Seawalk Pavilion welcomes Springing the Blues bands, visitors for 26th year


For a brief moment on Saturday, the rain clouds dissipated over Jacksonville Beach’s Seawalk Pavilion for the second day of the annual Springing the Blues festival, casting sunlight over a growing crowd as Kim Reteguiz and the Black Cats Bones took the main stage.

The 2015 Jax Idol winners performed songs from their yet to be released LP, with frontwoman Reteguiz belting the band’s signature brand of hybrid Latin fusion and soul to the applause of an early afternoon turnout.

Celebrating its 26th year on the Jax Beach calendar, Springing the Blues hosted yet another lineup of acclaimed blues musicians both local and national drawing an equally mixed crowd.

After kicking off Friday April 1, the festival presented a variety of acts over the course of three days, including The Lee Boys, Toots Lorraine & The Traffic and Red Dirt Revelators.

“I don’t think there’s anything else like it,” said Nelson Osborn, an Alabama native with a band of his own who atteneded in support of Red Dirt Revelators. “I love it – it’s by the beach and the sound production is always great. And I’m from Alabama – I’m a real blues man so it’s really for me.”

Springing the Blues, which reportedly attracts over 150,000 people to the Seawalk Pavilion each year, has come a long way since its first event in 1991 featuring just four artists. This year’s festival featured 16 bands and soloists and more than 40 hours of music on two stages – the Main Stage and a Blues Lounge, for a more intimate performance experience.

A bevy of food trucks vendors, including MOJO Kitchen and several other local and national chains, offered up an assortment of classic hot dogs and sausages, smoothies and snow cones. A ferris wheel, a cluster of apparel booths and a small attraction of inflatable slides and bouncy houses gave the festival the feel of a fair – a vibe festival organizers pride themselves on bringing to the First Coast.

Keisha Jones, a first-time attendee with her daughter, Kelly, felt it was the perfect event for families to celebrate the blues.

“I love that my daughter can experience music like this, the type of music I grew up with,” she said. “And I love that it’s great for people of any age to enjoy. It’s good food, good music and fun. I’m glad I didn’t miss it this year.”