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Downtown Blues Concert

Downtown Blues Concert Pic.jpg

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The soulful sound of blues will usher in the Downtown Festival & Art Show weekend Friday, Nov. 30 with a free Downtown Blues Concert on the Bo Diddley Plaza from 7-11 p.m. The North Central Florida Blues Society is pleased to announce an evening under the stars featuring three incredible blues performances.

This soul-moving show kicks off at 7 p.m. with Palatka native acoustic blues and country singer “Sweet William” Billy Ellis. A U.S. Army Veteran, Sweet William performs a broad range of ballads, blues, country and island flavors with topics from love to war, and everything in between. Sweet William’s musical career has included playing the bass guitar for several bands including Blue Smoke and the Smokin’ Blue Horns and the doo-wop group Deuce Fifty. His musical career continued with his ownership of Palatka’s Downtown Blues and the creation of the Blue Country Duo. Most recently, Sweet William is the solo/duo winner of the 2018 North Central Florida Blues Society Regional Blues Challenge.

On stage next is Sheba the Mississippi Queen and the Bluesmen. Born in the Mississippi Delta, Sheba got her start like so many of history’s greatest blues artists - singing gospel in her church. Her career has taken her to New York City and Miami, where she gained fame as a uniquely talented singer and performer. She, along with her powerful band, bring old school style and approach to north Florida audiences by creating original music that blends blues, jazz, R&B and soul. Her audiences are always entranced by her heart-felt lyrics, matched with her powerful and passionate voice. A celebrated blues singer, Sheba has taken her musical career to the next level with the release of her self-produced album, as well as being named band winner of the 2018 North Central Florida Blues Society’s Regional Blues Challenge.

This year’s headliner, Lauren Mitchell, will take the stage at 9 p.m. Mitchell, a Sarasota-based blues and soul vocalist, doesn’t just sing blues and soul, but she transforms difficult experiences into deeply moving music. As a student of the genre, Mitchell has learned and mastered the art of presenting her songs in a way that allows listeners to identify with the emotions and meanings of her songs. Mitchell, along with her Grammy Award winning guitarist and producer Josh Sklair, create soulful music charged with her passion for blues and soul.

The excitement of the Downtown Blues Concert is followed by two fun-filled days of art, music and culture at the Downtown Festival & Art Show. This nationally-recognized festival transforms downtown Gainesville into a venue for award-winning artists, and draws a crowd of more than 80,000 visitors. Presented by the City of Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department, the festival is celebrating its 37th year Saturday, Dec. 1 and Sunday, Dec. 2 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on the tree-lined streets of downtown Gainesville. For two days, visitors can leisurely stroll through historic downtown and marvel at works from more than 240 of the nation’s most talented artists, who display their original oils and acrylics, vibrant watercolors, captivating sculptures, dazzling jewelry, decorative ceramics and vivid photography. Art lovers can interact with artists, while finding unique gifts for family and friends, or purchase artwork for their own collection. They can also savor local and international cuisine, and listen to live music performed on four stages. Children have the chance to enjoy the festival and get creative at the Imagination Station, a free, hands-on art activity area. The Downtown Festival & Art Show is a celebration of art and culture that you do not want to miss. For more information, visit or call 352-334-ARTS.

Funded in part by a Tourist Development Tax Grant from the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners in conjunction with the Alachua County Tourist Development Council, Visit Gainesville, Alachua County.

Earlier Event: November 29
Free Yoga w/ Jackie
Later Event: December 1
Downtown Festival and Art Show