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The headliner at The Bradenton Blues Festival this year was Ruthie Foster. I had been hearing about Ms. Foster in the blues mags and knew she was an up and coming blues star, so I was looking forward to seeing her.

She did not disappoint.

Although I must admit I don’t think the crowd was quite as impressed. Perhaps Ruthie’s brand of “the blues” was a little too downhome for the crowd or perhaps not “rockin” enough, but unfortunately some of the crowd began to leave around the time she came on. It could have just been a coincidence. It was a long day after all for some. But she came on at around 7:15 so that’s not really all that late.

But enough about the crowd. Back to Ruthie Foster.

She plays a mix of blues, folk, soul, and funk with a heavy emphasis on gospel music. After all she got her start singing in the gospel choirs of her Gause, Texas home so that’s not surprising. She can turn a Pete Seeger song into a soulful affair or turn a Johnny Cash classic into something all her own. She’s clearly the real deal.

Her Story

She has been on the scene since 1997 so she’s clearly not an overnight sensation. She’s just been working her way up with better and better albums along the way. She actually got some of her early performance experience when enlisted in the Navy. That gave her the impetus to choose professional music as her career path and for the last few years she has been a darling of the blues scene with several awards to her credit including “Blues Artist of the Year” in 2010, a Grammy Nomination for “The Truth According to Ruthie Foster” and just this year, the Koko Taylor award for Traditional Blues Female Artist of the Year at the W.C. Handy Awards.

She’s finally reached the top in the blues world. For more about her history check out this online bio or her website.

Here Bradenton Blues Fest Show

Apart from some of the crowd leaving, her show was well-received and she did a great job. Her 4-piece band was excellent, although I would have loved to hear a bit of B-3 Organ in the mix on the songs she played. That would have fit the style very well.

In addition to her on acoustic guitar, there was an all-female rhythm section with Tanya Richardson on bass, and Samantha Banks on drums. On keyboard and mandolin was Scottie Miller, an accomplished player himself, as you can learn on his website here.

Enough talk. Here’s some videos to share her great performance.

If I Had A Hammer

Long Time Gone

Ocean of Tears

Richmond Women

Ring of Fire

The Titanic

Traveling Shoes

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