There's an attitude to blues music.
"It has that bite of what folks have come to recognize in rock and roll," said Megan Boyer, lead singer of the Columbia-based Megan Boyer Band.
Boyer's band had fans on their feet during the Blues in the Park festival Sunday at Memorial Park. The event is an annual fundraiser for the MO Blues Association, which uses the money to provide music education in area schools. Admission was free, but money was raised through donations and merchandise sales.
Becky Fredrickson, president of MO Blues Association, said the organization was hoping to raise approximately $2,000 for its Blues in the Schools Program. She said the organization is still working out which schools to visit, but Thomas Jefferson Middle School and Lewis and Clark Middle School are in the running.
Blues in the Park was held in conjunction with Porchfest for a third year. Fredrickson said the partnership began as an accident, but both events benefit from the additional foot traffic.
"Our goal is to preserve blues because blues is a truly original, American genre of music," she said. "This kind of spreads the word, and you get a pretty good taste of what blues sounds like and what it has evolved into today."
In addition to the Megan Boyer Band, GrajMahal and Buddha Blue performed at the Memorial Park Pavilion.
Fred Sandbothe and Ruth Withers hit the dance floor soon after the first notes rang out. The beat was undeniable, Sandbothe said.
"It's uplifting, most of it," he said.
Mitch Bouche and his wife, Chris, have been attending the festival for years. They returned Sunday armed with lawn chairs.
Bouche said he began listening to blues music after receiving a Stevie Ray Vaughan cassette tape in the 1990s. Before then, it was strictly rock and roll, he said.
"It's just the sound, it's just the attitude," Bouche said of his love for the genre.
"I wish there was more activity in the blues sphere," he continued. "I think this is a great area for music and people are missing out on it if they're not actively participating."
Boyer, a Jefferson City native, said she's always been a fan of the genre, partly because it suits her voice well and partly because she could always tune into a blues show on KJLU, Lincoln University's campus radio station.
Chords and chord progression don't vary much from song to song, Boyer said, so it's up to the musicians to tell the story.
"There is a certain attitude to it and that is appealing," she said. "It's got a lot of soul and it's got some really good moxie."
During Sunday's concert, Boyer performed music from Big Mama Thornton -- who wrote "Hound Dog," popularized by Elvis Presley -- and Sister Rosetta Tharpe, who popularized gospel music with an electric guitar.
Fans often enjoy the familiarity of blues music, Boyer said. Blues was foundational for several other genres, like rock and roll, country and jazz, and its beats can be heard in funk, soul and hip hop music.
"It's this wonderful stew of American music and (blues) is a primary ingredient in that," Boyer said.
Boyer, who has been involved with the Blues in the Schools Program, said it teaches students about the foundation of blues and how the genre is a cornerstone of American music. Students learn about music history and get hands-on experience using music to share emotion, she said, "plus, it's fun for them."
She recalled one year she asked students to write about something that made them feel blue.
"There was this kid just mournfully singing about how the cafeteria had served hamburgers twice that week," Boyer said with a laugh. "For them, that is a very real, tangible, sad experience, I'm sure."
"It gives them a way to channel creativity and emotions and things like that, which is what has drawn folks to this music for years and years and years," she added.