The fourth annual Knology Clearwater Sea Blues Festival will be held from Friday, February 19th through Sunday, February 21st, 2009 in Clearwater, Florida. General admission to the four-day event is free and the festival will take place at beautiful Coachman Park, near Clearwater Harbor, with breezes off the Gulf of Mexico. Past events have attracted visitors from across the country, and this year's festival line-up of talent promises to pull in even more blues fans.
Knology Clearwater Sea Blues Festival
In just a few years, the Knology Clearwater Sea Blues Festival has managed to attract some of the best and brightest talent from the blues world, and this year's line-up is no exception, with headliner performances from Tab Benoit, Robert Cray, and British blues legend John Mayall.
The festival will kick off on Friday and features blue-eyed soulman Mike Zito, whose recent Delta Groove album Pearl River is drawing widespread critical acclaim. Louisiana blues guitarist Tab Benoit is headlining the opening day, his unique swamp-flavored fretwork complimenting a traditional approach to the blues.
Saturday features guitarist Chris Duarte and his band Bluestone, Shawun Murphy of the roots-rock band Little Feat, and headliner Robert Cray. Sunday afternoon, closing out the festival, flaming blues-rock guitarist Ana Popovic will open for another blues-rock legend, Walter Trout, who in turn will be followed by his former employer, British bluesman John Mayall. Other performers appearing at the Knology Clearwater Sea Blues Festival 2010:
- Julie Black
- Walter Smith
- Lois Greco
- Le Pons
Louisiana Blues Guitarist Tab Benoit
Guitarist Tab Benoit has built an audience the old-fashioned way – by performing 250 dates a year and delivering a knock-out show every night. As a teenager, Benoit apprenticed in the blues under notable Louisiana artists like Tabby Thomas and Raful Neal before forming his own band in 1987. Since releasing his debut album, Nice and Warm, in 1992 Benoit has thrilled audiences worldwide with his inspired mix of guitar-driven blues, rock, and soul...all with a distinct Louisiana flavor.
Since his debut, Benoit has released fifteen studio and live albums, and performed thousands of concerts. The guitarist has earned numerous accolades, including a coveted Blues Music Award as the "B.B. King Entertainer of the Year" in 2007. Benoit is also a social activist, forming the Voice of the Wetlands organization in 2003 to promote awareness of coastal wetlands preservation. Benoit's most recent album is 2008's live Night Train To Nashville.
Soul-Blues Guitarist Robert Cray
Robert Cray is a name well-known to contemporary blues fans. After a lengthy apprenticeship under Texas blues legend Albert Collins, Cray burst onto the blues scene in 1980 with the release of his debut album, Who's Been Talkin'. During the early part of the decade, Cray toured with folks like Eric Clapton and recorded with giants like Collins, Johnny Copeland, and John Lee Hooker. Cray's 1986 album, Strong Persuader, proved to be his commercial breakthrough, selling better than a millions copies and, along with Stevie Ray Vaughan, helped jump-start the decade's blues boom.
A five-time Grammy Award winner, Cray's unique blending of blues, rock, and soul music opened the door for many artists to pursue a similar soul-blues sound, and the guitarist's popularity with less-fanatical music lovers has helped blues music make its way into the 21st century. Touring in support of his Grammy-nominated 2009 album This Time, Cray continues to thrill audiences with his original style and dynamic fretwork.
British Blues Legend John Mayall
British blues legend John Mayall has helped launch the careers of such talents as guitarists Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Coco Montoya, and Walter Trout as well as the rhythm section of John McVie and Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac. All were members of his influential Bluesbreakers bands during the 1960s, '70s, and '80s that have helped define the point where the blues and rock 'n' roll intersect.
Mayall has continued to tour and record throughout the past five decades, only recently deciding to disband his current group of Bluesbreakers and retire the name for good. Just because Mayall ditched the Bluesbreakers banner doesn't mean that the 76-year-old music biz survivor has given up on the blues, however. Earlier this year he put together a new band of merry musical pranksters around fretburner Rocky Athas, quickly shuffling the new group into the studio for the recording of his 57th album, Tough. Known as the "Godfather of the British Blues," this is your chance to witness a bona-fide legend perform in person.
Check out the Knology Clearwater Sea Blues Festival website for more details on this year's event.