Feb. 18, 2004 – The talent lineup announced last fall for the 2nd annual St. John Blues Festival coming up March 3-7 still holds true. Festival founder and St. John resident Steve Simon confirmed on Wednesday that there will be five live-music parties around the island in addition to the big March 6 all-night show with New Orleans blues legend Dr. John as headliner.
The festival has sponsorship by Coors Light and endorsement by Gov. Charles W. Turnbull, who on Wednesday proclaimed March 1-7 "St. John Blues Festival Week."
The governor in his proclamation noted that last year's premiere St. John blues fest "was the single largest family entertainment event" held on the island in 2003, "with an estimated 3,000 in attendance."
That event, following on two St. John jazz concerts produced last season by Simon's Moonlight Foundation, was a one-night stand — granted, an all-night one — held last March 1 in the Moravian Church ballfield. Performing were country blues recording stars Prestage & Hawkins, and lead guitarist Albert Castiglia and drummer Willie "Big Eyes" Smith with the Muddy Waters Legendary Blues Band. And admission was free.
In a single year, the festival has morphed into a five-day, six-event undertaking. The five "party" events are free, and admission to the big March 6 concert is free for children but $20 for everyone else.
The governor noted in his proclamation that the funds raised by the festival "go toward providing scholarships for St. John students."
Appearing with Dr. John — the two-time Grammy Award-winning piano player born Malcolm John Rebennack Jr. — in the March 6 event will be Jon Cleary & The Absolute Monster Gentlemen, Richard "Sweet" Waters and the Blues Boyz, SVR recording artist Tim Gonzalez, and The David James Band.
Attendees are encouraged to bring folding chairs and blankets — but to keep their coolers at home. Food and beverages will be available for purchase on the premises all night long, according to a release.
There also will be all-night service by taxis between Cruz Bay and Coral Bay for $5 each and on ferries between Red Hook and Cruz Bay for the usual $3 each way.
The free blues parties will take place at Island Blues, Shipwreck Landing and Skinny Legs in Coral Bay and Mongoose Junction's Courtyard and The Beach Bar in Cruz Bay. All have all been designated as official Coors Light Blues Houses, the release stated.
Simon said in November that with the premiere St. John Blues Festival under his belt, "we are well on our way to making St. John synonymous with the blues."
And he said that while his focus as a presenter in the Virgin Islands has been mainly on jazz, he has always loved blues music because "it's so American, and it's so expressive, and just about every performer in this wonderful genre is a show unto themselves." (See "Simon says jazz, blues viable on St. John [and fun].)
Turnbull in a release from Government House concerning his proclamation mentioned "hundreds of families, friends, visitors and supporters" planning to "participate in the activities and the sights and sounds of the festival." He also said the event "will provide a tremendous financial boost to our economy and help to promote a greater understanding and appreciation of the blues music."
Here's the whole upcoming festival schedule:
Wednesday, March 3: Island Blues in Coral Bay, 8 p.m. — festival opening party featuring the David Hannon Blues Band. Admission free.
Thursday, March 4: Mongoose Junction courtyard in Cruz Bay, 8 p.m. — the "No Snooze, Just Blues" party featuring the Danny Morris Blues Band. Admission free.
Friday, March 5: Shipwreck Landing in Coral Bay, 8 p.m. — "TGIB" ("Thank God It's Blues Day") party featuring Mitch Woods and Friends. Admission free.
Saturday afternoon, March 6: Skinny Legs in Coral Bay, 2 p.m. — the "Let's Get This Show Rolling" blues party featuring The Quatroids. Admission free.
Saturday night, March 6: Coral Bay ballfield, 7 p.m. — the 2nd annual St. John Blues Festival show starring Dr. John, Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentlemen, Richard "Sweet" Waters and the Blues Boyz, SVR recording artist Tim Gonzalez, and the David James Band. Admission $20, but all children admitted free.
Sunday, March 7: Beach Bar in Cruz Bay, 4 p.m. — festival closing party featuring Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentlemen and other special guests. Admission free.
For more information, visit the St. John Blues Festival Web site, or call producer Steve Simon at 776-4869.
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