Amelia Island Blues Festival [video]

The official Amelia Island Blues Festival Blues Hound Logo

“As you cross onto Amelia Island you will actually feel your pulse quicken, but in a good way.
The radio goes up a notch as you roll into historic Fernandina Beach….. like the smokey blues of the Old South.
Out near the crossroads of Fletcher and Atlantic a new ritual is giving birth to the sound of a culture once feared lost.
But for this one mystical moment the ghosts of Mississippi mingle with the spirit of pirates past and present.  Have no fear…
The Amelia Island Blues Festival will steal your soul and give it back again.”

With these words The Amelia Island Blues Festival Committee goes into the new year as the September planned event gains momentum.
Signed contracts and final stage negotiations will bring top international performers like Pinetop Perkins, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith and Albert Castiglia to the stages, with a national and regional line up of top blues performers such as the Sean Carney Band, the Shuffle Junkies, Roger “Hurricane” Wilson, Bill Sheffield, topped off by powerhouse performances from Blistur, the Karl Davis Band and more local and regional talent.

Confident that with additional sponsor support, merchandise sale and advanced ticket sales, the organizers have a couple of additional headline surprises in store. In order to facilitate T-shirt sales and keep the public informed about  the ongoing news, the committee just launched the website which will weekly update and report on new developments in this exciting Festival that has already been earmarked as a Signature Event on the official annual island event roster. The dates: September 16 and 17.

The organization which has applied for a Florida 501(c)3 non profit status, has selected the local Baptist Health Hospital organization as the recipient of potential organizational surpluses, in recognition what the Hospital has done over the years for our community. Also research is being done on the possibility of supporting elderly Blues Performers, who have fallen on hard times.

Nobody in the organization is taking any compensation according to the initiators, who are all seasoned and lifelong blues fans, a music art that was not so long ago pronounced almost extinct. With the untimely passing of Stevie Ray Vaughan in the early 1990s, guitar heroes went out of the limelight. But with the incredible craftmanship and devotion of young guitarists/singer/songwriters like Kenny Wayne Sheppard, Jonny Lang and the amazing Joe Bonamassa, blues has found a new and rewarding life.

The origin of the Blues can be traced to the blending and sometimes clashing of African and European music. In the mixing bowl of America, the ingredients were added, set to bake in the hot Sun of the South and become the Blues.

The main instruments in blues music are guitar,piano and the harmonica, also called a harp, all three instruments that had their roots in Europe. The rhythms were mostly West African, enhanced by the “sharecropper field hollering songs” during and after  the era of slavery. One worker would holler from one side of the field, expecting a return response from the other side of the field. While it was a form of communication in those early days. However the Blues performer in the juke joints of the late 19th and early 20th century, right around the time Florida’s Oldest Saloon, our own Fernandina Beach’s Palace Saloon, opened its doors, asked and answered him or herself. As an exact music development Blues is hard to trace, because of the many influences it received. Mississippi Delta and Texas differ but are mostly acoustically performed; while cities such as St.Louis and Chicago gave berth to electric blues and added the horn sections.But even with all the influences Blues would not exist in today’s form, if not nourished by the South.

Being from the Netherlands, I was often surprised to learn that I had heard about Robert Johnson, Bessie Smith, Leadbelly and so many other early masters, long before people in the US had heard about them, until I realized these people were not from the South.

Blues is a true Southern Heritage and we are proud to see it back on our island’s shores. Watch the video and see if you remember the days of the past in so many clips.

Prologue to Annual Amelia Island Blues Festival

Paint It Blue

Earlier today I got a call from my favorite woman in City Hall, Susan Hurley. Even though we have seen each other on many occasions and events, she had no clue that Blues is next to Sailing one of the 3 passions of my life.

Susan wanted to check if SearchAmelia could come and film the prologue of what is supposed to become the Amelia Island Blues Festival in February of 2011.
We need a music festival she said, a blues festival, not realizing that I have played the Blues ever since I picked up a guitar at age 12.  And that my dear friends is for many people a lifetime ago. So needless to say that I’m making all my years of experience and contacts available to this Festival (if they let me of course).

This coming Saturday, May 15, at the Crab Trap Restaurant upstairs is where history will begin with the first fundraiser prologue for the Blues festival that will become an annual landmark on our island.

I asked Susan to forward me the press release for the event and noticed with pleasure that one of the driving forces behind the Blues Festival is Karl Davis. This man blew me away a couple of years ago when I filmed him in one of the local restaurants during Shrimp Festival. I still have a tape of him doing “I can’t stand the rain” with nothing else but hand percussion, his legs and a friend on the keys. Wow…

Another master of blues, Bill Sheffield, does not really need an introduction to insiders. He’s the white guy who melted Mississippi Delta Blues with Stevie Ray and opened for so many of the truly original blues giants from BB King to T-Bone Walker and John Lee Hooker, that anyone envies him. I saw him on a couple of occasions when I lived in Atlanta from 1980-85.  In those days he sang more than he played, but he certainly got my attention.  Learn more about Bill Sheffield here

This is what they say about Bill Sheffield

The third artist to this Saturday’s festival I had not heard of before, which in blues does not mean a thing, other than they have not been exposed to main street media yet. It took my friend Joe Bonamassa 20 years after he first opened for BB King at age 12, before he got recognized worldwide last year when Slowhand Eric Clapton himself joined Joe on stage at the Royal Albert Hall in London. I’m sure that Sean Carney will find his recognition soon, because the Sean Carney Band from Ohio totally has it. Just listen to “Life of Ease” and “It’s my life baby” and every Blues lover will recognize BB King and Buddy Guy melting in a Tennessee Blues Club.

So here is the deal, and remember it’s a fund raiser, we need to get this thing of the ground and make it another festival on our island to be proud of.
The cost of admission is $20 for the music and another $20 for dinner. $40 for dinner and a concert is darn good deal. I’ll be sure to put the first steps of what is going to be a magnificent annual event on video tape. And guess what if you can’t make it because of a lame trip out of town that you already committed to in January, we will have a DVD in a couple of weeks as the follow up fund raiser. Because this thing is going to happen.

Here is the press release and we’ll see you Saturday. And don’t be late. (Voodoo Chile)

A team of music lovers have formed the “Amelia Island Blues Festival Committee” they and have set the ball rolling toward the February 2011 inaugural event.
To raise awareness and support for the Festival, a series of exclusive concerts will be held throughout the summer and fall.
The first of these blues showcases will offer a taste of the extraordinary talent already on the lineup for 2011.

Bill Sheffield is an acoustic roots blues guitarist and singer/songwriter from Atlanta Georgia. He began performing his own music at a time when roots music was coming back into favor. When Texas blues star Stevie Ray Vaughan was guitar slinging his way to national fame, he opened a show for Bill. Sheffield has also performed in concert with a who’s who of music greats including Muddy Waters, T-Bone Walker, Delbert McClinton and Bonnie Raitt. Over time his style has evolved, melding pure emotionalism and great guitar work of the blues with country, gospel and soul.

Categories don’t do justice with Bill Sheffield because he effortlessly transcends genres to create what can only be called great American music.

The Sean Carney Band hailes from Columbus, Ohio where Sean and drummer Eric Blume have been leading the blues scene and organizing concerts for more than 10 years. With the edition of bassist Bill Stuve the SCB was winner of the 2007 International Blues Competition as well as the Albert King Best Guitarist Award. In ’08 they set sail with Taj Mahal, Tab Benoit and Jimmy Thackery on the Legendary Rhythm And Blues Cruise followed by the Buckeye Cruise For Cancer. 2009 and 2010 sees the Sean Carney Band touring the world with dates including The Bierbeck Blues Festival
(Belgium), Charivari Blues Festival (Germany), Blues Spring Rallye in Luxemburg, Sweden, The San Filipe Blues and Arts Festival Baja,
Mexico. Sean is a class act whose keening guitar is like an Albert Collins/King amalgam. With his great musical talent and personal style he has the
ability to entertain even the most seasoned of blues crowds.

Karl W. Davis has lived in Fernandina Beach for 25 years, where he and his wife of 13 years are raising their family of future musicians. Karl has always been an active part of the local music scene, singing with all his heart and considerable soul for his loyal fans and friends. His love for music has been the motivation and driving force for organizing concerts on the island with some of the fine artists he has met while touring the U.S. and Europe. Davis has been fortunate enough to share the stage with many greats of the music world such as Gatemouth Brown, Dr. John, Little Feat, The Jerry Garcia Band, Charlie Daniels, Steve Warner, Crown Prince Waterford, The Fabulous Thunderbirds and the list goes on. Karl is a consummate entertainer whose voice and presence create an emotional bond with his audience, who will often experience tears of joy and the overwhelming urge to eat a big ol’ pork chop sandwich.

The Venue: The Crab Trap (31 N. 2nd St.) will host the show Saturday the 15th of May in their upstairs dining room.
For reservations, call or drop by Rowland’s Upholstery Plus or the Crab Trap. Prices are $20 for a world class blues concert and $40 for dinner and the show. There will be raffles for some cool bluesy items as well as a CD of music from all the artists which is available for donations to the Amelia Island Blues Festival… feel free to be generous.

Music starts at 6:30 so come early for a taste of the blues!
For details call Karl @ 904-415-5503

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