Winter's chill may linger, but it'll be smokin' hot at Coachman Park as the fourth annual Knology Clearwater Sea-Blues Festival comes to town today through Sunday. The three-day fest is a zesty jambalaya of world-class blues musicians, spicy local favorites and mouth-watering seafood. Even more heartwarming: free general admission.
The approximate cost of the bands — about $75,000 — is paid through sponsorships and concessions, said Brian Craig, Clearwater's events coordinator.
"It's a big event for us," he said. "We've had a really positive response with crowds of 20,000 to 25,000 and we're trying to keep the momentum going."
Headlining the soulful fest are Tab Benoit, the Robert Cray Band and John Mayall.
Treasures from the sea include jumbo shrimp, crab cakes, oysters, crawfish, gumbo and more.
The event will be emceed by WMNF-FM disc jockey Larry Lisk, former president and co-founder of the Suncoast Blues Society.
We asked him to dish on the talent slated to perform. Here are his comments along with the schedule. (Please note schedule is subject to change.)
Gates open at 4:30 p.m.
5:30 p.m. Julie Black, a.k.a. Angel for Blues
"Great local talent, jazzy, sexy, sultry."
7 p.m. Mike Zito, gritty sounds of the South
"His song Pearl River is nominated for Blues Music Awards song of the year."
9 p.m. Tab Benoit, Grammy nominated guitarist, Blues Music Awards winner and Louisiana wetlands activist
"Has won many hearts with his Cajun swampy blues."
Gates open at 11:30 a.m.
12:30 p.m. Walker Smith Group
"St. Petersburg artist, who cut his teeth in Chicago and covers traditional to contemporary blues."
2:15 p.m. Lois Greco
"Hot and sexy — and her music is, too."
4:15 p.m. Chris Duarte & Bluestone Co.
"A power blues rocker with a scorching hot guitar."
6:30 p.m. Shaun Murphy of Little Feat, has toured with Eric Clapton and Bob Seger
"Powerful vocals, very soulful."
8:30 p.m. Robert Cray Band, a five-time Grammy winner
"Internationally known blues man who took the blues to the masses."
Gates open at noon.
12:30 p.m. Lee Pons, great local pianist and gritty vocalist
"Good thing the keys are ivory so they don't melt."
1:30 p.m. Lazy Boy & the Rockers
"Local journeymen. Like your favorite chair, they've been around for many years."
2:45 p.m. Ana Popovic, Eastern European blues artist
"One of the new generation of young, fiery female guitar players."
4:30 p.m. Walter Trout
"Award- winning blues rocker extraordinaire with extra fast fingers."
6:30 p.m. John Mayall
"The Godfather of British Blues. He just released his 57th album and at 76 years old, he's still making great music."