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Clearwater Sea-Blues Festival takes over Coachman Park
Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Coco Montoya headline annual event
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Kenny Wayne Shepherd
CLEARWATER – The Clearwater Sea-Blues Festival is Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 16-17, at Coachman Park, 301 Drew St.

This year’s festival headliners include Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Coco Montoya.

While enjoying great live performances, attendees also have an opportunity to experience Gulf Coast cuisine as vendors dish up jumbo shrimp, crab cakes, oysters and crawfish and gumbo.

Saturday’s lineup will include performances by the Shepherd, Magic Slim, The Lee Boys and Hamilton Loomis. Gates will open at noon.

Sunday’s lineup will feature performances by Montoya, Ruthie Foster, Moreland and Arbuckle and Trampled Under Foot. Gates will open at 1 p.m.


Since the mid-1990s Kenny Wayne Shepherd has been selling millions of albums, charting singles in the Top 10, shining a light on the rich blues of the past and forging ahead with his own modern twist on a classic sound.

At age 7, he met the iconic Stevie Ray Vaughan. He shared the stage with New Orleans legend Bryan Lee at 13. As an adult, he continues to create genre-defining blues-infused rock n' roll.

The Louisiana born axeman and songsmith came to prominence in his early 20s when he wrote and recorded “Blue on Black” for the album “Trouble Is …” The song was No. 1 on the Rock Charts for 17 consecutive weeks.

“Trouble Is …” was actually a follow-up to Shepherd’s debut album, “Ledbetter Heights,” released in 1995. Released when he was 17 years old, the album was an immediate hit, selling more than 500,000 copies by early 1996. “Ledbetter Heights” spent 20 weeks topping Billboard's blues chart.

According to the artist’s website, Shepherd's most recent album – “How I Go,” released in 2011 – pairs his deeply soulful and impassioned takes on classic material like Bessie Smith's "Backwater Blues," Albert King's "Oh, Pretty Woman" and The Beatles "Yer Blues" with some of the strongest original writing and co-writing of his career thus far.

"At this point, most people who know about me know I can play guitar," Shepherd says on his website. "As far as my approach to guitar on this record, it's not about showing people how much I can play. It’s about really choosing the right notes and playing them at the right times so that every note penetrates people, and they feel it inside and it’s not just some fleeting thing that just goes right by them.”

According to his bio at Ruf Records, Coco Montoya's explosive guitar playing and soul-driven voice have propelled him to the upper reaches of the blues-rock world.

Over the course of his 30-year career, the guitarist and vocalist has forged his reputation through years of hard work and constant touring.

From his early days as a drummer to his current status as one of the top-drawing guitarists and vocalists on the blues-rock scene, Montoya plays with an emotional intensity few string benders possess. Mentored by legendary bluesman Albert Collins, he plays left-handed and up side down in the style of Albert King and Jimi Hendrix.

Montoya got his start following a chance meeting in the mid-1970s with Collins, who offered Montoya a gig as his drummer. Collins is said to have taken an immediate liking to Montoya, becoming his mentor and teaching his new protégé secrets of the Collins "icy hot" style of blues guitar.

"Albert was very much a father," said Montoya in a press release promoting his most recent album. “The gifts I've received from him were soul, compassion, faith in myself, faith in the music, and how to continue on. Albert taught me blues about playing from your heart. It's a music that you can't chart. If your heart's there, it's real. That's what keeps the blues going. Fads come and go, but the blues always stays."

Five years went by before John Mayall happened to catch Montoya at a jam session. Mayall was reportedly impressed and invited Montoya to join his band, John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers. That job lasted a decade.

In 1993, Montoya stepped out on his own as a bandleader. He has a number of solo albums to his credit, including his most recent, “I Want It All Back,” released in 2010. “I Want It All Back,” Montoya’s seventh solo album, was produced by Keb' Mo' and Jeff Paris, who play on the entire album.

Event information

Coolers, food and drink will not be admitted into the park. One sealed bottle of water per person is allowed. Chairs and blankets also are permitted. There also will be chair rentals at the venue.

Pets are not allowed. Assistance animals are permitted. Personal umbrellas are allowed; however, beach umbrellas, sunshades, tents and canopies will not be permitted.

General admission is free. There is limited reserved seating available for purchase. Visit www.c­learw­aters­eablu­­m.
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