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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Now a Labor Day Weekend Regular: Blues, Views & BBQ

By James Lomuscio

Smoking hot sounds, literally and figuratively, are set to take over downtown Westport this weekend as Jesup Green jumps the Mason Dixon line for the sixth annual Blues, Views & BBQ Festival replete with 14 different blues bands, barbecuing competitions, family games, pie and rib eating contests and late night dining overlooking the Saugatuck River.

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Last year’s event attracted thousands. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Lynn U. Miller for WestportNow.com

The brainchild of Bob LeRose, owner of Bobby Q’s restaurant on Main Street, and sponsored by the Downtown Merchants Associations (DMA), the event runs Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and officials say they expect about 10,000 attendees.

This is the second year the festival, previously held in mid-September, is slotted Labor Day weekend. LeRose said last year was such a hit with more people coming on Sunday since they had Monday off, this weekend will be the event’s regular time.

“We’ve now embraced the Labor Day weekend,” he said. “We’ve carved out our own niche.”

Previously held on the ground of the Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts just off the Westport Library upper parking lot, the festival this year was moved to Jesup Green because of construction of a new Levitt Pavilion.

Lee DeMonico, DMA spokeswoman, noted that Rose’s idea for the festival sprung from his restaurant.

“As you know, Bob LeRose has great bands on the roof of his restaurant, and he figured what better thing to do than to bring two of his great loves, barbecue and music to Downtown Westport,” said DeMonico.

“It clearly was a novel idea, and the first year it was such a big hit. Who knew? We were packed, and it has grown every year.”

This year with the change in venue, Jesup Road will be closed so that the barbecuing competitions can be held there, she said.

“People will be able to mingle with the pit masters, and that’s a great aspect of the change this year,” DeMonico said, recalling that in past years the competitions were held away from the crowds in the Imperial Avenue parking lot, which will now be open to free parking for the event.

DeMonico said the music will range from classic Southern blues, to blues rock, one with a Cajun sound to one that incorporates brass.

“Stooges Brass Band, big in the New Orleans Mardis Gras scene will be there, and they come with lots of high energy and are really fun,” she said.

Another fan favorite, she said, is Popa Chubby, a blues rock guitarist famous for his version of “Over the Rainbow.”

“His guitar sounds like its singing the notes,” DeMonico said. “It’s whaling. It’s really moving.”

Another featured act is Christine Olhman, who for years performed in the “Saturday Night Live” band, and her band Rebel Montez.

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

“It’s become an event that the town looks forward to every year,” LeRose said. . We want it to be a world class music festival, but we don’t want to overwhelm the town either. The key for us is to have that balance of great music, great food and enough fun stuff for kids.

“All walks of life and age groups can come to this and feel good about it,” he added. “It brings a really diverse crowd together for two days. Every one comes for different reason, and everyone walks away satisfied.”

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Posted 08/28/13 at 10:53 PM  Permalink



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