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seal of florida

Florida Department of State
Kurt S. Browning
Secretary of State

For Immediate Release
November 05, 2008

Wanda Richey

Florida's Got the Blues!

New Exhibit from the Museum of Florida History Opens November 21

Secretary of State Kurt S. Browning announces the opening of an exhibit at the Museum of Florida History titled Florida’s Got the Blues! This exhibit showcases musicians who pioneered the blues genre in the early-to-mid twentieth century in Florida. "The blues tradition is well established as an important part of Florida's musical heritage," said Secretary Browning, "and the exhibit brings research, design, and programming together to help further the understanding of these musical traditions." The exhibit opens November 21, 2008, and extends through March 1, 2009.

Many notable blues artists had roots in Florida. Among them were Tampa Red, known as the "Guitar Wizard," and Blind Blake, the great ragtime and blues guitarist. Tampa Red learned to play guitar when he was growing up in Tampa. Blind Blake spent his formative years in Jacksonville. The exhibit includes vintage 78 LP records of Tampa Red and other artifacts from icons of the Florida blues tradition. The exhibit also features the sunglasses and photographs of the late, great Ray Charles, who grew up in Greenville, Florida. Charles came to Tallahassee to play numerous times, and is included in The Florida Artists Hall of Fame.

In addition to the performers, Florida's Got the Blues! Has interactive components including a blues ensemble, special programs, and a blues stage. Among the featured objects in the exhibit are a 1928 guitar owned by Tampa Red and a 1960s stage costume belonging to Bo Diddley. These are on loan from the Experience Music Project, Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame in Seattle, Washington. Rare and vintage photographs are highlighted in the exhibit. The Museum plans to travel the exhibit to other venues around the state beginning in March 2009.

The Museum of Florida History is located in the R. A. Gray Building at 500 South Bronough Street, Tallahassee, Florida. Museum hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Sunday and holidays, 12:00 noon to 4:30 p.m. The Museum has extended hours at every Third Thursday event until 8:00 p.m. and every First Friday Gallery Hop until 9:00 p.m. Admission is free. Please visit the Museum web site at