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When the Sarasota Blues Fest organizers decided to “take the year off” and not do a festival this year, a collective sigh went up in the Sarasota area. The festival had been going for years and really filled a nice void in the music scene with it’s fall timeframe. Most blues fests in the area have been in the spring months when “snowbirds” were plentiful. But as Floridians know, the fall is the best time of year here in Florida and we can always use more things to do.

But luckily another Blues Fest has jumped in to fill the void.

The first Florida Blue Blues and Music Festival, will be Oct. 26 at the Sarasota Fairgrounds. Ed Morrell, of Turnstile, LLC, the St. Petersburg-based company producing the new festival, said he chose acts that would represent a wide range of blues styles.

The headliner will be young blues guitar gunslinger Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Rick Estrin & The Nightcats with special guest Little Charlie, Popa Chubby and Samantha Fish round out the roster for the event.

“It was about creating a total package with all the artists,” Morrell said talking to the Wade Tatangelo of The Harold-Tribune in Sarasota. “Samantha gives us a younger female making her debut and Popa Chubby provides more rocking blues. Rick Estrin & The Nightcats, especially with Little Charlie, are more traditional blues.”

Clearly this lineup will be a change compared to the Sarasota Blues Festival which usually had several local acts on the bill. So far Florida Blue Blues and Music Festival is going national with the acts it has chosen.

“We still have a spot or two we haven’t filled and haven’t eliminated that possibility,” Morrell said of booking a local act. “It’s difficult to pick just one without offending others but it hasn’t been eliminated yet. We are also discussing to actually expand to two stages next year to bring more talent.”

And although the lineup is not as universally respected as past Sarasota Blues Festival headliners such as Buddy Guy, Gregg Allman and Solomon Burke, Shepherd has substantial star power. His latest album, “How I Go,” reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Blues Album chart and just missed the Top 10 on the rock survey.

So we’ll see how it all shakes out. It will be a fun time to catch some blues and for blues rock lovers, of which Tampa Bay has plenty, Kenny Wayne Shepherd may be just what the blues doctor ordered.

To learn more about the festival visit their website here.

Some of the information in this article came from information on this website.

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