Carbondale Blues and BBQ: Homespun music and fare |

Carbondale Blues and BBQ: Homespun music and fare

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Contributed photoJohnny Ohnmacht, frontman for the Johnny O. Band, plays a recent Keystone festival. Johnny brings his band home to Carbondale to play the KDNK Blues and BBQ fest Saturday, Aug. 22, including a reunion with one-time teacher Howard Berkman.

CARBONDALE – Master teacher and former protege turned master himself will be together again on stage at Saturday’s KDNK Blues and BBQ fest on the 4th Street Plaza in downtown Carbondale.

Headliners for the annual KDNK fundraiser will be Howard Berkman and Big Bottom, taking the stage at 5:15 p.m., followed by the Johnny O. Band at 7 p.m. A dueling “Crossroads Jam” featuring Berkman and John Ohnmacht on stage together will close out the night.

“Howard is a blues master, and even taught Johnny O some licks when he was about 16,” KDNK General Manager Steve Skinner said. “It will be fun for them, and for the people in town to see. I’m really excited to get Howard back here.”

The Blues and BBQ fest will run from 2-9 p.m. Saturday in downtown Carbondale, featuring live blues and roots music from Frank Martin at 3 p.m., and Dan Sadowskywith Frank Peters at 4 p.m., followed by Berkman and Ohnmacht’s bands.

KDNK will also be serving up a local barbecue featuring Jacober Brothers local beef, an award-winning slaw recipe, luau-style pork, barbecue chicken, Olathe sweet corn, hot dogs, and locally-made desserts. Tommyknocker Brewery will be providing the beer.

There will also be face painting by Amber Sparkles, juggling with Jammin’ Jim, a ferris wheel and other childrens’ activities. Admission is free.

In years past, the one-day festival has typically featured a top blues band from the Front Range. The Johnny O. Band and Berkman’s band certainly fit that bill, but both have deep local roots, too.

“It just kind of worked out that way,” Skinner said. “We have some great blues bands right here, and just wanted to get some local people up on stage.”

Berkman came to the Roaring Fork Valley in 1977 after honing his musical talents in his hometown of Chicago. He lived and played in numerous bands in Carbondale for 23 years, before moving to Paonia in 2001.

These days, he’s playing, composing, teaching and training …, “trying to give my best to the great gift the great spirit has given me,” Berkman writes on his website []. John Ohnmacht was born in Aspen and has been entertaining Colorado fans for the past 20 years. His former band in Boulder, Band du Jour, toured nationally and internationally for six years, releasing a CD called “Feel The Sun,” according to a biography at his band’s website [].

After Band du Jour broke up, Ohnmacht joined up with the 12: BarFlies, a blues band in his hometown of Carbondale. After a year, he headed back to Boulder and started his own group.

The Johnny O. Band has played more than 300 shows during the past two years, including two tours in Europe, and is a regular at several regional festivals.

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