There are three big festivals to choose from this Thursday through Sunday, Oct. 1-4 – the Jam Room Music Festival, the Congaree Bluegrass Festival and the Carolina Downhome Blues Festival.
On the one hand, we’re lucky to have so much great music happening in Columbia.
On the other, why do they all have to happen on the same weekend?
It is possible to hit them all, if you are so inclined, or simply check out our highlights of each and pick the one that speaks to your inner musical compass.
Jam Room Music Festival
Big acts: Blonde Redhead, Hiss Golden Messenger
Do not miss New York indie rockers Blonde Redhead, the festival headliner. Kazu Makino and Milanese twin brothers Amedeo and Simone Pace have been making music together for 20 years. Their avant-garde sound has evolved over the years to include lush textures and dreamy synth beats. Also noteworthy is alt-rock group Hiss Golden Messenger. North Carolinians Michael Taylor and Scott Hirsch combine elements of classic rock, folk and country.
Other acts: Cory Branan, Junior Astronomers, Patois Counselors, Stefanie Santana, Grace Joyner, The Distributors, ColorBlind, She Returns from War, Rev. Matthew Mickens and the New Highway Travelers, and Debbie and the Skanks
Details: The free festival is noon-10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3 at the corner of Main and Hampton streets, in the heart of downtown Columbia. You may bring small lawn chairs for use on sidewalks only. Chairs will not be allowed on the street or in front of a stage. After 10 p.m., music lovers older than 21 can head to Art Bar in the Vista for the official Jam Room Music Festival After Party. ET Anderson, The High Divers and Hermit’s Victory will play. 1211 Park St., $5. jamroommusicfestival.com
Besides music: There will be a 24-mile Tour de Cure Training Ride at 9 a.m. and a family-friendly historic neighborhood ride at 11 a.m. Both rides end at the festival by noon, just in time for the music to start. There will also be free admission to the Columbia Museum of Art, complete with an indoor Kids’ Zone, where children and parents can make crafts, play games and enjoy performances by rock band students on the Columbia Arts Academy Stage.
Congaree Bluegrass Festival
Big acts: The Crowe Brothers, Ladies of the Pickin’ Parlor
The Crowe Brothers are Josh Crowe on guitar and Wayne Crowe on bass. The traditional bluegrass musicians have made notable appearances on the “Grand Ole Opry” and at the Library of Congress. The Ladies of the Pickin’ Parlor is an all-female bluegrass group from Columbia.
Other acts: The Flowers Family Band, The Drovers Old Time Medicine Show, The Thomas Family Band, Curtis Blackwell and the Dixie Bluegrass Boys, Last Road Bluegrass
Details: The Congaree Bluegrass Festival is expanding this year to two days at a bigger venue. The festival is 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3 and 1-4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 4 at Granby Gardens Park at the Historic Columbia Speedway, 2001 Charleston Highway, Cayce. Tickets are are $5 on Saturday (kids 12 and younger are free). Sunday is free for all. There also will be a tent for impromptu jam sessions and a banjo workshop at 1:30 p.m. Saturday with Wilson Banjo Co.
Besides music: Bring a canned good for Harvest Hope Food Bank and God’s Helping Hands food bank in Cayce. A play and craft area will be available for kids.
Carolina Downhome Blues Festival
Big acts: JJ Appleton & Jason Ricci Trio, Chris Daniels & The Kings, Anni Piper
Blues harp master Ricci and singer-songwriter Appleton, along with upright bassist Tim Lefebvre, combine superb musicianship with rootsy Americana. Chris Daniels & The Kings have been playing the blues scene in Colorado for some time, although frontman Daniels has ties to South Carolina. Piper, who is Australian, has a sultry voice and plays an electric bass.
Other acts: Joe Krown Trio with Walter Wolfman Washington & Russell Batiste Jr., Slam Allen, Robert Lighthouse, Shrimp City Slim, Freddie Vanderford, J. Michael King, Brandon Turner, Johnny Ace & Sidewalk Zydeco, CW Blues Line, Brent Johnson & The Call Up, Walter Liniger, The Blues Buckets, Luckyman Beall, Rusty Davis Band, Floyd Callen, Jim Wheeler’s St. Louis Blues
Details: This year’s Carolina Downhome Blues Festvial is Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 1-3 and features 40 performances at 14 venues in Camden. Many of the artists have more than one performance, so it’s easier to see everyone. Festivities begin with a kickoff party with Shrimp City Slim from 5:30-7 p.m. Thursday at the Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County. Events continue beginning at noon Friday and 9 a.m. Saturday. All-access armbands are $5 Thursday, $10 Friday and $10 Saturday. Armbands and a full schedule with location sites and times are available at www.fineartscenter.org. Armbands also will be for sale at all performance sites, as well as at the Blues Kiosk at Rutledge and Broad streets Friday and Saturday evening. The Fine Arts Center campus is at 810 Lyttleton St., Camden.
Besides music: Author Clair DeLune will sign copies of “Images of America: South Carolina Blues” 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 1 at Books on Broad. The store also will host Chris Daniels for “Conversations with the Blues” 2-4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 3. 944 Broad St., Camden. (803) 713-7323