A Community Comes Together for the Arts

Thank you to the 15,000 people who attended ArtSlam, and the 175 artists, 10 bands, 100 volunteers, and sponsors who made the event possible – Presenting Sponsor BMO | Harris Bank, Women’s Exchange Inc., Tropical Cadillac, Sarasota Magazine, and the Downtown Development Authority.

We love this story of Bradenton developer “Bernie Croghan who was attending his first ArtSlam. He said in the 34 years he has lived in the city, he has never seen anything like it.

Croghan, like many, has noticed the revitalization of the city, driven by the River Walk project, the new Hampton Inn and Suites (the remade Manatee River Hotel) and host of community events, like ArtSlam and the Bradenton Blues Festival.

“When I moved here, I couldn’t picture much of anything happening downtown,” he said. “Now we have two, large, semi-annual events and a revitalized downtown.”

Croghan left this message on the labyrinth: Art expresses value, and art creates value.” From the article ArtSlam brings renaissance of sorts to downtown Bradenton, Sarasota Herald Tribune, March 8, 2014.

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ArtSlam: A Sense of What is to Come

By Wade Hamilton

I stood on the corner of Old Main Street and 4th Ave W in Downtown Bradenton.  The wind was whipping a misting rain on one of the rare wintery days we Floridians experience.

Just in case I forgot where I was, there was a hint of burning orange peels in the air from the Tropicana plant to remind me.  Yet all I could think about was what this place would look, feel, and smell like in a few weeks.

In 2012, ArtSlam was relocated to celebrate the opening of one of “The Friendly City’s” greatest attractions, Bradenton’s brand new Riverwalk.

In 2013, Realize Bradenton announced that the fourth annual ArtSlam is coming back to Old Main Street. It is a celebration of the arts that will delight any and all of your senses on Saturday, March 8, noon-10 p.m.

Throughout the morning, the event will coexist with the Bradenton’s Farmers’ Market and then transition into a full on sensory explosion featuring over twenty artistic teams and ten musical performances.

According to Realize Bradenton’s executive director, Johnette Isham, this family-friendly festival features multiple teams of artists offering interactive creative projects, a variety of local bands, random acts of art, video art, and even an eco-friendly labyrinth. Isham says the festival is largely interactive with plenty of opportunities for audiences to become part of the creative process.

Isham explains that ArtSlam installations will be created “live” along Old Main Street. “Because there is no set theme, collaborative teams will creatively use existing streetscape sites while engaging the general public in brief contemporary art experiences,” she says.

The Bradenton Downtown Development Authority, Sarasota Magazine, BMO Harris Bank and the Woman’s Exchange, Inc. are sponsoring ArtSlam 2014. They are both great supporters of events like this, because of their interest in local arts and culture.

ArtSlam will extend past Old Main Street to include the Manatee Performing Arts Center, ArtCenter Manatee, Village of the Arts, the Da Vinci Machines exhibit, and South Florida Museum. Isham explains that free trolleys with downtown ambassador tour guides will circulate between these cultural organizations and Old Main Street creating “an informative and fun mobile experience.” Free pedicabs will also be available to extend the mobile experience.

All of these great places provide space for artist interpretation and inspiration. The artist teams have taken the proverbial ball and run with it.  There will be an outdoor art gallery presented by TheVillageMagazine.net which will bring artists from around the region into a traditional gallery that will occupy a non-traditional space, “The Brickyard” behind O’Bricks Irish Pub and Martini Bar. There will also be interactive exhibits like “Get Your Hands Dirty” with Denise Kowal (Sarasota Chalk Festival), “Spin Art” with Caui Lofgren (IMG Academy), and a once-in-a-lifetime experience to hand paint a Cadillac supplied by Tropical Cadillac. There will even be an “Edible Mosaic Mural” from the chefs and students at MTI Culinary School.

In addition to the daytime activities and other art installations, there will be another set of visually stimulating nighttime presentations. One of which is the “Experimental Video Projection” team from Ringling College of Art and Design, led by Dee Hood. You can expect to see a few live performances on and off of Old Main Street.  The Fuzion Dance team will wow you with one of their contemporary performances, and you can take the trolley down to the Manatee Performing Arts Center to see one of the “Dramature” improv sessions throughout the day.

The free trolley and pedicabs will be running from Old Main Street to all of the off-site cultural partners during the event to see these innovative projects:

-“Plastics Unwrapped” – a three dimensional vignette using upcycled materials – on the west lawn of the South Florida Musuem

-“Puppet Power Project” – with interactive puppet making stations and a Puppet Procession – in the Village of the Arts

-The American Watercolor Society’s 146th Traveling Exhibition at ArtCenter Manatee

-The previously mentioned “Dramature” performances by Manatee Players.

On the corner of Old Main Street and 4th Ave West will be the main music stage featuring musical acts like Kristopher James, Michael Miller of The Heart Machine, Jun Bustamante, The Northwest, Seven Years Past, and The Wallies. There will also be other local acts playing and performing throughout the day along the event site.

It is yet another free event organized by Realize Bradenton, and all are welcome!  Bring your kids to introduce them to local and regional culture, bring your friends from out of town and show off what Bradenton has to offer. But most of all, bring yourself. You deserve a good time in a great community where art brings all your senses to life.

About Realize Bradenton

Realize Bradenton is a non-profit organization that builds community and promotes economic development through collaborative events, partnerships, and interactive strategies. We help make downtown Bradenton one of the best riverfront communities in the country. For more information, visit:www.RealizeBradenton.com.

Manatee River Nostalgia

by Lisa Jiron

ArtConnectsLogosWhen creating my art piece and researching about the history of the town, the word “river” was constantly mentioned. The Manatee River was like our modern day transportation systems, but a bit more versatile.

Manatee River NostalgiaEarly settlers settled down by the river fishing, eating and hunting. As time progressed, Bat Fogarty had established his “boat works.” While researching at the Manatee Historical Village Park, we saw his boat show and rowboats. We learned about his shop and how the rowboats were used for transportation, getting products shipped, and even for recreational purposes.

In the end I decided to incorporate those two into a single image to visually illustrate the Manatee River and the simple life back then before all the modes of transportation that we use today came about. Lastly, the reason I named it “Manatee River Nostalgia” is because the quaint atmosphere of Bradenton made me wish I lived in this time period to experience it for myself.

Question-Mark-SMIf the Manatee River didn’t exist, would you think that Bradenton would have developed and sustained people in the pioneer stage of the town?

Lisa Jiron, a student at Braden River High School, was a participant in Realize Bradenton’s Project Art Connects during the summer 2012. Project Art Connects is an innovative project for high school and college students that uses art and history to connect students to the heritage of their community. The project is supported by the Knight Fund of the Manatee Community Foundation along with numerous other local sponsors. 

Backstage at the Bradenton Blues Festival

by Wade Hamilton

Crowd 1It was a beautiful day on December 7 at the Bradenton Riverwalk Pavilion for the Bradenton Blues Festival. It was hours away from kicking off when I was introduced to my team. We were given the task of assisting the festival producer, Paul Benjamin. I learned Paul loves two things; blues music festivals and making sure they run on schedule. It was the job of four amateur production assistants to make sure Paul was not disappointed.

We quickly split into two groups. Ben Bakker and I were assigned to be “runners” for the musicians and their “gear.” Dev Walker and Aaron Tobin were given the job of stagehand. While Ben and I were zooming back and forth on our golf carts to hunt and gather the many musicians from their temporary residence at the Marriott Courtyard hotel, Dev and Aaron were tasked with making sure everything was in order on and off the stage for the musicians.

Eddie Shaw

Our job was made much easier by the upgrade in stage equipment that Realize Bradenton and Mojoe Productions brought this year. According to Paul Benjamin, the backline of speakers, amplifiers and all other audio equipment was repeatedly noted by all those involved as “high-quality.” What that meant for me and my team was that we had to shuffle and set up a lot less equipment the day of the event. When you are looking at a 14-hour workday, any respite from heavy lifting is seen as a positive.

The doors to the festival opened at 10 am, and that is when the adventures truly began. We waited in the lobby of the hotel for our first act, Albert Castiglia, to finish his continental breakfast. His set time began at 11 am, and it was our job to make sure Albert had enough time to set up and get ready to open the show. He was impressed by our professionalism and hospitality. We were yet another set of ambassadors in Bradenton’s continued effort to be known as one of the “friendliest” cities in the country. We approached every interaction with that in mind. Albert made it easy, as he was ready and willing to make the 2nd Annual Bradenton Blues Festival better than the last!

Throughout the day, Ben and I could be seen going full speed in our golf carts (albeit full speed was about 15 mph). Each trip brought a new set of events. Johnny Rawls and his group were cool, calm and quiet professionals. Most of the conversation with them was about the wonderful weather, and nice it was for a December day.

During one trip we blew a tire while on our way in the six-seat Club Car to pick up John Nemeth and his merry band of bluesmen. Not only were they courteous and patient, they were some of the most down-to-earth people I ever met. I was able to hear a couple of their songs while waiting backstage, and their amazing talent definitely matched their great attitudes.

During another one of our cart malfunctions we were greeted with a little banter from Anthony Gomes and his team of colorful musicians. They were by far one of the most animated groups we met that day. Anthony describes his collection of instruments and other equipment as that of a “gear hoarder.” Ben and I made a couple of trips back and forth to get him, his fellow bandmates and all their gear from the hotel to the stage. It was worth it once we got to see them perform the National Anthem on stage.

Jesse and Doug D and Harp manWe were treated with stories of road wisdom from Eddie Shaw and The Wolfgang. Eddie has been playing professionally since 1957, so it is safe to say that he has plenty of stories to tell. However, getting to hear them in person was quite a treat. Another treat was getting to hear them bring their Chicago style blues to an excited Bradenton crowd. They even played a song with special guest Jesse Yawn on vocals. Jesse is a native Floridian, who fully represented what December 7, 2013, was all about because he is a veteran of blues music festivals and a veteran of the US Army.

When we picked up Trampled Under Foot’s Danielle and Kris Schnebelen, we were delighted to see that they had very little to cart over besides themselves. Even less because the third member of their family band, Nick Schnebelen, was at home taking care of his newborn baby. Albert Castiglia graciously agreed to play in his place, and he did a great job filling in on short notice. Once they took the stage, the crowd was served some Kansas City blues and an epic drum solo to finish off the set.

Our final few trips were to pick up Shemekia Copeland and her bandmates. They were an amiable bunch; both before and after their set. On the way to the stage from the hotel, they were talkative from the start. They asked questions about the area’s attractions and nightlife, and showed genuine appreciation for our efforts. After a great display of impressive vocal and musical talent, to close out the show, they still had plenty of energy to expend. That included Shemekia serenading all those in and around the cart on our way back to the hotel with her golden voice. I could not think of a better way to end my night.

It was a great experience for me, and one I would not trade for anything. It was a long day of hard work, yet it seemed to go by in a flash. It was a pleasure to team up with Ben Bakker, Aaron Tobin and Dev Walker. It was a joy to be part of Realize Bradenton’s team of volunteers and staff members. But most of all it was an honor to be an ambassador for Bradenton, the friendly city that keeps getting better with every event we put together.

I’ve Got the Blues Selfie Contest

Tweet a Selfie for a chance to win tickets to the 2014 Bradenton Blues Festival!

During the Dec. 7, 2013, Bradenton Blues Festival tweet us a photo of yourself enjoying this year’s event and you will be entered into a random drawing for 2 tickets to next year’s festival plus a hotel room.

#Selfie by Doug Deming 2013 Blues Fest Performer

#Selfie by Doug Deming
2013 Blues Fest Performer

To participate:

1. Take a “Selfie” at the Bradenton Blues Festival, Dec. 7, 2013. Include a festival t-shirt, program book or signage to show everyone you were there!

2. Tag your photo with #BradentonBlues13 AND #Selfie. It’s important to use both hashtags.

3. Tweet your selfie to Realize Bradenton @RealBradenton during the festival starting at 10 am and ending at 8 pm.

The winner will be drawn on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, and contacted via social media. The winner will have 24 hours to confirm acceptance of the prize, after which time another winner will be drawn.

Good luck and have fun!

Make a Weekend of the Blues December 6-8!

BRADENTON BLUES FEST_Shemekia Copeland_02

To celebrate the second annual Bradenton Blues Festival, which takes place Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013, downtown Bradenton will buzz with blues concerts and outdoor festivities Dec. 6-8, 2013. “We wanted to extend the terrific excitement already built up around the festival,” says Johnette Isham, executive director of Realize Bradenton, the organization powering the Bradenton Blues Festival and Bradenton Blues Weekend, along with multiple community partners and sponsors.

“The Bradenton area is a hotbed of celebrated blues musicians and blues bars and we want to amplify the blues buzz! This year blues fans can spend the entire weekend grooving on the blues.” Isham says that a free trolley will bring celebrants to downtown performing spots Friday between 5-10 pm, and to the festival Saturday from 9 am – midnight.

According to Isham, tickets to the Bradenton Blues Festival are quickly selling out. She urges blues fans to buy their tickets online in advance of the festival. “You can still buy tickets at our website for $30,” she says, adding that tickets at the gage are $40. Group sales for 10 or more are $25 in advance.

Blues Weekend Highlights


Blues on Main

Friday, Dec. 6, 5-10pm, Old Main Street, Bradenton

Three blues duos perform on pedestrian-friendly Old Main Street in downtown Bradenton. Food and craft vendors will be on site.

Deja Blues in The Blues Lounge with Johnny Rawls

Friday, Dec. 6, 7 pm-midnight, The Brickyard, 427 12th St. W., Bradenton

Celebrated blues guitarist Johnny Rawls has “a knack with a fret board and a rapid-fire staccato blues lead.” (World’s Greatest Critic) Experience his blues smoothness in person — before the Bradenton Blues Festival the next day. Tickets, which are $125, include premium open bar, food and entertainment. $75 of ticket proceeds benefit the Women’s Resource Center of Manatee. For more information and to purchase tickets call 941-747-6797 or visit ww.wrcmanatee.org.

The Blues Appetizer Concert: Selwyn Birchwood & Steve Arvey

Friday Dec. 6, 6-9 pm, Riverwalk Pavilion, 452 Third Ave., Bradenton

This free concert showcases Selwyn Birchwood and Steve Arvey on the big stage of the 2013 Bradenton Blues Festival. Bring a blanket. Beverages and food will be available. Event sponsor is Mojoe Productions.

Second Annual Bradenton Blues Festival (#BradentonBlues13)

Saturday, Dec. 7, 10 am-8pm, Bradenton’s RiverWalk

The annual festival features a stellar team of top blues artists on the downtown RiverWalk. This year’s lineup includes Shemekia Copeland, Eddie Shaw and the Wolfgang, Trampled Under Foot, Anthony Gomes, John Nemeth, Johnny Rawls, Albert Castiglia, Doug Deming and the Jewel Tones with Dennis Gruenling. Bring a blanket. Beverages and food will be available. Presenting sponsor is BMO Harris Bank leading 69 other sponsors.

Blues on Main with Sarasota Slim

Saturday, Dec. 7, 5-11 pm, Old Main Street, Bradenton

Enjoy food, beverages and handmade crafts offered by local vendors.

Tarpon Pointe Blues with Chris Duarte

Saturday, Dec. 7, 7pm-midnight, Tarpon Pointe Grill & Tiki Bar, 801 RIverside Drive E., Bradenton

Experience blues legend Chris Duarte up close and personal for an after-festival jam.

Gospel Blues Brunch

Sunday, Dec. 8, 11 am-1 pm, Old Main Street, Bradenton

Grab brunch from a downtown restaurant or gourmet food truck and enjoy a free gospel blues concert with the West Coast Black Theater Troupe. The performance is noon to 1 pm and sponsored by Michael Saunders of Manatee County.


BRADENTON BLUES FEST_JOHNNY RAWLS_01The Bradenton Blues Festival returns to downtown Bradenton’s Riverwalk, December 7, 2013. The 2013 lineup includes the acclaimed young vocalist Shemekia Copeland; the celebrated Eddie Shaw & the Wolfgang; musical siblings Danielle, Kris and Nick Schnebelen of the critically acclaimed Trampled Under Foot; guitarist, singer, and songwriter Anthony Gomes; rising blues star John Nemeth; Mississippi soul-blues man Johnny Rawls; Doug Deming and the Jewel Tones with Dennis Gruenling band; and soulful, rising blues star, Albert Castiglia.

Tickets are $30 in advance; $40 at the gate; $25 per person for groups of 10 or more; $20 for students; and $10 for children, ages 5-12. Children four and under will be admitted free. Festival merchandise, including 2013 festival posters, t-shirts, baseball caps and a handful of last year’s iconic limited-edition poster, are on sale at Keeton’s Office and Art Supply, 817 Manatee Avenue West in downtown Bradenton, and online at a site hosted by Manatee Apparel Graphics at www.manateeapparel.com/realizebradenton/home. Shirts and hats are $20 each, or $35 for both. 2012 posters are $50. The 2013 festival posters, in a limited-edition of 200 and signed by the artist, are on sale now. Proceeds from the festival support Realize Bradenton’s downtown music and art programs.

For more information or to buy tickets, visit www.BradentonBluesFestival.org. Follow the fun the day of the event on Facebook and twitter using #BradentonBlues13.


The 2013 Bradenton Blues Festival Sponsors:

Presenting Sponsor

BMO Harris Bank

Hosting Sponsors

Realize Bradenton

Blues Music Magazine

Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

Downtown Development Authority
City of Bradenton

Blues Kings

Florida Blue

Manatee Memorial Hospital

L.A. Events, Inc.,

Manatee Printers Inc.

Pier 22

Mary GrandPré

ArteFact Design

Sarasota Magazine

SEE Magazine
Biz (941)

Urology Partners

Bryan Gordon Design

Bradenton Herald

Bright House Networks


Cool Cats

Tarpon Pointe Grill & Tiki Bar

Coastal Orthopedics

New Orleans


Jeffcoat Blueprint

Mojoe Productions

Callaghan Tire


SRQ Sarasota Bradenton International Airport

Anna Maria Oyster Bar
Halfway Bar

Where Will We Go Tonight

Turner Tree & Landscape

Suncoast Gems

NDC Construction Company

Manatee Apparel Graphics

Gold Coast Eagle

Dr. Mark T. Elfervig, DDS

Duncan Real Estate, Inc.

Hampton Inn & Suites Bradenton Downtown Historic District

Andersen Racepark

Fawley Bryant Architecture

Bealls Inc.

Chicago Blues

Manatee Sarasota Eye Clinic

Courtyard Marriott Bradenton

Iaboni Real Estate Inc.

Manson Roofing Inc.

Cortez Foot & Ankle Specialists

Zamikoff, Klement, Jungman, Varga, DDS

Air & Energy

Goodwill Manasota

USA Fence


Planned Parenthood

Sandbar Seafood & Spirits

Stewart Engineering Consultants

WUSF Public Media

The Eye Depot

Tidy Coast Event Services

Suncoast Blues Society

Fetch Pet Care Bradenton

Hillstrom Facial Plastic Surgery

Michael & Christy Messer

AutoNation Ford Bradenton

1st Quadrant Asset Management

Blues Bar Buzz

Ocean Blues Bar & Grill

Cork’s Cigar Bar

The Blue Rooster

Ace’s Live

Flying Dog Cafe


About Realize Bradenton

Realize Bradenton is a non-profit organization that builds community and promotes economic development through collaborative events, strategic partnerships, and interactive strategies. We help make downtown Bradenton one of the best riverfront communities in the country. For more information, visit: www.RealizeBradenton.com.


Every Day I Got the Blues with Legendary Bluesman Jesse Yawn

by Chris Thibaut

DSC_2914_3616 copyAs a photographer I work for Realize Bradenton quite often. Last week I had the pleasure of photographing Jesse Yawn, a 76-year old true Bluesman, who will perform at the second Bradenton Blues Festival on December 7. He will be singing “Every Day I Got the Blues” with Eddie Shaw & the Wolfgang at about 5 pm.

When I first arrived at Jesse’s home to photograph him, he realized my love of music (especially the blues). We talked non-stop about his amazing career, including stories of gigs in the great old blues bars of the 50s and 60s — the same ones my parents told me about as a young boy. We spoke the common language of music and instantly hit it off.

As we sat on his front porch for almost two hours, we compared histories of the music biz (I worked in the business in the early 70s). Jesse told me of his younger days growing up in Bradenton — long before integration— in the early 40s and of his brother’s Gospel music radio show on Sunday mornings. I could have listened to him for hours more, but I had to get my photos of Jesse to Realize Bradenton for a news release.

Jesse has invited me back to continue our conversations, which I intend to do. The main thing I have taken away from my time with Jesse is that we all need to put down our tablets, our computers and our phones and have these conversations while we can, before all the great stories are lost.

Thank you, Jesse Yawn, for taking the time to share your stories with me. I can’t wait to photograph you again on stage at the Bradenton Blues Festival.

Christopher Thibaut is a local photographer and supports Realize Bradenton’s photography. His work showcasing our events, local nature and auto photos can be seen at http://www.flickr.com/photos/tebographics/

Own a Piece of the Blues!

One-of-a-Kind Treasures Commemorating the 2013 Bradenton Blues Festival are up for bid.

BRADENTON BLUES FEST_2013 artwork sml

Proceeds from the auction of original artwork by Mary GrandPré and custom-designed “Blue Note” diamond earrings by Tom Seguin will benefit Realize Bradenton’s music and youth programs.

Realize Bradenton, the non-profit behind the Bradenton Blues Festival, is taking bids on “Blues 2,” the original artwork created for the festival by celebrated Harry Potter illustrator Mary GrandPré. Also on the auction block are “Blue Note” diamond earrings valued at $3,500 and created for Realize Bradenton by master gemologist and appraiser Tom Sequin.

“This is a unique opportunity to own a one-of-a-kind creation and also support a great event and cause,” said Johnette Isham, executive director of Realize Bradenton. “We’re extremely grateful to Mary GrandPré and Tom Seguin for their generosity and dedication to the festival and to our community.”

“Blues 2″ is an original 30″ by 30″ acrylic/collage panel created expressly for the 2013 Bradenton Blues Festival. For the second year in a row Mary GrandPré has illustrated the Bradenton Blues Festival poser and also donated the original artwork — a collector’s item — to benefit Realize Bradenton’s youth outreach programs.

2013 BBF_Blue Note Earrings smlMaster gemologist Tom Seguin has added more sparkle to this year’s auction with his donation of the “Blue Note” earrings, a pair of 14-karat white gold and diamond earrings custom designed for the festival by his company Suncoast Gems. The earrings sport two blue diamonds weighing a total of 0.38 karats with VS-2 clarity, and 56 round brilliant cut diamonds of G to H in color and VS clarity, with a total weight of 0.86 karats. The public is invited to view these creations and make a bid at Suncoast Gems, 4016 Cortez Road West, Suite 1201, Bradenton.

Starting bids on both items are $1,500 and bid increments are $100. Bidding is open through Wednesday, December 4, 2013. The final live auction will take place around 6 pm at the Bradenton Blues Festival Saturday, December 7, just before acclaimed blues vocalist Shemekia Copeland takes the stage.

Additional Bradenton Blues Festival merchandise and memorabilia include t-shirts, hats and a handful of last year’s iconic limited edition poster — all on sale at Keeton’s Office and Art Supply, 817 Manatee Avenue West in downtown Bradenton, or online at this website hosted by Manatee Apparel Graphics. Shirts and hats are $20 each, or $35 for both. Posters are $50. The 2013 festival posters, in a limited-edition of 200 and signed by the artist are also on sale now.

Isham urges interested Blues fans to visit Keetons, Suncoast Gems and the apparel website soon to get their piece of the blues. “Quantities are limited and these items are selling fast,” she said.

2013 BBF_T-Shirts in Action sml

The 2013 Bradenton Blues Festival, a family-friendly day of top blues stars and inspired food and art, returns to downtown Bradenton’s Riverwalk December 7. The lineup includes acclaimed young vocalist Shemekia Copeland, the celebrated Eddie Shaw & the Wolfgang, musical siblings Danielle, Kris and Nick Schnebelen of the critically acclaimed Trampled Under Foot, guitarist, singer and songwriter Anthony Gomes, rising blues star John Nemeth, Mississippi soul-blues man Johnny RawlsDoug Deming and the Jewel Tones band with Dennis Gruenling, and soulful, rising blues star Albert Castiglia.

Tickets are $30 in advance, $40 at the gate; $25 per person for groups of 10 or more; $20 for students; and $10 for children, ages 5-12. Children four and under will be admitted free. For more information or to buy tickets, visit www.BradentonBluesFestival.org.

Pickin’ Picnic in “The Friendly City”

by Wade Hamilton
David Lester, Justin Labadie and Doug Harnish of Faceless Bandits. Photo by Ed Midler

David Lester, Justin Labadie and Doug Harnish of Faceless Bandits. Photo by Ed Midler

The latest version of the semi-annual music festival known as the Pickin’ Picnic occurred on October 19, 2013. It was another resounding success by my account, and by many others. The green grass at the Riverwalk Pavillion was filled with people lounging in their lawn chairs and on their picnic blankets. The music was wonderful and the food was delicious.

Everyone enjoyed having food and drinks on the one year anniversary of Bradenton’s Riverwalk, whether they brought them from home or purchased something from vendors like Suncoast Food Trucks and Second Street Bistro. The musicians performed from 4 to 10 pm, and there was something for everyone. The stellar lineup included Faceless Bandits, Geri X, Waking Giants, Muphin Chuckrs and Have Gun, Will Travel.

However, it was another recurring theme that permeated the conversations between those in attendance. We repeatedly overheard appreciation and compliments on the “friendly” nature of the event. Geri Micheva (aka Geri X) was impressed by the accommodations that she received from the staff and volunteers of Realize Bradenton. Whether it was their general friendly demeanor or the way they always had the musician’s needs in mind, band members felt welcomed.

One member of the Realize Bradenton team was showered with praise by DeLaran Withers and other members of Waking Giants. They pointed to the overall hospitality that they received upon arrival and all throughout their experience at the Pickin’ Picnic.

Matt Burke of Have Gun, Will Travel was impressed by the willingness of Realize Bradenton’s team to help in any way possible. He took advantage of that by having Tifiany Dalto sell the band’s merchandise while they played on stage.

Justin Labadie from Faceless Bandits thanked the sponsors for continuing to support them and other local Bradenton bands on stage during their set, and Dan Edwards from Muphin Chuckrs provided a similar sentiment after the show.

Realize Bradenton’s team of staff and volunteers continue to personify Bradenton’s nickname of “The Friendly City.” Among the friendly attitudes were the City of Bradenton’s Public Works team, Downtown Development Authority, City Council and Mayor Wayne Poston. Without which, none of this could have happened. It was a relaxing atmosphere where people could sit by the Manatee River and enjoy the entertainment in a pristine public park. Even the vendors should receive accolades for their friendly service and character. Finally, I was impressed by the cordial behavior of the people who came out to support their city’s local emerging musicians, including Ed Midler of Sarasota Music Scene and our other media sponsors. It impresses me how great the community of Bradenton and its surrounding areas can be, and it makes me proud to call this place home.

If you missed this event or if you are looking for another chance to enjoy an outdoor music event, I have good news for you. You will have a chance to see Kettle of Fish on November 1 and The Applebutter Express on November 8 at the Mosaic Amphitheater in the final two shows of Realize Bradenton’s Music in the Park fall series.

Make sure you follow the Pickin Picnic on Facebook, and go to www.realizebradenton.com for a calendar of upcoming events.

Wade Hamilton is a Bradenton native who is partnering with Realize Bradenton to promote local art and music.  His other works include an online short story fiction series called “Diary of a 3rd Person.”  He recently signed on to be the Creative Director of the Pickin’ Picnic and Art Slam 2014 for Realize Bradenton.

Hey Bradenton! It’s that time of year again…

by Holly Lundgren

The Downtown Bradenton Farmers’ Market returns this Saturday, Oct. 5, from 9 am to 2 pm on Old Main Street.

Farmers' Market Logo

The Bradenton Farmers’ Market is back and better than ever! The market will take place every Saturday in October through May on Old Main Street between Manatee Avenue and 4th Avenue West in downtown Bradenton. Not only is this season loaded with fun events and activities, it also kicks off an exciting new partnership with the Suncoast Food Alliance. Are you as excited as we are?

In addition to a new partnership with the Suncoast Food Alliance, the market will offer many fun and engaging programs, such as Chef at the Market, Mainly Art and a variety of family activities. Here’s what is going on in October:

Chef at the Market

Mouthwatering aromas draw crowds to the Chef at the Market booth, where the area’s best chefs conduct cooking demonstrations and offer expert advice on turning the market’s seasonal produce into delectable dishes.

Fresh Produce

On Oct. 5, OPENING DAY, at 11 am David Shiplett, chef-owner of SOMA Creek Side, will be the first Chef at the Market.

Chef David ShiplettDavid, whose popular restaurant SOMA Creek Side recently relocated to downtown Bradenton, purchases a large percentage of his produce, dairy goods and fish from the Bradenton Farmers’ Market. “It’s a great source for fresh, locally produced foods and artisanal goods,” says Shiplett. “When you buy from local growers, you know where your food comes from and you can ask how it’s grown. It’s about making that human connection and procuring the best possible ingredients for my customers.”


Family Activities and “The Art of Mainly Art”

There is something for everyone at the Farmers’ Market this season. The Family Activities booth features “hands-on” arts, crafts and education for families and kids ranging from scavenger hunts to the creation of personalized works of art. On Mainly Art days, a local artist will demonstrate his or her craft as part of “The Art of Mainly Art” program.

Oct. 5 from 10 am to 1 pm the Family Activities booth will be Comic Book Central.

Art and activities with a comic book theme will be hosted by the Manatee County Central Library as part of their Mana-Con Comics Convention, which simultaneously takes place from 11 am to 4 pm at the library.

Oct. 12 from 10 am to 1 pm the LECOM Health Fair will be at the Family Activities Booth.

The LECOM Bradenton Student Government Association will provide FREE health screenings for anyone interested. LECOM pharmacy students will conduct screenings on blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes. Come take advantage of this FREE service!

Oct. 19 from 9 am to 2 pm The Art of Boat Building at Mainly Art

John Beale, the Education and Volunteer Coordinator at the Florida Maritime Museum will demonstrate small boat building for folks with very little experience working with basic tools.

Oct. 26 from 10 am to 1 pm Creepy Crawlers will be at the Family Activities booth.

Investigate tiny creepy crawlers using real science tools with the South Florida Museum. Test your bravery with the Slimy Things Mystery Bucket and create your own spider web.

Mana-Con logo

The market, supported by the Downtown Development Authority, will take place from 9 am to 2 pm every Saturday, October through May, on Old Main Street between Manatee and Fourth Avenues West in downtown Bradenton. Parking is free and dogs on leashes are welcome! For more information visit the Bradenton Farmers’ Market web page.

Holly Lundgren is an Events and Creative Services Manager for Realize Bradenton.