The blues are America's musical gift to the world, and for years the Tampa Bay Blues Festival has spent three beautiful spring days and nights celebrating the ancient art form in spectacular fashion. In its 18th year, the festival — once named "Best U.S. Blues Festival" by the Blues Foundation — welcomes back a handful of its most storied performers to Vinoy Park, 501 Fifth Ave. NE, St. Petersburg. Tickets are $35 and up per day advance, $40 at the gate; weekend passes available. Cash only at the gate. (727) 895-6153. tampabaybluesfest.com.
Friday: Florida-born Allman Brothers alumni Dickey Betts brings his longtime backing band to deliver Southern-fried country blues marked by Betts' trademark twin guitar harmonies. The rest of the lineup includes Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers, Janiva Magness, Lucky Peterson and Dave Fields. Starts at 12:30 p.m.
Saturday: The headliner is Jonny Lang (left) — who inked a major label deal and moved millions of records all before turning 18 — closing out the evening with an infamous, deep growl of a vocal that shouldn't be coming from his waifish, lanky frame. Also on the bill: Curtis Salgado, Sugar Ray and the Bluetones, Eddy "The Chief" Clearwater and Marquise Knox. Starts at 12:30 p.m.
Sunday: The festival spends Sunday celebrating New Orleans with a bang-up lineup that features Royal Southern Brotherhood, Tab Benoit and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue (right). The rest of the lineup includes Walter "Wolfman" Washington, Rosie Ledet and the Zydeco Playboys. Starts at 1 p.m.
After concerts: On Friday and Saturday, a short walk and relatively small fee (five blocks and $20) get you into additional intimate, late-night performances at the nearby Palladium Theater.