Dottie Kelly Headlines This Year's Myakka River Blues Festival

The party takes places on on Memorial Day, Monday, May 31.

By Emma Lichtenstein May 25, 2021

Myakka River Blues Festival headliner Dottie Kelly.

You shouldn't feel blue about the lineup for the ninth annual Myakka River Blues Festival, which takes place at Snook Haven on Memorial Day, Monday, May 31, with three different acts playing. The lineup features Steve Arvey, Rooster and Broccoli; Tommy Z; and headliner Dottie Kelly.

“This is wonderful,” says Dottie Kelly. “I feel so grand.” Kelly is a powerhouse blues singer who has been performing for most of her life. Kelly embraced music at a young age when she began singing in a Baptist church. It wasn’t until later that she fell in love with blues music.

That happened after playing with Joey Gilmore, a legendary blues performer. “When you sing with someone, and they get you out there in the front ... and you just start singing it, you start loving it,” says Kelly.

Kelly is still working on her setlist for this weekend, joking that she’s going to “mix it up” this time. She performs songs by both men and women, so artists from Etta James to Stevie Wonder are in her wheelhouse. “They might even get some ‘Tennessee Whiskey’ out of me," says Kelly. "It depends on how I feel."

Joining Kelly will be the Rock the House Band, including Darrell Raines on guitar, Robert Carter on bass and Maurice Dukes on drums. Though this is the group’s first time at the Myakka River Blues Festival, they are no stranger to festivals as a whole. “I like the big stage, I like having more people to play for,” says Kelly. “I’m the type of person that wants to make people smile. I like to get out there and make people dance.”

The other acts should also put on a good show. Steve Arvey, Rooster and Broccoli is composed of Arvey on cigar box guitar, Rick “Rooster” Arrighi on harmonica and percussionist Steve Linden—whose drum is made of broccoli. The trio will open the festival, performing from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm. After them, from 1 to 2:30 pm, Tommy Z will take the stage. He is described as a "guitar-driven, electric blues-based stylist." The party doesn’t end after Kelly's set. When she's done, all three acts will come back out to share the stage in a Finale Jam Session from 4:30 to 5:30 pm.

“We're definitely gonna rock the house,” says Kelly.

The Myakka River Blues Festival takes place 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Monday, March 31, at Snook Haven, 5000 E. Venice Ave., Venice. Tickets to the festival are $10 online or $20 at the door. Capacity is capped at 600 to allow for social distancing. For more information, visit the Snook Haven website.

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