Music Updates

Sarasota Concert Association and Bradenton Blues Festival Make Some Changes

The blues fest has a new venue, and the concert group is shortening its season, due to Covid-19 concerns.

By Kay Kipling August 27, 2020

The Takacs Quartet will still play in February in the SCA's Great Performer Series.

Some changes are being made to upcoming music events, due to health and safety concerns related to the pandemic.

The Sarasota Concert Association has announced a revision to its 2021 Great Performers Series. The season originally featured six concerts, from Jan. 14 through March 16; it will now begin in February with just three concerts.

According to Joy McIntyre, president of SCA’s board, “The first three groups we scheduled made the difficult decision to cancel their Sarasota concerts.” Those groups: the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra, originally set for Jan. 14; The Cleveland Orchestra, Jan. 24; and Bach Collegium Japan, Jan. 28. It was a decision made to ensure the safety of the musicians, and McIntyre adds, “It’s a prudent decision, which we certainly understand and support.”

Still planning to perform during the 2021 series are the Takacs Quartet, with pianist Joyce Yang, Feb. 25; violinist Benjamin Beilman and pianist Yekwon Sunwoo, March 1; and pianist Emanuel Ax, March 16. McIntyre says that SCA is also exploring the possibility of engaging more artists in the spring.

Pianist Emanuel Ax performs in March.

Two of the three concerts still on the schedule will take place at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall; the other at the Riverview Performing Arts Center. Subscribers affected by the concert cancellations can call (941) 225-6500 with questions. A three-concert subscription series and single tickets will be available later at

Meanwhile, the Bradenton Blues Festival is still set to happen in December, but it will move from its traditional venue, along the Riverwalk, to the Pittsburgh Pirates’ spring training ballpark, LECOM Park. The move will reduce the festival’s audience by about two-thirds; LECOM Park has about twice as much open space as the Riverwalk, and that allows for more distancing of attendees because of Covid-19.

Other safety measures will include wearing masks whenever attendees are not in their seats and temperature checks for everyone entering the event, which is set for Dec. 5.

Performers lined up to play at this time include Chicago harmonica player and singer Billy Branch, singer (and Muddy Waters’ son) Mud Morganfeld, Tampa blues guitarist Selwyn Birchwood, soul-blues singer Terrie Odabi, St. Louis bluesman Marquise Knox, and Wisconsin group The Jimmys. There will be a tribute to guitarist-keyboardist Lucky Peterson, who was scheduled to play the festival but passed away in May.

A Dec. 4 Blues Appetizer concert features the Crystal Shawanda Band and Tullie Brae Band (also at LECOM Park), but will allow only 500 attendees and require tickets. The Bradenton Blues Brunch, featuring Damon Fowler and Greg Poulos, is set for Dec. 6 at Mattison’s Riverwalk Grille in Bradenton.

For all ticket info, and more about the musicians, visit

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