The Knology Clearwater Sea Blues Festival

An impressive lineup highlights this free fest

click to enlarge Lil Ed & the Blues Imperials like it wild - Alligator Records
Alligator Records
Lil Ed & the Blues Imperials like it wild

The city of Clearwater's parks and rec department has produced the Knology Clearwater Sea Blues Festival since it debuted in 2006, and I gotta say I'm pretty damned impressed. The more than 20 hours of live music over three days features a strong lineup of performers from the blues and blues-related genres. One thing the fest is not is a succession of Strat-stranglin' Chicago-style blues guitar players. Nothing wrong with that stuff (for the most part) but hour after hour of it gets tedious. Friday night headliner (9 p.m.) Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes (see feature story) hail from the same Jersey shore stomping grounds as Bruce Springsteen, but bring a much more horn-heavy, R&B feel. They're one of the best bar bands you'll ever see. Lil Ed & the Blues Imperials (Sat., 6:45 p.m.) play such a loose, raucous brand of the blues you'd swear they were raised on The Ramones. Jonny Lang, at 28 a 10-year recording veteran, combines a variety of talents, among them a facility for blue-eyed soul belting and sizzling guitar solos. Singer/harmonica man John Nemeth (Sat., 4:45 p.m.) mixes suave with heat. Leggy Marcia Ball (Sun., 4:30 p.m.), a longtime regular on area stages, always delivers a rousing, boogie-driven show. Lil' Malcolm totes his accordion from Lake Charles, La. along with his band the Houserockers to serve up a helping of zydeco (Fri., 7 p.m.) That's just a sampling: Go to for the full lineup.

Knology Clearwater Sea Blues Festival '09 w/Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes/Jonny Lang/Elvin Bishop/Marcia Ball/Lil Ed & the Blues Imperials/John Nemeth/others Fri., Feb. 20, Sat., Feb. 21, Sun., Feb. 22, Coachman Park, Clearwater. Free general admission (VIP tickets available).

About The Author

Eric Snider

Eric Snider is the dean of Bay area music critics. He started in the early 1980s as one of the founding members of Music magazine, a free bi-monthly. He was the pop music critic for the then-St. Petersburg Times from ‘87-’93. Snider was the music critic, arts editor and senior editor of Weekly Planet/Creative...
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