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Realize Bradenton Kills it in Second Run of Epic Blues Festival


BRADENTON – "The vibes are really good here,” said 21-year old music-festival enthusiast Sarah Bilovesick, who was good enough to set her hula-hoop down to chat with me briefly under the soulful chords that screamed over Manatee River on Saturday. She’d read about the event online and cruised down from Clearwater with her girlfriend Amelia, clad in the kind of freak-out apparel that has become standard at high profile EDM festivals. They quickly found their groove in Bradenton and sunk into a funky niche.
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It was a good day. In fact, everything about Realize Bradenton’s second annual Bradenton Blues Festival at the Riverwalk was good. The music was top-shelf; libations were not overpriced; smokers were treated fairly, and the restrooms were air conditioned. Once these crucial standards are met in sweaty South Florida, everything else at an outdoor music festival will fall into place. Most local production companies have yet to realize this, but any good time Charlie Floridian will tell you it’s true. And luckily for area blues-freaks – who showed up 3,500 strong and ready to boogie – the fine folks at Realize Bradenton know how to throw a proper party.
Indeed, a great crowd was drawn. It was as if every good-attitude resident of Manatee County woke up Saturday morning with a bad case of the blues, and followed a throaty beacon to the only possible cure: More Blues – preferably live, and always loud.
The Bradenton Blues Festival was definitely live and loud. You could hear the music as far as the patio in front of O’Bricks Irish Pub & Martini Bar on Main Street, where at 3 p.m. a group of good-looking millennials sat drinking up a good buzz before walking over to the show. I spotted them later on at the Riverwalk, as the sun was going down, and by then they were all half-naked and not missing any beats. And neither was anyone else, for that matter. The place was like a damned animal house – and I mean that in the nicest way possible.

Of course most Blues Fest attendees were neither nude nor young, which isn’t surprising, as the genre doesn't really encourage it. But maybe it should—because nine hours of good vibes and raging blues performed by nationally renowned players is the kind of thing that any well-adjusted American ought’a be able to dig.



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