By Jim Magdefrau
My world travels for the year concluded last week. I pride myself on traveling. This year I went as far north as Minnesota, and as far south as Missouri. I’m still bouncing back from car lag.
The trip to Minnesota was to a cabin. Lessons learned were that you should always trust your mother with a paper map over the phone’s GPS, and when you start to say, “Oh ya. Ya’ bet.” It’s time to head back to Iowa.
It was a cultural trip to Missouri, as the Roots N Blues Festival started up again after being suspended for one year. It was a new year and approach. The new managers of the festival made a point to have each headlining act headed by a female, to help counterbalance the emphasis of male performers in the music industry.
Music is music. A song is a song. A singer is a singer. And what songs and singers we saw.
We heard familiar acts, but really enjoyed the people we had never heard of. Brittney Spencer was really good, as she transitioned from covers of “You’re the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me” by Gladys Knight and the Pips, to Stevie Nicks “Landslide.” Larkin Poe nailed a Sun House song. Tank and Bangas? Why not? The Burney Sisters and Mickey Guyton were fun to listen to. Brandi Carlile played an acoustic as a trio. High, tight harmonies. Shemekia Copeland impressed me by singing without a microphone and getting her message to us hundreds of yards away. Sheryl Crow closed. But just before that, it was Mavis Staples. She can convey the messages from a thousand books with just a “mmm y’all.”
Palen Music again had a Front Porch Barn set up near the entrance. It was fun to help out on a few tunes as festival attendees waited in line for admission, screening and age ID. If we can make three people sway to a Hound Dog Taylor riff, we’ve done our job.
Nephew Wes and his wife Shikha followed our festival rules of standing near the sound people or just outside of the VIP area. We might not have been VIPs. We were happy to just be “Ps.” And no. Not “P” as in piss-ant, which we’ve been called.
Plans are underway to go back on a non-festival weekend and see a few sites. Maybe to the dive bar called “The Dive Bar” or to the tavern called “Tavern.”
I’m resting up already to cross that state line.