Saturday, September 18, 2010

Westport CT BBQ

Above, everyone enjoyed music and good food at last year’s Blues Views and BBQ. This year’s event will be held Sept. 24-26 in downtown Westport.- Contributed photo

By Mary Golota
Summer and smoke: Westport’s third annual down-home Blues, Views, & BBQ Festival once again celebrates the best of the blues and barbecue. The Festival takes place September 24 through the 26 at both the Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts and the grounds of the Westport Public Library.

This year Rick Browne, celebrity chef and host of PBS Barbecue America and author of a book of the same name, will speak at the Westport Library, demonstrate master griller recipes, and participate in the Festival’s Pro-Am Invitational “Throwdown” competition, in which amateur teams compete against the pros. Browne will also be signing books both days and mentoring the Kids Q competition to encourage budding chefs.

Sponsored by the Westport Downtown Merchants Association, the Festival will benefit its partners, the Levitt Pavilion, the Westport Library, the Westport Women’s Club Food Closet, Builders Beyond Borders, and other community charities.

All competitions will be judged by the Kansas City Barbecue Society, the country’s premier BBQ organization, according to Bob LeRose, president of the Merchants Association, founder of the Festival, and owner of BobbyQ’s Barbecue & Grill in Westport. He said that the Festival is a “big community event that has grown every year.”

LeRose said “this year, along with barbecue, we’ve opened up the fest to include anything that is smoked, grilled, wood-fired, or slow-cooked. We’re promoting barbecue and outdoor cooking styles to people of all ages who love to cook.”

Preceding the Pro-Am face-off, the Pro-Invitational grilling contest will feature “six top professional teams from the area (certified pit-masters) grilling, smoking, and barbecuing in a winner-take-all contest,” said LeRose. All adult competitions showcase ribs, chicken, or chef’s choice of meat.

In the Cookin’ for a Cause competition, teams of 2 to 4 local amateur participants prepare their favorite recipes. Participants bring their own grills or other equipment and ingredients, and are judged by the Kansas City Barbecue Society rules.

The Kids Q will feature competitive teams in the 8 to 11 and 12 to 15 age groups. Teams of two to four kids, supervised by an adult, will compete in cooking burgers, hot dogs, or chef’s choice recipes for trophies and prizes.

Friday night will kick start the Festival with a benefit concert starring the Blues Traveler band headlining at 8 p.m. in the Levitt Pavilion. The Steve Palmer Band will open the show for Blues Traveler.

In addition to Blues Traveler, 11 blues bands and rock performers, both local and national, will be playing all day Saturday and Sunday at the Pavilion. Suzanne Meeker, a member of the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Blues Society, said that the Festival has “a really good lineup and stronger national acts than last year.”

The Blues Society will have a tent at the Festival, selling t-shirts and CDs and also featuring Vorkan, an artist duo that paints as they listen to music. Meeker said that it will be “nice to have a chance to come to Fairfield County and talk to people here.” The Society is located in Hartford, and its mission is to “try to keep the blues alive in Connecticut,” said Meeker.

Crispin Cioe, Westport resident, saxophonist, and founder of the Uptown Horns, works as a studio and touring musician and has booked bands with LeRose since the Festival began.

The Uptown Horns, who have toured with the Rolling Stones and Elvis Costello, will stage a revue on Sunday at 4 p.m. starring blues guitarist Debbie Davies; Christine Ohlman, a singer who has performed with the Saturday Night Live band; and Joe Louis Walker, winner of the W.C. Handy award for blues album of the year. The band will play separately and together with the revue.

Other Sunday performers will be the SaRon Crenshaw Band based in New York; Dan Stevens who plays guitar, drums, cymbals and harmonica; Connecticut R&B guitarist George Baker; and Charlie Karp and The Namedroppers from Westport.

On Saturday, the lineup includes Manny and the Mojomatics, a Fairfield County band; Eran Troy Danner out of New Haven; Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials from Chicago; Black and White with Dave Howard from Boston; Bryan Lee and The Blues Power Band based in New Orleans; and Popa Chubby from upstate New York and internationally known.

Cioe said that the Festival aimed for “an eclectic mix of local, national, and international bands . . . with great musicians and acts that may be just a bit under the radar.”

In addition to the music and cooking competitions, family and kids’ activities will include seven inflatables, a mechanical bull, Fairfield’s School of Rock, Yankee Paintball Target Practice, face-painting, magicians and balloon artists, and movies at the library.

The food court will include Jamaican jerked meat, Whole Foods burgers and Portobello mushrooms, grilled pizza, kettle corn, Yumnuts, and Michele’s pies.

A three-day pass that includes the Blues Traveler concert is $60 per person; daily tickets are $10; and a two-day weekend pass is $15. On Saturday, the Festival is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. All concerts will be in the Pavilion, and parking is available in the Imperial Avenue parking lot. More information can be found on

Tickets can be purchased online at, by phone at 203-226-7600, and at the Pavilion gate. 

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