May 2, 2010 12:16:00 AM
Twenty musical acts, 212 crafts and arts vendors, 33 food vendors, 12 historic blocks of downtown Columbus, about 40,000 people. The numbers of Market Street Festival are adding up. Throw in another one: 11 consecutive years as a Southeast Tourism Society Top 20 event.
The 15th annual festival May 7-8 is shaping up to be one of the best, says Amber Murphree Brislin, executive director of Main Street Columbus. The two-day party downtown kicks off Friday night with Come on Go With Us and Big Sam''s Funky Nation at Market Street After Dark, a ticketed concert on Main Street.
"Market Street Festival is the largest fundraiser for Main Street Columbus," said Brislin. "A successful festival ensures the continuation of year-round special events and downtown promotions, revitalization and beautification efforts."
"Tight enough (and hot enough) to turn coal into a diamond." That''s how Ryan White of The Oregonian describes Big Sam''s Funky Nation, performing from 9:30-11 p.m.
Named Best R&B Band by Where Y''at magazine''s Readers'' Picks in 2009, and winner of the Big Easy Music Award for Best Funk Band in 2008, the Funky Nation masterfully combines a rock sensibility with the improv-style so associated with the distinctive New Orleans sound.
Led by trombone powerhouse Big Sam Williams -- formerly trombonist for the Dirty Dozen Brass Band -- the band includes experienced musicians Andrew Baham, Takeshi Shimmurs, Eric Vogel, and MILK on drums. The unit is known for keeping a crowd on its feet with high voltage energy.
Williams was labeled "the top man on the slide trombone in the birthplace of jazz" by the San Francisco Chronicle. The band was featured on VH-1''s "Soul Cities," on "Live with Regis and Kelly" and on the Travel Channel''s "American the Wright Way."
Their latest album, "King of the Party," blends funk, rock, R&B and jazz and "keeps the party going, all night long."
Come On Go With Us
With three Columbus natives in the band -- Chase McGill, Dustin Hedrick and Chris Hurt -- Come On Go With Us is a crowd favorite. Longtime music watchers in North Mississippi have followed McGill, Hedrick and Hurt since their days in Enursha, the bold band they founded while still students at Heritage Academy.
Several years, college graduations, a fresh sound and an indie label signing later, COGWU, with Jacob Simpson and Taylor Mills, has just completed a successful two-month national tour, taking their melting pot of rock and roots to 15 different states.
Download their feel-good self-titled CD at iTunes, Rhapsody, Amazon mp3, Napster and CdFreedom.
May 8 will be a free feast for the ears, with everything from oldies to country, soul to hill country rock as bands including Swing Shift, Gene Robertson and the Echoes, Mac Banks and the Davis'', Juke Joint Gypsies, Paul Brady, Mookie and many, many more perform, beginning at 9 a.m.
Saturday''s late day lineup on the Main Stage includes Grammy Award winner Nathan Best and friends at 5:15 p.m., Stagolee at 6:30 p.m., Jamie Davis and Soul Gravy at 8:15 p.m. and Blue Mountain at 10 p.m.
"All stage schedules and a complete list of festival activities -- including the world''s largest pinball machine -- are at www.marketstreetfestival.com," said Brislin.
Festival highlights are too numerous to name, but a few include a new juried arts competition, a 5K run (which drew 160 participants last year), the Hands On Market Place, rock climbing wall, petting zoo, junior firefighter games and much more. Watch for the festival guide coming out with Friday''s edition of The Dispatch.
Festival T-shirts are on sale now at the Main Street Columbus office and will be sold at the gate festival weekend, while supplies last. Cost is $10 for youth shirts and $15 for adults.
"This festival takes thousands of people to accomplish, from all the musical talent, vendors, festival-goers, sponsors, the city and volunteers," praised Brislin. "A sincere thank you to everyone who is a supporter, in all aspects. Market Street Festival is truly a celebration of our wonderful community."