2020 Clearwater Sea-Blues Festival

Coachman Park February 22 and 23

The event is free for the public to enjoy with the option of purchasing VIP and reserved seating.

Sunset over the Gulf of Mexico

One of my favorite things to do is to drive to a blues festival and immerse myself in the music. This festival was the most recent one I was able to attend due to the Covid-19 lock-down. I was scheduled to go to the Bonita Spring Blues Festival, however they cancelled at the last minute.

As some of you may know, I travel and sleep in my Toyota Prius. Finding a place to park next to the venue was no problem at all. Coachman Park has plenty of parking available, all within walking distance to restaurants and clubs. I stopped for brunch at “Clear Sky on Cleveland,” an upscale downtown eatery with an old-time décor, and had a huge spinach omelet that filled me up, then headed for Coachman Park. The weather was wonderful; a beautiful February day in Florida with temperatures starting in the mid 70’s and reaching the mid 80’s by 3:00 p.m.

Saturday’s line-up contained a couple of good blues acts. I had never seen Brandon Santini and was totally blown away!  His harmonica performance was clean and a treat for the ears. Reverend Barry and the Funk was also very impressive… they really brought the funk, and are a fun band to watch. With their horns and rhythm section, they got the crowd moving. Purchasing the VIP package allows you to sit up close and they provide food. Not bad for an old blues fan. 

Brandon Santini “One More Day”
Reverend Barry & the Funk “LoveShine”

As the day came to an end I headed for my Prius for some much needed rest. I’m not much of a night owl these days. One of the advantages of sleeping in my hybrid car is the climate control feature. After watching a blues documentary on Netflix it was time to rest. I made a bed in the back with a foam pad and a sleeping bag, it’s actually very comfortable.

Upon waking on Sunday, I took a short walk to “Grind House Coffee” for a cup of joe. After cleaning up in the restroom, I had my cup of coffee and  buttered toast for breakfast. Needing to breathe the sea air, I decided to drive over the bridge to Clearwater Beach. Unfortunately, the beach was closed–they were in the process of setting up for a volleyball tournament. I turned around and headed back over the bridge for day two of the festival. 

Clearwater Beach

Day 2 started out the same way, with wonderful music and plenty of fans. After years of doing this blues festival thing you get to meet all kinds of people and reunite with friends you’ve made on the road. Sunday was used to catch up with old and new friends. My old friends from the Tobacco Road days, Julie and Jack, now live in the Tampa Bay area. Lee Ann is a new friend I met on the January Blues Cruise (more about that in the next post) who flew down from Atlanta. All good blues fans are the best fans in the world. Only my opinion of course. 

Victor Wainwright & the Train “Wlitshire Grave”

Sunday’s performances included some old favorites and some new acts I hadn’t had the pleasure of seeing before. Tab Benoit has been a favorite of mine for years, all the way back to the 1990s–Tobacco Road days. Victor Wainwright & the Train are a recent act that I have started following since the Blues Cruise. Both put on great performances. Tab’s guitar skills are always fun to watch and Victor is a showman you have to witness. If you have never seen these guys live, next time you’re able, do so. You can thank me later.  Victor’s “Wiltshire Grave” is my ringtone. The opening guitar riff performed by Pat Harrington is the best. It’s stuck in my head in the best possible way.

Hope to see you all on the Blues Highway, until then…Peace.

To see more blues photos, follow my IG @depriestblues Direct Link: http://www.instagram.com/depriestblues

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Mountain Adventures

“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks,”-John Muir

June 2020

Fort Mountain State Park

Chatsworth, Georgia

Every year I travel to the north of Georgia for a reflective, bonding and relaxing connection with nature. Ellijay, Georgia becomes home base for summertime outdoor adventures. From there you can do day trips to waterfalls, hiking trails, small towns and whitewater rafting. Every year I try to find somewhere new to explore. This year an old high school friend (Steve) came along for the ride.

Our first stop was Fort Mountain State Park. There are over a dozen trails in which to choose from, so we decided on the “West Overlook Trail”. As we hiked the moderate trail, the smell of the forest and the mountain air filled our lungs. Slowly climbing up, we were surprised by the magnificent view at the Overlook. You could see for miles over the Georgia landscape. My friend Steve said ”Best view of Georgia I’ve ever seen.” We continued driving in the park and came upon the “Big Rock Trail”. This one was located next to a small lake. Here the trail was a little more strenuous, the forest was thicker and the small waterfall was delightful. When we returned to the lake we were too tired to try the Lake Trail. Perhaps next year.   

Amicalola Falls State Park

Dawsonville, Georgia

The next day was a visit to Amicalola Falls State Park, near Dawsonville, Ga. It’s easy to see why this is one of Georgia’s most popular state parks. Amicalola, a Cherokee Indian word meaning “tumbling waters”, is an appropriate name for these 729-foot falls. I try and visit this enchanted fall every time I am near. Though my friends insist on walking up the steps, I choose to drive and meet then at the lower observation deck. That way they do not have to walk down. It’s a nice walk to and from the lower deck where I first meet them, so I get the heart pumping as well. Plus I did walk up a few years ago and do not need to anymore.  

Quick story, a few years ago, my friend Lori and I went up to the Lodge at the top of the falls to watch the rain clouds pass over the valley. After about twenty minutes, it started raining, when all of a sudden, we heard a choir signing “Amazing Grace”. We looked at each other and thought this is crazy, then discovered that the lodge was having a Gospel Convention and chose that exact moment to sing “Amazing Grace”.  

Toccoa River Swinging Bridge

Morganton, Georgia

The last adventure on this trip was a drive down a crazy dirt road followed by a short ½ mile hike to a Swinging bridge. The Toccoa River Swinging Bridge is located in the Chattahoochee National Forest, in the Blue Ridge Mountains. We sat by the water’s edge on the other side of the bridge and had a small lunch. I can see myself coming back again in order to swim in the river.

Whether you are hiking up a mountain, climbing up a waterfall or walking across a swinging bridge, life can and should be an adventure. The beauty that is nature and the spiritual connection that one receives from her is worth the trip.

I would like to acknowledge the wonderful friendship of Lori and Patricia for always making my visits to Ellijay so memorable.

Murals by the Lake.

     Where can you walk through Florida history, see wonderful art, search for hidden treasures and remain socially distant?

     Lake Placid, Florida has been called “The Town of Murals”, and is a very quaint, charming and friendly place. Just 30 miles south of Sebring, the city is home to some of the most interesting, informative and colorful Murals you can find. Discovering them is half the fun. They seem to be everywhere you look. There are over forty murals gracing the business walls lining the uptown district.

     “The murals are funded by donations and sponsors,” said President Harriet Porter co-founder of the Lake Placid Mural Society. The first mural was painted in 1993, they depict Florida history and Florida life.  

     A slow walk through the business district will reveal most of the murals and each mural contains a hidden image for you to find. A magazine found at the welcome center will guide you on your search.

     Visiting Lake Placid for a mural walk is a fun activity for the whole family, and being outdoors only adds to the pleasure of a mural gallery tour.

Tampa Bay Delivers

Crowd

The April 6th thru the 8th, 2018Tampa Bay Blues Festival, was a great event. Headliners, Robert Cray and Buddy Guy did not disappoint the crowd. I have been going to Blues festival for over twenty-five years and this one was a great one. Despite the rain, the audience stayed and were entertained with vintage Buddy Guy.

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I plan to attend next years show. The location (St Petersberg) is a beautiful city with friendly people.

Charlie Musselwhite at the Seminole Theater.

CharlieBlogWhat a great venue for a blues show. The Seminole is intimate(around 250 seats) and the sound is decent. The opening act was a young(still in high school) guitar phnom  named A.J. Gaytan from Southwest H.S.. He played Stevie Ray like it was second nature to him, and with soul. If you ever get a chance to see him, it is worth your time.Hope he stays with it.

Then of course the Master came on. With the smooth voice and great harmonica playing that is symbolic of C.M., he grabbed the audience by the arm and led them thru a few decades of blues classics that included his current CD. He is truly one of the few Masters we have left from an era of Chicago that may have been the Golden Era of Chicago Blues. He learned from the greats, Junior Wells, Little Walter and Big Walter Horton to name a few. He talked about walking the streets of Chicago with nothing in his pockets but dreams to play the blues. Over fifty years later he still playing the blues like they should be played.

It was truly an honor to see Charlie Musselwhite again. The beautiful thing about the blues is that after the show Charlie stood out front till everyone got to shake hands or autographed their CD’s, Charlie Musselwhite is the real deal and a class act.

Student Success

Two groups of my tv students received Certificates from the Miami Dade County School Board today. It was for a couple of Public Service Announcements for Texting and Driving. I have never been one to push students to compete in video contests, I was wrong, I can now see the joy they receive from such praise. I guess I just never did. I understand the benefits of marketing, however I never liked that part of the process. So congratulations to Liameyla, Yemey, Anais, Jessica, Evely, and Darianna. Way to represent.

I have another student, Mariah Ospina, who for the second year in a row is a semi-finalist in the “No Bull Challenge” PSA competition. Please go to this site and view her work. It is a spoken word video about not letting others define who you are.  PEACE

http://contest.nobullchallenge.org/video/110087-society

Wayne and Charlotte’s Wedding

So my friends Wayne and Charlotte, decided to tie the knot. of course since Wayne is a Native American from Canada the ceremony was performed by his spiritual leader Tony Blackhawk.

It was such a loving experience with everyone who cared feeling the love.WayneWedding030

After a Love prayer the couple did a blanket ceremony that involved wrapping themselves in a blanket. Followed by a dance exhibition by an Aztec dance group. It was a beautiful day and I wish the loving couple many years of love, joy and happiness.

This wonderful  couple made not only a legal commitment but also a spiritual connection that will last until.

PEACE

Film Rehersal

DPToday, my  junior(16 and 17 year old) class started shooting their short film called”Wish”. I have to play the principal in a couple of scenes. So it was hard to keep them corralled. They did not realize the time it takes to get a scene shot. It was their first time so they will get better. This class has a mind of their own and know exactly what they want to get  done. I may have trained them to well

Shooting a film with students is not the easiest thing to do. They  are all over the place and the workflow can be difficult to follow. But they are learning. We have to follow the shooting schedule and not get so distracted.

The students that did make it after school for this filming, received a valuable lesson. I will keep you advise of their progress.

Why I shoot the Blues.

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“The Blues an’t what your singing the blues is what you feel.” Buddy Guy.

I first became aware of the blues in 1963, the year I picked up my first Rolling Stones album and realized my favorite tunes were blues classics.

 “The Blues had a baby and they named that baby Rock’n Roll.” Muddy Waters.

I fell head first into the blues. While my friends, listened to rock, disco, punk, etc. I was listening to Robert Johnson, Billie Holiday and Muddy Waters. I became fascinated with the history, the stories and the evolution of the Blues. From the Mississippi Delta to the South side of Chicago, to Philadelphia, Atlanta, New York, I had to experience it all. East coast versus West Coast versus Texas versus Piedmont they all have a distinct sound.

In 1968, I received my first camera, a dual frame from Vietnam, I have owned a camera every since. I figured as long as I have a camera I should never be unemployed. There were many years since when my camera kept my family and me fed.

In 1983, I walked into Tobacco Road in Miami and I felt I have come home. You see I started using my two loves, the blues and photography to capture what I like to call the Second Generation blues musicians. These artist were from the Mississippi Delta, Memphis, Chicago. They had played the Juke Joint, Chittlin Circuit and flophouses. These people were the real deal. Every weekend a new artist would appear in front of my camera. So for the next ten years I started what would be the Blue Pic Project, documenting these Musicians. Some were having a rebirth, most where just getting started, all were welcomed and photographed.

By 1989, I started exhibiting these photos in order to share my images, I had a local radio program sponsored by the Poor House Restaurant and club. I started exhibiting at Art Shows, Concerts , Blues Festivals and schools. In 1992, while in Costa Rica vacationing, Hurricane Andrew destroyed my home. My negatives luckily where saved; however most of my prints were damaged in the storm, Heart broken and defeated I put the negatives away for another day.

Well today is another day. It is time to show the world a period in Miami history when the blues were alive and well. Some of these great artists have passed and others have had a great career. Me, I’m still shooting, still loving the blues. For information how you can help contact me at Louisdp@att.net or call 786-246-4680.