner
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Photo courtesy of ENTOURAGE TALENT ASSOCIATES
Tedeschi Trucks Band headlines this year’s Sunshine Music and Blues Festival, set for Jan. 19 at Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg.
ST. PETERSBURG – The second annual Sunshine Music and Blues Festival is Sunday, Jan. 19, 11:30 a.m., at Vinoy Park, 701 Bayshore Drive, St. Petersburg.

This year the festival headliner will be the Tedeschi Trucks Band. The lineup also features performances by JJ Grey, Galactic, Leon Russell, Acoustic Hot Tuna, Stanley Clarke, The Ringers featuring Jimmy Herring, Wayne Krantz, Michael Landau, Keith Carlock and Etienne Mbappe, Bobby Lee Rogers and Oli Brown.

Festival-goers also will be able to purchase craft beers and food. The Vinoy Park event is the second of two dates in Florida. The second annual Sunshine Music and Blues Festival also will be presented Saturday, Jan. 18, at Mizner Park Amphitheatre in Boca Raton.

Tedeschi Trucks Band

While last year was an amazing year for the Tedeschi Trucks Band, or TTB as their loyal prefer to call them, this year has been another strong showing as well.

They have just released their second studio album, “Made Up Mind.” The band’s previous album, “Revelator,” won the Grammy Award for Best Blues Album in 2012. Now, with the release of “Made Up Mind,” there isn’t a shred of doubt that Susan Tedeschi, her husband and creative collaborator, Derek Trucks, and their superb bandmates are on to something – something very big.

For Derek and Susan, TTB’s strength in numbers – the band presently comprises 10 members – virtually guaranteed that a wide range of influences would steer the music to new, previously unexplored places. That diversity is evident throughout “Made Up Mind.”

“I felt that with the personnel in this band, it was just a matter of time before all of these ideas started leaking out,” said Trucks in a press release promoting the Sunshine Music and Blues Festival. “But we had a lot of confidence that it was going to be really good right out of the gate.”

Today, as the result of carefully building it from scratch, Tedeschi Trucks Band is nothing less than one big happy family … a traveling roots music circus of sorts, roving from town to town and pulling out all the stops along the way, never knowing just what will be the highlight of tonight’s show or which band member will be the one to shine in the next moment.

Each member of TTB is a strong enough force to be a bandleader in his own right, but the chemical reaction that takes place when they all come together results in a mighty sound that’s even greater than the sum of its considerable parts.

JJ Grey

Singer-songwriter and musician JJ Grey – leader of JJ Grey & Mofro – will give a special solo performance at the Sunshine Music and Blues Festival.

Grey's latest release with his band Mofro is “This River.” This is Grey's seventh album – his fifth for Alligator Records – and his first studio album since 2010's acclaimed “Georgia Warhorse.”

“This River,” like his previous releases, was produced by Grey and Dan Prothero, and recorded at Retrophonics Studio in St. Augustine, with additional recording done in Grey's home studio, known as The Egg Room.

As proven by his previous albums, Grey is a meticulous storyteller.

"Many of the new songs are about being your own worst enemy, and about normal folks pushing themselves over the edge,” Grey said in a press release from Alligator Records.

Grey's lyrics and slice-of-life scenarios are filled with honest detail, helping to bring his emotionally complex characters to life in songs such as “Somebody Else,” “99 Shades Of Crazy,” “The Ballad Of Larry Webb” and “This River.”

"I see a little bit of myself in these songs," Grey said. “The difference is in the choices people make."

His gritty vocals and punchy horn arrangements add even more depth to the lyrical album. Grey's fervent delivery and the expert musicianship of the band pull the listener deep inside each track, making This River a deeply moving and engaging musical statement.

"I took my time and I'm happy for it," said Grey.

JJ Grey is from Jacksonville. He made his recording debut in 2001 with “Blackwater,” following up in 2004 with “Lochloosa.” In 2007, Grey released his Alligator debut, “Country Ghetto,” followed by 2008's “Orange Blossoms.” With the release of 2010's “Georgia Warhorse,” Grey stepped further into the mainstream view with the AAA radio breakout single “The Sweetest Thing.”

In 2011 the full fury of the band's live show was captured on the live CD/DVD “Brighter Days.”

From his early days playing cover music behind chicken wire at a Jacksonville juke joint to playing sold-out shows and some of the largest music festivals in the world, it's been a long road. But Grey has no illusions about where he's headed or where he's been. When prompted with questions about his past accomplishments or future plans, he lays down a little backwoods wisdom:

"I'm just a salmon swimming upstream,” Grey said. “Going back home, I reckon. I don't know why and I quit caring why a long time ago. I guess there is no 'why' that my mind could understand anyway. All I do know is that I've enjoyed and I'm still enjoying every second of just being here and doing whatever it is I'm doing."

More blues on the bill

Also appearing at this year’s festival are New Orleans’ favorites Galactic, legendary Leon Russell, the great acoustic blues of Hot Tuna with Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady; the incredible jazz bassist Stanley Clarke, guitar virtuoso Bobby Lee Rogers and British blues guitarist and singer Oli Brown as well as The Ringers.

Jimmy Herring, Wayne Krantz, Michael Landau, Gary Novak and Etienne Mbappe will join forces as The Ringers to perform at the festival.

The Ringers first debuted in early 2013 for a very exclusive tour on the east coast. The tour proved quite fulfilling for the iconic five-some, bringing together their varied backgrounds of rock, funk, jazz, blues and African styles.

The original concept behind The Ringers was to bring five guys together, not to just perform as a super-group, but to work “as a unifying artistic force, one where people put music ahead of their egos to collectively create great music.”

These five veteran musicians will perform together on new Ringers material written exclusively for this band, as well as each individual’s solo material, covers tunes chosen by the players and brand new tunes each artist will debut for the live audience. The Ringers are also planning to record an album of originals, for release in 2014.

Jimmy Herring, as the founding member of The Aquarium Rescue Unit, Project Z and Jazz is Dead, in addition to playing with everyone from The Allman Brothers Band, The Grateful Dead to Phil Lesh and Friends, and Béla Fleck, has made his indelible impact on the music world. He currently serves as the lead guitarist for the very popular American band Widespread Panic and released his second solo album, “Subject To Change Without Notice,” last year.

Wayne Krantz released his tenth album, “Howie 61,” last year to glowing critical praise. Krantz has played with Randy Brecker, Leni Stern and Steely Dan, among others.

Musician and composer Michael Landau is a prolific session guitarist and performer who has played on hundreds of records since the 1980s, some session highlights include: Pink Floyd, Miles Davis, B.B. King, Ray Charles, Joni Mitchell and James Taylor. He has toured with Robben Ford, the Steve Gadd Band, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and his own project The Michael Landau Group.

Bass player Etienne Mbappe, is best known for his years with the Zawinul Syndicate. In the ’80s, he was the masterpiece of the jazz fusion band Ultramarine which incorporated jazz with elements of African and Caribbean influences. He also played with Ray Charles on his last album and is currently a member of John McLaughlin’s 4th Dimension.

Gary Novak, an amazing drummer, began his career at the young age of 10, playing in his famous pianist father’s trio in Chicago. Novak has recorded and/or toured with such musical luminaries as Chick Corea, Alanis Morrisette, Allan Holdsworth, Andrew WK, Michael McDonald, Natalie Cole, David Sanborn, George Benson and Anita Baker along with many more.

Galactic was formed 18 years ago in New Orleans, and they cut their teeth playing the biggest party in America: Mardi Gras, when the town shuts down entirely to celebrate.

Galactic is a collaborative band with a unique format. It’s a stable quintet that plays together with high musicianship. Though the band hasn’t had a lead singer for years, it is not purely an instrumental group. Galactic is part of a diverse community of musicians, and in their own studio they have the luxury of experimenting. So on their albums, they do something that’s unusual in rock but not so controversial an idea in, say, hiphop: they create something that’s a little like a revue, a virtual show featuring different vocalists (mostly from New Orleans) and instrumental soloists each taking their turn on stage in the Galactic sound universe.

Leon Russell is a music legend and perhaps the most accomplished and versatile musician in the history of rock ‘n roll. In his distinguished and unique 50 year career, he has played on, arranged, written and/or produced some of the best records in popular music.

Tickets start at $49.50. For tickets, call 800-745-3000 or visit www.livenation.com. For information, visit www.sunshinemusicandblues.com.
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