Tampa Bay Blues Fest kicks off its 15th edition at Vinoy Park this weekend with Jimmie Vaughan, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, JJ Grey & Mofro, and many others

Sunday’s bill encompasses self-styled “two-man wrecking crew” guitarist Lightnin’ Malcolm and drummer Cedric Burnside, who offer an assault of dirty, blues-drenched rock; blues vocalist Shemekia Copeland, who has a commanding soul-inflected shout ala Etta James; and Jacksonville’s own JJ Grey & Mofro, which closes the weekend’s festivities with a tried-and-true fusion of Florida-bred soul, R&B, Southern rock, funk, and muddy water blues.

Tampa Bay Blues Fest, April 9-11, noon-9:30 p.m. nightly, Vinoy Park, downtown St. Petersburg waterfront, $30 single-day ticket/$75 three-day passes (children 12 and under free), tampabaybluesfest.com.

TB Blues Fest After Hours Parties, April 9-11, 9:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m. nightly, Nova 535, 535 Dr. MLK Jr. St. N., St. Petersburg, $20 admission per show.

Complete schedule as follows:


12:30 p.m. Reba Russell

2:30 p.m. Sonny Landreth

4:30 p.m. Lil' Ed & the Blues Imperials

6:30 p.m. Bettye LaVette

8:30 p.m. Jimmie Vaughan

9:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m. Blues Fest After Hours Party with Lil' Ed & the Blues Imperials; Reba Russell opens


10: 12:30 p.m. Joanne Shaw Taylor

2:30 p.m. Tad Robinson

4:30 p.m. Ryan Shaw

6:30 p.m. Magic Slim & the Teardrops

8:30 p.m. Kenny Wayne Shepherd

9:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m. Blues Fest After Hours Party with Magic Slim & the Teardrops; Joanne Shaw Taylor and Tad Robinson open.


1 p.m. John Nemeth

2:30 p.m. Cedric Burnside & Lightnin' Malcolm

4:30 p.m. Joe Louis Walker

6:30 p.m. Shemekia Copeland

8:30 p.m. JJ Grey & Mofro

9:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m. Blues Fest After Hours Party with Joe Louis Walker Band; John Nemeth and Cedric Burnside & Lightnin' Malcolm open.

kicks off its 2010 waterside celebration of American blues this weekend. The fest has also expanded to encompass three nights of After Hours parties featuring various fest performers in a more intimate setting and beginning directly after each day’s music has concluded.

Highlights on Friday include longtime Memphis blues guitarist and singer-songwriter Reba Russell, who performed backup for the likes of B.B. King and Johnny Cash before going solo with her powerful, sandpapery drawl and blend of rolling blues, R&B and rock; Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials, which bring a party atmosphere (click here to read Eric's feature on the band); and legendary axeman Sonny Landreth, who doses his own Louisiana blues with heavy swampy Creole, and is renown for his mastery of slide guitar and a right-hand technique of tapping, slapping and picking strings.

Among Saturday’s creme de la creme is UK guitarist/singer Joanne Shaw Taylor [pictured right], whose sultry, husky deep vocals and accomplished fretwork are set against slinky or lively soul blues. Ryan Shaw adds some retro R&B to the bill with his velvety croons and mighty wails emoting enough to make Otis Redding proud. And commercially successful blues rocker Kenny Wayne Shepherd (who earned his fame in the mid-90s while still a teen) is so good he’s even got his own signature brand of Fender Stratocaster.

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