Thursday
Aug012013

Stars Come Out For BBQ All Stars' CD

Ace Frehely scorched some leads for "Never Too Hot" on the new CD.

CC and Ace after recording in southern California. 

 

 


That's John Regan pointing at "Lil' Squealer" with drummer Andrew Caturano and keyboardist, Harley Fine after we recorded "Wild About You Baby" and "Baby Back Ribs"

 

Tony Mercadante (he's playing the stand-up bass in the video also) plays with multi-million selling songwriter, Chip Taylor ("Wild Thing") and was Howard Stern's bassist in Pig Vomit. (I guess it's perfect for a BBQ show, huh?) They were adored. Andrew was their drummer as well. 

Taken when Raw Recording was under construction. You should see it now.

 

King of the Twang, Matt Rae, after he laid down leads for "Chicken Ain't Nothing But A Bird" and "Crazy 'Bout My Bacon". You MUST see him play "Frankenstein" on an Esquire!

Thursday
May162013

BBQ King Steven Raichlen's Blog

He is a major BBQ presence: TV, books, web and he is all about the All Stars. He wrote a wonderful article about the video and myself here:

http://barbecuebible.com/2013/05/14/the-sound-of-barbecue/#.UZN8RZU5ulI

Thanks, Steven!

Sunday
Aug192012

Huntsville to the Smokeys

OK, so, I've been out of touch. That's what happens when you enter the Great Smokeys. I left Decatur, AL and spent a night in Huntsville. You see, I am a nerdy, Baby Boomer rocket geek. I can name all seven Mercury astronauts and many more in the NASA program. So when the time came to stop and see the US Space and Rocket Center at the true center of the Space program, well, I was first on live that Thursday AM. Major gawking at the Redstone project and the Von Braun exhibit.

Then I headed through Chattanooga and into the mountains of North Carolina. I tell everyone it's the Great Smokeys but technically it is Nantahala National Forest: west of Asheville and just south of Cherokee...tucked in that little piece of NC that is bordered by Tennessee, South Carolina and Georgia. In short, heaven.

 

My objective was the Mountain High Music and BBQ Festival in Franklin, NC on Aug 10 & 11. So in loooking for a hotel,  I saw some vacation homes up in the mountains within striking distance and just a little more than the cost of a hotel near the population (like where I have been staying all week.) The Cabins at Long Branch were a welcomed respite from the over-franchised world of the interstate exit. In fact, after I found the little dirt road up the final hill in Topton, NC, I had neither cel coverage nor internet wifi, and the Dish was down, so no TV. As it turned out, this was actually the spiritual center of my travels. I was able to recenter and even write a song on the back porch rockers. (Spoiler alert: I was able to get wifi, at a hot dog stand-cum-Airstream trailer half-way down the mountain.) Check out my back porch:

Then I spent the next two days at Franklin's Mountain High Music and BBQ Festival, which was a combination of carnival (with no rides), battle of the bands (with country and bluegrass) and BBQ RV's and trailers as far as the eye could see, all cooking and a smoking. I have incredible footage that I am having trouble importing at the moment but, trust me, you will see folks from all over the south competing for the cash prizes and serving up their secret recipes for pork butt, ribs and everything else. 

A nice (long) video of last year's event:

 

Saturday afternoon I was back on the highway and heading across NC to Clayton, just south east of Raleigh and Charlie's BBQ and Grille.

Thursday
Aug092012

Sweet Home (and BBQ) Alabama

The Big Bob Gibson people treated me wonderfully. Manager Jeff Hess had replied in an email to "Come on down." So after meandering my way from Muscle Shoals through northern Mississippi, I hit bustling Decatur Alabama, in an upsurge due to new Big Oil and aerospace settling there. 
I arrived at BBG's just after lunch and the parking lot was still full...and that smell. I ordered a pulled pork sandwich, Don style...that's the way owner Don McLemeore likes it - half dark and half white pork (and by dark they mean the outside cooked part of the shoulder.) Hmmm. They plop coleslaw on top and squirt the whole thing with their tangy vinegar bbq sauce. You can't find this type of food in NY or LA, that's for sure.
Then I got my video camera out and Jeff took me on a tour of the back...with their huge smokers with hickory logs aflame. I got some keeper shots for the music video. But the BEST was when the waitresses all gathered around and lip-synced to "Bop Bop BBQ" in the song's chorus. They were the best. A big thanks to Jeff and Don for all their help. 
Don McLemore and mgr. Jeff Hess 
Homey feel, just after the lunch rush.
Now, off to the Mountain High Music & BBQ Festival, high in the Great Smokeys of western North Carolina.
Video from three months before the plane crash. Even though they were from Jacksonville, Lynrd Skynrd are royalty in this state. (note that they mention Muscle Shoals in the lyrics, where the LP was recorded.)
Wednesday
Aug082012

Memphis Shrines: Ribs, Graceland and Rock 'n' Roll

The morning started put early...I had to visit Graceland. You know, just to check that box. For those who haven't, it is a theme park: lines, rip off prices and merchandise everywhere. But the good news is that they did a great job with the little headphone players and if you wanted, you can stop in many places to hear more detailed info. The historical exhibits were as good as any museum, with great, never-seen-before pictures and explanations. i guess the hugeness of the man and his career can bee experienced in the "Trophy Room" where every gold record is on the walls. The rest of the mansion was chintzy, nouveau riche excess. And being a recovered alcoholic, I felt a wave of sadness for a great person who missed the lifeboat experience that I got. The King is still very dead.


Then it was lunch at the venerable Rendezvous. I had emailed John Vergos, son of the founder, Charlie, and he was all for me taping in his place. The back alley entrance gave it the feel of a secret speakeasy but once you made it down the stairs, well, you were in a different type of heaven. You see, everywhere I have visited, the usual celebrity pictures were all over the walls. Here, they had Bear Bryant on the wall. John Daly also, but the Bear is in a class all by himself.

Then the staff showed me their southern hospitality. From the manager, Bobby Ellis, to my waiter to the rib master, Henry Morris, it was an experienced not to be missed. 

John Vergos gave me a few minutes out of his busy day (he's also on the City Council) to talk how it all started. His Dad saw the beauty in serving ribs years ago when the industry basically tossed them away. His dry rub is world-famous. Says John, "You can slop all the sauce you want on after you tried the dry rub, but I'm betting that you won't." Just off Beale Street and all the hoopla, the Rendezvous is as much a shrine in Memphis as Graceland.

But my trip is not only about BBQ. It is all about that place where music and BBQ intersect. So as I make my way to North Carolina and the weekend's performances, I had to point the car through Mississippi to Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Here you'll find the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio. (Listen). With much of the original gear and set up, I am considering recording here in December, where Aretha, Wilson Pickett, the Staples, Bob Seger, the Stones, Paul Simon, Traffic.......and on and on.....have recorded. 

This is the control room that you see in "Gimme Shelter" where the band is listening to a playback of "Wild Horses".  Now onto Huntsville, NASA and more BBQ.