Roots ’N’ Blues ’N’ BBQ Festival preview: Music lovers share top picks

Tuesday, September 22, 2009 | 2:10 p.m. CDT; updated 8:44 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The smell of barbecue, the sweet melody resonating from a double-necked Mosrite guitar in the background — it’s time for the Roots ’N’ Blues ’N’ BBQ Festival.

The third annual festival kicks off Friday with 10 bands on three stages in downtown Columbia. On Saturday, along with a half-marathon and barbecue competition, another 20 musical groups join the festivities.

To give concertgoers insight into what they can expect, three knowledgeable music lovers each picked five shows not to be missed this year.


Donofrio, also known as Radio Ranger, is host of the show "ROOT'n TOOT'n RADIO" on KOPN/89.5 FM every Sunday from noon to 3 p.m. The show has been on air for 21 years featuring a variety of music from classic country to bluegrass and Cajun.

1. The Steeldrivers. The band from Nashville, Tenn., mixes contemporary influences with country and soul. "They call their music 'uneasy listening music,' " Donofrio said. "They are on the top of their game." 

2. Rory Block. Donofrio describes this Delta blues player's tribute cover albums of Robert Johnson and Son House as "masterful."

3. Ana Popovic. "Ana Popovic has been exciting Eurasian blues fans for years," Donofrio said. "Her music gives comfort to the soul."

4. Southern Culture on the Skids. "Rockabilly, surf, steaming rock ’n' roll. This group has more energy than the law should allow," Donofrio said. "If you're up close to the stage, watch for flying fried chicken."

5. Deke Dickerson and the Ecco-Phonics. Dickerson is a Columbia native whose music has been featured in a number of movie and television soundtracks. His trademark guitar is a customized double-neck Mosrite-style Hallmark. "Deke is so deep into rockabilly, hillbilly and honky tonk, you couldn't dig him out with an army of backhoes," Donofrio said.


Born in northeastern Pennsylvania, King is a founder, along with Phil Costello, of The Blue Note, one of Columbia's popular concert venues.  Though he has never been able to "play a lick," King said, his love for music stems from way back. 

1. Booker T. In his youth, the artist sang gospel in church. He has since produced albums with music legends such as Bill Withers and Willie Nelson. "The guy's history is just incredible," King said. His first introduction with Booker T. was when he heard the hit soul instrumental "Green Onions," recorded in 1962.

2. Pinetop Perkins and the Perfect Age of Rock n Roll Blues Band. Perkins, 95, is a Mississippi blues pianist. King said he is impressed with Perkins' vitality and talent. The group "started doing this as a film thing; now they're doing dates," he said.

3. The Steeldrivers. King said he knows a couple of artists in the band and described them as a"truly artistically talented" group. "Real excited to see those guys," King said.

4. Southern Culture on the Skids. King simply said: "They're one of my old time favorites."

5. Junior Brown.  Inventor of the "guit-steel," a combination of a six-string guitar and steel guitar, Brown's sound is a mixture of country and rock ’n' roll. 

King picked Brown because "it's been a longtime since I've seen him," he said.


Radio personality Kevin Walsh spent most of his life working in record stores. He has two shows on KOPN/89.5 FM, as well as a morning show on KBXR/102.3 FM.

"I like not so much the music, but what music does to people, especially the blues," Walsh said.

1. Deke Dickerson. Dickerson went to Rock Bridge High School and left Columbia as a young man. "He went away and continued to do what he learned here," Walsh said. In addition to being a Columbia legend, Walsh said, Dickerson is a talented writer.

2. Henry Clay and the Full Grown Men. The blues band is made up of five veterans of the Columbia music scene. Walsh describes Clay as "the real deal." "If you catch him on a good night, screw Buddy Guy."

3. The Bel Airs. Walsh describes the them as a "real tight band." Two band members, Dick and Dave Pruitt, on bass and electric guitars, are brothers, and Michael Cherry plays drums.

4. King Clarentz. Legendary bass player Lou Whitney and drummer Bobby Lloyd Hicks join King Clarentz for his set. "King Clarentz focuses on the most rudimentary aspects of music," Walsh said. "His performances are great because of the way he connects with the audience."

5. The Steeldrivers. "Mike Henderson is widely renowned as a studio musician," Walsh said. "He is a master mandolin player." What the band does with bluegrass, Walsh describes as "magical." 

This year, the event is charging $10 for a day pass, $15 for a weekend pass, to see performances on the Peace Park, and Seventh and Locust stages.



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Brian Jarvis September 24, 2009 | 9:16 p.m.

Anyone know how close you can get to the music without coughing up $10-15 for a ticket?

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 25, 2009 | 4:23 a.m.

Brian Jarvis walk around down there and see just how close you can get is my suggestion.

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