Approximately six weeks from now, sunny Fort Lauderdale, Florida will host the 16th Annual Sound Advice Blues Festival at the Fort Lauderdale Stadium Festival Grounds. As a prelude to this year's festival, the City will also host the 2002 Hoodoo Voodoo Halloween Ball on October 31, 2002 to offer a sneak preview of the weekend festival with tours of the festival grounds and live blues music. This year's festival promises to offer as strong a slate of performers as it has in year's past. Among those scheduled to perform at the 16th Annual Sound Advice Blues Festival so far are Delbert McClinton, Jeff Healy, Shemekia Copeland, Lucky Peterson, Sonny Landreth, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Colin James, Ronnie Baker Brooks, EG Kight, Eric Sardinas, Anthony Gomes, Paul Reddick, Richard Johnston, Teresa James and Chef Chris. The Ft. Lauderdale City Festival website at http://info.ci.ftlaud.fl.us/festivals indicates that more acts will be added with a full schedule of events posted prior to the event. Tickets for the event are $15-$28 in advance (prior to November 1) depending on whether you purchase a 1, 2 or 3 day pass or $20-$40 at the gate. Festival hours are Friday (5:00-11:00 p.m.), Saturday (11:00 a.m. - 11:30 p.m.) and Sunday (11:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.).
As a way of introducing the 2002 edition of the Sound Advice Blues Festival, it might be a good idea to provide a brief recap of last year's event that was held on November 2-4, 2001. In 2001, the 15th Annual Sound Advice Festival consisted of three stages and a workshop area created a buzz of activity from open to close on all three days.
Acts seen and heard on the Sound Advice Main Stage included notables Hubert Sumlin and Pinetop Perkins backed by the Sean Chambers Band, Ike Turner and the Kings of Rhythm, Eddie "The Chief" Clearwater, Deborah Coleman, Rod Piazza and the Might Flyers, Keb' Mo' and John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers. Interestingly, Ike Turner performed on his birthday and spent several minutes during his set offering thanks to the immortal Pinetop Perkins for teaching him "everything he knows." Pinetop and Hubert Sumlin were immaculately dressed as always, giving the audience on Friday another exceptional performance by two of the immortals of the Chicago blues. Eddie "The Chief" Clearwater was decked out in his usual finery and played blues guitar the way only he can. Rod and Honey Piazza along with the Mighty Flyers put on their usual high energy show, with Honey pounding the keyboards and stealing the show. Keb' Mo' followed by the legendary John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers closed the festival on Sunday with back-to-back memorable performances.
At the Heineken Front Porch Stage, James "Super Chikan" Johnson, Curtis Salgado, EG Kight, Anders Osborne, Kelly Hunt and Chris Beard were among those performing. "Super Chikan" Johnson took the festival by storm on Friday (there was a small rain shower during his set) with his chikan-pickan guitar and Mississippi blues style, much like his noted relative Big Jack Johnson. EG Kight continued her rise to prominence in the blues community with another fine show for the country, turned blues singer. According to all reports however, Chris Beard was electrifying, pumping out some definite "lightning sound" on his Les Paul that included an outstanding tribute to the great Luther Allison.
The Backwoods Acoustic Stage offered a number of local performers along with fine musical exhibitions by Anders Osborne (who performed twice on Saturday) and Memphis street musician Richard Johnston. Osborne's swampy, cajun blues was a hit as always with Johnston's set (he also performed on Sunday) including some interesting material from this one man band. Working his guitar, harp, vocals and drums with expert efficiency, Johnston had the crowd going with his unique style and hookish lyrics.
Perhaps most interesting from a non-music perspective was the quality of the presentations and presenters at the "Blues Corner" that included a number of workshops throughout the event. Among the presenters were Ike Turner, Kelly Hunt, EG Kight, Deborah Coleman, Pinetop Perkins, Eddie Clearwater and Curtis Salgado. This gave blues fans a chance to see these giants of the blues up more close and personal as they provided their insights and observations on the "state of the blues."
Along with the national "names" mentioned, throw in another fifteen or so local and regional acts and the 15th Annual Sound Advice Blues Festival was one action packed, exciting event that also included merchandise and food booths, arts and crafts, a children's area and ample parking, shuttles and restroom facilities for all in attendance. Having attended this event in four of the last five years, I can guarantee that the 2002 Sound Advice Festival will be as memorable as it's predecessors. The November dates mean that the weather will not be too hot (its never too cold) and the rain will hopefully be kept to the bare minimum. Advance tickets go on sale October 1 and air fares are still pretty cheap to the Sunshine State, so I recommend that blues fans plan a vacation for the event.
*Thanks to Jeff, Maria and Linda for their information on the 2001 Sound Advice Blues Festival.
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