The Great American Blues Festival & Barbecue Challenge
When: 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 16-17
Tickets: $30 for one-day pass; $10 for children age 7-14; $50 for two-day pass; $100 for VIP two-day pass
The festival features top blues entertainers Biscuit Miller, Selwyn Birchwood, T.C. Carr, Big Llou’s Bluesville Review, The Betty Fox Band and Jimmy Thackery & the Drivers on Saturday, Aug. 16; the next day will spotlight Biscuit Miller, Canned Heat, Honey Island Swamp Band, Joe Louis Walker, Homemade Jamz Band and the Royal Southern Brotherhood. The festival is open 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. both days.
The BBQ Challenge will take place during the festival with a cook off between some of the greatest names in barbecue. Twenty teams will compete for a $10,000 prize. The challenge is sanctioned by the Florida Barbecue Association. (For details on the Great American BBQ Challenge, see pages 10-11.)
“The entire festival event is a not-for-profit, charity benefit festival,” said Richard Sanders of the Panama City Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Get ready, it’s time for some blues, beer and barbecue!”
Free shuttle service will be provided, with parking available at Dick’s Sporting Goods in Pier Park North.
Here’s a look at the musical schedule:
Noon to 1 p.m.: Biscuit Miller has been playing the blues since he spotted a four-string electric bass sitting in the corner of a friend’s house at the age of 11: “It was easy to play and I fell in love with it immediately,” he said.
He already had his nickname by then, christened by the grandmother who raised him on the south side of
“The years I spent with Lonnie were invaluable to me as a musician,” Miller said on his website, BiscuitMiller.com. “I learned so much about the music business and being on the road — we played some incredible gigs such as President Clinton’s inauguration, and I met and performed with many of my own idols while traveling with Lonnie and the band.
Today, a heavy touring schedule of more than 250 gigs a year in the U.S. and abroad have led to a dedicated fan base, and Miller’s fun and funky style earned him the Blues Music Award for Bassist of the Year in 2012.
“There’s nothing I’d rather be doing than playing the blues,” he said. “And I try to convey that with every song and with every performance.”
With his band feeding off his drive and exuberance, the striking 6-foot-3, 29-year-old with his trademark Afro roams the stage (often barefoot), ripping out memorable guitar licks. Birchwood is as down-to-earth as his music is fun, thought-provoking and vital. Details: Alligator.com
2:15-3:30 p.m.: T.C. Carr, one of
3:30-5 p.m.: Big Llou’s Bluesville Review, fronted by Big LLou Johnson, born and raised on the rough and tumble west side of
5-6 p.m.: The Betty Fox Band. Betty Fox appreciated singing early in life, according to her online bio, and performed for the first time at a church play at the age of 4. Her family had a deep love for Southern country gospel and tight harmonies, which they would express at every family gathering, and that is where her affinity for music began.
“My uncle Fred would pound on the keys with his monster hands and the harmonies would resonate in my soul,” Fox said.
Together with her band, she has opened for artists such as Mavis Staples, The Legendary JC’s, Selwyn Birchwood, Roosevelt Collier, Shaun Murphy and many others. Details: BettyFox.net
6-7:30 p.m.: Jimmy Thackery unleashes an intense volley of rockin’ blues guitar guaranteed to leave crowds emotionally spent. His guitar dynamics bend a note so it will fit under a limbo bar or find space within the trembling of one stinging note.
“I put all my senses on hold and find the zone and follow what’s inside,” he said at his website, JimmyThackery.com. “There’s an electricity from your mind to your heart to your fingers. You just try and remember to breathe.”
Thackery learned first-hand from the masters of the blues, including stage time with Muddy Waters. Most associate him with his 15 years as the co-founder of the Nighthawks, but he ended his time with them in 1987 and has done nearly 300 solo shows a year since then.
8:30 p.m.-until: After Party at Pineapple Willy’s with Biscuit Miller & Big Llou
Noon to 1 p.m.: Biscuit Miller
1-2:15 p.m.: Canned Heat is best known for its three worldwide hits, “On The Road Again” (1968), “Let’s Work Together” (1970) and “Going Up The Country” (1969), which was the unofficial theme song for the film “
Now, more than 45 years later and with 38 albums to their credit, Canned Heat is still going strong. Anchored throughout the past 40 years by drummer/band leader Adolfo “Fito” de la Parra, who is joined by original bassist Larry “The Mole” Taylor and
2:15-3:30 p.m.: Honey Island Swamp Band, one of the most popular bands in
The band includes Aaron Wilkinson (vocals, mandolin, guitar, harmonica); Chris Mulé (vocals, guitar); Sam Price (bass, vocals); Garland Paul (drums, vocals); and Trevor Brooks (keys). Details: HoneyIslandSwampBand.com
3:30-4:45 p.m.: Joe Louis Walker, Blues Hall Of Fame member, world-class guitarist, passionate vocalist and gifted songwriter, will mark the release of his new album, “Hornet’s Nest” (Alligator Records) at the festival.
“Blues is a big tent, morphing into a bigger tent,”
4:45-6 p.m.: Homemade Jamz Band might seem a strange collection of kids to be singing the blues. It’s made up of siblings Ryan Perry (guitar and vocals), Kyle Perry (bass) and Taya Perry (drums), all aged between 15 and 21. Ryan started playing at age 7 when he found a Stratocaster copy among the items his father brought back from military service in
“I heard B.B. King, Albert King and Stevie Ray Vaughan,” Ryan Perry said, “and I would listen to them all the time and try to emulate them. ... As soon as I knew which direction to go, it really took off.”
The band won the third annual MS Delta Blues Society of Indianola’s Blues Challenge (2006), and were the youngest band ever to compete in the International Blues Challenge (2007), taking second in a field of 157 bands.
6-7:30 p.m.: Royal Southern Brotherhood includes Cyril Neville,
SQUEAL LIKE A PIG
A 5K run called “Squeal Like a Pig” will weave through
Strollers are welcome, but please leave pets at home. Awards will go to Overall Male/Female, first, second and third place, Overall Male/Female Masters and first place in each age group, ranging from 14 and under to 65 and older in 5-year increments.
The race will start at 8 a.m. Pre-registration opens at 6:30 a.m. Cost is $30 (cash or credit card) for the 5K, or register online at Active.com. Registration fees are non-refundable.
For more information on this race, contact Amy Mann at email@example.com or call (850) 890-4775.
The Great American Blues Festival was created to benefit 501c charities in
Beach Care Services
William Buskell Family Foundation
Big Brothers Big Sisters
Gulf Coast Children’s
Boys And Girls Clubs Of
Rotary Youth Camp Of
Girls Incorporated Of
Toys For Kids Foundation
Junior League Of
Anchorage Children’s Home Of Bay County
Scottish Rite Foundation Of
Sponsors Of Hope Charities
Children’s Home Society Of Florida Emerald Coast Division
Second Chance Of
Bay High Tornados Baseball
Gulf Coast State College Chef’s Club
Early Learning Coalition
Megan Pettis Memorial Scholarship