The trill of a harmonica and twang of an electric guitar mingled with the late afternoon buzz of insects as The Blues Phoenix Band kicked off the 19th annual Jammin’ in July festival Saturday at the Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site.
Feet tapped as the quartet – who described their music as “eclectic” and “loosey-goosey” – sang a mixture of cover songs and original tunes, among them guitar player and singer “Cleanhead” Ed Gossheim’s “She’s Nine Kinds of Ugly” (not in reference, of course, to any women within a 100-mile radius, Gossheim assured the crowd).
“She only looks good from the neck on down. ... I only take her out in the middle of the night ‘cause she’s nine kinds of ugly,” Grossheim crooned.
The Phoenix Blues Band was the first of 10 performers representing the Midlands and beyond, playing everything from country and bluegrass to blues and rock.
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“The whole idea behind this was to help up-and-coming musicians of all different genres get exposure, with an emphasis on playing original material,” said Daniel Riddick, who has produced the festival every year since its start. “Most everything is presented in an acoustic-type format, so it can appeal to a wide range of people.”
Featured at this year’s festival were headliners The Bunch Quitters, a bluegrass band from the Columbia area, and Jacob Johnson, an acoustic and folk-rock performer from Greenville.
Jim Hayes has played at the festival every year but one. He’s lived in Camden for nearly 40 years and sees a lot of familiar faces at the festival.
“(I like) the ambiance,” he said. “A lot of friends and family come out, and a lot of people you don’t get to see a lot. People show up you haven’t seen in a long time.”
Will Britz, of Columbia, has been working in Camden for only a week or so and already recognized familiar local faces at the festival.
He and Ashley Boyles, of Columbia, heard about the festival from a friend. They play in a band themselves and know some of the Jammin’ musicians.
They relaxed in lawn chairs with cool drinks in hand as they took in the laid-back music and atmosphere.
“You don’t get to see local music much,” Britz said. “I go to a lot of festivals ... It’s cool they’re having a tiny one close to home. It’s not very far away, and local music, bands you won’t see anywhere else.”