Sanibel-Captiva Optimist Club to host blues, jazz concert
The 4th annual Sanibel Blues and Jazz Fest on the islands is back, and tickets are on sale.
Hosted by the Sanibel-Captiva Optimist Club, the festival will take place on Nov. 3 from noon to 7 p.m. in the backyard of the Bailey’s Center on Sanibel. Pioneered in 2016, it serves as a fundraiser for the club’s charitable endeavors, including college scholarships and summer programs at the Sanibel Recreation Center for youths.
“It’s a wonderful gathering for islanders and visitors,” club President Stan Howard said.
“The proceeds benefit the children of Sanibel Island and Lee County,” he added. “These funds go directly to support our six four-year college scholarships.”
Featuring award-winning musicians, the festival lineup will consist of a mix of returning artists and new performances. This year’s headlining act, Matt Schofield, will take the stage at about 5 p.m.
“He is awesome,” Howard said. “This guy is fantastic.”
A British guitar virtuoso and British Blues Hall of Famer, Schofield is regarded as one of the most innovative guitarists to have emerged in generations. He holds a British passport and is an inductee of the British Blues Hall of Fame. Newspapers have described him as the best blues guitarist in decades and have rated him in the top 10 British blues guitarists of all time, with Eric Clapton and Peter Green.
The rest of the lineup includes Sean Chambers at about 3:30 p.m., the Marty Stokes Band at approximately 2 p.m. and Johnny Jensen at about 1 p.m. The night will wrap up with a jam session featuring all of the participating musicians, which will take place after Schofield until closing.
“They do an awesome performance to close the evening,” he said.
“All of the performers get on stage together,” Howard added.
Chambers is an American blues rock singer, guitarist and songwriter. He has released seven albums since 1998, with the most recent, “Trouble & Whiskey” in 2017 and “Welcome to My Blues” in 2018, appearing on the U.S. Billboard Blues Albums Chart. His main guitar playing influences are the work of Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Chambers was born on the Gulf coast of Florida.
“Sean is a Florida celebrity,” he said, noting it is his first appearance at the festival.
“We’re quite looking forward to having him perform,” Howard added.
A return act, the Marty Stokes Band won the International Blues Competition trip to Memphis in 2017 and is a four-time winner of the People’s Choice Award, sponsored by the Southwest Florida Blues Society. It performs at clubs and festivals around Florida. Additionally, Stokes has produced four CDs of original blues and the latest, “Down On My Knees,” has received strong international reviews.
“Marty has played each year,” he said. “He is a wonderful local talent.”
Johnny Jensen, 16, is an award-winning blues-fusion-jazz artist. He has play alongside legends like Bryan Lee, Kenny Neal, Schofield, Elvin Bishop and Tennessee Redemption. Recent accomplishments include releasing his first original EP, being selected to represent the SWFL Blues Society in Memphis at the 2019 and the 2020 International Blues Challenge, and opening for The Marshall Tucker Band.
“Johnny was thrilled to be our opening act two years ago,” Howard said.
He has been a regular in the festival lineup ever since.
Ticket donations are $20 for general admission and $100 for VIP.
“The VIP experience is like no other,” he said.
VIP admission includes reserved seating and parking, an event T-shirt, meet the bands, raw and champagne bar, food and beverages. General admission ticket-holders are reminded to bring their own seats; fine food and a range of beverages, including beer and wine, will be available for purchase.
“Local island fare,” Howard said of the selections.
No outside food or beverages may be brought onto the festival grounds.
There are only 100 VIP tickets up for grabs, with 700 general admission ones available.
“The VIP area always sells out,” he said.
Parking will be available at sign-marked areas with shuttle service to the venue and at the Sanibel Post Office, while VIP ticket-holders receive reserved parking at the Bank of America across the street.
Handicap parking will be available at Bailey’s, with Special Valet Bicycle Parking on site.
Residents and visitors are urged to pick up their tickets quickly.
“Not only is the music and food at their best, but it’s a great community spirit and feeling being there,” Howard said.
Tickets can be bought at www.eventbrite.com by searching for “Sanibel Blues and Jazz Fest,” or from Bailey’s General Store, Sanibel Captiva Community Bank, and George and Wendy’s Seafood Grille.
If any tickets remain, they will be available day of at the festival’s entrance.
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/SanibelBluesandJazzFestival or sancapoptimist.org.
The Bailey’s Center is at the corner of Periwinkle Way and Tarpon Bay Road.