A side of the blues with your barbecue?

Stewart OksenhornThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado
Stewart Oksenhorn/The Aspen TimesSinger Bettye Lavette performs a free concert Sunday, Aug. 29 at the base of Aspen Mountain, in the Big Aspen BBQ Block Party.

ASPEN – Magnificent as it is, barbecue doesn’t stand well on its own. What would a rack of ribs be without cole slaw, baked beans, cornbread, greens, a big ol’ big ol’ pile of mac & cheese, a few varieties of potato, peach cobbler – and the blues?Yes, the blues are as integral a part of the barbecue experience as any edible side, a fact which the folks behind the Big Aspen BBQ Block Party seem to recognize. The big sister event, the Big Apple BBQ Block Party, has always featured a music component, leaning toward the blues. In fact, the barbecue joint behind the Block Parties, New York’s Blue Smoke, is attached to a music venue, the Jazz Standard. The jazz featured at the club seems to fit well with the restaurant’s upscale take on barbecue. But that’s a bit like serving truffle-infused orechiette with gorgonzola with brisket – good, but mismatched.Here in Aspen, for the first go-round of the Big Aspen BBQ Block Party, we’re getting the real deal – nothing but the blues to go with the barbecue.The music lineup opens at noon on Saturday with Big Daddy Lee & the King Bees, a mighty local outfit led by singer-guitarist Lee Hollowell that has become a regional draw. Jimmy Thackery, formerly the frontman with the Washington, D.C. legends the Nighthawks, makes his first Aspen appearance in ages, with his current group, the Drivers, at 2:15 p.m. The day closes with Otis Taylor, a Boulder musician who spices up his blues with touches of banjo and cello, country and jazz. His latest album, “Clovis People Vol. 3,” released in May, is a typically wide-ranging outing, getting at the rural, urban and even African roots of the blues.Sunday’s sounds begin at noon with Colorado’s Tempa & the Tantrums. Bettye LaVette, an extraordinary soul-blues vocalist with a captivating stage presence, comes on at 2:15 p.m. LaVette’s latest album, “Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook,” is heavy on familiar tunes from outside the blues realm (Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here”; Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” the Who’s “Love, Reign O’er Me”), but done with her signature soul sensibility.Closing down the party on Sunday is Lil’ Ed & the Blues Imperials. Guitarist Ed Williams may be short, but as “Full Tilt,” released this week, demonstrates, he is big on sound, turning out Chicago-style electric blues.


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