Missoula Favorite Lil’ Smokies to Headline River City Roots Festival

The Lil’ Smokies (www.thelilsmokies.com) return to the Roots Fest stage and will be the Saturday night headliner for the 15th annual River City Roots Festival in the streets of Downtown Missoula August 27-28, 2021. Coming off of their third studio album release, Tornillo, the band will be making their fourth Roots Fest Main Stage appearance, with their first appearance occurring back in 2011.

“This year’s lineup is more or less what folks would have seen in 2020 had we been able to hold Roots Fest,” said committee chair Ellen Buchanan. “Thankfully we were able to keep nearly everyone who was scheduled with only two changes. This year’s Main Stage music reflects some old favorites returning to Roots with some new bands who will have their debuts. We are especially excited to have Missoula’s own Lil’ Smokies back on the stage as a headliner.”

Headlining Friday night’s lineup is Super Chikan. A native of the Mississippi Delta, James “Super Chikan” Johnson plays the blues on guitars he makes himself, using whatever materials are on hand from gas cans to ceiling fans. This will be Super Chikan’s first visit to Missoula. James, who lives in Clarksdale, MS, has been honored with a plaque on the Clarksdale Walk of Fame along with such notable blues and soul musicians such as Muddy Waters, Sam Cooke, and Son House.

Rapidgrass (www.rapidgrass.com) returns to the Roots Fest stage for the second time after making their debut in 2018. Their music reflects the inspiration they get from the mountains and an outdoor lifestyle – a perfect fit for Missoula. Sol Driven Train (www.soldriventrain.com) are making their third Roots Fest appearance, having last played in 2016. Hailing from Charleston, South Carolina, they take influence from musicians such as John Prine and Paul Simon with Afro-Caribbean rhythmic influences and funky New Orleans-style brass.

Growling Old Men (www.growlingoldmen.com), a duo made up of Ben Winship and John Lowell, focus on original and traditional bluegrass songs, ballads, and tunes. Hot Buttered Rum (www.hotbutteredrum.net), making their third Roots appearance, weave their love of bluegrass, folk, jazz, and soul together for a true piece of Americana music. Sally & George are an Americana/rock/country/blues duo currently based in Laramie, Wyoming and recently released their second album, Take You On A Ride.

As part of making Roots Fest a fully family-friendly event, Cowboy Andy and The Salamanders (www.cowboyandy.bandcamp.com) are an energetic group of musicians from Missoula who focus on getting kids moving and having fun through music. Also hailing from Missoula, and making their River City Roots Festival debut, The Timber Rattlers (www.thetimberrattlers.com) are an energetic bluegrass quartet who recently released their first album, Last Echo. Finally, in what has become a favorite way to kickoff Roots Fest, the Main Stage will once again feature kids’ bands from Missoula, including the ZACC Rock Band Campers.

“Missoula’s Signature Celebration highlights all of the amazing things that make Missoula, Missoula: music, art, culture, local food and drinks, active lifestyles, and community,” said Linda McCarthy, Executive Director of the Downtown Missoula Partnership. “After what proved to be a challenging year, we are so excited to bring Roots Fest back to the streets of Downtown Missoula. We’re grateful we are going to be able to reconnect and celebrate the city we love.”

Roots Fest is admission free and full of family-friendly fun thanks to support from a number of Missoula-area businesses that sponsor the event. Major sponsors include First Interstate Bank, Big Sky Brewing, Bob Wards Sports & Outdoors, and Dick Anderson Construction. Other current sponsors are Children’s Dentistry of the Rockies, DJ&A, Dorsey Whitney, First Montana Bank, Good Food Store, Grizzly Liquor, HDR Engineering, Mountain Line, Opportunity Bank, The Badlander, WGM Group, and Zip Beverage, among others.

More information about River City Roots Festival can be found at www.rivercityrootsfestival.com or by calling the Downtown Missoula Partnership at 406.543.4238 or emailing info@missouladowntown.com