Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Roots 'n Blues 'n BBQ, 9/25-9/26

I would be remiss if I failed to mention one of the biggest events happening in our burgh this weekend. I'm speaking, of course, of the Roots 'n Blues 'n BBQ Festival. This is a can't-miss opportunity for you to see world-class blues acts at a reasonable price in our quirky town while stuffing your face with some of the best barbecue in the area. Even if you have no soul and hate music, you can amuse yourself sitting curbside, watching Missourians from all walks of life congregate in one very small area downtown.

Last year at this time I had just moved to Columbia from Chicago. Chicago, as you well know, has that other blues festival , but we won't touch on that. Chicago is Chicago, and the less said in this blog about the Windy City, the better. There are far better sites than mine covering the City of Big Shoulders and Big Blues and Big Jazz and Big Big Big, blah blah blah. I'm here to celebrate Columbia's own big and amazing shoulders.

At any rate, I had just moved to Columbia and didn't know a soul, so last year's Roots 'n Blues experience was a bit tentative for me at best. I walked through the festival with my "I'm-alone-and-okay-with-this-but-really-I'm-not" smile on and ended up wandering into Top Ten Wines, ordering a glass of sangria, and chatting the owner's parents up. Yes, I am ashamed. What I DID hear on my quick and slightly uncomfortable solo stroll through the festival was damn good blues, and it convinced me to put on my big girl pants this year and come back for the full experience.

A word of warning for the crowd-phobic: Yes, there will lots and lots of people, but don't let that stop you from feeding off the crowd's energy in addition to the barbecue.

So where to begin?

For starters, you're going to need lots and lots of  "Green Onions" with your barbecue. This year Columbia is blessed with the master of mod himself,  Booker T (sans MGs). Booker T is responsible for booty-slappin' numbers like the one in the video below. Funky, funky, funky! Bring your ruffly lace shirt and boogie with Booker. It's going to be a dance dance revolution!

The geek in me is pretty excited to swing with Atlanta Boogie like it's 1999. (Their myspace page says, "Sounds exactly like it should. Jumps and swings!" Big Bad Voodoo Daddy would be proud.) And crowd favorites the Carolina Chocolate Drops will have mama's little baby shortenin' bread, er... clamoring for a good old-fashioned jugband jam, that is. Who thought it was possible to combine beatbox and banjo? Here they are plunking down their Appalachian-inspired reworking of "Hit 'Em Up Style."

If you want to hear George Clooney sing at this year's festival—I mean, the man behind Clooney's voice on O, Brother, Where Art Thou?—you have to track down The Dan Tyminski Band. (Sorry, ladies.) Tyminski helped launch the little bluegrass engine that could when he sang "Man of Constant Sorrow" in the 2000 film, and now he is bringing his non-sorrowful self to Columbia, a city that loves its bluegrass like the air it breathes.

Also not to be missed: 95-year-old piano legend Pinetop Perkins, who's been playing the blues since 1927, touring with B. B. King, Earl Hooker, and Muddy Waters.

Our sweet little festival showcases more than just blues: we have "roots," too. I can only imagine this applies to the grab bag of musical genres on the lineup. This year we get a little bit of reggae rasta...

some honky tonk...

a smattering of New Orleans brass...

bluegrass (Steeldrivers), country (the Wilders), modern honkytonk (Heather Myles) (Heather "likes big cars; yeah, she likes big cars"), classically trained folk troubadours (Rory Block), lusty Yugoslavian blues (Ana Popovic ), and...

(No, I swear this is not a picture of some of last year's festival attendees.)

and, of course, lots and lots of blues, blues, and more blues.

You can read performer profiles and see other YouTube clips at the official Roots 'n Blues website.

I'm not a barbecue enthusiast myself, but I hear there are some good eats at this here festival, too.

This guy likes hogs.

Stay tuned for more tangy coverage...

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