Sarasota Cigar Box Fest Weekend

Mar 5, 2024 | Blog, Blues Concert, Suncoast Blues News

Sarasota Cigar Box Fest Weekend

March 8-9, 2024

Cigar box guitar fans and blues fans have much to look forward to as Big Top Brewery in Sarasota will be the focal point for a full day of music celebrating home-made instruments.

Hand-crafted string instruments found their start in the blues. Artists like Bo Diddley popularized instruments made from cigar boxes, borrowing a custom created by the sharecroppers who started blues music. The history of blues  is linked to homemade instruments. And this weekend is a musical celebration of this legacy.

Our area is fortunate that Steve Arvey calls it home. Raised on Chicago blues Steve has become one of the world’s premier cigar box guitar (CBG) players. Steve will open the weekend as he performs with  Shane Speal at Hot Sands Tiki Bar in Sarasota on March 8th. Shane is a builder, player, author, and historian of cigar box guitars and built his first instrument in 1993. Shane is credited for helping popularize this musical genre.

Saturday March 9th is the main event. In addition to Steve and Shane performing at Big Top, the fest will welcome John Nickel to Sarasota. A life-long musician beginning at the tender age of two, life events derailed his musical focus until 2009 when he built his first CBG. As John stated, “ I honestly feel like CBGs gave me a second chance at music” And that is the charm of this genre – it’s provided many without financial means, or without time – the ability to pick up an instrument easily and make music.

The Garbage-Men band is what home-made instruments are all about. Billing themselves as “promote recycling reuse & community service by playing music on instruments we make from garbage” you never know what pieces of someone else’s “trash” are turned into their musical, and our, “treasure.”

Resonator guitars, or Dobro’s, found fame in the early days of blues. And at this fest we are delighted to have Devin Williams in attendance. Devin is an emerging star and performs solo Delta Blues. Devin stays true to history while performing songs created by the originators of the genre and writes his own music that will take you back to the early days of blues.

Plenty of vendors will be on site, and our own Gary Drouin of Memphis Rub Band will have his home-built Hurricane Amplifiers at the fest. There will be a raffle for a homemade cigar box guitar.