The Long Blue Tail – Columbia, MO

While many of my friends are focusing on the Vice Presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis, I hope that some of them get a chance to visit Crown Candy Kitchen while they are there. I wrote a little bit about St. Louis when I started my Long Blue Tail series.

However, I skipped over Columbia when I started. However, my wrong turn down to Lebanon, MO led me to circle back around to Columbia, and the timing seems about right. This weekend, there will be the second annual Roots ‘N Blues ‘N BBQ Festival.

One thing the festival has done is set up a website, My Story, My Roots. It is based on They’ve posted a few videos there and have a play list of various bands. Not a lot of people have joined the community, but through them, I found the Megan Boyer Band, whose MySpace Page, which also has some good music. I’m streaming her music on my PC as I start writing about Columbia. When she was asked what her favorite BBQ food is she said Cole Slaw, noting that she is a vegetarian.

Reading more about Megan lead me to CoMoMusic. This is a site for musicians from CoMo, Columbia, MO, to connect. Reading through this, I found Bob Hague. Bob doesn’t blog that much. Since last May, he’s put up around 14 blog entries. His most recent post is an experimentation with macro photography, including some intriguing close up images of an old saxophone. He writes about once, when he received “about 3 feet of old LPs”, and talks about the biking the Missouri-Kansas-Texas (MKT) Trail down to the Katy Trail, parts of the which are still flooded due to the remnants of Hurricane Ike.

I stopped over on Twitter to see whom else I could find that would give me some insights into Columbia. Bob Martin, who writes a blog, The Teacher Teacher, moved to Columbia three years ago. His portrayal of Columbia matches the impression I’ve been forming. BBQ is an important part of the town and BBQ aficionados are split between the Kansas City saucy style of BBQ and the Memphis dry rub style. He writes that he secretly covets good barbecue and is “on a quest to find the perfect biscuits and gravy”. Yet, I don’t know what type of barbecue he favors, although he does speak very highly of Spicewine Ironworks and their sauces.

Spicewine’s site states,

Whether you're a weekend backyard BBQer or a competitive BBQ Chef, we all strive to produce delicious, award-winning BBQ. As competitive chefs ourselves, we wanted to build a commercial quality smoker at a price that everyone can afford.

I wonder how many of the teams competing at Roots ‘N Blues ‘N BBQ Festival will be using some of Spicewine’s equipment.

Bob also describe himself as “a wanna be runner”, which might not go well with being a barbecue fan but may have placed him on some of the same trails that Bob Hague bikes on. Bob Martin did note that Columbia has “a parks and trails system that is second to none”.

William Least Heat-Moon taught writing, and Bob Martin teaches teachers to make better use of technology. I asked Bob how he saw technology changing writing. He noted that a ‘lot of schools still block access to things like blogs and wikis in the classroom’. My hope, is that as I explore the long blue tail, I’ll find good examples of people writing compelling blogs about their localities, it may be a bit of a search. Bob suggested speaking with folks at the University of Missouri Journalism School in Columbia, but it is time to move on. Nonetheless, if you know of good blogs writing about the local flavor of our country, drop me a note, and I’ll see if I can visit them on my virtual travels.

So, now, I am back on track with Least Heat-Moon’s travels, and expect to stop in Lebanon, IL next before heading to Grayville, IL an on to Kentucky. Who knows what I’ll find next.

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