By Eric Paddock, OC Magazine
Valley Publishing (not affiliated with the weekly OC Review)
Here’s the Town of Orange’s recipe for a great downtown party:
Take one part great barbecue ribs, two parts live music, add some interesting beers.
Mix it up with some dancing (not required, but recommended for full flavor).
Add smiles and good conversation for seasoning.
That’s what’ll be cooking Saturday evening, June 16, on Short Street when the Orange Downtown Alliance presents its 9th Annual Trashy Ribs and Brews Festival.
“It’s basically a party for the community that the ODA puts on,” said Jeff Curtis, the ODA’s executive director. “And everybody loves good dance music.“We started out doing this as a Blues and Brews Festival, but it was a challenge for us finding good blues bands. They’re just not around. “So we decided to turn it toward more danceable songs, upbeat, Motown, funk music that people will get up and dance to,” Curtis said, “And, it’s worked out very well for us.”
The event always features two bands, and this year will be no exception. The opening band is always a local group, this year, with Billy and the Backbeats with Billy Brockman, Gary Burnette, and Larry Sappington, who is also a member of the committee for the festival and an ODA board member. Brockman is the previous owner of the Charlottesville Music Company and a very accomplished musician in his own right.
In 1988, Billy Brockman started “Billy & the Backbeats” as a side project to other musical ventures. The “Backbeats” involved a rotating cast of great musicians over the years. The newest line up is Brockman, guitar and vocals; Burnette, bass and vocals; and Sappington, drums. The new “Billy & the Backbeats” play an energetic mix of Rock & Roll, R&B, Soul and even Classic Country at a comfortable volume.
If you were at the Uncorked at Orange wine festival in May at Montpelier, you probably heard them there.
They’ll open the show at 5 p.m.
Next up will be the Apple Butter Soul band out of Lynchburg. “They were actually recommended to me by my pastor,” Curtis said. “They were here last year, and they really put on a good show for us, and we were really lucky to have them come back for us this year.”
Founded in 2010, Apple Butter Soul combines the talents of Kendall Kress, Josh Brinkman, Fred Jackson, Ty Scott, and Charles “C.T.” Bailey to offer up Funk, Jazz, Soul, Reggae, Latin, Samba, Oldies but Goodies, and R&B.
“They’re getting huge; I’ve been hearing them advertised around Charlottesville and Richmond all of a sudden. They really filled the street last year with people dancing.”
Curtis said he and Sappington had been trying to embrace the whole community in the festival. “Last year was the first time we had a good diverse group out in the street, and a lot of credit for that goes to the Apple Butter Soul band. There were folks out there we hadn’t seen in the past, and it was very rewarding to see the entire community come out.”
There will be local craft beers for sale from Beer Hound Brewery and Old Trade Brewery, both out of Culpeper. There will be about eight different beers from which people can choose. There will be three food vendors, all of whom will offer their signature rib plates, although they will also offer other items to satisfy a variety of tastes, like hamburgers, hot dogs, and various sides.
The ribbers include Michele Sigler from the Inn at Willow Grove, who has cooked at every festival for the past nine years, Mountainview Barbecue on Route 15 in Orange, and Shawn’s Smokehouse from Culpeper. Kona Ice will be there with ice drinks for the kids and their families.
“It would be hard to choose among these three who makes the best ribs,” Curtis laughed.
The entire length of Short Street in front of the train station will be closed off. There will a tent and a stage set up in front of the station for the band and the food vendors. There’ll be tables and lights so people can comfortably eat, leaving enough space, of course, for dancing.
Curtis said he brought the idea of a food and music-based festival from his time with a Chamber of Commerce in Texas. There, the culinary hook was almost always chili. “I didn’t want to do chili — everybody does chili — but who doesn’t like ribs, good smoked ribs?” he asked.
“So, I talked to my board. We couldn’t do this without the support that the Town of Orange provides us; they block off the street; we have police presence — there has never been an incident,” Curtis said.
While it’s difficult to judge a crowd when there isn’t a fee for attending, Curtis said he thinks last year’s festival drew between 600 and 700 people through the evening.
“I’d like to thank the Town of Orange, John Jenkins at Orange County Roasters, Miller Law Firm, Edward Jones, Orange Tire, Mayor Chuck Mason, Somerset Seed and Sod, Rick Aldridge of Wealth Preservers, Piedmont Power, Teel Goodwin, and Round Hill Inn,” Curtis said. “Without these people, this festival would not be possible.
So, bring an appetite and your dancing shoes, but as much as we love our canine friends it’d be best to leave them at home. The festival runs from 5 to 10 p.m. It is free admission, family-friendly and our way of thanking the community for all it does to make Orange a better place to live, work and visit.