(Posted July 25, 2019)
Downtown London will be transformed into a bluesy, barbecue paradise once again as the London Rib & Jazz Fest returns for its 12th year.
The festival is scheduled for 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Aug. 2-3 in historic downtown London. The event draws approximately 10,000 people to enjoy approximately 5,000 pounds of ribs and hours of live music.
Sway to the music and sip a cold beverage from the beer tent as you choose among the five central Ohio rib vendors signed up to dish out finger-licking goodness: Wilson’s Family BBQ, Rudy’s Smokehouse, Fine Smoke BBQ, Off the Bone BBQ and Big Pappy’s BBQ.
Justify the pork and beer while supporting a good cause by running in the Superhero Run, Walk & Roll 5K, presented by the London Kiwanis Club on Friday evening. Afterward, play in the cornhole tournament or take a ride on the mechanical pig.
Other Rib & Jazz Fest activities include a car show organized by Wilson’s Printing & Graphics from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, craft and art vendors, children’s activities, a local celebrity dunk tank, and more.
The festival is stocked with talented musicians who will make you question whether you are in London, Ohio, or the Mississipi Delta.
Friday, Aug. 2
Local favorite Matt Rees will kick off the music at 12:15 p.m. Friday. Specializing in a repertoire of folk, rock and pop songs, Rees will set the tone for a festive lunch hour.
Harmony is the focal point for the next act, Counterpoint. Festival-goers won’t be able to help but sing along with the two-man group playing songs by The Beatles, Crosby, Stills & Nash and The Byrds, among others. The duo begins at 2 p.m.
Returning to the festival at 3:45 p.m. after a few years’ absence is the U.S. Air Force Band of Flight. The 14-member ensemble is an exciting rock band with a full horn section that brings a diverse combination of musical stylings to the concert stage.
Making his debut at the festival is Columbus-based Keith T-Bone Colbert, boasting a musical style that is an evolution of modern blues with a firm foundation inspired by the blues styles of Texas, Chicago and the Delta. Influenced by artists like Robert Johnson, Howling Wolf, B.B. King and Stevie Ray Vaughan, Colbert’s music is a slow rev mixing traditional riffs with a modern flair. He will take the stage just in time for the dinner hour at 5:30 p.m.
The soulful and energetic Doug Hart Band is making its second appearance at the festival. The Dayton-based group plays original material along with the songs you know and love. It’s bluesy, it’s rock. It’s a versatile blend, and it begins at 7:15 p.m.
Headlining the first night of the festival is the Noah Wotherspoon Band, taking the stage at 9 p.m. Wotherspoon, of Cincinnati, has been immersed in the blues and mesmerizing audiences with his soulful guitar playing since he was a teenager. In 2015, he received the Best Guitarist Award at the International Blues Challenge, and the band placed second in the finals.
Saturday, Aug. 3
Old School Union will kick off Saturday’s music lineup at 12:15 p.m. and set the streets on fire. Lead singer Darchelle Williams has been described as “the best kept secret in Columbus,” while band members have played with greats such as James Brown, The Temptations and Rick James, to name a few.
Playing their own unique Americana sound at 2 p.m. is the Charlotte West Band, featuring Nathan Traver. Founding members Reagan Godlewski and Nathan Travis met as commercial music majors at Nashville’s Belmont University. From the start, they aligned on their vision to write and perform music, blending elements from their backgrounds in the blues with roots rock and classic country. They have recruited a band of talented, like-minded musicians to flesh out their sound and provide a live jam experience that complements their studio recordings.
At 3:45 p.m., get ready to feel like you’re in church for the return of festival favorite, InnerVision. Led by two life-long friends who both lost their vision as infants but found God-given musical abilities as young children, this Westerville-based group’s set list includes contemporary Christian music, radio favorites and classics such as “At Last” and “Unchain My Heart.”
Talented soloist Micah Kesselring will fill the festival with a big sound, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Raised in the Appalachia foothills of southeastern Ohio, Kesselring made his way onto the Columbus blues music scene as a teen. He soon made his way to Memphis for the International Blues Challenge and has been a regular finalist on the scene since.
Enjoy the after-dinner hour at 7:15 p.m. with the talent of the blues-influenced Blue Cats. The veteran four-man group performs energy intensive original arrangements of favorites from their musical hip pockets. Members have played with a wide variety of national acts, including James Brown, Albert King, Linda Ronstadt, Bobby Blue Bland, Johnny Paycheck and Luther Allison.
Closing out the festival is the Hadden Sayers Band. A Texas native, Sayers is just as comfortable on a massive festival stage with a Stratocaster in his hands as he is strumming an acoustic guitar in your living room. Sayers and his band are masters of their instruments, but his passionate songwriting twists rock, blues and soul into something completely fresh. This band will keep festival goers on their feet from 9 to 10:30 p.m.