PHOTOS: Provided by Mount Dora Blues & Groove
Blues music is a magical mix of music and emotion, but its purpose is to release one from the clutches of sadness.
If you love blues music, you’ll want to be at Elizabeth Evans Park on May 20 and 21 for the eighth annual Mount Dora Blues & Grooves Weekend. Sponsored by Central 28 Beer Company, it promises to be a soulful musical experience. The event is hosted by Visit Mount Dora and Full Sail University in Winter Park.
“We’ve found the best way to bring people to Mount Dora is entertainment events. Most of the lodging establishments rent out all their rooms, which is our goal,” says Brian E. Young of Visit Mount Dora.
The festival was originally organized by a group of blues music lovers, and this year’s coordinators are staying with their model with one important change: free admission. Gates open at 5 p.m. on Friday, and attendees may bring their own chairs or blankets to watch.
However, the new model features a paid VIP section, which is closer to the stage and allows interaction with the bands. Chairs are provided for VIP ticket holders, and bluesandgroove.com/tickets is the place to go to purchase tickets.
“This opens up the opportunity for blues lovers to come down and enjoy a couple of nice nights on the waterfront,” Young says. “We’ll have concessions and craft beer, and barbecue will be available.”
In the past, familiar names like John Mayal and Leon Russell have headlined, so music lovers know they’re going to hear great performers during the Blues & Groove Weekend. Attendance has been around 2,500 in the past, but there’s hope to double that number this year with the no-cost admission.
“Elizabeth Evans Park is a great venue for this event, and many of the artists have told me it’s one of the most beautiful places they’ve performed in,” Young says. “Looking out over a large audience with water surrounding them is fantastic.”
This year’s headliner is the Devon Allman Band, featuring the next generation of Allman music. Devon is the son of music legend Greg Allman, though he hasn’t used that connection to make his way easier. His music is his own, and it’s the result of years of hard work establishing his personal sound.
Coming out of Orlando, The Smokin’ Torpedoes open the festival on Friday evening followed by Joe “Survival” Caruso, who is a popular with Daytona blues lovers. The Damon Fowler Group with Beth McKee finishes out Friday night. Fowler, who’s from Tampa, began wowing audiences as a teenager, and his music is considered a rock, blues, and sacred steel hybrid.
The blues and rock fusion band Petey & the Ravens get things started Saturday night, warming the crowd for the Devon Allman Band to add the ultimate touch to a total blues experience.
Keep in mind coolers aren’t allowed. Food, beer, and wine will be available from vendors throughout the event. All craft vendors will have items following the blues music theme.
“Last year we had a jeweler who made music-themed items, and there will be a number of sponsors and vendors with art-related items and things of that nature,” Young says.
American blues singer/songwriter John Lee Hooker once said, “The blues tells a story. Every line of the blues has a meaning.” Go to the Mount Dora Blues & Groove Weekend to hear the stories of some of the great musicians appearing this year.