Southern Fried Festival Sizzles in Columbia

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It’s been a summer of THE HEAT GOES ON. On September 23 and 24 at the Southern Fried Festival in Columbia, TN, it’s THE BEAT that GOES ON with all the great music available around the downtown square.

The festival gates open at 5 p.m. and music starts at 6 p.m. on Friday, the 23rd, with Smooth Vinyl taking the KFC Stage. This group is a local cover band which has enjoyed much community support. The current musicians have been playing together as Smooth Vinyl for a couple of years. They hint they may have a few surprise guests with them at SFF. A few years ago, they opened for Leon Russell locally. Don’t get excited, Leon and Elton won’t be the surprise guests. These fellas bring energy, experience and an extensive play list to the stage. Prepare to sit back and enjoy their music as the festival gets underway.

When Smooth Vinyl leaves the stage, Ricochet, returns again to the KFC Stage. Time is 8 p.m. We’ve lost track of the many times they have been with us. Always a crowd favorite, this group will really amp up the enthusiasm. They are known for hits such as “What Do I Know”, “Daddy’s Money”, “Love is Stronger than Pride”, and “Seven Bridges Road.” This group is the first country music artists to put “The Star Spangled Banner” on the Billboard Country Singles chart. That’s quite an accomplishment! Tuck a flag in your pocket. You’ll probably get to use it. They have participated in two USO tours. The group hails from Louisiana, Minnesota, and Arkansas…a real all-American mix. During the past eight years, they have been updating their sound to stay relevant in the digital age. They still travel the roads bringing their music to countless fans.

Friday night’s entertainment will be so fantastic you’ll want to return Saturday for sure.

Saturday’s music starts at 1 p.m. at North Main and 6th Street with the Mule Town Records performers entertaining you. The more you applaud, the longer they play. The highlighted group will be the Jug Huggers. Slaw Bones (Josh Kennedy) and LilJoCephus (Jo-Jo Allen) started performing in October 2008. This garage rock band has gotten lots of notice regionally and also statewide. Come support them and enjoy their music.

Starting at 2 p.m. on the First Farmers Stage, you will hear a variety of music from additional talented local musicians. First will be the Community Band. Enjoy your neighbors’ talents as they play familiar tunes. The group was organized as part of the Homecoming ‘86 event and has continued to entertain the community throughout the subsequent years. Most of the twenty-five plus members played in their high school bands. This is a great opportunity to keep their love of music alive and the community reaps the benefit.

Brenda Allen takes the stage next at 3 p.m. A native of Columbia, Brenda has been performing in the area and around Nashville for the past few years. She recently completed an album at Woodshed Studios in Nashville. It’s a country album with seven original songs included which will be out by the time the Festival opens. She will be performing with the Irish rock band, The Get Reels.

Back to entertain for the second year are The Hustlers and the Campbell Station Band.

The Hustlers is a rock and blues quartet. Their music is fun for all ages. If you like blues and good time rock and roll, The Hustlers will be sure to please. 4 p.m. is the time they will rock the stage for you. This group produced their debut release titled “The Hustlers” on Public Records. “The band anchors their sound in blues and rock riffs with a touch of country and roots music,” says Stu Lenig, professor Speech and Drama at Columbia State Community College.

Campbell Station Band, starting at 5 p.m., ends this session for the First Farmers Stage. This band has been together for five years. They play country and southern rock, mostly their original songs. In addition to playing at the Banana Pudding Festival and the Columbia Bicentennial, they have also played at Tootsies, Tin Roof and Douglas Corner in Nashville.

When this stage closes down, it’s time to move your chair to the east side of the courthouse at the KFC Stage where Bill Avery and the Uptown Band kick off more toe-tapping music. Bill was raised in Gadsden, AL, where he developed a love for music early on. Bill comes from a musically talented family. Beyonce Knowles is his second cousin. In the 80’s, Bill’s cover band “The Love Company” toured the southeast. He was especially popular on college campuses. During this time, he played and toured with Bobby Blue Bland, B.B.King, The Barkays, The Drifters, The Tams and The Temptations to name just a few. For the past ten years, Bill and his musicians from across the southeast have played as Bill Avery and the Uptown Band. They play R&B favorites from the 50’s thru the 70’s along with current hits and classic standards. Their play list includes “Just my Imagination”, “Mustang Sally”, “Respect”, “Brick House”, “Three Times a Lady”, “Chain of Fools”, “When a Man Loves a Woman”, “Super Freak”, and “You Send Me.” We don’t know what he’ll play for you, but we can pretty much guarantee that you will be movin’ and groovin’ the night away.

No sooner than Bill and his guys leave the stage, here come The Kentucky Headhunters at 8 p.m. If you enjoyed them in 2008, we’re sure you won’t be disappointed tonight. These guys really put on a show! Do not miss Fred Young’s drum solo. It has to be seen to be believed.

We all know their hits “Walk Softly on this Heart of Mine” and “Dumas Walker” plus other favorites.

Did you know October 18 brings their 12th release? “Dixie Lullabies” contains 14 new originals. “Dixie Lullabies” covers the way we were, the way we are and where we’re headed”, according to Richard Young, guitarist and lead vocalist. This group has been described as “the most consistent and durable Southern rock outfit on the planet” by Ray Waddell of Billboard Magazine.

If this performance is anything like their last one here, you’ll beg them to keep on playing.

The $3 admission per day is a miniscule price to pay for the musical entertainment you will enjoy at Southern Fried Festival. When you factor in all the other fun available for the price, what a bargain! Children under 10 pay no admission.

Southern Fried Festival is presented by the Downtown Columbia Business and Professional Association. This year’s title sponsor is the Tennessee Farm Bureau Family. Other major sponsors are KFC (JRN, Columbia), First Farmers and Merchants Bank, Maury Regional Medical Center, Community First Bank and Trust, Maury County Convention and Visitors Bureau, City of Columbia, and Pepsico.

The festival is always the last full weekend of September. This year’s dates are September 23 and 24. For more information, call 1-888-852-1860 or visit the website www.southernfriedfest.com.