People from all over the Southeast swarmed the Seawalk Pavilion in Jacksonville Beach this weekend for the 16th annual George’s Music Springing the Blues Festival. The three day yearly event just keeps getting bigger and better with such internationally acclaimed blues artists as the Kelly Bell Band from Baltimore, Joe Bonamassa, Yo Mamma’s Big Fat Booty Band, and Jacksonville’s own boy surprise, Eric Steckel.
An estimated crowd of 40,000 descended on this beachfront community for a weekend of fun in the sun, and the weather couldn’t have been better. With temperatures in the low 80’s, beachgoers arrived early to frolic in the sand and surf while watching the kids and the pros tear up our small but proud 2-3 footers in the Aqua East Surfing the Blues Contest.
Kicking off the festivities at 5 pm on Friday was Regi Blue, followed by Sean Costello and Shane Dwight, delighting the audience with their mix of traditional blues and jazz favorites. Friday’s headliner was The Howl, a wailing blues band from Boston Ma.
After hour’s jam sessions across the street at the Seawalk Hotel, and the Atlantic Theatres all the way in Atlantic Beach kept Blues lovers loving it till the wee hours. At Freebird Live, artists performed in an intimate concert setting each evening, topping it off with one of Jacksonville’s favorite bands, Mofro on Sunday night.
At the western edge of the festival grounds, surrounded by kids jumping around on inflatables, bungi jumping and rock climbing, artists that had just or were going to perform on the main stage, used the west stage to get up close and personal. Eric Steckel delighted fans on Saturday with an “unplugged” version of his latest and greatest. Roger Hurricane Wilson roamed the crowd, and on Sunday Dr. Hector performed a Blues Tribute to former band member Dru Lombar.
Getting the crowd going Saturday afternoon, The Kelly Bell Band showed why they were named the best Mid Atlantic Regional Blues Band for 9 straight years. Headliner Joe Bonamassa, voted BluesWax 2005 artist of the year, put on a riveting concert to a complete crowd dancing to the music under a crescent moon in the dark.
Sunday saw the arrival of daylight savings time and more sun! Returning from last year, the ever popular Yo Mamma’s Big Fat Booty Band got things moving with their colorful clothing choices and rare musical style and showmanship. The Eric Steckel Band, featuring fifteen year old “Blues Boy surprise” Eric Steckel, took the stage at 5:30 showcasing this guy’s amazing talent and presence on stage. Closing out this years Springing the Blues Festival, was Blues great Lee Roy Parnell, laying it back with the tradition of what the Blues is all about.
As one of Jacksonville Beaches’ top events, George’s Music Springing the Blues Festival brings the people in from all over, filling hotels and crowding the streets each and every year. Congratulations and thanks to the producers of this years show for bringing in some quality talent – the best Blues you can get!