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Music & Concerts
Sunshine Blues Festival features two stages of music
Inaugural event features two stages, smokin’ hot blues performances
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The Tedeschi Trucks Band is the headlines for the inaugural Sunshine Blues Festival in Florida.
ST. PETERSBURG – The inaugural Sunshine Blues Festival comes to St. Petersburg’s Vinoy Park, 701 Bayshore Drive NE., Sunday, Jan. 20, 11 a.m.

The festival will feature two stages and a day of blues music. Entertainment will include performances by Tedeschi Trucks Band, Dr. John, Walter Trout, Sonny Landreth, Joe Louis Walker, Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band, Matt Schofield, The Wood Brothers, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Sean Chambers and Bobby Lee Rodgers.

Tickets are $49.50 and are available online at www.livenation.com, at all TicketMaster outlets or by calling 800-745-3000.

“The Blues is where it all began for modern music in America,” said Neil Jacobsen, president of Live Nation Florida, in a press release. “Putting this show together has been a labor of love and we are very excited to bring a world class blues festival to Florida as an annual event.”

In fact, the Vinoy Park date is the last of three festivals, presented over three consecutive days.

The inaugural Sunshine Blues Festival in Florida makes its official debut Friday, Jan. 18, at Centennial Park in Fort Myers. Then, on Saturday, Jan. 19, it will come to Mizner Park Amphitheater in Boca Raton. Finally, on Jan. 20, the festival wraps up with a full day of smokin’ hot blues performances at Vinoy Park.

Headlining the premiere event will be the Tedeschi Trucks Band.

The Tedeschi Trucks Band had an amazing year in 2012. In February, their album “Revelator” won the Grammy Award for Best Blues Album. Then, in July, they dominated the Blues Music Awards where they won not only Album of the Year, but also took home trophies for Band of the Year, Gibson Guitar Award (Derek Trucks) and Contemporary Blues Female Artist (Susan Tedeschi).

“Revelator” boasts a collection of blues-dipped rockers and heart-stirring ballads in which the echoes of so many great traditions flowed together naturally, blending with an entirely original, modern sensibility. The album broke into the Billboard Top 200 chart at No. 12, bringing both artists to their highest first week sales and charting of their careers. The band’s second album, “Everybody’s Talkin’,” is a double live disc recorded on the band’s fall tour last year. Tedeschi Trucks Band is an 11-member ensemble. In addition to Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, the band includes harmony singers Mike Mattison and Mark Rivers, brothers Oteil Burbridge and Kofi Burbridge, drummers J.J. Johnson and Tyler Greenwell, trumpeter Maurice Brown, tenor saxophonist Kebbi Williams and trombonist Saunders Sermons.

“We are thrilled to be a part of these inaugural festivals in our home state of Florida, and share the stage with some great musicians and friends,” said Truck and Tedeschi in a press release.

More blues on the bill

In addition to Tedeschi Trucks Band, the inaugural bill for the festival will feature performance by a variety of industry legends.

Award-winning guitar slinger, passionate vocalist and gifted songwriter Joe Louis Walker, touring in support of his Alligator Records debut, “Hellfire,” will perform at the event.

Walker has been releasing groundbreaking music since 1986 and has toured – and continues to tour – worldwide. He has won four Blues Music Awards and has been nominated for 48 more. Walker was recently nominated for four 2013 Blues Music Awards, including B.B. King Entertainer Of The Year, Contemporary Blues Album Of The Year for “Hellfire,” Contemporary Blues Male Artist Of The Year and Gibson Guitar Guitarist Of The Year.

Walker also has recorded as a guest with some of the blues world's best-known artists, including appearances on Grammy-winning records by B.B. King and James Cotton. He and his band recently appeared on TBS's “Conan” to perform the song “Ride All Night” from “Hellfire.”

Walker was born in San Francisco in 1949. His parents were both from the South and they brought their love of blues with them when they headed west. His dad played blues piano, and his mom played B.B. King records. Walker picked up the guitar as a child, and by the time he was 16 was regularly backing touring blues artists rolling through town. San Francisco's music scene was quickly becoming a melting pot of blues, jazz and psychedelic rock, and Walker was right in the center of it.

As a 16-year-old, Walker was the house guitarist at San Francisco's famed musical playground, The Matrix, where he played with or opened shows for everyone from Lightnin' Hopkins to Jimi Hendrix to Thelonious Monk. The blues legends Walker accompanied shared not only musical knowledge but also their personal wisdom. Fred McDowell, Ike Turner, Albert King, Freddy King, Robert Jr. Lockwood, Lightnin' Hopkins and many others taught, fed and chastised the youngster.

From 1975 to 1985, Walker performed nothing but gospel music, playing and singing as a member of The Spiritual Corinthians. In 1986, after Walker returned to playing the blues, Hightone Records released his debut CD, “Cold Is The Night.” Firmly rooted in blues, gospel, R&B and rock, the album caught the attention of music fans around the country.

With each subsequent release, Walker's audience continues to grow, as his touring schedule continues to expand. He's played major European festivals, including Northsea Jazz Festival, Glastonbury, Notodden and Montreux, as well as festivals in Japan, Australia, Taiwan, Ireland, Turkey and Brazil.

Mac Rebennack is better known as Dr. John, the living embodiment of the rich musical heritage exclusive to New Orleans.

His roots can be traced back to the 1950s when he wrote and played guitar on some of the greatest records to come out of the famed Crescent City, including recordings by Professor Longhair, Art Neville, Joe Tex and Frankie Ford. Following a gun incident that injured his left ring finger, Dr. John transitioned to organ and piano. By the 1960s, he had relocated to Los Angeles and was making a name for himself as a session musician, playing on records by Sonny and Cher, Van Morrison, Aretha Franklin, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention and The Rolling Stones.

Around the same time, he launched his solo career, developing the charismatic persona of Dr. John The Nite Tripper. Adorned with voodoo charms and regalia, a legend was born with his breakthrough 1968 album “Gris-gris,” which established his unique blend of voodoo mysticism, funk, rhythm and blues, psychedelic rock and Creole roots.

Dr. John’s career highlights include the masterful album “Sun, Moon and Herbs” in 1971 and 1973’s “In The Right Place.” The latter included the chart hits “Right Place Wrong Time” and “Such A Night.”

Dr. John has earned a number of Grammy Award wins and, in March 2011, he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. In 2012, he released a new album “Locked Down,” produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys. Dr. John continues to write, arrange, produce and interpret with a passion that has yet to wane. He continues to dazzle and delight audiences across the globe touring consistently.

American blues guitarist, singer and songwriter Walter Trout still recalls the day in 1965 when his brother brought the first album by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band into his family's New Jersey home. The event set Trout on a musical path: The magic of the twin guitars of Michael Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop, and Butterfield's gut-deep harmonica and vocal performances ensnared him.

Trout's practical schooling in blues started when he arrived in Los Angeles in 1973 and got gigs behind John Lee Hooker, Big Mama Thornton, Finis Tasby, Pee Wee Crayton, Lowell Fulsom, Percy Mayfield and Joe Tex. In 1981, he joined the remaining original members of Canned Heat. Then, beginning in 1984, Trout began his tenure with British blues giant John Mayall. Trout became part of the Bluesbreakers' lineage of great guitarists along with Eric Clapton, Peter Green and Mick Taylor. Sharing six-string duties with Coco Montoya in Mayall's band, Trout helped to create a flexible guitar dynamic that sparked a renaissance for the Bluesbreakers.

In 1989, Trout established his own group, cutting his debut album “Life In the Jungle,” which launched him into the limelight in Europe. In 1998, his eponymous album ensured that he would remain a fixture in the American blues-rock scene for the foreseeable future.

Trout's passionate “Blues for the Modern Daze,” released in 2012, cuts right to the core of his art and his heart. His 21st album returns the contemporary guitar legend to his hard-core blues roots and finds his songwriting at a creative and personal zenith.

Sonny Landreth, an American blues musician from southwest Louisiana, is best known as a slide guitar player.

His influences include Chet Atkins, Robert Johnson, Wes Montgomery, Jimi Hendrix, Elmore James and Ry Cooder. Landreth recently released his 11th album, the evocatively title “Elemental Journey.” The CD is something very different from anything the Louisiana slide wizard has recorded previously. Released on his own Landfall label, the new CD is the artist’s first all-instrumental effort and his most adventurous work to date.

“From day one on the guitar, many genres of music have had an impact on me,” said Landreth in a press release. “For these recordings, I drew from some of those influences that I hadn’t gone to on previous albums with my vocals. Trading off the lyrics this time, I focused solely on the instrumental side and all this music poured out. Then I asked some extraordinary musicians to help me layer the tracks in hopes of inspiring a lot of imagery for the listeners.”

Also highlighting the inaugural bill are Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band; The Wood Brothers, featuring Chris from Modeski, Martin and Wood and his well-known singer/songwriter brother Oliver; award-winning British blues guitarist Matt Schofield; the driving force of urban funk, Big Sam’s Funky Nation; Florida guitar favorite Bobby Lee Rodgers; and the no-frills blend of Chicago, Texas, and Delta blues of guitarist Sean Chambers.

Attendees may bring umbrellas, blankets, low profile lawn chairs and one sealed bottle of water per guest. Personal cameras will be permitted; however, flash photography, video and removable lens cameras are not permitted without venue approval. All small bags, purses, diaper bags and fanny packs will be inspected before they are permitted onto the festival grounds.

Items that will not be permitted at Vinoy Park include weapons of any kind, glass or metal containers, laser pointers, alcoholic beverages, rollerskates/blades, bikes, scooters and skateboards, lawn darts, air horns, megaphones, illegal drugs, narcotics, drug paraphernalia, fireworks or explosives of any kind and carts or tents.

For festival information, visit www.sunshinebluesfestival.com.
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