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Blues and Brews coming to Palm Harbor
Plenty of music and craft beer are set for the third annual festival
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The third annual Old Palm Harbor Blues and Brews Festival is March 2 in historic downtown Palm Harbor along Florida Avenue.
Photo courtesy of LIZ MANDEVILLE
Liz Mandeville and The Blue Points will perform Saturday, March 2 during the third annual Old Palm Harbor Blues and Brews Festival along Florida Avenue.
PALM HARBOR – Women singing the blues and a craft beer garden will be on tap for the third annual Old Palm Harbor Blues and Brews Festival March 2 in historic downtown Palm Harbor along Florida Avenue.

The event features local and national recording blues artists and plenty of brew.

Old Palm Harbor Main Street is presenting local female bands – Ellie Lee and Blues Fury and The Lauren Mitchell Band – along with Chicago-based Liz Mandeville and The Blue Points. The bands will perform live on stage at Omaha Circle. The event runs from 3 to 10 p.m.

Mandeville started her career in 1983 in Chicago’s north side. In 2011, she won the Blues Challenge sponsored by the Windy City Blues Society. She has written and produced over 80 original songs resulting in five critically-acclaimed CDs. Her latest CD, “Clarksdale,” was released in 2012. Mandeville is currently working on new songs for an upcoming performance April 13 at the Rock and Blues Museum in Clarksdale, Miss.

“I write almost all my own material,” Mandeville said. “I find the creative song writing process is a lot like the Mississippi … like a river, there are always surprises and it’s always changing.”

Ellie Lee is a guitarist, singer and songwriter whose guitar virtuosity has been compared to Carlos Santana and Jimi Hendrix. Lee presents an eclectic mix of old, new and original tunes, which focus on variety, energy and dynamics.

The Lauren Mitchell Band performs a mix of soul, jazz and rock favorites. This band has numerous dates in February and March at several local mainstays such as The Ringside Cafe and Ocean Blues. The band recently released its first debut album titled “Please Come Home.”

Along with the live music, visitors can enjoy special-made brews from the craft beer garden. A variety of craft beers will be provided by J.J. Taylor Distributing Florida Inc. A selection of 20 different craft beers will be provided by 10 different craft beer vendors.

Deborah Thomas, executive director of old Palm Harbor Main Street, said visitors can sample craft beers first instead of buying one large beer and not liking it.

“We have 5-ounce sampling cups,” she said. “You can buy five tickets for $20 and sample five different craft beers.”

Up to 33 artisan and craft vendors will be intermixed with beer vendors including categories in jewelry and glass. Vendor booth fees are $75.

Fireside Pizza Cafe, a neighborhood eatery, will cook pizza and chicken wings on a portable oven. Barbecue pulled pork, ribs and chicken will be available along with collard greens, beans and coleslaw. Holy Kettle Corn will roast cinnamon almonds, pecans and cashews. Wine, lemonade, soda and water also will be served.

The festival’s major sponsors are Abita, Bright House Networks, North Pinellas Regional Chamber of Commerce, Skippers, Suncoast Blues Society, Tampa Bay Times and The Fran Haasch Law Group.

Proceeds from the festival will benefit the Old Palm Harbor’s streetlight fund. Thomas said the cost for noisy portable lighting packs for the festival run about $1,500. Future plans include the installation of permanent colonial-type lighting along Main Street.

Last year’s festival was held in the Rheba Sutton White Chapel Harbor Hall parking lot and in an empty lot across the street.

“This year’s event is being moved to Florida Avenue to try and make it bigger and better,” Thomas said.
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