River City Roots Festival

Rio Church, 2, is swung in the air by his dad, Mikey Church, while they dance to the Salamanders during the 2018 River City Roots Festival in downtown Missoula. The Salamanders, a rock group based in Missoula, played a set targeted towards the small children in the audience.

Bluegrass, newgrass, alt-country, blues and other shades of Americana will hit the streets of downtown Missoula for the 14th annual River City Roots Festival.

The lineup, announced on Wednesday night, will be headlined by the Honey Island Swamp Band of New Orleans and Leftover Salmon, a Colorado progressive bluegrass band.

The free, two-day event, scheduled for Friday-Saturday, Aug. 23-24, drew 15,000 people last year to a few closed-off blocks for music, food trucks, drinks, art and more.

"We've got a successful formula here, and it works and people enjoy it, and I don't see any reason to mess around with it," said Ellen Buchanan, who leads the music selection for the festival.

"I try to mix up the genres somewhat," Buchanan said. "We do a lot of newgrass-type groups, most of which don't do anything that resembles bluegrass, but they've got the right instruments for it. I obviously stay with the Americana vein," she said, but there are typically other kinds of roots music to diversify the bill: it might be reggae, blues, New Orleans funk or jazz to "introduce people to music that they might not hear otherwise."

The Honey Island Swamp Band, a New Orleans band that moved to San Francisco for several years after Hurricane Katrina, will headline on Friday.

AllMusic.com said of their record "Cane Sugar," that "one can't help but feel that this is Americana done up in true Louisiana style, a Southern rock bayou gumbo that makes this a very special album, one that hits all the cylinders, pulls all the right strings, and then heads straight for the open-all-night dance floor."

On Saturday night, the headliner is Leftover Salmon, a Colorado band that's been mixing bluegrass, Cajun and Zydeco for 30 years now. The group last played in Missoula at the 2011 Roots Fest.

Their appearance here is billed as an anniversary show in honor of those three decades on the road, Buchanan said. Another group playing on Saturday, the Acoustic Syndicate, is marking its 25th anniversary. The North Carolina five-piece falls under that newgrass label, too.

There will be a special set in honor of songwriter Guy Clark, who died in 2016. Two of his longtime collaborators, Shawn Camp and Verlon Thompson, will play a tribute set on Saturday.

Elsewhere, you can hear Ashleigh Flynn and the Riveters, an alt-country band from Portland, Oregon, that recently opened at the Top Hat for Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls; Cascade Crescendo, a newgrass band also from Portland; and the Black Lillies, an East Tennessee high-energy group that hit the main stage at the Red Ants Pants Festival in 2014.

Locals will be present, too: Moneypenny, a Missoula blues band; plus the local kids rock bands; and children's indie-rock act Whizpops.

The festival is still seeking sponsors. The free admission event, produced by the Missoula Downtown Partnership, is billed as the city's "signature event," and held at the end of the summer to welcome back students from the University of Montana.

Here's the schedule:

Friday, Aug. 23

12:30-2 p.m.: Kids rock bands

2:30-4 p.m. Moneypenny

4:30-6 p.m.: Ashleigh Flynn & the Riveters

6:30-8 p.m.: The Black Lillies

8:30-10:30 p.m.: Honey Island Swamp Band

Saturday, Aug. 24

12:30-2 p.m.: The Whizpops

2:30-4 p.m.: Cascade Crescendo

4:30-6 p.m.: “Tribute to an Old Friend” in honor of Guy Glark by Shawn Camp and Verlon Thompson

6:30-8 p.m.: Acoustic Syndicate 25th anniversary show

8:30-10:30 p.m.: Leftover Salmon 30th anniversary show