Columbia’s Jam Room Music Festival is back for its second year from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday at Main and Hampton streets. Dreamed up by Columbia’s Jam Room Recording Studio, the event promises a variety of live music as well as children’s activities, vendors and bicycle events. And the best part? Admission is free.
Festival organizer Jay Matheson, who works as Jam Room’s Studio A engineer, says community collaboration and the generosity of sponsors has helped to make the event larger than what many might expect for a city Columbia’s size.
“It’s the sort of thing that people usually have to road trip for,” said Matheson.
This year it boasts longer hours, a greater diversity of bands, an improved children’s area and two bike events.
Headlining the festival is alternative country band Son Volt, founded by musician Jay Farrar after the break-up of Uncle Tupelo. Known for their ’90’s albums, “Trace,” “Straightaways” and “Wide Swing Tremolo,” Son Volt returned to the country-rock scene in March with the release of their newest album, “Honky Tonk.”
The Woggles, who wowed attendees last year, will return to perform what the festival’s website describes as a “ ’60s-inspired Brit-punk garage rock freak-out.” Other bands slated to perform include Great Book of John, Spider Bags, Diali Cissokho & Kiara Ba, The Kernal, and Rachel Kate, as well as Columbia’s own Josh Roberts and The Hinges, Mason Jar Menagerie, Stagbriar, Dear Blanca and Los Perdidos.
But while music might be the backbone of the event, there are plenty of other attractions to keep festival-goers entertained.
Kids’ Zone will be open from noon to 4 p.m. at Boyd Plaza in front of the Columbia Museum of Art. Activities include sidewalk chalk, bubbles, hula-hoops, facepainting and art projects from Ladybug Studios and the art museum. The Kids’ Zone will also feature performances by Columbia Arts Academy students at noon and 1:30 p.m.
And then there’s the food. An array of local restaurants, including Village Idiot, the Wurst Wagon and Bourbon Columbia, will have mouth-watering items for sale.
“We’re going to have top-notch food vending,” said Matheson, who noted that shoppers at the Soda City Farmers Market next door may want to drop by for a bite to eat or a cold beer. “The beer taps turn on at twelve at our place.”
For those who like to work up a sweat (and not just the kind that comes from drinking beer outside in September), the festival has partnered with the American Diabetes Association to offer a Tour De Cure Training Ride. The 25-mile ride starts at 9:30 a.m. Participants can register on Saturday prior to the race for $15, or ride for free if they don’t want the T-shirt.
There will also be a free, seven-mile bike ride with Mayor Steve Benjamin through Columbia’s historic neighborhoods. Hosted by the Historic Columbia Foundation, this ride will leave at noon from Boyd Plaza.
If you don’t know what to do with your bike after the races, the festival will once again offer Bicycle Valet on Boyd Plaza, with workers on-hand to park and watch bikes. Don’t worry if you decide to take a car instead — free parking is available in the four nearby garages.
An event featuring 12 bands and jam-packed with this many activities could easily charge admission, but Matheson says the goal of the Jam Room Music Festival isn’t to turn a profit. Instead, he sees it as an opportunity to do something unique for the Columbia community.
“None of us make any money. It’s purely for us to try to make the best festival we can, to bring something interesting to that area of town.”
For more information, visit www.jamroommusicfestival.com or call Jam Room Recording Studio at (803) 787-6908.