COLUMBIA, MO – As the sun begins its descent over Stephens Lake Park in Columbia on Friday, Oct. 7, thousands of festivalgoers will make their way across the park grounds to claim their spot in front of the two main stages and settle in for the first celebratory songs of the weekend. At 4:00 p.m., the three-day party officially gets underway, marking the fifteenth installment of the acclaimed Roots N Blues Festival, October 7-9.
“Roots N Blues has become a fall staple in Columbia,” says Megan McConachie, strategic communications manager for the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s something so many of us locals, and visitors alike, look forward to every year. And, this year’s festival truly has something for every music fan. Whether it’s the nostalgia of Tanya Tucker and Chaka Khan or the incredible newer voices of Jon Batiste and Brittney Spencer, audiences are in for a memorable weekend at Stephen’s Lake Park.”
Roots N Blues takes place across 50 acres of the picturesque Stephens Lake Park near downtown Columbia and features over two dozen artists performing on two main stages spread over three days and nights. The artists performing at Missouri’s largest outdoor music festival cover the gamut of American “roots” music, spanning the spectrum from blues and soul to country and bluegrass, rock ‘n roll to pop and nearly everything in between.
According to Tracy Lane, co-owner and co-organizer of Roots N Blues, a goal for the 2022 edition of the festival was to create a cohesive presentation of the broader landscape and expanded sound of current Americana music.
“This year’s lineup has been curated to build stages that speak to everyone in our community,” says Lane. “Friday has a strong country sound and Saturday is very soulful, while Sunday is a culmination of many beloved genres of Americana, including a high-energy pop finale to close out the weekend. All six of this year’s headliners are multi-Grammy-winning artists, and half of them are making their Columbia debut on our stages.”
The 2022 festival brings in some of the biggest names in popular music, with many highlights along the way. As Lane pointed out, the headliners for Friday evening lean more country and include the Grammy-winning country music legend Tanya Tucker, who shot to fame at the age of 13 with the release of her first album, Delta Dawn. The closing act for Friday night is Wilco, the highly-acclaimed Grammy-winning group credited as being one of the forebears of the alternative-country music genre.
Saturday night brings in 10-time Grammy winner and the “Queen of Funk,” Chaka Kahn as well as Jon Batiste, winner of five 2022 Grammy awards including Best Album of the Year, and former bandleader of the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
Roots N Blues 2022 closes out on Sunday with two-time Grammy winning folk colossus Old Crow Medicine Show followed by Bleachers, the pop-rock project of six-time Grammy winner Jack Antonoff, who also won the 2022 Grammy for Producer of the Year for his work with Taylor Swift, Lorde, Lana Del Ray and St. Vincent.
This is only a highlight of a few of the celebrated acts performing at Stephens Lake Park this year.
The festival gets started on Friday, Oct. 7 with gates opening at 4:00 p.m. with music beginning at 5:00 p.m. and lasting until 10 p.m. On Saturday, gates open at noon and music wraps up at 10 a.m. For Sunday, gates open at noon with the festival concluding at 9:00 p.m.
In addition to the two main stages – The MU Healthcare Stage and EquipmentShare Stage – where the artists perform, there are many things for festival goers to enjoy throughout the festival weekend. The fully-equipped “Front Porch Stage” set up just inside the festival entrance provides a stage for fest attendees to show off their own musical talents. There will be a dedicated Arts Village and interactive art installations dispersed throughout the festival grounds as well. Additionally, there will be a large Ferris wheel – a signature of the festival – for all to enjoy as well as games and activities for younger attendees.
Approximately 20 food trucks and celebrated barbecue vendors from across Missouri will keep attendees well fed. And, there also will be many beverage tents selling ice-cold locally crafted beers, spirits, wines and other refreshments throughout the festival weekend.
A facet of Roots N Blues that makes it unique among music festivals is the Betsy Farris Memorial Run on Saturday morning, featuring a half-marathon, 10k and 5k run/walk. The race is named in memory of Betsy Farris, one of the festivals founders and a huge proponent of healthy living and healthy lifestyles. The half-marathon begins at 7:00 a.m. and the 10k and 5k begin at 7:30 a.m. The race courses wind through Columbia’s urban trails and historic neighborhoods and concludes at Stephens Lake Park.
Another highlight of the festival is the bestowment of the Missouri Roots Songbook award. Each year, the festival management team selects one musician who is originally from or has spent a significant part of their music career in the state of Missouri to be inducted into the Missouri Roots Songbook hall of fame.
The 2022 inductee is singer/songwriter, musician, producer and author Jeff Tweedy. Tweedy is the founding member of Wilco and co-founder of the groundbreaking alt-country band Uncle Tupelo. Tweedy will be presented the Missouri Roots Songbook award on stage prior to Wilco’s performance on Friday, Oct. 7. Originally from Belleville, Ill., Tweedy spent his formative years working and playing music in St. Louis and the city’s thriving music scene acted as his launchpad into the world of music.
The primary purpose of the Missouri Roots Songbook is to encourage the young people of Missouri to take pride in the incredibly rich musical heritage of their home state. The inaugural honoree was Chuck Berry, who hailed from St. Louis; the 2019 recipient was John William “Blind” Boone, an immensely gifted pianist who pioneered ragtime music and called Columbia home for many years; and the 2021 recipient was Missouri native and nine-time Grammy winner Sheryl Crow.
There are a variety of passes and tickets available for the three-day festival weekend. General admission weekend passes are $210, which includes all service fees and taxes. Friends of the Festival upgrades (essentially a VIP weekend pass) can be purchased for an additional $200. Single-day tickets also are available and start at $100. Children 14 and under get in free with a general admission ticket/pass-holding adult. Festival Gate Prices will begin on Monday, Oct. 3.
Stephens Lake Park is only a mile from Columbia’s historic downtown, offering attendees the opportunity to shop and explore “The District” before and/or after festival hours.
Visitors planning to attend Roots N Blues can find more information on where to stay as well as all the other fun events, year-around attractions, excellent options for dining and libations available in Columbia, by visiting the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau website at www.VisitColumbiaMO.com or by calling 573-874-CITY (2489).
Columbia features a mix of small town charm and friendliness with the amenities and cultural offerings of a big city. There is always something exciting to see and do in Columbia, so for more information on these and other ways to have fun in Columbia, please contact Megan McConachie at the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau at 573-441-5572 or at VisitColumbiaMO.com.