Suncoast Blues Society Elections

Suncoast Blues Society Elections

4th Annual Bradenton Cigar Box Fest

4th Annual Bradenton Cigar Box Fest

4th Annual Bradenton Cigar Box Fest

4th Annual Bradenton Cigar Box Fest

A spectacular weather day greeted fans for the 4th edition of Bradenton’s Cigar box Guitar Festival. The fest is becoming a “must attend” annual event. Noticeable was the large increase in attendance throughout the four venues hosting the event in Bradenton’s Village of The Arts.

Vendor booths selling Cigar box guitars and merchandise experienced a busy sales day, and many of the fans attended the fest with their newly purchased cigar box guitars.

This review will focus on acts at the largest venue of the four, Birdrock Taco Shack. In addition to David Shiplett’s “Shack,” other shows were at Cottonmouth southern Soul Kitchen, Chef Gaetono’s Ortygia, and The Dude and Mary’s.

While some of the acts were not strictly blues, all played numerous blues or blues-themed songs. This was clear from the opening act, Applebutter Express. A fan favorite, this band is known for their wonderful vocal harmonies. The large crowd in attendance for the 1 PM start time witnessed superb musicianship and a wide range of musical styles. Fronted by Kyle Biss and his non-stop Ukulele playing, Shannon Biss contributes vocals, Jason Baker also sings and plays a mean fiddle; and Zach Rodgers who normally plays upright bass but today sported a Cigarbox bass guitar.

The enthusiastic crowd thoroughly enjoyed the show which contained originals such as “Riley”,“Start a Fire”, and some originals which contain edgier and quirky but thoughtful lyrics. Their range was apparent when they played a bluegrass version of Alice Cooper’s “No More Mister Nice Guy.” Also performed was “Eleanor Rigby.” No wonder this band has played at fests like Wanee.

Next up, local musician Trevor Bystrom brought his Project to the stage. Much like Apple butter Express, Trevor has a large local fan base. “Stone Crab” Steve Arvey, being a part of the project, helped to increase the crowd size. This helped to ensure a close to capacity crowd at Birdrock. The Project {James Hershey, drums; Dominic Santini, bass) joined Trevor and his collection of cigar box guitars and one funky homemade guitar that was made from a goat skin covering and fishing line for the strings.

Trevor has a reggae vibe to his music, which when mixed with blues standards is quite unique and interesting. Trevor’s Anna Maria Island roots infuse his music  and the band delivered some deep cut blues, including from Reverend Gary Davis. Steve joined in for some standard blues issued from his 6-string cigar box guitar.

As expected, the vibe of the festival took a dramatic turn as arriving on the stage was Stumpy Joe (Joe Sweckard) and his ever-present companion, Farney. For those unfamiliar with the Cigarbox community, Farney is Stumpy’s single string bass. From the bottom up, the bass sits on a washtub, has a canoe paddle for the fretboard, and the string is industrial strength weed whacker string. If any instrument best describes what the cigar box community is about, it’s Farney. Stumpy Joe has built an entire sub-culture from his creation.

But do not kid yourself; Stumpy Joe is a fine musician, and frankly, could have a career as a stand-up comic if he chose to do so. Roadside stories appear throughout the act; many are side-splittingly funny, edgy and for adult-only consumption.

Taking the stage with Stumpy was Devin Williams on resonator guitar, with James Hershey on drums. This was my first-time seeing Devin, and  what a player he is. Devin’s finger-picking style classically fits his style of music. Steeped in the blues, Devin performed an excellent version of Keb Mo’s “Am I Wrong.”

Billed as a Pro-Jam, it was not surprising to see Steve Arvey back on stage. With Miguel on harmonica, the group cranked out a serious set of blues based Cigarbox music. Most moving was Steve’s version of “Amazing Grace,” which he dedicated to fellow Chicago blues artist and friend Kraig Kenning.

Closing the show was RB Stone and his unique trans-genre music. Joining RB, it was so good to see Pedro Arevalo (mostly) on bass, with Brent Winner on drums. The former Dickey Betts Band bassist did not disappoint as Pedro and RB played off each other during the opening part of the set, and more so when Trevor Bystrom and Stumpy Joe joined for a jam.

Creativity resulted when Stumpy told a story, that, well, in the spirit of keeping it clean, all that I can say is that I can never listen to Prince’s “Purple Rain” the same way ever again. Capitalizing on the story, RB and Stumpy created an on-the-fly song titled “The High Beams Boogie.” So ended a most memorable and enjoyable Bradenton Cigar Box Festival.

Scott Morris, former Treasurer, Suncoast Blues Society

(photos by Scott Morris) 


2024 – Tampa Bay Blues Festival Tickets

2024 – Tampa Bay Blues Festival Tickets

2024 – Tampa Bay Blues Festival Tickets

*** FINAL DAY FOR DISCOUNTED TICKETS is March 31st 2024 ***


Tampa Blues Festival Tickets, St. Petersburg, FL.  April 12, 13 & 14, 2024

The Tampa Bay Blues Fest is coming soon and your Suncoast Blues Society (SBS) will be back in their usual spot next to the Artist tent.  And what a great lineup – you are not going to want to miss this!

If you are a current member of SBS, you are eligible to receive a $10 discount on your tickets so the cost for members will be:

  • Friday, April 12th – general admission – $60
  • Saturday, April 13th – general admission – $60
  • Sunday, April 14th – general admission – $60
  • 3 Day Pass – general admission – $170
  • NOTE:  We are NOT selling VIP passes

You will receive a confirmation email from the Suncoast Blues Society and your name will be placed on the “will-call” list at the gate.

If you are not a current member, you can sign up today to take advantage of this offer.

If you have any questions, contact us at


10th Anniversary Camping With the Blues October 20-22, 2023

10th Anniversary Camping With the Blues October 20-22, 2023

10th Anniversary Camping With the Blues October 20-22, 2023

10th Anniversary Camping With the Blues
October 20-22, 2023

The venue is now the Florida Sand Music Ranch managed by the Will McLean Foundation.  It was previously the Sertoma Youth Ranch, and its emphasis on music is now even stronger.

Day 1 Friday –

  1. Soulful Femme hit the stage at 5:20pm. Lead singer Stevee Wellons announced she has been working with SBS favorite Kevin Burt and that her new CD contains a duo with her and Kevin. She and guitarist Cheryl Rinovato traveled from Pennsylvania. Great vocals – big sound. Very soulful.
  2. Street Preacher. Very ethnically diverse group. They competed at the IBC last year but were too busy this year, a good thing. They rocked the stage.
  3. Sister Lucille hit the stage at 8pm. Sister puts it all out there, from her head down to her red shoes – even had a song about her shoes. Sister started her career doing country at an early age and played Grand Ole Opry at age 19. They received a Blues Blast Award in 2020. Ended their set with a killer rendition of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Out On The Killing Floor.”
  4. Ray Fuller closed the night with his Texas style country blues that had everyone up rockin’ and dancing.

Day 2 Saturday –

  1. Dockta D and the Powers That Be hit the stage at 12:20pm. Dockta plays that harp and directs his band like a great showman. Always enjoyable. And what a great surprise when “Magic Dick” , famous harp player from the J Geils Band, joined them on stage. Big bonus!
  2. Alex Lopez was next doing what Alex does best – steady rockin’ blues with a purpose.
  3. Billy the Kid & the Regulators. Billy came with a great band. Billy gained fame being the guy that led the jams at Bruce Wheeler’s great Heritage Music Blues Festival in Wheeling, W.V. Good to see Billy. Gets down and dances with the crowd.
  4. David Julia came on at 4:20pm. Appropriate. It’s great to see how David has progressed since we (SBS) sent him to the IBC when he was 18 years old. Covered a favorite Damon Fowler song. Great set – great young man.
  5. Shaw Davis & the Black Ties. There is no doubt about Shaw’s ability to rock a stage.
  6. Joey Gilmore. Joey was like a breath of fresh air. Everyone was starving for some real Blues. Joey delivered. Rich golden voice supreme. Joey, among others, was very appreciative of our crowd that really knows when something is real. Joey got cheered like no one else.
  7. Slim and the Perkolators! While introducing the band Slim ends by saying, “and I’m Slim and I play a child’s toy.” Their music and Slim’s antics on stage have a childlike innocence. It all works and the fun they have on stage draws the crowd in.

Day 3 Sunday –

  1. Kurt Allen. This great band traveled from Kansas City to show their skills. Soulful, driving blues. Good bass lines – good vocals. Hope to see more of these guys in Florida.
  2. Eric Demmer. There was a lot of buzz about this band before their arrival. Rumors had it that Eric had just signed with Mike Zito’s Gulf Coast Records. They traveled from Houston and they did not disappoint. Hugo, their very demonstrative lead guitar, was very entertaining. Eric sings and plays a mean saxophone. Their bass player, “Double D,” is a Florida native and will help get this band back to Florida soon to perform. It’s in the works – stay tuned. Very entertaining!
  3. Frank Bang. Local favorite Frank gained notoriety while working at Buddy Guy’s Legends in Chicago. Always a favorite.
  4. The Jimmys. Wisconsin band making their much anticipated return to Florida after playing the Bradenton Blues Fest 2 years ago and the SBS 25th Anniversary Party at Skipper’s last year. Great lyrics are often humorous. These guys have fun on stage and it transmits to the crowd. Very talented musicians.

Lafayette Reid


TGRN True Grit Roots Network, LLC. Launches TGRN BLUES

TGRN True Grit Roots Network, LLC. Launches TGRN BLUES

TGRN True Grit Roots Network, LLC. Launches TGRN BLUES

TGRN True Grit Roots Network, LLC. Launches TGRN BLUES

Austin, TX, September 1, 2023 – TGRN True Grit Roots Network (TGRN), a Digital Radio Network dedicated to roots music, is pleased to announce the launch of TGRN BLUES, a 24×7, Digital Radio Channel dedicated to keeping the Blues alive and thriving as of September 5, 2023. TGRN BLUES is readily available through any streaming device in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom through our Mobile App, Live365 Player, Alexa, Roku, Samsung TV, Apple TV, and other popular streaming platforms. We are a FREE, non-subscription-based service for all Blues music fans to enjoy.

Led by Founder and CEO, Jonathan Richards, “TGRN BLUES fills a widening void of quality, original programming with educated and passionate Blues Personalities.” Vinny Marini, a veteran radio personality, and newly named Program Director of TGRN BLUES, feels the same, “It has been a dream to put together a group of Blues lovers & educators, to allow them to share their passion for this genre, and we are just beginning.”

Eleven radio personalities will bring a diverse mix of Blues along with R&B, Zydeco and Gospel programming from across North America. Radio Personalities include: The Real Lady A, Gina Coleman, Ray Brown, Angela Easley, Holly Harris, Jeff Hayes, “Big Daddy” Ray Hansen, Amber Hill, “Memphis” Mark Sonnemann, Vinny Marini, and Jonathan “Oogie” Richards.  

More information for show schedules and station news is available at  (  TGRN True Grit Roots Network – Austin, TX