Roots N Blues N BBQ head of security offers insight into festival

Bill Clinton, head of security at Roots N Blues, answers questions about the festival.

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As Columbia’s annual Roots N Blues N BBQ festival approaches, Head of Security Bill Clinton is preparing for what will hopefully be another year of success. Now on his tenth year of volunteering to work security for the event, Clinton revealed what exactly the festival is like, both in the crowd and behind the scenes.

MOVE: How did you get involved with the security of Roots N Blues N BBQ?

Clinton: Wow, back in 2008, one of the security committee members asked if I wanted to see the festival for free by only volunteering for a couple of shifts. So I’m into music, I’m into bands anyway, so I thought, yeah, that sounds great. I’ll do security and that’ll get me into the show for free. Plus I’ll get a great seat probably if I’m working stage security, so I did that, and I’ve been coming back ever since.

MOVE: What keeps you coming back every year?

Clinton: Old habits are hard to break, I guess. I don’t have a whole lot of time to volunteer anywhere else in the community, so this is something I can commit to that gives me a chance, like my one opportunity to give back, right? Plus it’s just really good for the community, so it’s a great way to get a little volunteering in, I guess.

MOVE: What’s working security like at the festival?

Clinton: It’s really pretty easy. So there are two sides to it: there’s the artist side and the festival-goer side. Most of the people at the festival, in terms of security, they just want to know who’s playing at what stage at what time, where’s the bar, where can I pop up my wristband and those kinds of things. There’s never any problems at the festival. It’s a totally chill crowd. So that’s that side, and then the artists, […] sometimes they want to come out into the crowd. You’ll escort the artists into the crowd during their set or whatever or you’ll make sure the backstage area is secure. There’s a lot of people back there for various reasons, resupply and all that, and you just make sure that people aren’t getting in their way or interfering with the artists. But it’s really just a bunch of stand around and watch.

MOVE: What’s your favorite part of the festival?

Clinton: I do appreciate all the artists. They all do just a phenomenal job, but really the cool thing about the festival is the vibe and the atmosphere. It’s just really relaxed. It’s really kind of free-flowing, and you really can just go and have a good time and enjoy the atmosphere. And even if that’s not your favorite kind of music, it’s still really good in terms of the performance and the quality of the music, so it’s just a good way to hang, relax.

MOVE: What’s one thing you’d tell festival-goers?

Clinton: Take advantage of the bus; they’ve got [transportation] smoothed out. Park downtown, it’s free parking, so don’t worry about transportation, or ride your bike up there. There’s a bike corral, so take advantage of the ways to get there that the festival has provided. Pop up your wristband before you go and wear comfortable shoes because you’re going to be enjoying [the festival] for a long time. I think it’s just a really cool event. Great food – that’s another thing I’d say. Be prepared to eat there. Don’t eat before you go to the festival, for goodness sakes. I think it’s just a cool thing for Columbia. We have this great big festival that happens right here in Columbia and there are people who are traveling from all across the nation to come to this show and here we are, right downtown basically. So pretty cool.

Edited by Alexandra Sharp | asharp@themaneater.com

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