Texas Barbecue Soundtrack

Clover and Rachel Carroll,  with Matthew Menke on fiddle
Clover and Rachel Carroll, with Matthew Menke on fiddle

Once we knew when and where the big Texas barbecue fandango was to take place, the next issue was to figure out just how much music we could deliver as a soundtrack to all that good Texas eating. We wanted live music at as many events as possible and some definitive Austin sounds for our guests to take home, in hopes that the tunes would evoke memories of the weekend's gustatory delights for years to come. Dawn Orsak of Texas Folklife Resources hooked us up with Mel Davis and the Blues Specialists for our Friday night opening reception. Texas blues and Texas barbecue in East Austin's legendary Victory Grill sounded like a perfect fit. The folks at TFR also provided CDs of a radio series they'd produced called Texas Country Routes and Texas Monthly music writer John Morthland located some rare cassettes of local blues-piano legend Grey Ghost as gifts for our guests. Rhino Records Special Projects Director (and longtime devotee of Texas barbecue) James Austin chipped in a treasured cache of out-of-print Rhino CDs for special prizes: an absolutely appropriate collection of 16 tunes titled I Love Bar-B-Q and one of their stellar Texas music compilations loaded with Western swing and honky-tonk classics. For the Saturday night Southern hospitality soiree in the Threadgill's beer garden, we lined up South Austintatious honky-tonkers the Cornell Hurd Band, on the theory that their particular blend of Western swing and outrageous hilarity would provide a note of levity folks needed after a hard day's eatin' on the barbecue trail.

Serendipity delivered the centerpiece for the weekend soundtrack. Host committee member and Chronicle Food writer MM Pack was listening to KUT's Folkways in her car one Saturday morning and chanced to hear "The Barbecue Song." The tune referred to some of the same historic Central Texas joints included on our tour and Pack realized we had to have it. After checking Folkways' online play list (www.kut.org), she was ultimately able to track down the musicians via their own Web site. Within a matter of days, we had arranged for Clover and Rachel Carroll to make an appearance. The acoustic country roots group hails from the hamlet of Milano and "The Barbecue Song" is a cut from their independent 2001 release, Texas Routes, a collection of roots-based folk music. (Order it at www.cloverandrachel.com.) Clover Carroll plays guitar and provides vocals, his wife Rachel sings lead in addition to playing the acoustic bass, and ace fiddler Matthew Menke rounds out the band. After breakfast on Saturday morning, they'll treat our guests to a short set ending with a rousing rendition of "The Barbecue Song" to whet our appetites for the day ahead.

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