Great music and perfect weather highlight the Sunshine Music Festival

Karl Denson's Tiny Universe

By Chyrisse Tabone, Rock At Night Tampa Correspondent

DSC_5958-1Rock At Night attended the Sunshine Music Festival in St. Petersburg, Florida on January 16th for a full day of music featuring top notch bands in the blues, funk, and indie-folk genres. The weather was a gorgeous sunny and 70 degrees, unlike last year’s festival which demonstrated the typical cold (for Florida) and rainy weather of the month of January. The festival featured two stages and alternated bands so everyone could partake in the music and not have to “pick and choose” which bands to see– like some festivals.

The festival featured plenty of vendors with the usual Bohemian fare like tie-dyed t-shirts, guitar pick jewelry, Mexican blankets, and plenty of silver jewelry. There were food trucks galore which offered everything from paella to kabobs and stir fries and carnival goodies. Alcoholic beverages were available for those that really wanted to chill and enjoy the music. I do have to note one has to be prepared to pay top dollar for the food (kind of like going to the movie theatre these days). A $7 corn dog is a little stiff but that kind of goes with the territory.

Overall, the general admission of $50 is really quite a deal considering the price of concert tickets today. The bands were top notch and everyone seemed to be having a blast. The crowd appeared to be mostly the “WMNF radio station crowd” or those that appreciate eclectic music. The age seemed to average between the 40s and 50s although there were 20-somethings roaming around.

DSC_5959-1The line-up was really enjoyable and I finally got to see a lot of new bands. One of my personal favorites was British blues artist Joanne Shaw Taylor, who opened the festival at 11:30 a.m. It was a little early for some folks but she put on a very energetic show and was smiling the whole time. She noted that it was nice being in out of rainy England and in St. Petersburg.

Another up and coming fan favorite was The Revivalists. The charismatic lead singer David Shaw had everybody on their feet. He jumped off the stage and into the photo pit, shaking the hands of people in the crowd. More dancing and boogieing ensued when Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe played down-home funk and even paid homage to David Bowie by playing their version of “Young Americans”.

Another highlight was the Hard Working Americans whose lead singer Todd Snider looked like Brad Pitt but danced like Mick Jagger. Other more indie-folk or blues artists included Bobby Lee Rodgers, The Jerry Douglas Band, the Indigo Girls, and Jorma Kaukonen.

As the sun set more funk and dance music erupted with the sounds of Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue. This band was hot! No wonder they play at the White House annually.

Finally, the headliner Tedeschi Trucks Band appeared on the main stage. They had two drum kits, a full horn section, organ, and chorus to accompany Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi on guitar. I have seen the band on several occasions and they never cease to amaze. They are truly the power couple in the blues genre and always put on a dynamite show. One of my personal favorites was a cover of The Box Tops “The Letter”. Tedeschi’s voice is perfect for blues with its husky and textured nuances.

The festival was a long day but jam packed with quality music.



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Chyrisse Tabone, Ph.D.
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