WEEKI WACHEE — Saturday's Bluesapalooza music festival presents the ideal situation for guitarist Sean Chambers. Not only is it fun, it's probably the closest gig to his home he has played all year.
Chambers, who lives in Ridge Manor, hasn't been home much lately. And that's not a bad thing for a musician trying to make a living in the current economic climate. Fortunately for the 41-year-old blues guitarist, the tide has been rising lately. In October, he and his band will begin their second national tour this year in support of his latest CD, Ten Til Midnight.
"It's been a good year so far," Chambers said. "We're getting a lot of good exposure on radio, and that's helping to bring us a larger audience."
Chambers is among a number of blues artists the past few years who have gotten a boost from dedicated airplay on satellite radio. These days, when he plays an out-of-state nightclub or blues festival, he's apt to be greeted by fans who are already familiar with his music.
"It's made a huge difference," Chambers said. "When you've got Bill Wax on XM-Sirius plugging your gigs across the country, it's a big deal. It's definitely made things better for people who play blues for a living."
That certainly hasn't been easy of late. The faltering economy has had a negative effect on the blues music industry. Clubs have closed, and a number of once-popular blues festivals are no more. Many musicians whom Chambers knows have had to find other types of work to make ends meet, or have given up playing altogether.
Still, he says, blues continues to enjoy an enduring popularity among ardent fans.
"One of the great things you find about blues fans is that they're loyal," Chambers said. "They stick with you and will come back again and again to see your show."
Chambers' fiery brand and blues-rock is the perfect fit for the Bluesapalooza bill. The daylong event at Linda Pedersen Park, which kicks off at 10 a.m. Saturday, will also include his longtime friend and guitarist Damon Fowler, plus Leesburg blues master Beautiful Bobby Blackmon and the Rockaways.
Sponsored by the Hernando County Parks and Recreation Department, the festival seeks to be more compact than last year's inaugural event, which was at the Anderson Snow Park sports complex in Spring Hill.
"Last year's event was a pretty good success, but having it at the other site was a lot of work," said county events coordinator Christie Williams. "We would have liked to have done a two-day event this time, but with the uncertainty of the (county) budget, we thought it better to play it safe."
Like last year, county staffers will handle beer and wine sales, with proceeds going toward the support of parks and recreation programs.
Williams, who also coordinates the county's Reggae Sunfest, believes Bluesapalooza could grow in time to become one of Hernando County's major entertainment attractions.
"It's a great event for the community," she said. "It's very family-friendly and it's in a beautiful location. We think that's what visitors to our area are looking for."
Logan Neill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1435.