Downtown London will be transformed into a bluesy and barbecued paradise once again next weekend as the London Rib and Jazz Fest returns for its 10th year.
The festival is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 4 and Saturday, Aug. 5 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. in historic downtown London. The event draws about 10,000 people to enjoy about 5,000 pounds of ribs and hours of live music.
Enjoy the music and sip a cold beverage from the beer tent as you choose among the five Central Ohio rib vendors: Wilson’s Family BBQ, Rudy’s Smokehouse, Fine Smoke BBQ, Off the Bone BBQ and Buckeye BBQ.
Will Freed and AC Collins will kick off the music at noon on Friday. Freed is a 28-year-old singer/songwriter who grew up in West Virginia, making his way to the Kansas City music circuit. With the release of his debut album with the band, Freed has developed his own style, pleasing voice and skillful harmonica and guitar playing.
Playing Blues, light Jazz, R&B and much more, John Henry and the Rainmakers will take the stage at 2 p.m. on Friday. The Columbus-based band has been honing its original creations and performing for the last four years.
Be prepared for one Jazzy affair with NiNi Love and the Jazzyside, beginning at 5:30 p.m. You won’t want to miss this powerful singer and her fine band fresh off their performance at the Columbus Jazz and Rib Festival. Sultry, funky jazz is their bread and butter.
Finishing out the first night in a big way is headliner Harper and Midwest Kind. With the final performance of the night at 8:15 p.m., award-winning Australian singer/songwriter Peter D. Harper creates a heady mix of roots music with his creative use of the harmonica and the haunting drone of the didgeridoo. Harper possesses a powerful soulful voice and deep approach to music some say has evolved into his own genre. Harper called it “World Blues.” This veteran band has played 15 countries worldwide, with performances at the New Orleans Jazzfest, Chicago Blues Festival and Clearwater, Florida Blues Fest.
On Saturday, the music will return at noon with a crowd favorite: School of Rock. Mixing young blood with old hits, this band of students will get the crowd ready for a full day of festival fun.
At 2:45 p.m., get ready for some 1970s-era smooth soul with Columbus natives, The Four Mints. The band recorded for Bill Moss’ Capsoul Records. The group’s first single, “You’re My Desire,” received play in minor markets.
The dinner hour will be extra smooth with the sounds of J London and Band of Friends, who will perform at 5:30 p.m. A Columbus native, band leader J London was nominated in the 1995 Grammys for Best R&B Album, Best R&B Male Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song for “Thank You Lady.” Listeners will hear the many years of devotion and experience in this smooth voice.
The final band of the festival has few equals. Boasting a pool of talent, the Inner City Blues Band is a high energy blues and R&B group that has opened for legends. The band is a tight unit that treats R&B as tenderly as a newborn baby, yet pounds out hard blues with clarity and jackhammer strength. This band will keep the crowd standing on its feet from 8:15-10:30 p.m.
Other activities include the impressive car show, organized by Wilson’s Printing & Graphics from 6-8:30 p.m. on Friday, the Cornhole Tournament at 2 p.m. on Saturday, the Rib Tickler family-friendly bicycle tour on Saturday morning, a Superhero-themed 5K, craft and art vendors, children’s activities, a dunk tank victimizing local public figures for charity, and much more.
For more information, visit the London Rib and Jazz Fest website at www.londonribandjazz.com or find the fest on Facebook.
Andrea Litchfield is a contributing writer for The Madison Press.