Southern Comfort: Roots N Blues merchandise style

How a music festival is changing the merchandise game.

Every time I attend a live music event, the first thing I do is run to the merch table.

Merch from any festival or concert is a gem in my closet. I can wear the clothing to sleep, to class and even to just hang out.

To put it in better words, I’m a concert T-shirt hoarder.

I know a good-quality shirt when I see one, so when I met up with the merchandise coordinator for the Roots N Blues festival, Jamie Varvaro, I was blown away.

Roots N Blues has a variety of merchandise ranging from a hoodie jacket with the festival’s logo to aprons to insulated canteens.

“We didn’t just make one item that’s gonna be the coolest,” Varvaro says. “They’re all cool.”

Usually at music venues, the artist merchandise is not cheap, and most of the time it’s all 100 percent cotton, meaning it’ll shrink within a matter of washes. Roots N Blues does it differently by having tri-blend T-shirts, creating the perfect festival tee.

If you’re not sure what a tri-blend T-shirt is I’ll break it down for you: Picture the softest most smooth thing you have ever felt, such as a black lab puppy’s coat, multiply that by twenty. These t-shirts are that soft, so soft that they’ll make you rethink the whole Comfort Colors trend.

Besides just the annual festival tee they have two additional T-shirt designs that are just as popular, the guitar pick and the pig. Both of these shirts are available in the tri-blend style, and both symbols reflect the festival’s blend of good old southern food and blues.

When asked why they choose tri-blend, Varvaro says, “I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to that type of thing, so I’m very particular about what we put out there.”

Varvaro further explains that when people are looking at these shirts, the customers are in for a hands-on experience.

Instead of having the shirts hanging up on display and people pointing and picking what shirt they want, Varvaro and his volunteers have each of the shirts available to touch and see more up close.

An added bonus is the special artist tent, where some of the artists from the lineup sign their own merchandise, which you can also find at the main merch booth.

At the merchandise booth, you’ll be able to find the festival's most popular item, the festival shirt. The back of the shirt features a multicolor circle made up of all the acts of the festival.

Varvaro recommends getting the shirt as soon as you can because the 500 they order every year are usually all gone by noon on the festival's last day.

Besides just the T-shirts, make sure to check out the insulated canteen with the festival’s logo on it. It’s the perfect item to carry throughout the week. If you’re over 21, Varvaro says it is the perfect size to hold a beer in since the canteen and beers are both sold in 16 ounces.

“Those people that come from out of town or out of state — we’ve even had some out of country — hopefully they’re going home with something that says they were in Columbia, Missouri,” Varvaro says.

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