Smoke and Twang
June is Music + Food Month on Tasting Table.
Sitting down to a mess of low-and-slow cooked brisket in the great outdoors isn't the worst way to spend an afternoon. Doing it while cracking open a cold one and cranking up the Johnny Cash? That might actually be the best way to spend a hot summer day, which is exactly what happens from July 10 to 12 at the Windy City Smokeout in Chicago.
Barbecue devotees go big on smoked meat and craft beers while taking in performances from country music stars like Kacey Musgraves and Jukebox Mafia. In celebration of this meat-fueled jamboree, we asked nine of Smokeout's participating pitmasters for their twang-laced ditty of choice. It spawned this rollicking playlist, which works just as well at a festival as it does in your backyard.
The Pitmaster: Lee Ann Whippen of Chicago q, Chicago
The Song: "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," by The Charlie Daniels Band
The Rationale: "It's a classic song that I grew up listening to. I love the battle of the fiddles and the storyline with the devil losing. You just can't sit still when listening to this one."
The Pitmaster: Kelly Dallas of Hogapalooza, Wynne, Arkansas
The Song: "Daddy Sang Bass ," by Johnny Cash
The Rationale: "Johnny was an Arkansas boy, just like me. He is country music. He had his ups and downs, just like I have. But he always had his faith, family and friends. I have been blessed with this BBQ thing for sure. I figure as long as I have those three things, the sky's the limit."
The Pitmaster: Charlie McKenna of Lillie's Q, Chicago
The Song: "Ride Through the Country," by Colt Ford
The Rationale: "A great song mixing country and hip-hop—and for sitting outside smoking meat and drinking beers with insight into how Southern people like to live."
The Pitmaster: John Stage of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, New York City
The Song: "Lonesome, On'ry and Mean," by Waylon Jennings
The Rationale: "This song summed up many on-the-road experiences back in the day when I had a concession business. Waylon was the man!"
The Pitmaster: Skip Steele of Pappy's Smokehouse, St. Louis, Missouri
The Song: "I'm a Ramblin' Man," by Waylon Jennings
The Rationale: "This is a song that makes me want to drive on a gravel road with a beer in my hand."
The Pitmaster: Scott Roberts of The Salt Lick, Driftwood, Texas
The Song: "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," by Hank Williams Sr.
The Rationale: "If you're smokin' briskets for The Salt Lick, you never have a chance to be lonely."
The Pitmaster: Doug Psaltis of Bub City, Chicago
The Song: "Hard To Love," by Lee Brice
The Rationale: "Just great drinking music! I can't wait to see him live."
The Pitmaster: Garry Roark of Ubon's Barbecue, Yazoo City, Mississippi
The Song: "Love, Me," by Collin Raye
The Rationale: "This love song is my favorite, because it reminds me that I'm lucky I found my all-time sweetheart, Elaine. It starts off all of my playlists."
The Pitmaster: Barry Sorkin of Smoque BBQ, Chicago
The Song: "The Gambler," by Kenny Rogers
The Rationale: "It's everything you want in a country song: drinking, smoking, gambling, the classic antihero, an overt metaphor and a hook that sticks in your head for days. It's perfect."
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