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Sunday, September 01, 2013

Steamy Blues and Breezes on Jesup Green

By James Lomuscio

On the second day of the Blues Views and BBQ Festival today, a sultry, Southern sound pierced the humidity like the occasional river wind.

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Christine Ohlman, a.k.a. the Beehive Queen, belted out the bluesy lyrics to “Love Makes You Do Stupid Things.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) James Lomuscio for WestportNow.com

On the Jesup Green stage, Christine Ohlman, a.k.a. the Beehive Queen, her bleached blonde hair swept like cotton candy, her eyes behind shades, her lips bold red, belted out the bluesy lyrics to “Love Makes You Do Stupid Things.”

Ohlman, who used to play with the “Saturday Night Live Band,” swayed and strummed her guitar passionately while her band Rebel Montez jammed.

The approximate 1,000 in beach chairs and on blankets rocked back and forth, too. Their shirts and dresses soaked with sweat, some got up to dance, while others on the burnt grass and dusty ground fanned themselves.

All of it made this part of downtown Westport seem like it had jumped the Mason Dixon line.

The Taylor Place parking lot in front of the Westport Library took on the air of a Southern street festival redolent with the scents of pit masters working their craft amidst an array of food vendors and inflatable, bouncy slides for children.

The festival drew about 4,000 Saturday, and an equal number was expected today, said Bob LeRose, the owner of Bobby Q’s restaurant who started the Downtown Merchants Association (DMA) sponsored event.

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Tash Neal of The London Souls was among the BBQ Fest performers today. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo

“We love this location, and so do the people based on the feedback,” said LeRose, noting that in previous years it had been held on the Levitt Pavilion grounds, now under construction.

“They love the food, the music, and the breezes off the river.”

LeRose said he had not been concerned about a morning rain, which made the area, later sun drenched, as steamy as the sounds. Even a possible cloudburst, he said, would not shut down the second and final day of the event.

“We would just tell them to visit any of our downtown merchants, and when the sun comes out, it would be no problem because it’s free re-entry,” he said, pointing to the rubber wristbands offering admission.

Admission fees ranged from $25 for adults, $15 for students ages 13 through 21 and seniors, and free for children 12 and under.

Like many vendors, Trolley Dogs, a Natick, Mass. hotdog stand designed to look like a trolley car, was doing brisk business.

“This is our third year, and we love it is Westport,” said co-owner Jerry Dente. “Business is very steady, and there are a lot of wonderful people here.”

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Trolley Dogs, a Natick, Mass. hotdog stand designed to look like a trolley car, did brisk business. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo

Tonight, the festival continued until 9 p.m., a good hour for a Sunday since most are off from work on Labor Day, LeRose said.

The Sunday list of performers included Westporter Crispin Cioe, a saxophonist and founding member of the Uptown Horns, accompanying blues guitarist Debbie Davies. Other Sunday performers included Popa Chubby, The London Souls, and Cactus.

LeRose said money raised by the DMA would be used for donations to local organizations. But added that raising funds is not the main reason for the event.

“At the end of the day, we just want to have fun,” he said.

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Posted 09/01/13 at 10:16 PM



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