COLUMBIA — The third annual Roots 'N Blues 'N BBQ Festival opened Friday, and downtown Columbia is slated to showcase the best of folk, blues, country and soul through Saturday night. Peace Park, Flat Branch Park and the intersection of Seventh and Locust Streets are scheduled to feature performers from New Orleans, Cincinnati, Nashville and even Jamaica.
The Peace Park stage opened Friday night with the Music Maker Relief Foundation’s Music Maker Revue, a group that sustains older blues musicians by allowing them to perform, according to an event program. This year, eight different artists performed.
The Wilders opened the weekend for the Seventh and Locust stage while the sounds of the electric guitar, a plucked bass and a violin filled the air with the smell of nearby barbecue.
“On the highway to another town, let’s stop here and have a beer, it looks like a friendly crowd,” they sang to a large audience gathered on the road in front of them.
The Mid-Missouri Highsteppers also received a friendly reception in front of the stage at Flat Branch Park where audience members were listening to Henry Clay and the Full Grown Men, who introduced the step team.
The children, all students from the Columbia area, were dressed in white collared shirts and black dress pants. They appeared on the pathway leading into the park, some carrying large drums. Audience members clapped along as the Highsteppers stomped, danced and chanted on the grassy lawn.
The Highsteppers, coached by Kirby Marks, Tyrone Raybon and Rolando Barry, are a nationally-recognized stepping group that has stepped both competitively and for audiences across the country, including performing their routines at President Clinton’s first inauguration in 1992.
Mayor Darwin Hindman thanked the crowd for coming out to the festival after the Highsteppers performed.
“This is a wonderful thing for Columbia,” he said. “We’ll let the beer flow and we’ll enjoy the barbecue – it will be spectacular.”
Coming up at 9 p.m. are The Perfect Age of Rock ‘N Roll Blues Band on the Peace Park stage featuring blues legend Pinetop Perkins on the piano, Huburt Sumlin on the guitar and Grammy Award-winning Sugar Blue on the harmonica. Also at 9 are Black Joe Lewis and the Honey Bears of Austin, Texas on the stage at 7th and Locust streets and Deke Dickerson with his double-necked guitar in Flat Branch Park.