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Tampa Bay Blues Festival guide

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Buddy Guy AP 2014 Horizontal

Buddy Guy performs in concert during the Experience Hendrix 2014 Tour at Harrah’s Resort on Saturday, March 22, 2014, in Atlantic City, N.J. He'll be at the Tampa Bay Blues Festival at Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg on Friday, April 11. (Photo by Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP)

For nearly two decades, the Tampa Bay Blues Festival has been bringing a rich, varied roster of artists to Vinoy Park on the waterfront in downtown St. Petersburg. This year’s lineup features another impressive range of talent. It includes vibrant blues legend Buddy Guy, rock and pop star Michael McDonald and soul queen Irma Thomas; as well as rising stars Nikki Hill, Big Sam’s Funky Nation and the sole local artist to play the big stage overlooking the bay this year, Selwyn Birchwood (see accompanying story).

FRIDAY

Buddy Guy
8:30 p.m.
An influence on everyone from Jimi Hendrix to Stevie Ray Vaughan, Guy is one of the most important blues guitarists ever, still performing with youthful zeal and serious chops at age 77.

Shemekia Copeland
6:30 p.m.
This gifted blues vocalist, probably the best of her generation, did a superb job headlining the Bradenton Blues Festival in December.

Coco Montoya
4:30 p.m.
Guitarist and singer became a solo star in the mid-1990s following a decade refining his skills with John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers.

Matt Schofield
2:30 p.m.
English blues guitarist and singer fronts a power trio that plays their own blues originals peppered with funk and jazz.

Selwyn Birchwood
12:30 p.m.
Rising blues star from Tampa who regularly plays Sarasota will soon have his national debut album out on famed label Alligartor Records (see accompanying story).

Michael McDonald AP 2008

Michael McDonald / AP 2008

Michael McDonald
8:30 p.m.
Multiple Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter with one of the most emotive baritones to emerge in the 1970s, McDonald was The Doobie Brothers’ most successful lead singer before embarking on a solo career that includes the million-selling 2003 covers album “Motown.”

The Blind Boys of Alabama
6:30 p.m.
Formed in 1937, this gospel singing institution’s latest album, last year’s “I'll Find a Way,” was produced by Justin Vernon (aka Bon Iver) and includes stirring renditions of traditional songs such as “Take Me to the Water” and “I Shall Not Be Moved” as well Bob Dylan’s “Every Grain of Sand.”

Tommy Castro and The Painkillers
4:30 p.m.
Heralded as the next big thing in the blues world 20 years ago, singer-guitarist Tommy Castro is touring in support of his well-received new album “The Devil You May Know,” which came out on Alligator Records earlier this year.

Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials
2:30 p.m.
Consistent crowd pleasers, Chicago slide-guitar great Lil’ Ed Williams and the Blue Imperials will return to the area Dec. 6 to perform at the Bradenton Blues Festival.

Nikki Hill
12:30 p.m.
One of the most exciting young singer-songwriters on the blues scene, Hill excels at presenting roots music with a sexy, rocker sensibility.

SUNDAY

Irma Thomas AP 2013

Irma Thomas / AP 2013

Irma Thomas
8:30 p.m.
The Soul Queen of New Orleans’ career dates back to the early 1960s and includes such seminal recordings as “It’s Raining,” “Ruler of My Heart” and “Time Is on My Side” as well as “After the Rain,” the album that won Thomas the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album in 2007.

James Hunter
6:30 p.m.
British soul singer-songwriter is touring in support of his outstanding 2013 album of self-penned originals “Minute by Minute.”

Big Sam’s Funky Nation
4:30 p.m.
Led by trombonist Sammie Williams, Big Sam’s Funky Nation is one of the top purveyors of organic, high-energy New Orleans party music.

Tad Robinson
2:30 p.m.
An accomplished soul singer with harmonica skills, Robinson has been nominated for seven Blues Music Awards since 2005.

George Porter Jr.
1 p.m.
A true New Orleans music icon, bassist George Porter Jr. is an original member of groundbreaking funk band The Meters and has played on albums by everyone from Paul McCartney to Patti LaBelle.

TAMPA BAY BLUES FESTIVAL
Friday-Sunday; Vinoy Park, 701 Bayshore Drive N.E., St. Petersburg; $40 (single day Friday or Saturday); $50 (single day Sunday); $175-$200 (single day VIP); $400 (three-day VIP); (727) 895-6153; tampabaybluesfest.com

TAMPA BAY BLUES FESTIVAL
Friday-Sunday; Vinoy Park, 701 Bayshore Drive N.E., St. Petersburg; $40 (single day Friday or Saturday); $50 (single day Sunday); $175-$200 (single day VIP); $400 (three-day VIP); (727) 895-6153; tampabaybluesfest.com

Wade_Tatangelo_by_Mike_Lang_HT_06212013
WADE TATANGELO is the editor of TICKET + and a contributor at TicketSarasota.com. He has been an entertainment editor, reporter, columnist and reviewer for more than a decade at publications nationwide. He is a Hershey, Pa., native who grew up in Tampa and graduated from the University of South Florida. Wade joined the Herald-Tribune in 2013 and writes the weekly Bar Tab column. He can be reached by email or call (941) 361-4955.
Last modified: April 18, 2014
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