The soulful sound of blues will usher in the Downtown Festival & Art Show weekend Friday, Nov. 15 with a free Downtown Blues Concert on the Bo Diddley Plaza from 7-11 p.m. The North Central Florida Blues Society is pleased to announce an evening under the stars featuring three incredible blues performances.
This soulful series of serenades starts at 7 p.m. with Brett Wellman & Stone Cold Blues. Brett Wellman & Stone Cold Blues is a Chicago-style electric blues band featuring Brett Wellman on lead vocals and guitar and Chris Balding on harmonica and vocals. The band's performances have been called "engaging and high-energy," and its main influences include Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters and Little Milton. The pair won in the solo/duo category of the North Central Florida Blues Society’s 2019 Blues Challenge. As winners, they will go on to Memphis, Tennessee, where they will represent the north central Florida region at the 2020 International Blues Challenge.
On stage next is 441 South, a blues band with significant gospel, soul, and rock influences. Formed in 2019, it is fronted by Shae Mullberry on vocals. Shae’s husband Tim Mulberry mans the drums, and boasts an impressive resume that includes two years with the Bridget Kelly Band and a six-month world tour with the Black Eyed Peas. Guitarist Frank Bougher and bassist Greg Mullins are also noteworthy band members. 411 South are the band category winners of the 2019 Blues Challenge held by the North Central Florida Blues Society, and the band will represent the region at the 2020 International Blue Challenge.
Liz Mandeville, this year’s headliner, will take the stage at 9 p.m. This will be the first Gainesville show for the blues singer/songwriter and Chicago Blues Hall of Fame Inductee and her band, The Blue Points. Once voted as the best Blues singer in Chicago, Mandeville has honed her craft in the blues bars of Chicago over the last three decades, with house residencies at prestigious clubs such as the Kingston Mines, Blue Chicago, Bill’s Blues, BLUES on Halsted and Rosa’s Lounge. She’s played every major venue and festival in the midwest and toured extensively in the U.S. and Canada. Blues Blast Magazine says, “Her one-of-a-kind vocal prowess captures attention and turns heads." She was heavily influenced by the witty swinging songs of Louis Jordan, Big Maybelle, T-Bone Walker and the soulful voices of Etta James, Tina Turner, Otis Redding, Tyrone Davis and Bobby Bland. With a sense of humor that shines through her impassioned performance, Mandeville is a polished, consummate entertainer not to be missed.
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 80,000 visitors. Presented by the City of Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department, the festival is celebrating its 38th year Saturday, Nov. 16 and Sunday, Nov. 17 from 10 a.m.-5 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