It is a peaceful Sunday morning, January 18th, and the dawn of the Sunshine Music and Blues Festival. A powerful line-up is set to play the Mizner Park Amphitheatre, Boca Raton’s beautiful outdoor venue. I am keyed up and a calm ocean and blue skies set the mood for the day- the amphitheatre just a short ways from this idyllic South Florida seaside setting. I am returning to the festival for a second year in a row and the music is set to begin at noon, doors at 11:00 a.m.

“Now I know the secret/There is nothing that I lack,” Eric Clapton sings on 'Let It Rain' over the pre-show stereo speakers. Spirits are high- good times abounding. From 'Let It Rain' into 'Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door', the pre show tunes continue- sitting on the grass in pretty close proximity to the stage.

Florida’s own Sean Chambers and his band kick off the festivities - raw, rough and ready - singing about riding in his Cadillac, backed by a blues based full band classic rock attack. Charging guitar ensues as Chambers does his take on Alvin Lee's 'Choo Choo Mama', followed by a blistering blues guitar closer, 'In the Wintertime',

On the second stage, Matt Schofield likewise plays some stinging blues guitar: “Sparks will fly” he sings, accompanied by bass, drums and harmonica by Big Pete.

Next Los Lobos take the main stage - not just another band from East Los Angeles. Their Latin tinged blues rock vibe resonates in the Florida sunshine- burning down the house. They segue into 'Papa was a Rolling Stone', played down home and funky. Next is a smoking rendition of the Allman Brothers’ classic 'One Way Out' into 'Evangeline', including some killer saxophone, followed by some fine Mexican music, Mariachi tinged. Then the closer 'Mas Y Mas' meaning more and more (in Spanish)- a scintillating version seemed to say it all.

Aimee Mann and Ted Leo, The Both are on the second stage, “I’m calling you,” the lyric. Mann, blonde, tall and striking is a great singer with a brilliant songwriting voice. Ted Leo, a solid compliment here. They are playing all of The Both’s lone album plus some solo stuff; Aimee Mann singing about “(if you can) save me.” 'Milwaukee' is the story of how the band got together- a duo with a lot of soul. A power pop ballad “The Prisoner” is evocative: “All of the birds have flown away, but I’m gonna stay.”

Following on the main stage is the Chris Robinson Brotherhood; Robinson’s rich blues soaked vocal resonating. “Shake, rattle and roll” he sings, his brotherhood band rocking in the groove. Robinson sings the lyric “Sometimes a broken mirror reflects back the best” with feeling, into a question and answer story song: “Said, son where you going?” “Where the music’s hot.”
The band performs a crowd pleasing first rate rendition of the classic 'Hard to Handle' that Robinson’s other band the Black Crowes broke big in the 1990s. Robinson and this band conclude with a poignant 'Rosalee'.

The Rebirth Brass Band from New Orleans is jamming with a heavy horn section in the back drop. They are complete with pulsating trombones, trumpets and everything brass- a high energy, raging, strong and inspired collective.

On the main stage, Grace Potter is playing a flying V guitar and singing a sultry solid rock vocal. On stage, we see just a two person tandem, guitar and drums. Potter then switches up to organ/ keyboards. “It is closer than you think” she sings, “You got to swim before you sink.” An impressive set includes cover versions of the rock stalwart 'Mystery Train' and Led Zeppelin’s 'Whole Lotta Love' which takes the music over the top.

Back on the second stage, legendary Doors guitarist Robbie Krieger and his band play Doors classics. 'Break On Through (to the Other Side)' is followed by 'Back Door Man'. Robbie Krieger plays guitar with remarkable dexterity as his son Waylon takes on the duty of lead vocals: “When the music’s over” he sings, “turn out the lights.”

While Robbie Krieger’s set at times evokes a slight shade of darkness, both his performance and the Sunshine Festival as a whole remain in bright light- a truly special occasion and one to remember.













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Commenting On: Mizner Park Amphitheatre, Boca Raton, Florida 18/1/2015 - Sunshine Music and Blues Festival








ie London, England

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