There’s so much going on this weekend in Columbia that it’s hard to pick just what to do. There’s Bob Dylan at The Township on Thursday; the Jam Room Music Festival downtown, banjoist Bela Fleck at the Koger Center and Stevie Nicks at Colonial Life Arena all on Saturday. And that’s just music. Friday is Arts and Draughts at the Columbia Museum of Art, and on Saturday, there’s the Chili Cook-Off in Five Points, the ArtLinc Chalk Art Festival on Lincoln Street and a film festival at the Nickelodeon Theatre.
No wonder One Columbia is calling it “The Biggest November Weekend.”
But rather than competing, a number of events are cross-promoting each other, said Jay Matheson, organizer of the free Jam Room Music Festival. “You could go grab some chili at the Cook-Off Saturday, then see some bands at Jam Room. Or hear the afternoon bands, then go see Bela Fleck or Stevie Nicks.”
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In other words, mixing and matching is encouraged.
As for the Jam Room Music Festival, now in its fifth year, Matheson said he is expecting the biggest crowd yet, over 10,000 people.
“It can only get so big, with two stages. I don’t know if it could exceed 13,000 people,” Matheson said.
The 12 bands are scheduled with very little overlap so audiences don’t have to miss a single set and bands don’t have to fight for a crowd.
This year’s lineup includes The Restoration, Mount Moriah, Gláss, Brave Baby and headliners the Mountain Goats.
We want to introduce new things that wouldn’t normally be on a festival stage in this region.
Jay Matheson, Jam Room Music Festival organizer
The range of indie, goth, punk and folk is a testament to never pigeonholing the festival into one genre or type of band, Matheson said. “This is for music and art fans that are open-minded and trust us to curate for them. We want to introduce new things that wouldn’t normally be on a festival stage in this region.”
There is pride in being a little left-of-center, he added, and the Mountain Goats certainly fit the bill. The band is an indie-folk group based based in Durham, North Carolina, and led by singer-songwriter John Darnielle.
The Mountain Goats have been active since 1991, but Darnielle has found himself in headlines recently for his song, “Cubs in Five.” The song has lyrics about the Cubs winning the World Series, a feat they finally accomplished after 108 years of waiting.
“And the Chicago Cubs will beat every team in the league / And the Tampa Bay Bucs will take it all the way through January / And I will love you again; I will love you like I used to,” the song goes.
In an essay for Slate, Darnielle wrote, “Before I sang in the Mountain Goats, I was a kid who was bad at sports. … I couldn’t hit, and I couldn’t throw. But I did have a favorite team, and that team was the Chicago Cubs.”
Naturally, the song has now “taken on a life of its own.” Don’t be surprised if you hear it Saturday.
In addition to the bands, the festival features a group bike ride, a beer garden and two after-parties.
“The beer is $4, there are no tickets, no gates. How special is that?” Matheson asked, adding that he’s determined to keep the event free of charge.
“Trying to squeeze money out of every little thing is not always the best way to go,” he said. “We are a break-even festival. We want to do this for the community.”
Palmetto Brewing Co. Stage (Hampton Street)
12:45 p.m. My Brother My Sister
2:15 p.m. Scott Low
3:45 p.m. Preach Jacobs
5:15 p.m. Boo Hag
6:45 p.m. Boulevards
8:45 p.m. the Mountain Goats
The Whig Stage (Main Street)
Noon The Restoration
1:30 p.m. Gold Light
3 p.m. Fall of an Empire
6 p.m. Brave Baby
7:45 p.m. Mount Moriah
The 25-mile Tour de Cure Training Ride leaves at 9 a.m. from festival site at the corner of Main and Hampton Streets, next to the Marriott.
The ride ends at the Jam Room Music Festival by noon so you can enjoy a full day of music and fun along with a free bike valet. There will also be a family ride at 11 a.m. starting at the corner of Main and Hampton streets.
The rides are free, but registration is required. You can purchase a Jam Room Tour de Cure Training Ride T-shirt for $10. All proceeds benefit the American Diabetes Association.
There will be after-parties at Music Farm (all ages) and Art Bar (21 and older). One $5 ticket admits attendees to both after-parties.
If you go
Jam Room Music Festival
WHEN: Bike ride, 9 a.m.; music, noon Saturday, Nov. 12
WHERE: Main and Hampton streets in downtown Columbia