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Missoula River City Roots Festival unveils lineup

Roots Festival
Posted at 4:34 PM, Jun 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-17 18:34:04-04

MISSOULA — Organizers have unveiled the slate of performers who are set to take part in one of Missoula's most popular summer events.

The Lil’ Smokies will be returning to the stage and will be the Saturday night headliner for the 15th annual River City Roots Festival. 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 festival will take over the streets of downtown Missoula on Aug. 27 and Aug. 28.

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.

Rapidgrass returns to the Roots Fest stage for the second time after making its debut in 2018. Their music reflects the inspiration they get from the mountains and an outdoor lifestyle.

Sol Driven Train 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 a duo made up of Ben Winship and John Lowell, focus on original and traditional bluegrass songs, ballads, and tunes.

Hot Buttered Rum, 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.

Cowboy Andy and The Salamanders are a group of musicians from Missoula who focus on getting kids moving and having fun through music.

The Timber Rattlers who are also from Missoula will be making their first appearance at the River City Roots Festival.

Organizers also note the event will once again be kicked off from the Main Stage will once again feature kids’ bands from Missoula, including the ZACC Rock Band Campers.

"After what proved to be a challenging year, we couldn’t be more excited to bring Roots Fest back to the streets of Downtown Missoula,” Downtown Missoula Partnership Executive Director Linda McCarthy stated in a news release. “We’re grateful we are going to be able to reconnect and celebrate the city we love.”

There is no charge to attend the River City Roots Festival. Additional information can be found here or by calling the Downtown Missoula Partnership at (406) 543-4238 or emailing