What a treat it is to have people in St. Louis who volunteer countless hours to bring us quality music festivals year after year such as Twangfest and the little lesser-known, but equally as good, Open Highway Music Festival.
In its eighth year, OHMF continues through August 5 so you can still catch some great local and national acts. As of this writing, you might still be able to find some tickets available for the other nights at Off Broadway in south St. Louis before they sell out.
One of the event organizers, John Henry (also a prominent St. Louis musician) said of the festival in this 2017 St. Louis Public Radio interview, “We started this primarily as a festival that features [red dirt] country music.” As things do, the festival has evolved during the years to include blues rock, indie rock, alt-country rock, roots rock and more. Think of Rte. 66 and the sounds and styles of music along that 2,448 mile stretch between Chicago and L.A. — that’s what you might just find at this five-day festival held at Off Broadway.
Arch City Media was there to catch this year’s festival on night two featuring North Mississippi Allstars and Blue Lotus Revue.
You won’t find much online about Blue Lotus Revue as it’s a medley of blues, soul and other roots-related musicians in St. Louis who are represented by Blue Lotus Recordings. And from what we saw Thursday night, it’s some of the best, current roots-based musicians and vocalists in the region. Their short, but packed set that highlighted four vocalists entertained the crowd with original music that included Roland Johnson’s “Can I Get Enough”, Miss Molly Simms’ “Complicated Broken People”, Jon Bonham’s “Johnnie Johnson” and Daniel “GhoStleg” Hamm’s “Down That Road,” who said of the song “this is some f*ing south side juke joint shit right here.”
The crowd swelled as North Mississippi Allstars took to the stage just as the new moon rose over the city. And they got right down to business playing their “hill music” sound that they’ve perfected during their 23-years together. The more recent full-time addition of bassist Carl Dufrene (formerly of Anderson Osborne) added to the energy brothers Luther and Cody Dickinson bring to their shows.
For the next 90-plus minutes fans were treated to a rollicking good time with roots-rock (and okay, sure “hill music”) at its finest. Pure rhythm and rock with some raucous folky-blues mixed in. During the night, while Carl and Luther made those guitars sing and seemingly about to fly off the spectrum, Cody held everything steady with his drumming.
Sometimes jams just seem to come from nowhere, swirl around and head down a path that’s no one knows where they’re leading. NMA jammed but each jam, including one with Cody Dickinson on electric washboard (who knew a washboard could sound so good?), was solid and led the listener down the road and helped them arrive safely to their destination.
At one point Luther mentioned Mississippi Nights. He also pulled out a cigar box guitar stating that it was made in St. Louis, “We love you St. Louis—all these years.”
And St. Louis loves them.
Songs included “K.C. Jones (On the Road Again),” “How I Wish My Train Would Come,” and the just-released single “Up and Rolling” from their upcoming album scheduled for an October 4 release.
Find more images from the night: http://bit.ly/OHMF2019cz