Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Big Orange Music Festival Brings Blues and Funk to Southwest Florida

November 18, 2017

Laishley Park
Punta Gorda, Florida

by Michelle Wilson of Rock Legends Photographers

Southwest Florida's Laishley Park in Punta Gorda was rockin' by the water during the Second Annual Big Orange Music Festival featuring Evan Taylor Jones, Sean Chambers Band, Tinsley Ellis Blues Is Dead, North Mississippi Allstars, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe and headliners JJ Grey & Mofro, who also headlined last year's inaugural festival. 

Originally scheduled for September 9, 2017, the day/night musical event was postponed to November 18, 2017 after Mother Nature had other plans in the form of Hurricane Irma. With a slightly altered but no less phenomenal lineup change from the original date, the newly revamped show kicked off at 3pm on a picture-perfect Saturday afternoon and went full throttle until 10pm. Featuring six bands on two alternating stages, there was never a lapse in music. With a plethora of food and merch vendors, a wide array of adult beverages and a solid laid-back vibe, the entire shindig ran like a well-oiled machine. Considering that this was only year two of the festival, the promoters and staff did a superb job of keeping things running smoothly. All six bands offered stellar sets. Orlando-based Evan Taylor Jones warmed up the crowd with his unique soul-rock vibe, while Sean Chambers focused mainly on his phenomenal latest release, the down and dirty, all-out blues winner, "Trouble & Whiskey." 

One of many notable moments happened during the next set as the always-soulful Tinsley Ellis, along with his Blues Is Dead band, dedicated "Turn On Your Love Light" to Col. Bruce Hampton who passed away on stage earlier in the year during an all-star performance. 

Brothers Luther and Cody Dickinson of North Mississippi Allstars jammed out with their particular brand of kick-ass blues-rock, and then Karl Denson, touring saxophonist with The Rolling Stones, soared with his band, Tiny Universe and stole the show. Neatly tucked away in their set were three Allman Brothers Band songs, a precursor to their upcoming "Eat A Bunch Of Peaches" shows as tribute to The Brothers. Opening the set with "Stand Back" and mixing in an off-the-chain "Dreams" as well as "Ain't Wastin' Time No More," it's easy to see why the funkadelic jam-band ensemble is a fan favorite. Everyone was dancing to the grooves. It was the ideal band to precede the night's main act, JJ Grey & Mofro.

Grey, a Jacksonville, Florida native and one of today's most notable music raconteurs, ALWAYS gives 110% as he and his band put forth a show worthy of the last one they will ever perform. Mixing blues, soul, funk and swamp rock, these guys know how to bring it, and bring it big. The sets are always audience interactive, and people love to sing along to the songs. The evening ended on a very high note indeed, and happy fans filed out into the cool night with a full plate of fabulous music filling their heads. 

Link to full gallery of photos taken by Michelle Wilson and Michael Yanko of Rock Legends Photographers:

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