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Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival: A Weekend of Music and Munchies Begins in Columbia, MO


by Kevin Wierzbicki

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Most music fans are ready to gobble up as many performances as they can when they attend a festival. At the annual Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival in Columbia, Missouri, attendees also come hungry for taste treats as the event provides a banquet of culinary delights to go along with a full plate of musical performances. This year's festival took place Sept. 27-29 in Columbia's Stephens Lake Park and the green belt was packed with fans who came to see nearly 30 acts perform over the course of the long weekend. Along with all the big name national acts that appear at RNBNBBQ, the festival always includes local musicians in the lineup, and on opening day the first act to perform was Columbia's own seven-woman group, Violet & the Undercurrents.


The music at RNBNBBQ plays out on two stages, far enough away from each other that the music from one doesn't bleed into the other, while being an easy walk of only a few minutes between the two (all the food and drink lies in-between!) Violent & the Undercurrents, who describe their music as "shape shifting indie folk rock," showed fans exactly what they mean by that with a buoyant set featuring songs like "Alone Together" and "Inconvenient Friend" from their new album The Captain. The ladies also performed a couple of brand new, not yet released songs, "Are We There Yet" and "Too Much Talkin'." As many of the performers did, Violet & the Undercurrents also took time to greet their fans at the merch tent after their show.

Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival
Violet & the Undercurrents

Memphis blues man John Nemeth, an affable singer and harmonica player with a great sense of humor, began his set with fan favorite "Elbows on the Wheel" before moving into "Come and Get It," a cut that, like many a blues tune, crows about a prowess with women. With a scathing guitar solo from John Hay and an equally impressive harp solo from Nemeth, the song was certainly satisfying to all. Nemeth's set also included takes on "Fuel for Your Fire," "Sooner or Later" and the funky dance tune "Feelin' Freaky."

Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival
John Nemeth

Americana artist Patty Griffin played a warmly-received set with a three-piece backing band, performing "Ohio" and the gospel-informed "Standing" early in her show. Griffin played acoustic guitar for much of her set but sometimes she just sang, and for set highlight "Hourglass" she introduced the song by explaining how she was inspired to write the cut after listening to Screaming Jay Hawkins.

Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival
Patty Griffin

Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real are currently touring with Neil Young but they played on their own at RNBNBBQ, beginning their set with the psychedelic rock of "Entirely Different Stars." The cut morphed into a cosmic country vibe as it ended, leading the way into "Die Alone," "Four Letter Word" and "Fool Me Once." Nelson, aware that John Prine was about to begin his set on the other stage, quipped that he wouldn't blame fans if they left his show to see Prine.

Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival
Lukas Nelson

After beginning his show with oldie "Picture Show," Prine played a lengthy set filled with hits and deep album cuts along with songs like "Knockin' on Your Screen Door" from his 2018 album Tree of Forgiveness. Also performing on opening day were the Lacewings and Maren Morris.

Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival
John Prine

With one last bite of BBQ, fans left the Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival anticipating Saturday's lineup when such luminaries as Nick Lowe, Alejandro Escovedo and Dave Alvin & Jimmie Dale Gilmore would be among the performers.

Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival information is here.

There's fun to be had in Columbia, MO all year round. Find out here .

Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival: A Weekend of Music and Munchies Begins in Columbia, MO

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