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Dunedin fest offers fine wine, hot blues
Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers headline the 22nd annual Dunedin Wines the Blues Festival
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Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers headline the 22nd annual Dunedin Wines the Blues Festival.
DUNEDIN – The Downtown Dunedin Merchants Association and the city of Dunedin host the 22nd annual Dunedin Wines the Blues Festival and Event Saturday, Nov. 9, 5 to 11 p.m., in downtown Dunedin on Main Street between Louden Avenue and Broadway.

This signature event for Dunedin is an upscale festival combining top-notch blues music from all over the country with wine from all over the world. Wine tastings will be offered from more than two-dozen vineyards spanning many varieties. Music will be performed on the main stage at Pioneer Park.

This year’s event will include performances by T.C. Carr, Lauren Mitchel Band and Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers. Admission is free. Beer, wine, food and souvenirs will be available for purchase. Visit www.d­unedi­nwine­stheb­lues.­info.

According to the festival website, the inaugural Dunedin Wines the Blues event took place in November of 1992. Organizers were looking for a new way to promote the downtown area and its merchants. The event was the brainchild of Gregory Brady from Gregory’s Salon, Bob Moore from the original 1477 Lounge and Kathy Carlson and Virgil from Kelly’s Chic a Boom Room & Restaurant. At that time, the newly formed Downtown Merchants Association was seeking an event in the fall to complement its successful Mardi gras.

From its humble beginnings, the festival blossomed into a major annual event.

Blues on tap

Kicking off the lineup will be Florida native T.C. Carr. He will hit the stage at 5 p.m.

Carr has earned a reputation as one of the premier harmonica players in the United States and Europe. The singer/songwriter boasts strong lead vocals and unique harp work. Carr plays a solid mix of rock, soul, backstreet blues, country and bluegrass. He’s shared the stage with performers such as Big Jack Johnson, Bo Diddley, Bob Margolin, Bruce Hornsby, Charlie Daniels, Diamond Teeth Mary, Dickey Betts, Gregg Allman, Jimmy Buffett and the Marshall Tucker Band.

The Lauren Mitchell Band takes the stage at 7 p.m.

From her roots singing in the churches of Ohio, to the southern blues and rock scene throughout Florida, Mitchell has honed her craft by singing her heart out in hundreds of honkytonks and blues halls along the way.

Currently based in central Florida, Mitchell and her band have been performing on the big stages throughout the South, the Midwest and the East Coast.

Mitchell is known for a “voice that growls and soothes, and with the looks and attitude that says you better stop and listen,” according to her biography. She serves up “full-throttle, all-or-nothing, take-no-prisoners, leave-it-all-on-the-stage performances.”

Mitchell has shared the stage with artists such as Devon Allman, Jason Ricci and New Blood, Damon Fowler, and Freddie Salem from the notorious Outlaws.

Festival headliner Jimmy Thackery will launch into his set at 9 p.m.

Though most associate Thackery with his 15 years as the co-founder of the Nighthawks, he ended his time with them in 1987. Since then, he has been on the road as a solo musician, booking almost 300 shows a year. At each performance, he proves that he is still the top guitar powerhouse in the blues.

Thackery spent time on stage with Muddy Waters, an experience that is branded deep within his musical soul.

“Muddy was one of those guys who was constantly encouraging,” Thackery says in his biography. “He never told you what to do, but he always told you what you were doing wrong. He never minced words about that.

“The first time on stage with Muddy, I was in such awe of him that I just kept my eyes and ears open and just picked up on everything he did. It was the dynamics they had that became so ingrained in us. We heard it on the records and then stood on stage and saw how it worked.”

Whenever Thackery plays live, a guitar stand props up four guitars and Thackery will announce to the audience, I’m gonna use all of them tonight.”

Since the early 1990s, Thackery has recorded more than a dozen albums, beginning with his first solo record, “Empty Arms Motel,” which was released in 1992.

“That one still seems to be the favorite of a lot of people,” Thackery says.

Festival wine list

The annual Dunedin Wines The Blues Festival brings thousands of people from all over the Tampa Bay area to enjoy performances by some of the best blues musicians in the country – but don’t forget about the wine.

Attendees have an opportunity to taste some great wine provided through area distributors. According to the event website, this year the festival plans to offer the following quality wines:

Riesling – Germany; Pinot Grigio – Italy; Chardonnay – California; Sauvignon Blanc – New Zealand; Chenin Blanc/Viognier – California; Malbec – Argentina; Carmenere – Chile; Pinot Noir – California; Cabernet – California; Red Zinfandel – California; Merlot – Chile.

To buy wine or beer at the event, attendees must show photo identification.

Kick-off party

The day before the Dunedin Wines the Blues Festival, the Suncoast Blues Society will host a kick-off party set for Friday, Nov. 8, 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., on the Pioneer Park stage.

Attendees will enjoy a smoking hot blues jam. Wine and beer will be available for purchase at a tent in Pioneer Park on the corner of Main Street and Douglas Avenue. There also will be tents with art, craft displays, vendors and special wine promotions.
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