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Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival: Second Day Gets Cooking


by Kevin Wierzbicki

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It was hard to miss the giant sign that proclaimed "Bacon on a Stick," and folks attending the Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival (RNBNBBQ) in Columbia, Missouri Sept. 27-29 lined up to purchase pieces of the delicious brown sugar-coated treat. One of the goodies on offer from Columbia's own Broadway Brewery, it was probably no coincidence that the healthy-sized slabs of pork were being sold from a vendor booth located right next to the festival's main stage because both places were really cookin'!

The variety of food available at the festival was immense as a line of booths and food trucks stretched out between the event's two stages, which of course were far enough away from each other to not have any sound bleeding from one to the other. That's a lot of barbecued pork, Missouri beef and chicken! In fact, those attending the festival for all three days could eat at several stands a day and not even come close to running out of choices. The festival's second day was also the day that presented the most musical performances.

One of the most talked about performances on the second day of RNBNBBQ was a late afternoon set by Black Pumas. The Austin-based soul band (with a little bit of psychedelia) wowed the crowd with their original songs "Black Moon Rising," "Know You Better," "Black Cat" and "More Than a Love Song." Singer Eric Burton oozed charisma as he worked the stage, easily getting his audience to clap and sway along to songs in the appropriate places, and when the band played "Fire," another original, Burton endeared fans by hopping into the crowd and singing directly to some lucky fans.

Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival Second Day
Black Pumas singer Eric Burton

Another of the day's unexpectedly strong performances came from The War and Treaty, a soul band fronted by Michael Trotter, Jr. and Tanya Blount-Trotter. The married couple are both amazing singers with high energy and their show had the overall feel of a James Brown concert. Michael is one of those singers who could sing the phone book and make it sound good; he has a range that includes the occasional foray into falsetto. The band's set included favorites like "Breathe" and the somewhat amusingly-titled "Jeep Cherokee Laredo."

Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival Second Day
The War and Treaty

Some of the artists appearing at RNBNBBQ this year were perennial festival favorites and perhaps the most-beloved performer in that category was Alejandro Escovedo. Escovedo began his set with a few cuts on the mellower side of his repertoire; "Texas is My Mother," "Something Blue" and "Waiting for Me," all cuts from his 2018 effort The Crossing. A rowdier portion of the set began with "Outlaw for You," a cut in which Escovedo name-checks punk rockers like Johnny Thunders. Escovedo revisited his punkier days while chatting between songs, reminding the crowd that he was in Rank and File and True Believers, bands that were not punk bands but that touched on the sound. Escovedo also gave a shout-out to his extended musical family, including his brothers Javier and Coke and niece Sheila E. Escovedo's set also included "Teenage Luggage," "Castanets," "San Antonio Rain" and "Sensitive Boys."

Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival Second Day
Alejandro Escovedo

Two legendary roots music figures teamed up for a very pleasing set as Dave Alvin, former member of the Blasters, and Jimmie Dale Gilmore, founding member of the Flatlanders, led their band the Guilty Ones through a set featuring cuts like "Downey to Lubbock," "Johnny Ace is Dead" and covers of the Grateful Dead's "Ripple" and Lloyd Price's "Lawdy Miss Clawdy," also famously covered by Elvis Presley.

Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival Second Day
Dave Alvin

Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival Second Day
Jimmie Dale Gilmore

One of the most unusual but perfect pairings of the evening came with Nick Lowe's set where he was backed by instrumental group Los Straitjackets. Seeing the British rocker on stage with the masked men of Los Straitjackets made for a striking contrast but they clicked nicely on a selection of Lowe's songs that included "So it Goes," "Ragin' Eyes," "Without Love," "Raincoat in the River," "Tokyo Bay" and the fun to sing-along to "Shting-Shtang." Lowe also yielded the stage to Los Straitjackets mid-show so that they could play some of their rocking surf instrumentals.

Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival Second Day
Nick Lowe with Los Straitjackets

Also performing at RNBNBBQ on the second day were John Henry, the Mighty Pines, Kent Burnside & the Flood Brothers, the National Reserve, Doug Kershaw with the Dave & Deke Combo and another perennial festival favorite, the Mavericks. Now about that bacon on a sticků

Find Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival information here.

Information on other fun things to do in Columbia is here.

Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival: Second Day Gets Cooking

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