Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival - Day Three

Day three gave us another perfect day of weather and a few of the best sets of the festival. The first band I was really excited to finally see was The Cactus Blossoms. After missing them open for Jenny Lewis in KC, I wanted to make sure I saw their set in Columbia. We caught the first half of their set before we cut across the grounds to see Israel Nash. The band played a few new songs which have me really excited for their sophomore release.
Israel Nash first showed up on my radar when someone compared him to maybe my favorite musician of all-time -- Neil Young. There is no doubt Nash is influenced by Mr. Young and he puts on a really solid live show. The highlight of Nash's set was a introduced as a "Protest Song" before Nash & his band plowed through a fiery cover of Neil Young's 'Ohio'.
My wife's number one act to catch at the festival was Amanda Shires. We've been fans for a while but her new album, To The Sunset, put here on a whole different level. Shire's set was a highlight of the entire weekend and I'd expect her to have a headlining spot the next time she plays the festival.

The final band we caught before driving back to Kansas City on Sunday night was Greensky Bluegrass. Admittedly I wasn't familiar with their music before the weekend but I consider myself a fan now. The members of the band are extremely talented players and they have a really devoted fanbase that showed up in front of the stage. They play a brand of bluegrass that I really enjoy and I look forward to catching them live again as soon as I can.
I really can't say enough good things about this festival. I'm disappointed it was never on my radar before this year because their past lineups are definitely in my wheelhouse. There's a very good chance we'll be in attendance every year going forward.


Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival - Day Two

I'm not sure you could hope for better weather at an outdoor event than Columbia experienced on Saturday. We got to the festival before the gates opened so we could catch some of the first bands and I'm glad we did.

The first highlight of the day was the Ben Miller Band from Joplin, Mo. They have previously been described as Ozark Stomp which is actually pretty accurate. We only caught the first half of their set to get over and see The Kay Brothers, but we really enjoyed what we heard.

I can't get enough of Ha Ha Tonka. They're criminally underrated for what a great live band they are. They also put out album after album of really great music. It's my 6th time seeing them and once again, they put on one of the best shows of the festival. KC claims them as their own so there are lots of opportunities to see them closer to home.

If we're declaring teams in the Uncle Tupelo split, I've always been with Jeff. Son Volt just hasn't ever clicked with me since 'Trace' but I still wanted to see them play live. 'Drown', 'Windfall' and a cover of Uncle Tupelo's 'Chickamauga' were the set's highlights.

Our absolute must-see performer on Saturday was Margo Price. She's a huge family favorite in my house with myself, my wife and both of my kids. Plus, after seeing her in Kansas City earlier this year we knew we were in for a treat. Somehow her stage show has gotten even better in the past 9 months which is really hard to believe. She played a few new songs and threw in covers of Tom Petty, Neil Young, & Dolly Parton for good measure. I'll also never get tired of watching her slay on the drums.

In the current state of "Outlaw Country" there is Sturgill Simpson on one level and then everybody else. That wasn't ever more evident than as Saturday's closer. Sturgill's four piece band was on fire all night and they were lead by Simpson himself on lead guitar. I've watched a lot of these new country guys play live and none of them appear to have the lead guitar skills Sturgill has.

Other random highlights of the weekend:
  • Kelly Willis had an unfortunately set in between a couple of more upbeat bands but the few songs I caught of hers were really beautiful.
  • We caught a Dale Watson doing a great version of Merle's 'Mama Tried' in between Ha Ha Tonka & Son Volt
  • On the suggestion of my dad, we ran over to watch a bit of The Mavericks in between Margo Price & Sturgill Simpson. We saw their cover of Neil Young's 'Harvest Moon' & it was perfect.
  • Early bands Blue Jay & The Mighty Pines sets both show cased young bands with a lot of promise. I hope to catch them both in the future.


Photos - The National / Alvvays @ Starlight Theatre

The National played an extremely soggy show last night at Starlight Theatre in Kansas City. It rained almost the entire time and at some points it was absolutely pouring. Of course that kind of weather matches up with the The National's music pretty perfectly. They're such a tight band live and Matt Berninger is one of the best frontmen/showmen around. Here are some photos from last night:

The National also has a long history of bringing along really fantastic opening acts. This time around it was Alvvays from Toronto. They got the only dry hour of the evening and they took full advantage of it with a really beautiful opening set.


Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival - Day One

It's been a good chunk of time since I last went out of town for a multi-day festival. It used to be an annual occurrence but with kids and careers and other things getting in the way, it was long overdue. Luckily there is a three day festival just a couple of hours from Kansas City and it consistently books tons of bands that I love. The festival is Roots N Blues N BBQ and this year was it's 12th in Columbia, Missouri.

Let me just start off by saying our experience at the festival was almost perfect and we had so much fun that we're going to try and make it an annual event. I honestly don't know how I've never considered going to this in the past but somehow it was never on my radar. That won't be a problem again.

First off the grounds of the festival are nearly perfect. Lots of room, good amounts of shade, plenty of bathrooms and super friendly staff & volunteers. The ONLY complaint we had of the entire weekend was having to wait an hour for a shuttle bus before realizing we should just walk the 20 minutes from downtown to Stephen's Lake Park.
Friday was the weakest of the three days lineup in my opinion. At least Friday for me had the least  amount of "must see" acts where as Saturday and Sunday were packed with them and provided some difficult decisions to make on who to see.

We spent most of our time on Friday bouncing between stages, sampling food/drinks and taking in the atmosphere until The Avett Brothers closed the night down on the main stage.

This was my third time seeing The Avett Brothers and they seriously don't disappoint. They're a well oiled machine live and put on a fantastic show. I haven't loved their last two albums as much as their previous output, but they can still put on one of the most fun shows you'll see.

Stay tuned for the Day 2 review!