Today’s schedule is a little shorter than yesterday, starting at 12.15 and closing by 8pm. Some spare time in the morning at the hotel is very welcome.
Our next attempt to get the free bus service to the festival site turns out even worse than the day before – an hour wait from noon at the bus stop, a ten minute journey until the driver informs us that he can only get us to within a 25 minute walk of the main gate (actually I believe it is the only public gate). A long walking commute and the sun is already pretty hot. However once in, we headed to the second, smaller VIP lounge where a delicious lunch is being served – BBQ grits, Lone Star breakfast: cornbread, TX chilli, eggs and cheddar cheese, buttermilk biscuits and sawmill gravy, southern fried “taters” and fresh fruit salad. Delicious.
A walk to the main stage to hear the last two songs of the Sunday Gospel Brunch, presented by Broadway Christian Church, and have some freshly brewed Kaldi coffee while listening to T. J. Wheeler. Retracing our steps back to the Shelter Insurance Stage and there was Matthew Curry.
Fresh off a six-city tour with the Steve Miller Band in recent months, Mathew Curry is a ball of blues energy, a guitar-proficient and committed young man who gives his all. Keep an eye out for him.
I’d seen the Paul Thorn Band the previous week at Nashville’s 3rd & Lindsley. Enjoyed the set, but today was to be much more, even with the same band. The difference was the breadth of material that he played and the more interactive festival audience that he seemed to enjoy. Always likable, engaging and honest, Thorn played tunes from his recent release, but also reached back into his growing back catalogue and produced super versions of “Snake Farm” and especially “A Long Way From Tupelo”. Also, he recorded “Doctor My Eyes” on the recent Jackson Browne tribute album and his rendition today of that song was highly effective. Great set from a man who never disappoints.
Swapping stages yet again, JJ Grey & Mofro were terrific. From the opening “Hide and Seek” and “99 Shades of Crazy”, this was immensely enjoyable. This Jacksonville Floridian had a six-piece band with a presence, generally keyboards/organ, electric guitar/lap slide, drums, bass, trumpet and saxophone. “Georgia Warhorse” (penned about his tough grandmother) was slower and more soulful, “Slow Hot and Sweaty” and “Everything Good Is Bad” were ramped up. His is a souful gospel, a positive message to embrace life and love. I hear you JJ.
Dinner, but there’s little time – pastalaya, bronzed pork chop, chicken tchoupitoulas, bourbon mashed sweet potatoes, glazed carrots, salad, bread pudding and brownies – thanks Glenn’s Cafe.
Over to Trampled By Turtles, from Duluth Minnesota as the air was cooling and the sun was setting on the day and this wonderful festival. The band mix traditional folk with Americana, often at break-neck speed. The musicianship is outstanding and there is a tight synergy between all band members. There are some similarities with The Avett Brothers but the Turtles’ vocals are more embedded into the music and lacks the catchy lines for which The Avetts have come to be known. But for me that’s not a negative. I think the music of Trampled By Turtles is going to grow on me and we are all going to become more aware of this band.
And so it ended. My first experience of Roots n Blues n BBQ and the first time in Columbia Missouri.
Was it worth it? Hell, yes! The line-up is a good as any I’ve seen for a festival of this size. Just but one example – these are the performers I wanted to see but didn’t to any significant extent, purely because of scheduling clashes – Los Lobos, Music Maker Revue, The Avett Brothers, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Bettye Lavette, Hot Rize. Add to the terrific bill compiled by Thumper Entertainment partner Richard King, the great food, the friendly patrons and the perfect setting and you have an event that, pound for pound, can match it with any other. Thanks also to Betsy Farris from Thumper. Being the week after Americanafest in Nashville is another huge positive.
I’d HIGHLY recommend Roots n Blues n BBQ.