Artist Spotlight: The SteelDrivers

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– Kerry Souder, Roots N Blues Intern

“Start around two minutes and ten seconds into ‘Long Way Down.’”

That was the piece of advice I read after looking up The SteelDrivers. Without any prior knowledge on the band or their style, I was pleasantly caught off guard by lead singer Gary Nichols’ unique voice and the band’s folky, country feel.

The band originated in Nashville, Tennessee, where musicians are as common as any other profession. Aside from Nichols, the other members include Richard Bailey on the banjo, Brent Truitt on the mandolin, Mike Fleming on bass, and Tammy Rogeers, who sings and plays the fiddle. Each of the members are  veterans in the music industry in one way or another, and from collaborating with their styles, have fused into a new genre of music.

You may hear “Drinkin’ Dark Whiskey” and think you have the band’s style pegged down, but then you hear “To Be With You Again” and you’re back to square one. And those songs are both on the same album. Now just imagine the diversity in their work between a couple of years. The best I can say is they created an original mixture of country, soul and blues among other contemporary influences. Do yourself a favor and don’t try to label them; just appreciate them for what they are. And what they are is a really great band.

The SteelDrivers we know today aren’t the same ones that started out in 2005, though. If you listen to their first two albums, you’ll be hearing vocalist Chris Stapleton. After the release of their 2010 album, “Reckless,” Stapleton left the band to focus on his family. That was where Nichols came in. While there is a clear difference between Stapleton singing “Midnight Tears” and Nichols singing “River Runs Red,“ I think we can all agree the band took advantage of the change that came their way and kept producing great music.

Hanging Out with Band of Horses

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-Evan O’Brien, Roots N Blues Intern

For me, the end of this past semester meant one thing: The Hangout Music Festival was finally here. This year’s festival, located in Gulf Shores, Alabama, looked promising with big time headliners like Mumford & Sons, Twenty One Pilots, and a late addition of Phoenix. The fest spread across the sandy beach and extended to a cement area just beyond the shore, which centered around a local restaurant and music venue. Just a short 12 and a half hour drive from Columbia, this three day festival was spread across seven different stages, featuring music ranging from pop to alternative to hip-hop.

 

Out of the dozen or so acts I was able to catch, one in particular stood out to me: they also happen to be a 2017 Roots N Blues N  BBQ festival artist too, Band of Horses. After the departure of guitarist Tyler Ramsey and bassist Bill Reynolds, this was just their third show with their new composition. The newest additions included bassist Matt Gentling, who had previously toured with the band in 2007. It also featured guitarist Richie Kirkpatrick, who joined frontman Ben Bridwell, keyboardist Ryan Monroe, and drummer Creighton Barrett.

 

Slotted at 6:15 on Saturday, Band of Horses took the Hangout stage for a 75-minute set right on the Alabama sand. Their 14 song set kicked off with five off their first two albums, “Everything All The Time” and “Cease to Begin,” starting with “There A Ghost” off the latter. Their folk-rock sound echoed off the water and only paused for brief, humorous remarks from a very excited Bridwell in preparation for the next song.

 

Towards the middle of their set, both the crowd and the musicians began to notice the dark and ominous skies over the Gulf start. It was not long before they started to trickle down water, as the band cranked out Casual Party (my personal favorite song of theirs) off their latest album, “Why Are You OK.” While the rain was brief, it was just enough to take both the band and the crowd to the next level: according to one of my friends, you could hear the crowd belting out the words to one of their most popular songs,“No One’s Gonna Love You,” from across the festival.  

 

The band continued with the theme of playing from their earliest two albums, closing the set with a song from the each of the two. The storm rumbled in the background as the sound of the piano echoed throughout “The General Specific,” broken only by the screams of excitement as Bridwell sang, “With a show of hands, who’s going back to the south?” But the highlight of the set came during the final and most well-known song by the band. While the buildup towards the chorus escalated, it wasn’t until the climax that the rain came pouring down on us in perfect synchronization.

 

As I took in the power of the lyrics, the beauty that the storm brought, and the look of happiness from fellow festival goers as they danced and sang every line, I realized that no moment at this festival could top the surrealness brought by mother nature’s timing. This was the second time I had seen Band of Horses, and this fall at Roots N Blues will mark my third time seeing this wonderful group. They say third time’s a charm, and I know that Band of Horses will find a way to make this next time even more incredible.

Artist Spotlight: Pokey Lafarge

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– Lucy Shanker, Roots N Blues Intern

When you first hear Pokey Lafarge, you may think you just stepped out of a time machine. His music is an ode to the roots of Western Swing with a twist of jazz, somewhat resembling what you may hear at a saloon if the owner was trying to expand his audience. He fits the part, often dressed in a polka dot tie and suspenders but always with the signature slicked back combover.

His name is hard to forget: after being born Andrew Heissler, he adopted the title “Pokey,” an old scorn coined by his mother. His family’s influence transcends beyond just his name; his grandfather was a member of the St. Louis Banjo Club and also gave Pokey his first guitar and tenor banjo. Lafarge first discovered Blues music in a local pizza parlor, where he fell in love with the sounds of Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon.

Pokey has always marched to the beat of his own drum. After graduating high school, he hit the road and began hitchhiking to the West Coast. He would spend the subsequent years traveling and playing music for a living. After releasing two solo albums, Lafarge began recording with The South City Three. Together, they produced Riverboat Soul which would continue on to win the Independent Music Award for Best Americana Album of 2010.

Lafarge has worked extensively with Jack White and Old Crow Medicine Show frontman Ketch Secor to develop his most recent sound. He’s been featured on my personal favorite concert series (which I won’t stop talking about or posting links to), NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts, and have made an appearance on The David Letterman Show. He’s taking the music scene on a trip back in time, and Roots N Blues is here for it.

Pokey Lafarge is bringing his eclectic style to Roots and Blues this summer, and we couldn’t be more excited. Pokey told Rolling Stone in an interview, “I never want my music to be categorized. Music shouldn’t be categorized except as good or not.” Pokey is good. We aren’t going to go farther than that. But we will be attempting to swing dance at his concert, and you all should too!

If they have a tiny desk, there’s a 99% chance I’ll link it in the post. Here is Pokey’s.

Artist Spotlight: Band of Horses

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-Michael Arnott, Roots N Blues Intern

Band of Horses: who are they? What do they do? Are they really horses? Why should you care? I, Michael Arnott, shall give it my darndest effort to answer all of these questions and more for your reading pleasure.

 

The Seattle-based rock group exploded on the scene in 2006 with their smash hit, “The Funeral,” a song expertly designed to evoke your deepest emotions, like much of their music. I learned this first-hand when tears streamed down my face while the song played during the credits of “127 Hours.” If crying tears of happiness interests you, you can check out their performance of “The Funeral” on Letterman.

 

Since their meteoric rise, Band of Horses has released a total of five studio albums to critical acclaim. The pinnacle of these being their Grammy nominated 2010 album, “Infinite Arms.” The band has undergone a flurry of changes throughout their 13-year history, the most recent being when guitarist Tyler Ramsey and bassist Bill Reynolds stepped away from the limelight. The remaining members, vocalist/guitarist Ben Bridwell, drummer Creighton Barrett, and keyboardist Ryan Monroe, have dealt with a dozen switches over the years, but they won’t let that thwart their self-proclaimed “whack-ass style.”

 
Band of Horses, composed of human beings (contrary to the popular belief that they are actually horses), will be bringing their indie/alternative/folk rock sound to Stephens Lake Park this fall, with a show that will surely induce FOMO in the poor souls of those who miss it. You can find me there blubbering like a baby during “The Funeral.” I hope to see you there, too!

Artist Spotlight: The Suffers

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– Michael Arnott, Roots N Blues Intern

I first found out about The Suffers after my parents attended the New Orleans Jazz Festival. It was here that they were introduced to lead singer Kam Franklin’s powerful vocals, the rousing, energetic brass section, and the remaining members of the ten-person band. After hearing about how their live performance gave my parents goose bumps, I knew I had to give them a listen.

A quick Google search brought me to their NPR Tiny Desk Concert, and right from the beginning, I was hooked. The Houston-based group refers to their music as “Gulf Coast Soul,” a combination of different musical styles ranging from blues, soul, hip-hop, and even country. Their versatile sound instantly intrigued me, and I’ve been obsessively listening ever since. Nearly every morning when I wake up, I play their soulful, reggae-influenced track “Good Day,” and proceed to dance around as I get ready to have myself “a real good day.”

The Suffers formed in 2011 and have been gaining popularity ever since, enjoying a spike following a fairly recent release of their eponymous album. They received national attention thanks to appearances on TV shows like The Tonight Show with Trevor Noah and Jimmy Kimmel Live. The energy is infectious as you watch all the members moving and grooving around the stage, all the while sporting cheek-to-cheek grins. Their excitement while performing on such large platforms is evident.

They will be bringing their contagious tunes to Stephens Lake Park at a can’t-miss show. I will certainly be getting down to their powerful soul and I hope to see you there!

Review: National Park Radio at Bur Oak Brewing

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-Emma Dawson, Roots N Blues Intern

As I approached Bur Oak Brewing’s massive venue on a late April evening that was saturated with fog and humidity, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the experience. Even though I’ve lived in Columbia for the past four years and have enjoyed Bur Oak’s Big Tree IPA at countless downtown Columbia bars, I’d never been to the brewery itself. Few things can convince me to travel 15 miles down I-70 toward the dismal obscurity of rural mid-Missouri, but the promise of live bluegrass and craft beer proved to be more than enough temptation. My friend Dylan Hawf, a southern Illinois-based fiddler who recently relocated to Arkansas to make music his full-time job, had invited me to Bur Oak to see the band he had newly joined, National Park Radio.

The building — an industrial concrete warehouse usually reserved for Bur Oak’s beer production — emanated the yellow glow of string lights and lanterns. In the corner, a rustic wooden fixture enveloped a row of taps and two busy bartenders, and the familiar sound of folk floated overhead. From the ceiling, heavy drapes suspended acrobatic women performing flips and twirls—courtesy of CoMo Aerial Arts performers—adding whimsy and drama to the atmospheric 24-foot-high ceilings.

After grabbing a beer from guest brewery Lionstone Brewing Company—a tasty ale with strong notes of rich, citrusy orange—I found a spot in front of the stage. As I internalized the seductive stares of a white banjo and a kick drum crafted from an old suitcase, I felt the pre-concert suspense set in.

Finally, National Park Radio took the stage. Dylan Hawf—in usual form with fiddle in one hand, half-full cup of beer in the other—stood alongside songwriter Stefan Szabo (vocals, acoustic guitar;) Kerrie Szabo (vocals, percussion;) and Mike Womack (bass.)

Stefan Szabo’s voice soared. It’s the kind of warm, booming voice that seems like it was made for folk ballad; I immediately understood why NPR has been compared to the Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons. When Szabo picked up the banjo — the band’s usual banjo player was missing from this performance — the energy intensified, fueled by the twangy vibration of raw bluegrass.

Overall, the band’s sound epitomizes the folky Americana that can get away with being simple in structure because it comes earnestly, vibrantly alive with the energy of its performers. NPR’s lyrics tell stories of family and love, of freedom and wilderness, of struggles with selfhood and spirituality.

Hawf’s fiddle can tell a story all on its own. It has the power to bring me back to late nights that turned into mornings at Kentucky bluegrass festivals: that bright, bittersweet sound rising above hordes of swaying, sweaty festival-goers.

To my left, two little girls of maybe three years old danced around in circles: tripped, laughed, got back up again. To my right, an elderly couple did a slow, graceful foxtrot. I softened at the reminder of live music’s ability to draw people together, controlled by some mysterious force, to congregate at an otherwise unremarkable factory in the midst of Missouri nothingness.

Artist Spotlight: John Prine

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– Hilton Peeples, Assistant Festival Director

“Daddy won’t you take me back to Muhlenberg County,” the opening words to the chorus of John Prine’s “Paradise” will always bring a tear to my eye and put me in a different place. And then I hear “I know a guy that’s got a lot to lose, he’s a pretty nice fella, kinda confused.”

And yet, I don’t hear it in Prine’s voice. Instead, I hear it in the voice of my little brother Jack, singing as loud as he can despite his inability to perfect the art of saying his r’s. This probably isn’t the kind of song a 5-year-old should know every word to, but he sure did. To say the least, I grew up loving Prine, his music, and his story telling.

My dad made sure we loved all kinds of good music; John Prine’s was not only at the top of the list, but also the most vivid in my mind. His music takes me to a different place – to riding in the car with my dad and brother and singing every single word…well mostly every word.  

I recently got to see him live for the first time and it was amazing. Well, aside from the guy sitting next to us who was seemingly trying to sing every word louder than Prine. His voice was still as powerful, his storytelling as captivating as ever.

Iris Dement has written and recorded multiple songs with John over the years, and she did a few surprise songs with him during his set in Kansas City. It was incredible. Their voices work so well together, and they always make it look fun! Amanda Shires opened the show with a guest appearance from her husband,  incredible musician Jason Isbell. Amanda & Jason’s music has shaped my music taste so much so that it has even driven me to taking violin lessons.

Seeing so many of my musical heroes all on one stage that night was something I will never forget, just like singing in the car with dad & Jack.

All of these songwriters constantly remind me of the importance of music in our everyday lives; songs change lives and music makes us who we are. Friendships are formed over music. I don’t know about you, but all of my best memories have revolved around music. 15 years later and those visions of my dad & brother singing, “that’s the way that the world goes ‘round” are still some of my favorite memories. Thank God for dads who show us good music before we realize how good it really is.

Music Creates New Friendships

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– Nate White, Team Leader/Store Manager at Palen Music, Columbia 

A year prior to the Front Porch Stage’s introduction to the Roots and Blues Festival, I was riding on a golf cart through the festival grounds with Terry Robb.  We were on our way to the main stage to announce the winners of the signed guitar giveaway and something caught my eye.

 In fact, the more I looked around, the more I noticed there were lots of little clusters of folks all over the park playing acoustic instruments and singing songs together. It made sense. The festival has always had this unmistakable family atmosphere, and nothing brings people together like music.  When it came time to plan for the following year’s festival, the Front Porch Stage concept was born.

The idea was to create an “open mic” format that brought people from all walks of life together to make music. Betsy Ferris loved the idea and within a few days she had located an old sorghum wagon somewhere in rural Missouri.  Wayne Huebert and Lisa Bartlett collaborated on a design that gave it a kind of Juke Joint meets a Front Porch vibe, and away we went!  

Full disclosure- I whole heartedly believed in the power of this idea, but I didn’t know if it would be well received by the attendees of the festival.   After all, people paid good money to see great artists perform.  I didn’t know if this would be a distraction or an invitation to the atonal cacophony that an open mic night can sometimes attract.

The first day of the festival I sat on the porch and played guitar through what felt like about 30 minutes of solo acoustic material.  Out of the sea people appeared Keith Fletcher with a bunch of harmonicas and a 3 ring binder full of songs.  In about 10 minutes, we had our first interested parties approach the stage.  Here’s what we found out: not only are there lots of singers and musicians that attend this festival, but a bunch of them can really wail!  Any trepidations about this idea were completely gone from that moment.  People from all over the world made new acquaintances on that Front Porch Stage.  

The audience that gathered on the hay bales placed around the Front Porch encouraged each performer the way that family and friends do.  New friendships were formed, along with a new reason to come back to the festival next year.  The Front Porch is a great addition to an already great festival, I look forward to meeting the people and the music that this year will bring.

The Listener’s Guide Grows…

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-Lucy Shanker, Roots N Blues Intern

But no ooonnnneee is ever gonna love you more than we do over here at Roots N Blues! That’s why we updated our Spotify playlist with all the newly announced artists for the 2017 festival, including Band of Horses! Check it out here. Get listening!

 

Artist Spotlight: Gary Clark Jr.

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-Kerry Souder, Roots N Blues Intern

Gary Clark Jr. is far more than an R&B singer: the guitarist, vocalist and songwriter has blended  genres to create a whole new category of musical excellence. Think R&B meets soul meets rock & roll meets hip-hop. Those of you who know Clark’s music are probably nodding your heads right now; the rest of you are probably raising an eyebrow at how so many different styles of music can be mashed under one artist. At this point, I would ask you to stop reading and listen to a few songs. Go ahead, I’ll wait here…

Clark’s diverse musical repertoire has caught the eye of many famous admirers, including Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton and Mick Jagger. He has collaborated with the likes of Alicia Keys, The Rolling Stones, and Nas. He has a simple motto that has rewarded his fans with a great variety of music: “I listen to everything…so I want to play everything.” You truly won’t get bored of this one, folks.

It is easy to see why he was dubbed “The Chosen One.” He’s become known as the future of blues guitar back in 2012, after the release of his album “Blak and Blu.” The artist kept a level head after receiving that praise, however, stating that he just wanted to make music and was not trying to live up to any expectations. His mentality and humbleness has undoubtedly served him well in his career as a musician.

Clark’s passion for music started well back into his youth. When he was just four-years-old, he went to a Michael Jackson concert, where the King of Pop changed his life. When he started playing as a teenager, he picked up any opportunity he could in the his hometown of Austin. Additionally, he sang in the church choir with his sisters, adding a more gentle side to his music to combat the rock and roll. Eventually, Clifford Antone, owner of the city’s premiere blues club, discovered Clark and began booking him at his venue. From there, Clark continued to grow into the legend he is today.

Clark is beginning a five month tour this May, kicking it off in his hometown of Austin. He’s hitting a bunch of states along the way, making his way up to Toronto and then concluding in Tulsa, Oklahoma. If you can’t make the tour, fear not! You can catch him at the Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival in Columbia shortly thereafter!

Check out this video of him singing in The Live Room to get excited!

Artist Spotlight: Leon Bridges

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– Lucy Shanker, Roots N Blues Intern
I first heard Leon Bridges when I randomly stumbled upon his NPR Tiny Desk Concert: From that moment, I was hooked. The Texas native, born Todd Michael Bridges, sang four songs behind the desk of Bob Boilen with an undeniable charm and an impressive set of dance moves. At the time, it had a couple thousand views. Now, it has over two million.
This jump is symbolic of the exponential growth Bridges has seen: he went from washing dishes at a restaurant in Texas to a Grammy nomination in less than two years.
He immediately stood out to me because of his innovative yet familiar sound. Bridges infuses a ‘50s and ‘60’s soul vibe with a contemporary style of his own, creating songs that rival Sam Cooke. This music is matched by his uncanny style. The singer can often be seen sporting suspenders and old style button downs, sometimes the occasional mustard-colored, three piece suit. But always with his pants pulled just a little higher than usual.
Bridges’ repertoire ranges in both topic and style: from upbeat, classic hits like “Twistin’ & Groovin’” to slower, melodic tunes like “River.” While the first is a sweet love song about his grandparents meeting, the second reflects on the Baltimore uprising. Bridges wrote on twitter that the song and video were intended to be a “message of light.”
My love for him grew after seeing him perform at Lollapalooza this summer where he played for a surprisingly large crowd for a midday show. Despite being in the midst of the sea of people, it was an unforgettable experience. From the moment he and his band walked on stage, everyone in the crowd had a goofy grin plastered across their faces. His groove is contagious; I’m sure bystanders of the show were entertained by the sporadic attempts at soul dancing from the audience. And yet, everyone was too mesmerized by his remarkable talent to care.
Since first watching it in the fall of 2015, I am probably responsible for at least a thousand of the views on his Tiny Desk. His set at this year’s festival is bound to be incredible and definitely not one to miss.
If you watched the Tiny Desk and can’t get enough, here is a video of him casually singing “River” outside at a cafe behind the Notre-Dame in Paris.
And here is him singing in an obscure, old-style living room.
And live at Austin City Limits.
 

A Listener’s Guide to the 2017 Lineup

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“Someday somebody’s gonna ask you a question that you should say ‘yes’ to,” say Old 97’s, one of this year’s RNB’s artists. Here’s the question: do you want a Spotify playlist with amazing music from the 2017 festival artists? You know the answer.

 
You have the artists. You have the playlist. Get listening!

 

Check out the full list of 2017 artists here.

Roots N Blues is Going Cashless!

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– Lucy Shanker, Roots N Blues Intern

Picture this: you’re at Roots N Blues N BBQ. You put a $10 bill in the pocket of your jeans before coming to the festival. You go to buy a beer at the Logboat Brewery station. You reach for that ten dollars, but it’s gone.

If you’ve ever experienced this frustrating loss, we have good news. Roots N Blues N BBQ is going cashless! This year’s festival is going to be extremely convenient, with overall faster transactions.

Faster transactions = shorter lines = less time waiting = more time for music.

With a simple tap of your wrist, your wristband becomes your ticket and your digital wallet. You no longer have to worry about fumbling for change in your pockets or taking your wallet out for every purchase – allowing you to enjoy every moment of the festival.

All it will take is a simple tap on your wrist. You won’t need cash, credit cards, etc. Your wristband will be both your ticket and your wallet. You can leave everything else behind, and just enjoy the festival.

Now for some logistics. You’ll start by “topping-up” and loading money onto your cashless account (which is linked to to your wristband) before heading into the festival; think of it like a prepaid account. When you tap your wristband at the vendor stations, that money will be automatically taken from your balance. But don’t worry, you can always recharge and keep going.

You can top-up in two easy ways.

  • Cashless website (link coming soon)
  • “Top-up Stations” located throughout the festival grounds

This is going to make for a smoother, super convenient, and worry-free experience. Less time to stress about losing your wallet, more time to enjoy the festival.

Keep your eye out for more announcements and info on the cashless payments page, but set your calendars: registration for your wristbands will start two weeks prior to Roots N Blues N BBQ.  

 

The Local Natives at the Blue Note: A Reflection

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– Lucy Shanker, Roots N Blues Intern

When I was in seventh grade, and primarily listening to the likes of The Black Keys and The Fray (we all have to start somewhere,) my “cool friend” made me a CD. The first two songs were “Airplanes” and “Cubism Dream,” both from the Local Native’s debut album, Gorilla Manor. Some may compare this discovery to The Enlightenment; it basically kickstarted my fascination with music in general.

As my taste in music developed over the next seven years, so did the Local Natives. These early songs that had hooked me were a slower blend of unadulterated emotion and intricate lyrics: a tale of a late grandfather unfolds in “Airplanes,” while in the other, a skype call is compared to a “Cubism Dream.” Over the years, their music has grown to include a wider range of instruments and a more contemporary sound, which has catapulted them to well-established spot in the indie music scene.

The Local Natives were on the top of my “Must See” concert list, so I was ecstatic in the days leading up to the show. However, there was this underlying sense of nervousness because of the high expectations I had. I think when you like a band for so long, there is almost a pressure for them to live up to the image that has so thoroughly been created in your personal listening experience. I had these memories from seventh grade that needed to be reaffirmed.

The band exploded onto stage in a wave of energy with “Past Lives,” a song off their most recent album, Sunlight Youth. Secondary to their incredible opening sound, I was impressed by the intricate french braid in the lead singer’s hair. Taylor Rice brought his A game. This sophisticated ‘do also proved to be the perfect setup for a dramatic unleashing of his shoulder length curls during the encore.

Beyond appearances, the Local Natives delivered an unbelievable performance. They incorporated songs from all three of their albums, transitioning from the political outcries of “Fountain of Youth,” to a spiritual cover of Kanye’s “Ultralight Beam.” The crowd was with them every step of the way: silent but attentive at times, jubilantly dancing and clapping at others. Of course, they were more than willing to support the surprisingly heavy body of Rice as he jumped into the stage during “Sun Hands.”

As we walked outside after the concluding song, we were greeted with a torrential downpour. This resulted in a hub of people standing outside The Blue Note – strangers reflecting on the genius that was that concert. I think the Local Natives would be extremely happy with this outcome, as their newest album calls for unification above all.

If you ever get the chance to see the Local Natives live, I highly suggest it.

 

A Conversation with Charles Bradley

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– Evan O’Brien, Roots N Blues Intern

“Cherish the moments with your mother, because they don’t last forever.” These were the closing remarks in one of the most real conversations I’ve ever had with none other than Charles Bradley, an acclaimed Roots N Blues alumnus. I saw Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires for the first time last September at Loufest in St. Louis. I considered myself a relatively new fan, considering I had been introduced to his music earlier that year. After witnessing his set at Loufest, I immediately immersed myself in his music: buying vinyls, getting merch, etc.

While his performances of hit songs like “The World (Is Going Up in Flames),” “Victim of Love,” and “Ain’t It a Sin” were fantastic, his choice of closing song was the tipping point of my transition from casual to devoted fan. “Changes,” the title song off his latest album, is a cover of a 1972 Black Sabbath song. Bradley then proclaimed his intention behind the song to the St. Louis crowd: it was a tribute to his deceased mother. Bradley continued on to discuss how he and his mother were estranged, and how much regret he had about their relationship.

As I stood in the crowd flanked by my mother, we both had tears in our eyes listening to the lyrics: “It took so long to realize I could still hear her last goodbyes. Now all my days are filled with tears. Wish I could go back and change these years.” I remember thinking how lucky I am to have such a great relationship with my mom.

After the show, we saw Charles head down to the front row to take pictures and talk with fans. Before I could even begin to head down there, I felt my mom tugging my shirt in that direction, so we headed down to speak with the Screaming Eagle of Soul. We waited at the back of the line until finally we had the chance to see hi. I reached my hand out, expecting to see his in return. Instead, I was greeted by both of his arms reaching out and embracing first me and then my mom. He asked if this was my mom, still holding on to her despite a sweaty, shirtless body. When I replied with yes, he spent the next 30 minutes telling story after story about his mother, infusing casual words of advice about what not to do with mine while still holding her: “Cherish the moments with your mother, because they don’t last forever,” he said right before he hugged me and walked backstage. This may have been just another show to Charles Bradley; but, to me it was an experience no concert or festival will ever be able to top.

 

What We’re Listening to Now:

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“Damned (If You Do)” by the Mavericks

– Lucy Shanker, Roots N Blues Intern

The opening of each Mavericks song is closely followed by a recurring conundrum: to salsa or to line dance. In their newest single “Damned (If You Do),” the Miami bred group does not eliminate this decision making process. With more than twenty successful years in the music industry and an incredible performance at last year’s Roots N Blues N BBQ under their belt, the Mavericks continue to deliver.

The Mavericks are hard to pin down. Their songs are an ever-changing juxtaposition between their renowned Tex-Mex sound, and a heart-thumping Latin charm; It’s almost impossible to keep your foot from tapping. Not only are they musically complex, but they are also riddled with inter-band drama. The Mavericks have seen it all: whether it be drug addiction, losing band members, or new record labels, their music has not lost quality.

What I respect most about the Mavericks is their ability to reach beyond a catchy love song. With their recent music, they have a newfound message: “Now more than ever, we’re going to need to be more compassionate, more understanding, more loving than ever before,” Raul Malo said in an interview to Rolling Stone. They aren’t afraid to take that step further, to reach out to their audiences on a more intimate level.

In this newest song, The Mavericks maintain the style that made them who they are. With a strong and consistent beat radiating throughout, they give us almost 4 minutes of unrelenting, saxophone-infused, jamming. If you haven’t listened already, check it out. It will be stuck in your head for the next week.
 

 

Feeding My Music Obsession

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I went to see Shovels & Rope! AGAIN.

– Hilton Peeples, Roots N Blues N BBQ Staff

Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival Alum, Shovels & Rope, played in Kansas City last week at Knuckleheads Saloon. I was among the people fortunate enough to attend: watching the magic that happens between those two truly does feel like a privilege. Hailing from Charleston, South Carolina, Shovels & Rope is constructed of husband & wife duo, Cary-Ann Hearst & Michael Trent. Two people, about 10 instruments, a whole bunch of love, and a really unique sound. Their ability to tell and retell stories is something to be envied. After getting married in 2009, the couple continued to work on their solo careers. It wasn’t until a drive from Nashville to Birmingham that Hearst and Trent decided Shovels & Rope was a more powerful force than either one of them could be on their own.

Hearst & Trent wrote and recorded their newest album, “Little Seeds,” shortly after they welcomed their first baby, Louisiana Jane, into the world in September of 2015. It was released in October of 2016, and we were lucky enough to host them at Roots N Blues N BBQ just a week before that release. “Little Seeds” is full of songs with heart, soul and passion. My favorite is “St. Anne’s Parade,” which embraces life’s messiness and the beauty of both joy and sadness.

Knuckleheads was a packed house last Thursday and these two blew the minds of every person standing in the Garage. I am continually amazed by their ability to sound like a 5 piece band when there are only two people standing up there. I mean come on guys share the talent a little. These two bring Folk & Rock n’ Roll together in the perfect mix, and I loved being there to witness it all again last week. I know we sure enjoyed having them here in Columbia last year! We promise you will find something about them that makes you fall in love.

If you want to continue your newfound Shovels & Rope obsession, you should watch “The Ballad of Shovels & Rope” here: http://www.theballadofshovelsandrope.com. I’ve watched it more times than I am proud to admit.

 

 

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