Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival turns 12 this year. The lineup for 2018 boasts a mix of festival favorites like The Avett Brothers and new, noteworthy additions like Grammy award-winner Sturgill Simpson.
Here is your guide to all the artists announced so far who will be taking the stage from Sept. 28-30.
The Avett Brothers:
The Avett Brothers have performed twice before at Roots N Blues N BBQ, in 2014 and 2016. They are an indie-folk ensemble made up of the distinctive sounds of banjos and fiddles contrasted with the cello and piano. Two of the seven members are the actual Avett brothers, Seth and Scott who were raised in Concord, North Carolina. Seth and Scott’s involvement in the band Nemo provided “experience on the stage, and lessons in commitment and communication,” according to Seth’s own written biography of the band.
The band is known for their earthy sound with pop undertones. The group’s most recent album, “True Sadness,” was released in 2016.
This will be Sturgill Simpson’s first time performing at the festival. Sturgill Simpson won a Grammy for Best Country Album in 2016. His most recent album, “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth,” is a sailor’s letter home to his wife and child he left behind. Sturgill produced this album himself and based it on his own feelings of leaving his son at home while he was away touring . Simpson's music is a blend of country and roots rock.
Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats:
The eight-member troupe is back this year for its second appearance at Roots N Blues N BBQ. They were also on the line up in 2016. The Denver-based band is known for their lively folk- and soul-based sound. Frontman Nathaniel Rateliff, who grew up in Hermann, Missouri, said music became an obsession for him and his friends after his dad was killed in a car crash. The band released its debut album in 2015 and has been been a regular at several prominent summer music festivals since. The band’s sophomore album, “Tearing At The Seams” was released in March.
Five energetic musicians, a dobro, a banjo, a guitar, an upright bass and a mandolin make up Greensky Bluegrass, a band that “mixes the acoustic stomp of a stringband with the rule-breaking spirit of rock and roll.” The group has been playing together for over 15 years, but this will mark its Roots N Blues N BBQ debut. It released its sixth album, “Shouted, Written Down & Quoted,” in 2016.
Lake Street Dive:
The band, which four friends formed in 2004 while studying at the New England Conservatory in Boston, last performed on the Roots N Blues N BBQ stage in 2014. The quartet initially set out to “play country songs in an avant-garde style.” Most of the songs, however, ended up as the hybrids of jazz, pop, rock and soul influences that the group is known for. The group’s newest album, “Free Yourself Up,” will be released on May 4. Bassist Bridget Kearney said the album “is about empowering yourself, emboldening yourself, no matter what's going wrong.”
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue:
Troy Andrews, better known by his stage name “Trombone Shorty,” started playing music professionally when he was five years old. Born in New Orleans into a family of musicians, his music reflects an admiration for his hometown’s signature jazz sound as well as other elements to create a genre dubbed as “supafunkrock.” In addition to the trombone, Andrews plays the trumpet and the drums and also sings. The band Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue is “a hard-edged funk band that employs brass-band beats, rock dynamics and improvisation in a jazz tradition.” The group is back at Roots N Blues N BBQ for the first time since 2013. Trombone Shorty’s most recent album, “Parking Lot Symphony,” came out in 2017.
Channeling country icons Emmylou Harris and Loretta Lynn, Margo Price’s success in the country music world seemed to come slowly, and then all at once. “In 2015, she was a country underdog just trying to keep enough gas in the tank to get to the next gig, but by the end of 2016, she was one of the genre’s most celebrated new artists and a ubiquitous presence on late night television and at major festivals around the world,” her website says. This will be Price’s first performance at Roots N Blues N BBQ. Her sophomore LP, “All American Made,” was released in 2017.
The dynamic, genre-bending group, which hails from Miami, will make another appearance on the Roots N Blues N BBQ stage. The Mavericks have been playing together for about 30 years. In 2017, the band released “Brand New Day,” the first album on the band’s own record label. The band’s wide array of influences includes everything from Tex-Mex and Cuban bolero to R&B, blues, country and rock and roll. Drummer Paul Deakin has said the group's appreciation of all music “naturally comes through when we make records.”
This acclaimed group is considered to be one of Latin rock’s great bands. This will be the group's third time on the Roots N Blues N BBQ lineup, after appearances in 2011 and 2014. The band has been performing since its formation in 1973, and is known for its popular cover of the Richie Valens’ hit, “La Bamba,” as well as several other original songs. The group released its latest album, “Gates of Gold,” in 2015. The album captures how the band members respond to evolving life circumstances as well as their experiences as Mexican Americans. Louie Perez, the band’s main songwriter and founding member, said no word describes America like immigrant, so it’s natural for the songs the group creates to celebrate America in this way.
The four-time Grammy-nominated blues singer and guitarist will make his Roots N Blues N BBQ debut. Keb’ Mo’, whose real name is Kevin Moore, has cultivated a reputation as a modern master of American roots music over the last two decades. He has been compared to the country blues legend Robert Johnson and has had his songs recorded by B.B. King, Buddy Guy, the Dixie Chicks, Joe Cocker and Robert Palmer, among many others. His latest album, “TajMo,” was released in 2017 and is a collaboration with fellow blues singer/songwriter Taj Mahal.
Returning to Roots N Blues N BBQ for his third time is blues singer and multi-instrumentalist Taj Mahal. He previously performed at the festival in 2011 and 2007. He has won two Grammys and received a Lifetime Achievement for Performance Award at the 13th Annual Americana Honors and Awards in 2014. His career in music has spanned 50 years, and he is considered to be one of the most prominent blues singers of the late 20th century. His latest album is TajMo, a collaboration with fellow blues artist Keb’ Mo’ that was released in 2017.
The Memphis-based singer will be making her Roots N Blues N BBQ debut. June came onto the scene in 2009 when she was featured in “$5 Cover,” an MTV web series that followed Memphis musicians. The publicity from the show helped her raise $15,000 in 2011 through a crowdsourcing website, which she used to record her third album, “Pushin’ Against a Stone.” June’s music features seamless blends of folk, soul and blues. The New York Times called June “one of America's most intriguing, fully formed new talents." She released two albums in 2017: “The Order of Time” and “Live At KCRW.”
The alt-country veterans, led by frontman Jay Farrar, will also be performing in the festival for the first time. Farrar gained prominence among the alternative community in 1993 when he and Jeff Tweedy formed the alt-country band Uncle Tupelo. After that band broke up in early 1994, Tweedy went on to form Wilco while Fararr created Son Volt. Son Volt released its 20th album and eighth full-length studio album, “Notes of Blue,” in 2017.
The country singer/songwriter and violinist from Texas will also be a first-time performer at Roots N Blues N BBQ. Her most recent album, “A Piece of Land” debuted on the rock, Americana and independent Billboard charts when it was released in 2016. In it, she shares her experiences with being a new mother and improving her artistry.
The “honky-tonk hero” will be making his fifth appearance at Roots N Blues N BBQ. Watson is known for his faithfulness to traditional country music and his strong dislike of the “commercial country” coming out of cities like Nashville. He began writing his own songs when he was 12 and released his twentieth album in 2011. His latest album, “Blackjack,” was released in 2017.
The blues darling from Kansas City who last performed at Roots N Blues N BBQ in 2013 will return for her second appearance at the festival. Her fifth studio album, “Belle of the West,” was released in 2017.
Ben Miller Band:
This gritty, grassroots ensemble will make its Roots N Blues N BBQ debut. The group formed in Joplin in 2004. The band calls its signature bluegrass and folk sound "Mudstomp."
Music Maker Blues Revue:
Returning to the Roots N Blues N BBQ stage is the touring ensemble of the Music Maker Relief Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to keeping American roots music vital by directly supporting the musicians who make it. The Music Maker Blues Revue has been playing this festival since the festival was created in 2007.
This will be the traditional singer/songwriter’s first time performing at Roots N Blues N BBQ. Her seventh studio album, “Back Being Blue,” will be released May 18. She said the album was her attempt “to make music that could fit in any era, but leans on the simplicity of the music that first inspired me. Roots rockabilly country blues, to narrow it down for you!”
The Kay Brothers:
Though this will be the first time at Roots N Blues N BBQ for Missouri-based folk group The Kay Brothers, band members have previously performed at the festival as a part of The Hipnecks in 2012 and The Hatrick in 2013. The Kay Brothers released their self-titled debut album in February.
King of the Roots Winner: The Mighty Pines:
The Mighty Pines won the King of the Roots concert this April, which guaranteed the band a spot in the lineup for the 2018 festival. The roots band from St. Louis describes its music as bluegrass meeting “acoustic soul and rock & roll.” This is the band's first time performing at the festival.
This blues and rock band from Louisiana, Missouri, a small river town in the northeast of the state, will make its Roots N Blues N BBQ debut.
The Burney Sisters:
Emma and Olivia Burney, 9 and 12, have performed almost 40 times in the past two and half months. They describe their music style as an indie-folk-pop blend.
Sisters Emma, 9, and Olivia, 12, will make their Roots N Blues N BBQ debut. The Columbia duo, which released an EP in 2017, has performed at Rose Music Hall and The Blue Note.
This group is comprised of musicians from Broadway Christian Church. The spiritually themed music is eclectic, spanning the waterfront of blues, R&B, rock, gospel, and bluegrass.
Norm Ruebling Band:
This local favorite will be making its Roots N Blues N BBQ debut.
Information for the following bios comes from the Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival, Spotify and the artists’ and bands’ personal websites.