In addition to some of the best barbeque around, visitors at the upcoming King City Barbeque Showdown also can expect to hear some of the best blues, country and rock-and-roll music in the area.
The Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce and Rend Lake College have partnered to organize the second annual Showdown, which will be held Friday, June 11, and Saturday, June 12, at the Rend Lake College MarketPlace in Mt. Vernon. Barbeque specialists from around the country will compete for $7,500 in winnings during the event.
Other activities scheduled for the event, which is sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society, include a "Kids-Q," which is a barbeque competition for youngsters; the Magic Midway Carnival; Harley-Davidson Bike Show; a family area; and a beer garden.
With all of this excitement, there still is room for another main attraction -- music. Several well-known, high-powered bands will be performing during the event. They are:
The Crave -- This Mt. Vernon-based band is a group of "weekend warriors," quality musicians and best friends. Everyone in the band has jobs, wives and children, yet they manage to make time to continue playing. This rock band is made up of drummer John Scrivner, guitarist Jerrel Keen, bassist Jeff Campbell and keyboardist Mark Sheets.
Richard "Rip Lee" Pryor Blues Band -- The son of legendary harmonica player Snooky Prior, music has always pumped through Rip Lee’s veins. According to critics, Pryor is innovative. In songs on his 1998 debut album, Pitch a Boogie Woogie, Pryor coaxes everything from wobbly ululations to raw shrieks from his instrument.
Wild Horses -- "Frontier Free-For-All" is what the band has called its show for years and it basically describes the lives of its members in general. According to the group’s Web site, "A Wild Horses show is an anything goes party where there is no line between the band and the fan. Our ‘herd,’ as we call them, becomes as much a part of our show as we are." The band has been playing for more than 12 years and continues to do so with about 200 dates per year across the country. The band writes most of its own songs and even had one recorded by legendary country music man George Jones.
Wild Horses is made up of Angela Rae (lead singer), Michael Mahler (lead guitar, vocals), Steve Kellough (bass, vocals) and Ralph "Thundersticks" McCauley (drums).
The Deep Cuts -- In keeping with its name, this band consists of members Anthony "Switchblade" Sherrod (bass), Joshua "Razorblade" Stewart (saxophone, lead vocals), "Dr." Mike "Butcherknife" James (guitar, vocals) and Lee "Pocketknife" Williams (drummer). This Clarksdale, Miss., blues band wrote and performed "Every Goodbye Don’t Mean I’m Gone" for the film Last of the Mississippi Jukes, which was accepted into the prestigious Sundance Film Festival.
Pennsylvania Slim Blues Band -- "Pennsylvania Slim" Brian Melching leads the band on vocals, guitar and harp. Originally from the Pittsburgh, Penn., area, Melching moved to St. Louis in the early 1980s. He plays at such places in the region as the Soulard District, Chase Park Plaza, Ritz Carlton, Casino Queen, BB’s Jazz and Blues, Mike and Min’s, and Bobo’s Pizza in Mt. Vernon. His talent as a Delta blues singer is renowned in the St. Louis area and he has been featured in St. Louis Magazine and The Riverfront Times.
Big Al and the Heavyweights -- "Big Al and the Heavyweights bring some of the best of all blues traditions to what they do, and what they do is party," said Dan Akroyd of the popular House of Blues radio show, on which their song "Hey, Hey Nanette" was featured as the Blues Breaker of the Week. The band also has appeared multiple times on the "Emeril Live" cooking show on its Cajun-, Creole- and Mardi Gras-themed episodes. Big Al and the Heavyweights’ mix of blues and New Orleans rumba-boogie will please those looking for a blast of Crescent City-flavored, good-time party music.
Bandleader Big Al Lauro has been fronting his own band since 1992. Big Al and the Heavyweights is an unconventional original music band that hails from New Orleans and has recorded four studio albums: That Ain’t Nice; Hey, Hey Mardi Gras; Live Crawfish!; and Late Night Gumbo Party.
Soulard Blues Band -- It is not every band that has a mission beyond "just steady giggin’," but then again, as one of the longest-lasting acts around, the Soulard Blues Band is not just any band. As bassist and sole remaining founder Art Dwyer says, "Our mission always is just to leave things a little better than we found them." Dwyer formed the St. Louis-based Soulard Blues band in 1978, and they are still tearing up the town one show at a time.
The schedule of performances for the second annual King City Barbeque Showdown is: Friday, June 11 -- The Crave (5-7 p.m.), Rip Lee Pryor Blues Band (7-9 p.m.) and Wild Horses (9 p.m.-midnight); Saturday, June 12 -- Deep Cuts (noon-3 p.m.), Pennsylvania Slim Blues Band (4:30-6:30 p.m.), Big Al and the Heavyweights (7:15-9:15 p.m.) and Soulard Blues Band (10 p.m.-midnight).
For more information about the bands or the Barbeque Showdown, contact event Coordinator Cindy Hoard at (618) 242-4338, or Brenda Malone, Executive Director of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, at (618) 242-5725.