The Tampa Bay Blues Festival will be celebrating 25 years next spring. Located at Vinoy Waterfront Park in St. Petersburg, Florida, the annual festival has presented some of the biggest names in the blues. Artists including Buddy Guy, George Thorogood, Aaron Neville, Kenny Wayne Sheppard, Irma Thomas, Jimmie Vaughn, Jerry Lee Lewis, Koko Taylor, and many others have brought their exciting music to this tropical setting.
Today, it’s one of the largest blues events in America. Thousands of guests from around the world come each year for the festivities. However, that wasn’t always the case. Like most ventures, it began as a small event with some classic blues artists like Son Seals and Preston Shannon, and a small but enthusiastic crowd of blues lovers.
After a few marginal years, the festival began growing, attracting premier talent and drawing tons of food and arts & crafts vendors. Eventually it became what it is today; a four day festival, with an initial Kick Off Party at the historic Palladium Theater on Thursday, followed by three weekend days of continuous music from noon until 10 p.m. each evening.
When the festival ends on Friday and Saturday nights, there are FREE After Shows at the Ringside Cafe until the wee hours. Tampa Bay Blues Festival is a weekend of non-stop music and fun in friendly St. Petersburg. It’s no wonder they won the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive Award from the Blues Foundation for best U.S. Blues Festival, and why we attend each year.
Organizers couldn’t have picked a better location. Downtown St. Petersburg is an ideal setting for this musical celebration. Within easy walking distance of Vinoy Park, we found great restaurants, quaint hotels, shopping, nightclubs, and the world renown Dali Art Museum. The exceptional beaches of both St. Pete and Clearwater are just a short drive away, making it the perfect blend of incredible blues music and a Florida vacation.
For their 25th Anniversary, Tampa Bay Blues Festival has pulled out all the stops. A stellar lineup of blues talent including Boz Scaggs, Jonny Lang, Tab Benoit, Curtis Salgado, Samantha Fish, The California Honeydrops, Kenny Neal, C.J. Chenier, Mr. Sipp, Welch Ledbetter Connection, Vanessa Collier, Mike Zito, and more is on tap for the weekend. They’re also adding a Norwegian blues showcase featuring some of Norway’s best blues bands – J.T. Lauristen and The Buckshot Hunters and Spoonful of Blues.
But wait, there’s more! For those seeking a bit more comfort, there’s also a first-class VIP program with front stage seating, beers, wines, lunch and dinner, with huge shade tents directly fronting Tampa Bay. It’s about as good as you’ll find anywhere!
The festival is a non-profit entity that raises funds for a local charity. PARC is an organization that assists developmentally challenged children and adults. PARC gives these folks the training and confidence they need to lead fulfilling and independent lives, and TBBF has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars for their worthy causes.
As one of the first big blues festivals of the season each year, it’s a great way to start your annual blues music experience with a bang! We hope to see you this April 12th, 13th, & 14th, in St Petersburg, Florida to celebrate 25 years of Blues By The Bay!
Details about the festival and ticket information can be found here.
*Feature image courtesy of Tampa Bay Blues Festival