You might not have heard of Banjo-B-Que before, but if not, that’s about to change. The Augusta-based music festival that celebrates (you guessed it), bluegrass and barbecue, is celebrating its 6th anniversary this Memorial Day weekend with shows on Friday and Saturday. The festival was created to honor Joe Pond, an Augusta native whose family created a memorial fund in his honor. All proceeds from Banjo-B-Que go toward the Joseph R. Pond Memorial Foundation, which sponsors charitable organizations in the Augusta area. In addition to music and barbecue, the festival will feature pig races, a petting zoo and craft beer.
Interested in the festival yet? Read on for some of the most anticipated acts of the weekend!
1. Shovels and Rope
Shovels and Rope – the folksy sounding, Johns Island dwelling, chicken raising, hard rocking husband and wife duo – is an obvious top pick out of Banjo-B-Que’s lineup. Although I am decidedly biased by lead singer Cary Ann Hearst’s experience as a Cougar, a label she held until she graduated from College of Charleston in 2001 with a degree in history, Shovels and Rope is a favorite for more than the members’ personal histories. The duo’s catchy melodies combined with Hearst’s powerhouse voice compel even the most self-conscious dancers to step to the beat. Their sound, like New Orleans Jazz combined with 80’s classic rock, is sure to please any fun and funk loving crowd.
Top song pick: Kemba’s Got the Cabbage Moth Blues
2. Trampled by Turtles
I first saw Trampled by Turtles perform last year at Shaky Knees – and they made my knees shake, rattle and roll to their old school bluegrass sound. The band, which was founded in 2003 by a group of Minnesotan musicians, is known for its nimble and energetic bluegrass as for its folksy acoustic pop songs. Whatever your preference, you can be sure that Trampled by Turtles will leave your eardrums satisfied by their polyphonic tunes.
Top song pick: Wait So Long
3. Vance Joy
Vance Joy might not appear to fit in with the rest of the Banjo-B-Que lineup. This crooning, curly haired Australian heartthrob plays neither the fiddle nor the bass, but his honest lyrics and simple harmonies create the authentic sound that bluegrass fans love. Joy, who has performed with the likes of Taylor Swift, first became famous with the hit single Riptide, released in 2013. His music has since evolved with the release of his second album, Dream Your Life Away, in September 2014.
Top song pick: Georgia
4. Rhiannon Giddens
For Carolina Chocolate Drop fans, the news that lead singer Rhiannon Giddens is performing as a solo artist is nothing short of amazing. This firecracker performer, known for her range of styles and her occasional dance move, released her debut solo album in February of this year. Giddens’ solo music is young and evolving, but you can count on the fact that she will perform covers of the great women of folk, jazz and R&B, from Nina Simone to Patsy Cline. Although her solo work is still fresh, it has only received positive critical acclaim and it will be sure to please anyone with an interest in roots music.
Top song pick: She’s Got You