Our music reviewer's primer to the annual CoMo fest , Part Two

By Hilary Scott

COLUMBIA, Mo 9/16/14 (Review) -- Hilary Scott returns for more brief but informative previews of this year's Roots 'N' Blues 'N' BBQ.  

This time, she tells us about Trampled by Turtles, Blackberry Smoke, and the legendary John Prine

Trampled by Turtles

A signature "wall of strings".

That's the sound Duluth, Minnesota-based Trampled by Turtles has brought audiences since 2003, says producer Alan Sparhawk.

A wild, frenetic energy like bluegrass on speed, Trampled's wall of strings includes guitar, bass, mandolin, banjo and fiddle -- a complex arrangement that brings musical life to some simple but profound themes: The death of a loved one; the parting of friends; the changing leaves; the loss of a love.

"All the little parts that come and go," says Dave Simonett, lead vocalist, guitarist and songwriter for the band. "We focus on various ways humans have attempted to explain the unexplainable, to keep fear of the darkness that waits for all of us at bay.  In a way, it's refreshing because the knowledge that nothing will ever stay the same offers innumerable opportunities for rebirth."

Uninterested in shackling their sound to any particular genre, Trampled brings their unique blend of acoustic magic to Roots 'n' Blues 'n' BBQ Sunday, September 28, 6:30 pm on the Missouri Lottery stage.   Catch their act -- and see if you can hear the poet's heart, pulsing through the electric energy of a live sound created with all acoustic instruments.

Blackberry Smoke

Blackberry Smoke is a country and southern rock band that has shared the stage with Lynyrd Skynyrd and ZZ Top.

Lead singer Charlie Starr's vocals hint of the Black Crowe's Chris Robinson, and the group has the groove-producing energy of fellow southern rockers they idolize, The Marshall Tucker Band.

Taking their unique mix of gospel, bluegrass, arena rock, and outlaw country on the road, Blackberry Smoke has been doggedly touring for more than a decade, gaining fans who appreciate their self-described "blue collar" work ethic through live performances or word of mouth.

My "word of mouth" advice is simple:  See and hear their live performance and make yourself a fan.

September 26
Shelter Insurance Stage
7:00 pm

John Prine

Whether you've been been listening to Prine over the forty years of his career -- or not -- you need to catch this legend at Roots N Blues N BBQ.

From the early days of his discovery by singer-songwriter-actor Kris Kristofferson, Prine has become regarded as one of the most influential songwriters in history.  

With a conversational but direct folk-country style aimed straight at the listener's heart, Prine writes with humor and poignancy of death and love and melancholy, lacing autobiographical lyrics with serious social commentary.

The aftermath of a three-year bout with throat cancer deepened Prine's voice, adding the signature rasp you hear today.
A longtime smoker, Prine told doctors about a painless lump in his throat that first appeared in 1995.   He had it removed in 1998, only to get a diagnosis of "squamous cell carcinoma."   One surgery and several radiation treatments later, the lump was gone, but Prine's voice had changed.  He told his doctors he didn't want to shield his vocal cords from the radiation.  He only wanted the cancer out.  

"I'm looking forward to getting back on the road and singing my songs," he told fans in a letter.  "Hopefully, my neck is looking forward to its job of holding my head up above my shoulders."  

The cancer didn't hurt his sound; if anything, it made his music more personal and endearing.   Maybe you'll catch him singing his 1971 classic "Angel From Montgomery" -- the song Bonnie Raitt said "has meant more to my fans and my body of work than any other" -- at this year's RNBBBQ festival.

But if not, rest assured:  Every song Prine delivers will be amazing.

September 27
Missouri Lottery Stage
7:45 pm

About Hilary Scott Gennaro

Hilary's RNBBBQ Cliff's Notes, Part One