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Third annual Knology Clearwater Sea Blues Festival begins today

CLEARWATER

The stars and seas converge this weekend as the third annual Knology Clearwater Sea Blues Festival gets under way.

The event dishes up leading blues artists, Gulf Coast seafood cuisine, children's activities and vendors, all at the waterfront Coachman Park in downtown Clearwater.

About 40,000 people are expected to attend the free festival, now expanded to three days because of its popularity.

"It's becoming a national event," said Terry Schmidt, Clearwater's special events producer. "We've advertised it from New Orleans all the way up the Eastern seaboard to New York City."

Sea Blues was strategically timed to take place after the Florida State Fair and before the Florida Strawberry Festival and baseball's spring training begin — when lots of tourists are on tap, he said.

A dozen acts will cover a range of styles: ballads, honky-tonk, Louisiana swamp-style music and more.

Tonight, the stars come out as Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, New Jersey shore band of Havin' a Party fame, take the stage at 9 p.m.

Saturday night, blues rocker Jonny Lang headlines at 8:45 p.m. Lang won a "Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album" Grammy for his 2006 release, Turn Around.

Elvin Bishop, who topped the charts with his '70s hit Fooled Around and Fell in Love, wraps up the party Sunday at 6:30 p.m. Bishop was nominated for the "Best Traditional Blues Album" Grammy this year for his 2008 release, The Blues Rolls On.

A variety of victuals will include gumbo, barbecue, jambalaya, oysters, calamari, fried gator, and jumbo shrimp.

Traditional fare like pizzas and hamburgers also will also available.

Top it all off with French Quarter beignets, or Louisiana-style doughnuts, and lattes.

Beer and wine will be sold.

A children's area will offer rock-climbing walls and inflatables.

Vendors will sell Western wear, jewelry, art, and hand out wine samples.

"People love this event," Schmidt said. "It's one of the largest blues festivals in the U.S. that is free."

If you go

The festival

What: The Knology Clearwater Sea Blues Festival features big-name blues artists and seafood.

When: Gates open at 4:30 p.m. today, 11:30 a.m. Saturday and noon Sunday.

Where: Coachman Park, 301 Drew St., in Clearwater

Bring: Chairs, blankets, sunscreen

Don't bring: Coolers, food, drinks, pets

For more information: Call (727) 562-4800 or visit clearwaterseablues.com.

The lineup

Friday

5:30 p.m.: Walter Smith Group

7 p.m.: Lil' Malcolm and the House Rockers

9 p.m.: Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes

• • •

Saturday

12:45 p.m.: Nervous Turkey

2:45 p.m.: Tommy McCracken

4:45 p.m.: John Nemeth

6:45 p.m.: Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials

8:45 p.m.: Jonny Lang

• • •

Sunday

12:45 p.m.: The Nelms/Chavers Band

2:30 p.m.: Kenny Neal

4:30 p.m.: Marcia Ball

6:30 p.m.: Elvin Bishop

Third annual Knology Clearwater Sea Blues Festival begins today 02/19/09 [Last modified: Thursday, February 19, 2009 4:20pm]
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