By Ray Shasho
After learning the exciting news on Wednesday that Houston based ExtremeTix had acquired Sarasota’s favorite annual music event, “The Sarasota Blues Fest,” my focus immediately turned to wondering about what a fantastic lineup of artists this could produce.
Since 1991, The Sarasota Blues Fest had consistently produced quality headliners like Gregg Allman, Son Seals, Booker T. & the MG’S, Dr. John, Elvin Bishop, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Buddy Guy, Little Feat and Maria Muldaur. But now with ExtremeTix coming to town and triggered by their Three Zebras Entertainment division, the Blues Fest may take on a whole new light and perhaps a brighter one for the cities of Sarasota and Bradenton as well.
Longtime Blues Fest executive producer Barbara Strauss will continue in her role and act as a consultant for future music events.
Strauss commented, “I am very excited to pass the torch to ExtremeTix and Three Zebras. I have been ready to move on to other projects for a long time. Finding a team as committed to blues and live music as ExtremeTix and Three Zebras is a dream come true for myself and Sarasota.”Three Zebras Entertainment has been a leader in venue operations, tour management, event promotion and production with over 90 years of experience. ExtremeTix is a leading provider of innovative ticketing solutions with a broad range of event services. One of their local clients is Jannus Live in St Petersburg. ExtremeTix has branch offices in Tampa, Grand Rapids, Cincinnati and New York and services clients across the US and Canada.
During his busy schedule, I was able to chat a bit with Charly Garrett, president of ExtremeTix, about future plans for The Sarasota Blues Fest.
The Sarasota Blues Festival has been an annual tradition and anticipated event in Sarasota for almost 21 years. Will the venue or anything else about the event be changing?
“The SBF has been a winning formula for more than 20 years. I see no need to make significant changes to the format or feel of the event. In our business we work with a lot of festivals and see a lot of great ones and some not so great. Barbara, the community and the local charities involved have done a tremendous job in every respect.
There will be no changes in venue in the foreseeable future.
We will continue to invest in order to bring the highest quality programming to the festival. I will expect that the festival may grow in future years perhaps to a two day event, but this is not certain.”
It's exciting to have Three Zebras Entertainment take over the duties of finding great headliners to play at Blues Fest. Can we expect even bigger name acts to perform?
“At Three Zebras we work with top names in the business. Access to these artists will most certainly help us maintain the high standards and traditions that Sarasota has come to expect.”
The Sarasota/Bradenton area is starving for entertainment. I've covered many events in the area and there’s always a huge influx of people at every event. (Even during a tough economy) Can we expect more festivals and shows scheduled around our area after your involvement with Blues Fest?
“I expect you will be seeing a lot more of us in South Florida.”
Do you know yet who will be headlining this year's Blues Fest?
“We have offers out for this year’s show but won't make any announcements until the lineup is at least partially confirmed. I will say it is going to be great.”
Thank you Charly and welcome to Sarasota.
The 21st Annual Sarasota Blues Festival will be held on Saturday November 5th, 2011.
Partial proceeds from the event have always been earmarked for charity. All Faiths Food Bank Backpack Program will be 2011’s recipient.
As soon as this year’s Sarasota Blues Fest lineup has been revealed, I’ll be announcing it here in my column. STAY TUNED!
I want to especially thank Charly Garrett and Deven Nongbri of ExtremeTix for their help.
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