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Grace Potter headlines ’24 Tampa Bay Blues Festival

Bill DeYoung



Roots rock/blues singer and songwriter Grace Potter performs Friday. Photo: Adrien Broom/Shore Fire Media.

Headlining this weekend’s 19th Tampa Bay Blues Festival in St. Pete’s Vinoy Park is roots rock/blues singer and songwriter Grace Potter, who’s now touring (and making records) without her longtime band, the Nocturnals.

Potter and her husband, producer Eric Valentine, moved with their young son from California to Vermont, Potter’s home state, shortly after the reins were lifted on the pandemic.

Valentine had produced Potter’s first-ever solo album, 2019’s Daylight, and was at the controls for its 2023 followup, Mother Road.

The music swims between down ‘n’ dirty rock and blues, gritty funk and cinematic drop-ins from ‘40s and ‘50s country music and spaghetti western atmospherics, and something else altogether (the ambitious and eerie “Lady Vagabond”).

She wrote the semi-autobiographical songs during a later highway back-and-forth between California and Vermont, telling the San Diego Union-Tribune “I’m a very safe driver, but I go dangerously fast when I’m alone, and I think there’s something to that, and I noticed it on the first trip where the music or my thoughts would actually slow me down.

“It was mainly the speed would come when I was not listening to any music. Maybe I was just literally like, I don’t want to think anymore. I just want to drive and, like a race car driver, I want to zoom in on and have tunnel vision for where I’m going and think of absolutely nothing else and it’s such an amazing meditative way to clear out the cobwebs for me.”

Potter headlines Friday (April 12), the first of three festival days. Her set is 8:30-10 p.m. Other Friday performers: King Solomon Hicks, 12:30-2 p.m.; Altered Five Blues Band, 2:30-4 p.m.; Bywater Call, 4:30- 6 p.m.; Blood Brothers, 6:30-8 p.m.

Saturday’s headliner (8:30-10 p.m.) is the remarkable Larkin Poe, featuring Georgia sisters Rebecca and Megan Lovell, on guitar/vocal and lap steel, respectively.

The sisters, whose live gigs (and records) are augmented by a bassist and drummer, are equally adept at blues-infused acoustic music and hard-charging, swampy electric blues.

Four of the songs on their most recent album, Blood Harmony, were also recorded and released in acoustic versions.

The Catalyst interviewed the Lovell sisters in 2022. Read that interview.

Other Saturday stage performers are singer/guitarist Samantha Fish, a longtime bay area favorite (6:30-8 p.m.); Lil’ Ed & the Blues Imperials (4:30-6 p.m.); Robert Jon & the Wreck (2:30-4 p.m.); Southern Avenue (1-2 p.m.); Cash Box Kings (11:30 a.m.-noon).

Louisiana blues guitar great Tab Benoit is Sunday’s headliner; his resonant, powerful singing voice reminds many of the late and very missed Stevie Ray Vaugh. Here’s the Sunday lineup: Ally Venable, 1-2 p.m.; Bernard Allison, 2:30-4 p.m.; Anson Funderburgh & the Rockets, 4:30-6 p.m.. Coco Montoya, 6:30-8 p.m.; Tab Benoit, 8:30-10 p.m.

Blood Brothers (featuring guitarists Mike Zito and Albert Castiglia) will also play a Blues Festival kickoff concert Thursday at the Palladium Theater.

Find all tickets, and additional details, at this link.

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