The soulful sound of blues will usher in the Downtown Festival & Art Show weekend Friday, Nov. 10 with a free Downtown Blues Concert on the Bo Diddley Plaza from 7-10 p.m. The North Central Florida Blues Society is pleased to announce an evening under the stars featuring three incredible blues performances.
This soul-moving show kicks off with local blues musician Mr. Aullie. Born and raised in Gainesville, Mr. Aullie has been a local musician since the mid-‘70s, writing songs about his experiences and memories growing up in Florida. He was a member of the blues duo Cracker the Box. He was the winner of the Gamble Rogers tribute song contest in 2013, and is the recent winner of the 2017 Our Santa Fe River song contest and the solo performer winner of the 2017 North Central Florida Blues Society’s Regional Blues Challenge.
On stage next are The Deviljays, a blues and R&B band based in Lake City, and fronted by Kirby Stanley on vocals and guitar. They strive to bring blues into relevance today, while staying true to its traditions, which is something they hold dear. As the band winner of the 2017 North Central Florida Blues Society’s Regional Blues Challenge, they will be competing in the 2018 International Blues Challenge in Memphis in January.
This year’s headliner, Gracie Curran & The High Falutin’ Band, takes the stage at 9 p.m. Boston native Curran has rocked houses all across the country, becoming a crowd favorite, known for not only her amazing voice, but also her comedic stage banter and hugely entertaining live show. Her unique presence and ability to connect to any audience led her band to be named Boston's Best Blues Band in 2012 and garnered a 2014 Blues Music Award Nomination for Best New Artist. While the key that drives the praise of this band is Curran and her sultry smooth voice that has brought comparisons to blues sirens and soul giants of the past, her backing band is also extremely tight and versatile. Together they make earth-shaking and groove-making blues that is a guaranteed crowd favorite.
The excitement of the Downtown Blues Concert is followed by two fun-filled days of art, music and culture at the Downtown Festival & Art Show. This nationally-recognized festival transforms downtown Gainesville into a venue for award-winning artists, and draws a crowd of more than 100,000 visitors. Presented by the City of Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department, the festival is celebrating its 36th year Saturday, Nov. 11 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 12 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on the tree-lined streets of downtown Gainesville. For two days, visitors can leisurely stroll through historic downtown and marvel at works from more than 240 of the nation’s most talented artists, who display their original oils and acrylics, vibrant watercolors, captivating sculptures, dazzling jewelry, decorative ceramics and vivid photography. Art lovers can interact with artists, while finding unique gifts for family and friends, or purchase artwork for their own collection. They can also savor local and international cuisine and listen to live music performed on four stages. Children have the chance to enjoy the festival and get creative at the Imagination Station, a free, hands-on art activity area. The Downtown Festival & Art Show is a celebration of art and culture that you do not want to miss. For more information, visit www.gainesvilledowntownartfest.org or call 352-334-ARTS.