The Daytona Blues Festival is a three day event in the beginning of October. It brings together blues artists from around the country to perform at the historic Jackie Robinson baseball stadium, located in the heart of Daytona Beach’s downtown. Put on yearly by the Daytona Blues Foundation since 2009, the festival was founded with the purpose of developing an annual blues weekend whose proceeds would generate funds for health initiatives for women and children in the local community. In its first 5 years, the festival raised over $100,000 in funding for improving the lives of local women in children. The Aku Tiki and Aku Tiki were title sponsors this year, helping the festival do some pretty amazing work.
I had some friends in town this past weekend, so the festival couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. The weather was great and it was only a five minute drive from The Aku Tiki! Located in beautiful historic downtown Daytona Beach, the venue couldn’t have been better. We walked along the street and enjoyed a little bit of shopping and stopped for lunch at Avocado Kitchen, which was, as usual, delicious – and pretty healthy too! We chose to go on a Saturday afternoon so that we could participate in the festival’s local beer tasting (surprise, surprise!). It was a great time for all. We were able to sample beers from Persimmon Hollow, Tomoka Brewing Company, and even Mead made in DeLand, just a short drive away from Daytona Beach. All of the local beermakers seemed just as excited to be there as we were, making recommendations and even letting us sample a few brews before filling up our cups. I was excited to find out that my favorite local brewery, Daytona Taproom, has recently begun offering some of their beers in cans! My friends and I agreed that the most unusual tasting we had was mead, something that none of us had ever tried before, as you can see from our excited faces below. We learned that mead is something that is relatively easy to brew at home, but agreed that it’s not something any of us are qualified to do on our own. The mead brewers definitely had a friendly laugh at our expense, and we laughed along with them.
This year’s lineup included 16 acts – some of whom were staying at The Aku Tiki. My friends, who were also staying at The Aku Tiki, ran into a few musicians in the lobby!
Admittedly, I don’t know a great deal about The Blues. However, no specific musical knowledge was necessary to enjoy the amazing musical talent that was brought to town for the event. After enjoying our beers, my friends and I sat down in the stadium to enjoy a performance by the Balkun Brothers, who describe themselves as an “explosive, high-energy, funk-infused, blues-rock band.” They traveled all the way down from Hartford, Connecticut for the event! We definitely agreed with their description, and judging by the reaction from others in the crowd, they did too! We could definitely tell that their music is rooted in the traditional blues tradition, but with a new age, psychedelic twist.
I can’t wait to return to the Daytona Blues Festival next year! I learned a great deal not only about local breweries, but also about the history of the blues and how it’s evolving as a genre. The best part? At the end of the day, we were able to return to the Aku Tiki, relax, and enjoy its lovely cocktail hour.