Myakka River Blues Festival 2020

Don’t miss the Ninth Annual Myakka River Blues Festival at Snook Haven in Venice on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25th, 2020, 11:00a.m. to 6:00p.m. Admission is $15 in advance, $25 at the door.

Snook Haven, Smack Dab on the Myakka River, at 5000 East Venice Avenue, Venice, is a perfect setting for this annual festival venue. Proceeds from the festival will be donated to Venice Challenger Baseball and Friends of Sarasota County Parks.

Festival Headliners

Randy Stephens and the Groove

Get ready to GROOVE with Randy Stephens, an award-winning guitar player and leader of the Southwest Florida’s favorite blues band, The Groove Makers. The Groove Makers include Carl Grieco on drums and Jessie Stephens on bass guitar. They tour regionally and nationally and have opened for  Larry McCray, Biscuit Miller & The Mix, Albert Castiglia, Selwyn Birchwood, and Pat Travers. The band performs over 150 dates annually cover and original music.


"As you might expect from a man who plays in a Stevie Ray Vaughan tribute band, there is a lot of guitar on this album. But if you like the guitar-led blues-rock of SRV, Johnny Winter or Jeff Beck, you’ll love No Strings Attached."

- Rhys Williams 'Blues Blast Magazine'

No Strings Attached is a fine and varied set of blues from Randy Stephens that should expand his market well beyond the southeastern part of the U.S. if there’s any justice in the world.

- Graham Clarke 'Blues Bytes '

With the release of is American Guitar, Stephens is putting his own unique take on the Instrumental Rock guitar genre, one that is at once a testament to those that came before him, and at the same time a vision into the future of the music. – Dr Mat Warnock ‘Guitar International Magazine

Lauren Mitchell

During a tumultuous time in both her personal and professional life, she was given the opportunity to rise from the challenges she was facing and make the album of her career with producer Tony Braunagel. Mitchell took the leap of faith because she is a true student of the blues, a music that's all about finding a way to transform difficult experiences into something cathartic. The timing was perfect. She had an album to record. That album, "Desire," is her most fully realized musical statement to date. Through a bold mix of her own original material, songs she hand-picked from the repertoires of her friends, and select covers of tunes first performed by Etta James, Bettye Lavette, Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin and Betty Davis, Mitchell tells a blues story that's been a lifetime in the making. It's a stylistically varied set of 13 songs expertly recorded by drummer and Grammy-winning producer Tony Braunagel, whose work with Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal and Robert Cray have made him one of today's most in-demand blues industry professionals. Recorded during a ten-day trip to Los Angeles, Braunagel brought out the best in Mitchell, highlighting every nuance in her powerful vocals and helping her craft an emotionally resonant album that's destined to go down as one of the year's highlights. Besides Braunagel, the band features guitarists Johnny Lee Schell and Josh Sklair, keyboardist Jim Pugh, bassist Reggie McBride, sax player Joe Sublett, trumpet player Darrell Leonard, and percussionist Lenny Castro. "The blues is a song of victory," Mitchell says. "It's a way to say, 'I'm over it,' and now I'm turning it into this beautiful thing that can help someone else heal. That's what this record is for me."

Athur Menezes

Artur Menezes is an indie artist taking the blues rock scene by storm! As a highly energetic guitarist, singer and songwriter, Art impresses the crowds with his feeling and showmanship. Although very much influenced by blues, he crosses genres with psychedelic rock, funk and brazilian rhythms such as “baião”, creating his own voice and sound, which has been attracting younger audiences and helping to keep the blues alive.Based in Los Angeles, the brazilian artist is making his name playing around US, promoting his latest album “Keep Pushing” (4th album) and his new single / music video “Fight for Your Love”.

Recently Artur won the Grand Prize in a contest promoted by Ernie Ball to perform at the Crossroads Guitar Festival. Winner of the Gibson/Albert King Award for Best Guitarist by the Blues Foundation and 3rd place at the International Blues Challenge 2018, Artur plays the blues with expertise and respect, but also mixing with other styles.

Artur shared the stage with Joe Satriani in a festival in Brazil for a 20 thousand people audience in 2017 and recently he started teaching guitar at the Musicians Institute in Hollywood. Four years ago, when he was still living in Brazil, Artur was the headline of innumerous festivals. In 2014, headline at Augustibluus Festival in Estonia and played in clubs in UK. In 2015, he had a tour in Mexico and in 2013 in Argentina.

In 2012, Artur played the opening shows for Buddy Guy in his South American tour in Brazil.

Concerned about disseminating and expanding access to blues in Brazil, Artur was one of the founders of the society Casa do Blues (House Of Blues), which promotes weekly shows with free entrance.

Artist Reviews

“Artur is a superstar waiting to be discovered. fearless player”-Joe Bonamassa

“Menezes is a delightful digital-age cross between Carlos Santana and Rod Stewart. he’s got the spicy music style and the latter’s hardworking down-to-earth vibe”-Blues Blast Magazine

“Menezes’ voice is a real asset, a great rock voice with just the right touch of bluesy imprudence”-Blues Rock Review

Tommy Z

Tommy Z is a contemporary blues artist and radio host from Buffalo, NY who has been described as a "blues treasure" (Jim Santella, Buffalo News), and "one of WNY's best kept secrets" (Sarah French, Blues Matters Magazine). He is a guitar-driven electric blues-based stylist onstage, but in the studio composes a variety of music. So while experienced and studied in traditional blues, jazz and rock styles, Tommy is an artist who puts that soulful blues feeling into all the different music he plays. He's been been recognized with numerous awards over the years, including being voted Top Blues Vocalist in Western New York 2003/2004/2006, Top Blues Guitarist 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 2004, 2005, 2006 and his band has won the Top Blues/Crossover Blues Band categories 1994, 2005, 2006, and was honored with the Muddy Waters Award for "Artist of the Year" by the Blues Society of WNY in 2004. In 2007 Tommy was inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame, recognizing him alongside some of the best talent to ever come out of WNY (including Rick James, The Goo Goo Dolls, Billy Sheehan, etc.). He has had the opportunity to perform, record with/or co-bill with some of the world's top artists in the blues/rock genre including: B.B. King (and daughter Shirley), Buddy Guy, Tom Hambridge, Johnny Winter, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Jimmie Vaughan, Robert Cray Jeff Healey, Colin James, Tinsley Ellis, Roomful of Blues, Blues Traveler, Derek Trucks, Joe Bonamassa, Robert Randolph, Peter Frampton, Ian Gillan (Deep Purple), Carey Bell, John Mayall, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Tommy Castro, Duke Robillard, Elvin Bishop and many more including a tour backing up Grammy-winning blues legend Pinetop Perkins (Muddy Waters Band).  Tommy has come a long way from playing the top bars and music venues in Buffalo to being an international and domestic festival headliner.

On Stage Two- Swamp Stage

Ruth Wyand & The Tribe Of One

Can generate the power a full band or the intimacy of a living room concert with her intricate picking style, alternating thumb bass, bottleneck slide, multiple foot drums and earthy and rural relaxed vocals.  As a “one woman band” Ruth presents a soulful and engaging show. Not only is Ruth an exceptional musician she is a great storyteller and performer. As she puts it “after 100 years of playing everywhere from bars to nudist colonies there isn’t much I haven’t seen” and she’ll tell you all about her sometimes hilarious, sometimes scary tales of her life on the road as a One Woman Traveling Show

Playing an eclectic mixture of styles of Americana and Blues originals. Ruth Wyand and the Tribe of One will have you laughing, crying, singing and even dancing.

L.C. Williams and the Driver

Formed some years back in the central Maine area when Souder and Williams, who had been playing as a blues duo, joined forces with bass player Phil Pitula to create a trio with a more driving, electric sound. Guitarist Trent Souder  and harp player Lauren Williams had been playing together in various blues outfits since the mid nineties as The Taildraggers, The Marvin Lord Group, and Souder and Williams Blues Band. They hooked up with Phil Pitula, veteran of such bands as Sistah Sadie, Nevah, and Hot Wax, to form the short-lived Sweet Northern Blues Band, which played festivals and local haunts for about a year. Pitula rejoined Souder and Williams to create the stripped down powerful blues trio,then called The Blood Orange Martinis, whose old school sound was in part due to Souder's use of a foot snare instead of a full drum kit. Located now in St. Petersburg, Florida, L.C. Williams and the Driver enjoy performing as a full band, backed by some of the area’s best rhythm sections, while also still occasionally stripping down to play as a power trio when the occasion calls for it.

Stage 1

11:00 – 12:00 Randy Stephens and the Groove

12:15 – 1:15 Laureen Mitchell

2:15 – 3:15  Artur Menezes

4:30 – 5:45  Tommy Z

Stage 2

1:15 – 2:15 L.C. Williams and the Drive

3:30 – 4:30 Ruth Wyland and the One Tribe Band

Snook Haven has all the history and natural beauty that anyone seeking riverside dining will fall in love with! It is off the beaten path, near the riverbed in a natural cove with true old Florida ambiance. With indoor and outdoor dining, Snook Haven’s backwoods smokehouse menu features ribs, chicken, pulled pork as well as fresh and smoked fish, and shrimp. Open for lunch and dinner daily from 11:30a.m. – 8p.m. Snook Haven, Smack Dab on the River, is located at 5000 East Venice Avenue, Venice, FL 34292 (941) 485-7221, www.snookhaven.com.