A double dose of bluegrass, from foot-stomping tunes to soulful melodies, will kick off this year's "Rhythm on the River" concert series in downtown Columbus.
Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers and Flatt Lonesome will headline the opening show, which begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 1, in Bicentennial Park, 233 S. Civic Center Drive, on the Scioto Mile.
Admission to the concerts, produced by the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department, is free. Food and beverages will be available for purchase, beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Mullins, the banjo player for the Radio Ramblers, said the audience can expect a variety of bluegrass styles -- up-tempo, ballads, gospel and storytelling.
"It's not just knee-slapping and toe-tapping, it's more than that," said Mullins, whose band is promoting its latest release, "The Story We Tell."
Mullins is a native Ohioan who owns Real Roots radio stations in three counties: Clinton, Greene and Preble. He also serves as an on-air personality.
"The two go hand-in-hand very well," Mullins said of his band and radio stations. "Thankfully, the listening audience is what launched the Radio Ramblers."
Mullins, 52, said he has been playing the banjo since he was 14 and first performed at 17.
He said the Radio Ramblers have played in 35 states, plus Canada and several countries in Europe, but he looks forward to coming to Columbus for "Rhythm on the River."
"Columbus is a good bluegrass town," he said. "Columbus has a lot of bluegrass history."
Mullins praised Flatt Lonesome, a young band from Alabama, for its talented singers, musicians and songwriters.
"They are one of the strongest vocal groups in bluegrass," he said.
Bluegrass is one of the most enduring forms of musical expression in the United States, Mullins said.
"It's roots music, real music," he said. "There's nothing to hide behind."
Nancy Colvin, a spokeswoman for the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department, said the Scioto Mile presents a pleasant backdrop for the concerts.
" 'Rhythm on the River' is really the best of all worlds when it comes to summer concerts," Colvin said. "Sitting under the stars in Bicentennial Park and enjoying performances from nationally acclaimed artists with friends in family is the perfect way to spend an evening."
For details about the concert series, go to sciotomile.com/events-calendar/rhythm-on-the-river.