Today is the second and longest day at Roots n Blues n BBQ and the largest crowds are expected.
Our attempt to catch the newly introduced, free CoMo (Columbia Missouri abbreviation) connect bus was not very successful. A wait at the bus stop for about 45 minutes saw a bus finally arrive, the driver was only able to take us part of the way to the festival site for some reason, advising us that there was a three or four block walk to go. Well, the walk was in fact closer to 30 minutes and, as we passed a Starbucks, decided on to getting our morning coffee when we could.
Arriving at the festival site, after seemingly covering the whole perimeter of the vast park, it was time for lunch which was another delightful repast – house chicken wings, spicy honey glazed pork sliders, house roasted pulled pork topped with southern style slaw, lobster or vegetarian macaroni n cheese and grilled vegies/caprese skewers.
I bumped into some locals who we met yesterday and they gave me a copy of the day’s Columbia Tribune and I was somewhat dismayed to see a photo of Sandra and I on the front, as well as a sizable story about us three attending the festival. From then over the next two days, a number of people came up, with the introduction “Aren’t you those Australians?”
Chump Change was on first, playing authentic blues, the sort I could listen to all day. The band has been around for twenty-odd years playing in the Mid West with their intense, grooving style.
David Wax Museum are David Wax and Suz Slezak, fusing traditional folk with American roots and indie rock. They have been touring heavily over the past five years and released an album in September 2012 Knock Knock Get Up.
Lake Street Dive is a four piece from Boston MA with the superb, knock-your-socks-off voice of Rachael Price out front and great harmonies from the other band members. The Brooklyn-based band has been together for a decade, have a new release Bad Self Portrait and featured at last week’s Americana festival in Nashville. A soulful RnB groove sound but for me there was a lack of variety in the material, almost certainly not helped by the fact that the sound was very loud. I would be keen to hear their album to catch another side of this outfit. Their version of The Jacksons’ “I Want You Back” is slow and soulful, a tune and/or video clip for which they have achieved some well-deserved notoriety.
It was around this point where the day’s music soared. Rosanne Cash was a delight, demonstrating most songs from her recent brilliant release The River and The Thread. Those tunes are about the deep South and her emotional attachment to it and its influence of her father. When you hear those songs played, with her brilliant band, a highly respectful and attentive crowd and with the sound just perfect, you have the perfect ingredients for a stellar set. “A Feather’s Not A Bird”, “Etta’s Tune” her co-write Civil War tale with Rodney Crowell “When The Master Calls The Roll”, “Money Road” (all from the new release), “Tennessee Flattop Box” and Hank Snow’s “I’m Moving On” just some of the highlights of this masterful session.
Time for a quick dinner – local roasted whole hog, mustard and kale slaw, okra and cowpea mull (?) with fresh tomatoes, gumbo z’herbs and andouille and green rice with cheese. All with a pleasant glass of pinot grigio.
The previous set was going to be hard to top, but John Prine was next, so I was not anticipating any let down. Nor did I suffer any. John had three musicians supporting him, generally playing electric guitar, mandolin and bass/cello. He played many of his well know tunes – “Six O’clock News”, “Souvenirs”, “Grandpa Was A Carpenter” the immensely moving “Hello In There”, “Angel From Montgomery”, “Bear Creek Blues” and “Muhlenberg County”. All delivered with the sharp insight, the quizzical humour and the beautiful melodies up front and centre. The crowd was adoring. It was my second John Prine live performance – not sure when he last played Australia – and I’m ready for another one as soon as possible.
As soon as the set finished, we strode purposefully to the Shelter Insurance Stage to catch the last five songs of Amos Lee. I’d seen him in Nashville in a number of cameo roles last week, but wanted to see him on stage for longer, as I hadn’t seen him live since his New Orleans’ Jazz Fest performance a few years back. I was a little surprised by what I saw – “Stranger” from his most recent release Mountains Of Sorrow, Rivers Of Song and “Sweet Pea” (from the 2006 Supply and Demand) were much more powerful renditions of those album tunes – he had a cracking five-piece band. The real surprise was his elevated take on “Street Corner Preacher” from Last Days At The Lodge – funky, grinding hip-hop with the band and singer working together beautifully. Then the song segued into the theme music from the TV series Game Of Thrones and I was taken back by its force and persuasion. Two encores and the large crowd left completely satisfied.
It was pretty late and we walked via the Missouri Lottery Stage to hear two songs from The Avett Brothers, where a very large crowd had assembled, before heading home. What a day.