The soulful sound of blues will usher in the Downtown Festival & Art Show weekend Friday, Nov. 4 with a free Downtown Blues Concert on the newly renovated Bo Diddley Plaza from 7-10 p.m. The North Central Florida Blues Society is pleased to announce an evening under the stars featuring three incredible blues performances.
This soul-moving show kicks off with local blues musicians, Cassie Keenum and Rick Randlett. Although this duo has only been performing together for a year, both are longtime Alachua County favorites. Keenum is known for her stunning vocals, soulful lyrics and charisma. She has been compared to Big Mama Thornton and Susan Tedeschi for her strong vocals and original compositions. Randlett has released two acoustic blues albums in the last four years, which have received excellent reviews. He has been well known in the Florida Blues scene for more than 15 years.
On stage next is JuJu Junction, an energetic blues band from Gainesville, Florida. The three-piece group aims to entertain the crowd with original songs, as well as their interpretation of traditional songs. They strive to overcome the sadness of heartbreak by turning it into positive energy and creating a positive vibe, which is reflected and amplified by the audience.
This year’s headliner, and rising star, Annika Chambers takes the stage at 9 p.m. The powerhouse singer from Houston, Texas is known for her soulful, heartwarming and ground-stomping performances. She was a 2015 Blues Music Award nominee for Best New Artist, and gives her all every time she is on stage to provide the audience a show with long-lasting memories. Her influences include Etta James, Aretha Franklin and Mahalia Jackson. Chambers has performed at numerous festivals, including Las Vegas’ Big Blues Bender and is touring Brazil later this year.
The excitement of the Downtown Blues Concert is followed by two fun-filled days of art, music and culture at the Downtown Festival & Art Show. This nationally-recognized festival transforms downtown Gainesville into a venue for award-winning artists, and draws a crowd of more than 100,000 visitors. Presented by the City of Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department, the festival is celebrating its 35th year Saturday, Nov. 5 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 6 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on the tree-lined streets of downtown Gainesville. For two days, visitors can leisurely stroll through historic downtown and marvel at works from more than 240 of the nation’s most talented artists, who display their original oils and acrylics, vibrant watercolors, captivating sculptures, dazzling jewelry, decorative ceramics and vivid photography. Art lovers can interact with artists, while finding unique gifts for family and friends, or purchase artwork for their own collection. They can also savor local and international cuisine and listen to live music performed on four stages. Children have the chance to enjoy the festival and get creative at the Imagination Station, a free, hands-on art activity area. The Downtown Festival & Art Show is a celebration of art and culture that you do not want to miss. For more information, visit www.gainesvilledowntownartfest.org
or call 352-334-ARTS.