Jacksonville Beach, Fla. – In March 1991, a handful of friends organized a free one-day blues music festival at the old Seawalk Pavilion, which was little more than a large pergola on the shoreline of Jacksonville Beach. Twenty-five years later, that little festival will feature 23 artists, two stages and 46 hours of performances, with an expected attendance up to 200,000 fans. Along the way, it built a national and international reputation as one of the world’s best free blues festivals. Today, some of those same friends – along with a few new ones – sponsors and supporters began the countdown to the 25th annual George’s Music Springing the Blues Festival, scheduled for April 17 – 19.
“It’s hard to believe this is our 25th year,” said festival founder Sam Veal. “Springing the Blues is loved by hundreds of thousands of families and has become internationally recognized for its talent, music and incomparable venue.”
Jacksonville Beach Mayor Charlie Latham said, “This international event makes the city proud, bringing hundreds of thousands to Jacksonville, supporting our businesses and has done great things for our community.” Jacksonville Beach City Councilwoman Chris Hoffman believes “Springing the Blues put Jacksonville Beach on the map.” Hoffman also announced the continuation of the Beaches Museum Chapel Concert Series, which will feature STB performer Selwyn Birchwood on Thursday, April 16.
Reflecting the festival’s draw, the 2015 lineup includes multi-platinum superstar Tinsley Ellis (who was the headliner for the first Springing the Blues Festival), Blues Hall of Famer Eddie Shaw and the Wolfgang, Grammy winner Chubby Carrier, and multi Blues Music Award winner John Németh.
“We have legends of the past and present and tomorrow’s stars today,” said festival artistic director Terry Dixon said when describing the lineup to folks in attendance.
For the 21st year, George’s Music brings music education to students in local schools with the Blues in the Schools program. On April 14, 15 and 16 pianist Ansel Audain and guitarist Eli Baker of Gavotte School of Music bring to life the history and influences of the blues through performance and storytelling. Performances are scheduled at five area schools: Christ Church Academy, St. Paul’s Catholic School, Palmer Catholic Academy and San Jose Episcopal School.
For the last 12 years, the Florida Surfing Association hosted Surfing the Blues in conjunction with the annual Springing the Blues Festival, attracting some of the top surfing talent in the southeast U.S. This year, FSA is mixing it up and offering something different. Groms Surfing the Blues provides surfing instruction for kids under 14 and will be held April 18 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For the uninitiated, “grom” is surf lingo for beginning level surfers.
The public unveiling of the 2015 festival poster capped off the event. Ponte Vedra artist David Lee’s creation – his 18th for the festival – pays homage to 25 years of art and musicians.
George’s Music Springing the Blues Festival is April 17-19 at the Seawalk Pavilion in Jacksonville Beach. The free oceanfront event was named one of the top 50 free music festivals in the world by Downbeat Magazine. It attracts about 200,000 people over the course of three days, with an estimated economic impact of $5.5 million.
For more information about George’s Music Springing the Blues Festival and the artists performing, visit springingtheblues.com or facebook.com/georgesblues.