Veteran musicians join forces to open Festival Jam 2017 – Salina Journal (subscription)

Recommended by Ronald Stiles, Published on June 8th, 2017

Four veteran musicians plan to set a good tone for Festival Jam 2017.

Formed about nine months ago, Backwater Mafia will perform a high-powered, 15-minute set combining blues, southern rock and contemporary country with a rock edge.

Were going to come out there and get the festival rockin, said Clark Voodoo13 Cumbo, a guitarist for the Salina-based band.

The bands drummer, Marty Ruthless Hoppock, said he and his fellow musicians will strive to create a good mood in the crowd as the opening band at this years Festival Jam, the traditional Thursday night kickoff to the Smoky Hill River Festival.

Were well-rehearsed with what were doing, so it should come off well, Hoppock said.

Backwater Mafia is scheduled to begin its set at 6 p.m. today on Eric Stein Stage at Oakdale Park, although festivalgoers who want to see the Jam from the beginning probably should be in place by 5:45, as things often kick off about 5:50 p.m.

In case any festival veteran needs a reminder, Festival Jam is a showcase of 16 local and regional bands performing in a variety of genres, from rock to country to blues. Each band performs a 15-minute set, then clears the stage for the next band.

The longtime festival event, sponsored by S.M. Hanson Music and owner Steve Hanson, traditionally draws more than 10,000 people to Oakdale Park.

I have a friend who graduated the same year I did in 1980, and almost every year since then shes specifically taken time off her job just to come to Festival Jam, said Cumbo, who has worked in sales at S.M. Hanson Music for about six years. For me, its all about seeing bands and musicians I dont ordinarily get to see a lot.

In his many years as a guitarist and vocalist, Cumbo figured hes performed at Festival Jam five or six times, each with a different band. Cumbo, Hoppock and the bands other guitarist, Tim Sick Sickler, an area truck driver, previously played in another local band and decided to remain together after that band broke up.

A month after the other band broke up I contacted Clark and wanted to do something again, said Hoppock, who in his day job works in the chemical department at Power Vac in Salina. We just had to find a bass player.

Cumbo found a bassist in another musician friend, Jim The Exterminator Countryman, who worked as a supervisor for Orkin Pest & Termite Control.

Jim came in the store, and I asked him if he was playing with anybody now, Cumbo said. He said no, so I asked if hed like to be in a band with us, and he said yes.

Cumbo said what sets Backwater Mafia apart from other local bands is experience Hoppock is the youngest member of the band at age 41 and Cumbo, who is 55, has been playing professionally since he was 15. All four band members also sing lead vocals.

The band also tries to find songs people have heard of but arent played live that often, Hoppock said.

Well do Backwater by the Meat Puppets or Stealin by Uriah Heep, he said. Songs that are on classic radio but dont get much play. Once people hear the song, though, theyll recognize it.

Band members plan to perform three songs in which Cumbo, Hoppock and Sickler each sing lead vocal. Although theyre keeping their lineup a secret until showtime, theyve had months to pick their best material and plan to take advantage of their opportunity.

Just because I work at (Hansons) doesnt mean I automatically get to play, Cumbo said. Everyone has to send in audition tapes and bios. Were just honored and privileged to open up the Jam this year, and we plan to set the stage for the rest of the night.

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Veteran musicians join forces to open Festival Jam 2017 - Salina Journal (subscription)

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