Market Street Festival to welcome Paul Thorn Band May 1


Jan Swoope



The big event may still be nine weeks out, but plans for the 14th annual Market Street Festival are well underway. On May 1-2, the streets of downtown Columbus will fill with live music, smiling crowds, art and crafts vendors, food and children''s activities of every kind.  


The festival committee and Main Street Columbus invite everyone to join the Friday night street party May 1 when Paul Thorn and his first flight band, along with Class of ''65, kick off this festive weekend which recently earned recognition as a "Top 20 Event in the Southeast" for the 10th consecutive year.  


The Class of ''65 gets the party rolling at 7:30 p.m. May 1, and Tupelo area native Thorn performs from 9:30 to 11:30 p.m. 


May 2 will feature live music throughout the day on multiple stages. Saturday evening''s fare already looks tempting, with Blue Mountain, the Burnside Exploration, Mayhem String Band and Stagolee in the lineup.  


"We''re busy preparing for Market Street Festival on May 1-2 and are excited to announce our headliner music acts," said Amber Murphree, director of Main Street Columbus. Murphree went on to say positive feedback from last year''s revised layout will keep the food court along Main Street again.  




Poet of the unheard 


The son of a Pentecostal preacher, Thorn grew up shaking his tambourine and singing in his father''s tent revivals. At turns soulful, raw, melancholy and brazen, his bluesy, rock-edged songs run the gamut of human conditions. An inveterate storyteller and entertainer (who three years ago exhibited his distinctive folk art at Columbus'' Rosenzweig Arts Center), Thorn takes on the persona of an old buddy swapping tales and sharing a giggle on a Mississippi night. Part choirboy, part (the bigger part) irrepressible rascal, an incandescent humor colors all his work.  


In earlier years, he made chairs for a living in a factory near Tupelo. He boxed Roberto Duran on national television. He gets kicks from sky-diving. And though he has performed with or opened for artists such as Sting, Mark Knopfler, Jeff Beck, Delbert McClinton, John Hiatt and John Prine, he still makes his home where the story began, just outside Tupelo.  




Blue Mountain revival 


Blue Mountain fans were thrilled last year when Cary Hudson and Laurie Stirratt announced they were reuniting for another spin. The pair, once married, honed their early chops playing in Oxford in the late 1980s and became a touchstone of the alt country community.  


After a string of fine albums and heavy touring, the couple went their separate ways -- Laurie to start an independent label and collaborate with twin brother John, of Wilco, and Cary to record and tour with old and new friends.  


Six years after the break-up, Blue Mountain reunited for a handful of shows that proved so successful they are still at it. With original music blending traditional, indie, blues, rock and Americana influences, Blue Mountain delivers with raw roots energy. Market Street Festival marks their Columbus debut.  




Vendor applications 


Tickets for the Friday night concert will be $10 in advance and at the gate. Beverage booths and the food court will also be open during the night concerts. 


All day Saturday is free and open to the public with festivities beginning at 9 a.m. and continuing until 11:30 p.m. 


"We are steadily securing activities and vendors; the food court is almost completely full and we have over 100 arts and crafts vendor spaces filled," Murphree said. "Our total capacity for arts and crafts vendors is 212 spaces."  


Arts and crafts vendor applications will be accepted through March 25. Applications can be obtained at the Main Street Columbus office at 107 Fifth St. N., at, or by calling 662-328-6305. 


"Many generous sponsors have signed up as well, including our presenting sponsors The Commercial Dispatch, WCBI and the Convention and Visitors Bureau," Murphree added. "The festival is truly a collaborative effort of everyone, including sponsors, volunteers, artists, musical talents and city support. Without everyone, the festival would not be possible."


Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.


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