Hundreds Pack Coral Bay Ball Field for 9th Annual Blues Festival

The Saturday night Blues Festival headliner Curtis Salgado kept the crowd dancing to the beat, above. Moreland and Arbuckle, below , got the crowd going on Saturday night. Photos by Tropical Focus.

A “super moon” and the Blues made for one great weekend in Coral Bay.

Hundreds of fans packed the Coral Bay ball field on Friday and Saturday night, March 18 and 19, for the Ninth Annual Johnnie Walker St. John Blues Festival hosted by Steve and Jeff Simon.

The festival kicked off with music at venues across the island on Wednesday, March 16, culminated with the two main shows in the ball field and wrapped up on Sunday, March 20, with a concert at The Beach Bar.

Friday night opener, International Blues Competition 2010 winner Grady Champion got the crowd going with his gravely voice and charming dimples. Grady got up close and personal with the crowd, making his way right into the field. Candye Kane kept the mood high with her positive message of survival and empowering vocals.

Wrapping up the Friday night show, Albert Cummings’ rocking guitar had the audience eagerly awaiting Saturday night’s concert.

A larger than normal full moon — reportedly its closest pass by Earth since 1993 — set the mood for a stellar concert on Saturday night. Moreland and Arbuckle’s unique combination of Delta Blues sound mixed with heavy rock, got the Saturday night audience off to a great start.

Blues Boss Steve Simon shares a hug with Reba Russel.

Following the Kansas band’s opening act, Reba Russell’s high-energy performance kept the crowd on its feet until Curtis Salgado took over. As the inspiration for John Belushi’s imitable Blues Brothers, Salgado showed what might have piqued the comic’s imagination. Especially impressive on harmonica, Salgado’s performance made it obvious why Simon has often called the musician “the greatest Blues performer in the world.”

Blues Festival attendees also had the chance to enjoy Sheila Liburd’s scrumptious local fare. Since being locked out of her normal vending location, Liburd of Sheila’s Pot, has not been able to sell her much sought-after local specialties.

Gifft Hill School volunteers were grilling up hamburgers, hot dogs and more for the audience as well. The crowd also had the chance to get some puppy kisses. St. John Animal Care Center volunteers brought several puppies to the concert and let potential pet owners spend some time with them. At least one adoption resulted from the attention, helping ease the over-crowded pens at the ACC shelter, according to volunteers.

The Blues Boss himself took the stage throughout the night, announcing each act and obviously enjoying the fruit of his labor — but not for long.

Following Sunday’s wrap up concert at The Beach Bar, Simon got right back to working on his upcoming Bluzapalooza tour of Afghanistan next month, when he leads a tour playing for U.S. active duty forces. When he returns to the states, Simon will focus on producing Bluestock, in Woodstock, New York from August 26 through 28, which includes Greg Allman in its lineup.

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