By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal
From morning parades to evening fireworks, Fourth of July celebrations are all day Wednesday across Northeast Mississippi.
A few celebrations start this weekend, but the big party is saved for Tupelo’s 26th annual All-America City 4th of July Picnic in the Park in Ballard Park.
The festival includes food, children’s events, a “Backyard Giveaway” and, of course, music and fireworks.
Bonfire Orchestra, a band from Tupelo, opens the show at 5 p.m., and the Tupelo Symphony Orchestra and Chorus closes the evening at 8:15 p.m., followed by fireworks at 9:15 p.m.
But the band in between, A Band Called River, is new to Tupelo. The classic rock band, which got its start in Michigan, takes the stage at 6:30 p.m. at Ballard Park.
“We have a lot of fun doing classic rock, even contemporary rock, even country, mixed in with our faith,” said A Band Called River member Barry Steed in a phone interview with the Journal. “We don’t compromise the music, but we don’t compromise our lifestyle.”
That is to say, the members of A Band Called River make sure their shows are family-friendly. In fact, they have to be. The group got its start performing for NASCAR audiences, so crowds of all ages have seen them at race tracks from Talladega to Chicagoland Speedway.
That’s led to a few interesting run-ins with other bands. For instance, A Band Called River has, as Steed said, “shared the same ticket schedule as Merle Haggard and (rock band) the Sick Puppies.”
No matter who they perform before or after, the group sticks to its roots.
“We’re pro-God, pro-family, pro-country. We honor our military at our live shows,” Steed said.
The band picks songs that audiences can sing along with.
“Whenever we go to the south we load up on Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Allman Brothers Band, Marshall Tucker Band. We also enjoy 3 Doors Down, and then we also do what I call the ‘guitar hero’ stuff from Guns N Roses to Bob Seger,” he said.
A Band Called River is excited to perform for a Tupelo crowd for the first time.
“We hope we can turn into a big family for an hour and a half,” Steed said, “and we can come out with a little bit more pride in our country and a little bit more hope for tomorrow.”
Celebrations in Tupelo, Northeast Mississippi
• 26th annual All-America City Picnic in the Park
What: Indepdence Day celebration featuring fireworks, music, food, kids’ events and “Backyard Giveaway”
When: Music begins at 5 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Ballard Park
Info: (662) 841-6440 or tupeloparkrec.com
Picnic in the Park schedule
5 p.m. – Bonfire Orchestra
6:30 p.m. – A Band Called River
8:15 p.m. – Tupelo Symphony Orchestra and Chorus
9:15 p.m. – Fireworks
• More Fourth of July Celebrations
– July Fourth Celebration: Friday, First Methodist Church, Baldwyn. Free. (662) 281-9278
– Houston Homecoming: 4:45 p.m. Saturday, east side of Courthouse Square, Houston. Parade, children’s vents, music by Community Choir, Danny Watkins, Bobby Hood, Heaven’s Highway and Bonfire Orchestra. Free.
– Freedom Fest: 2 p.m. Saturday, Smithville. (662) 651-4063
– Brewer community parade: 9 a.m. Wednesday. (662) 767-3545, 767-9707.
– Jacinto July Fourth Festival: Wednesday, Jacinto Courthouse, Jacinto. Candidate speaking, arts and crafts, food, more. (662) 286-8662