Is there craft beer at the Big Lick Blues Festival? – Oh, yeah!

Is there craft beer at the Big Lick Blues Festival? – Oh, yeah!

The Big Lick Blues Festival was another great event in Roanoke. It was back in Elmwood Park, which btw is a great venue that doesn’t need to be changed. It has been closed for a couple of months and events were being held elsewhere.

P A Short Distributing provided a banner selection of beers for the festival. Devils Backbone Brewing Company’s O’Fest and Azrael were very tasty. I also enjoyed the Headwaters Pale Ale by Victory Brewing Company. Mrs. Fin settled for the Shocktop –  good, but how about some more exotic wheat beers?

I also got to hang out with the family.

Huck and his family at the Big Lick Blues Festival.

Speaking of family, our own Brittany Sparks was one of the stars of the Southwestern Virginia Blues All-Star Jam. Here’s a video of her singing!

Lot’s of great musicians from around the Roanoke Valley playing some great blues. Let’s hope this becomes a regular thing.

Here’s some more video…

Pictures of the various excellent musicians!

There were some other musicians there as well. Just kidding…

The Mike Lucci Band opened the festival. They will be representing Roanoke at the IBC in Memphis this year. If you have the time, it’s a great blues party at the end of January. Go, have fun and support our band!

Wet Willie entertained us as only they can. We were able to “Keep on Smiling” during their set.

Wet Willie playing their great hits at the Big Lick Blues Festival in Roanoke.

Robert Randolf and the Family Band were the headliners and had the crowd up and jumping! We had just seen Robert in Telluride a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed a refresher course in Robert’s blues. He is one of the masters of the pedal steel guitar, a style I love to listen to. He apparently made a visit to Blue 5 later in the evening. The after-event party was at Martin’s Restaurant. It’s a good music venue but hardly ever has the blues. One would think Blue 5 might be a good spot for an after the blues festival party. How about it, Event Zone?

Robert Randolph Band getting the crowd going at the Big Lick Blues Festival.

We are already looking forward to next years event!

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

More pictures from Steppin’ Out in Blacksburg.

More pictures from Steppin’ Out in Blacksburg.

Pictures from the rest of Saturday.

Laissaz les bon temps rouler!

Some Pictures from Steppin’ Out Blacksburg.

Some Pictures from Steppin’ Out Blacksburg.

Friday night music and Saturday’s Ride with the Mayor.

Laissaz les bon temps rouler!

What the heck does “Laissaz les bon temps rouler!” mean, anyway?

What the heck does “Laissaz les bon temps rouler!” mean, anyway?

Many of you may have noticed that I end most posts with “Laissaz les bon temps rouler!” Many of you may have not…

It’s a Cajun French expression that translated literally as “Let the good times roll!” I first heard it in New Orleans, Louisiana during one of my trips there. Since Tuesday is “Fat Tuesday,” the traditional end of the festival season or Mardi Gras and the beginning of Lent for many, I thought this might be a good time to talk about it.

There’s no question that Mardi Gras is a great huge party; it’s also expensive and difficult to navigate if you aren’t familiar with the particulars. There’s plenty of fun to be had in New Orleans the rest of the year with out the pressing crowds and jacked up prices. Bourbon Street is a must-see if you go, but be sure to check out some of the other  attractions in the city. The cemetery tours are very informational and can be combined with historical tours as well. Here’s a cemetery website with a detailed list of cemeteries.

St. Louis Cemetery Number 2 New Orleans.

One of the more interesting things about going there is that no matter what folks may think about your habits where you come from, no one has a drinking problem in the Big Easy. It’s a land of drive-thru hurricane shops and no open- container laws, at least in parts of the city. They have made a booming business out of being a “go to” location for a good time.

There’s a museum devoted to the floats that are built for the parades during the festival. It’s actually a storage facility and shop for building, re-building and repairing the floats. It’s also a must-see if you not there for the “live” activities.

Mardi Gras floats at Mardi Gras World

Strange things can happen there, too.  At one point we saw Batman get his car towed…

New Orlean’s tough on the Batman.

And of course New Orleans also has good beer. Abita’s brewery is just across Lake Pontchartrain from the city, and there are a couple of local brew pubs there as well. In an alcohol-soaked city you can be sure there are several multi-tap bars in all areas of the city. The trolleys are a good way to look for some of them. Like the tours, it will take you through some of the old neighborhoods. You  will have to provide your own snappy banter, depending on who is on the trolley with you.

Beautiful traditional New Orleans architecture.

My fascination with the culture of the people of New Orleans and the way they embrace the concept of letting the good times roll leads me to close my posts with that as a toast to their enjoyment of life and ability to withstand adversity in the process.

Laissaz les bon temps rouler!

Here are some more pictures from our trip last year.


Going to the Festy at Devil’s Backbone – Confidence is high there’s good beer there!

Going to the Festy at Devil’s Backbone – Confidence is high there’s good beer there!

What is a “Festy” you may ask…it’s a great outdoor music festival at the foot of Wintergreen Mountain. There’s going to be fine music curated by the Infamous Stringdusters, but it’s not just a Bluegrass festival, so check out the artists here! There’s going to be a couple of races, both running and bicycling. How about camping, do you like that? It’s there too! Ok the big question…craft beer? Hell yeah! First-rate craft beer in one of the prettiest places in Virginia brought to you by the Devil’s Backbone and Starr Hill.


Devil's Backbone Brewpub!

Another focus of the Festy is sustainable local food. I hope I’ll have enough room in my stomach to try all the possibilities. Got to leave room for delicious beer as well.

Huck tries a taster at Devil's Backbone!

The festival runs Friday through Sunday with plenty of activities to keep everyone happy. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a few miles away just past Wintergreen Resort, not that you would want to leave…

We will be interviewing some of the artists and many of the celebrants while we are there. We plan to camp onsite so we can get the whole experience.

I lived near the location for several years back in the ’70s and ’80s and worked as a ski patroller for five years at Wintergreen and am looking forward to seeing old friends and making some new ones! I hope to see you there – it’s going to be a great time!


Lassaz les bon temps roulez!

Looked for beer at the New River Blues Festival found a King Bee!

Looked for beer at the New River Blues Festival found a King Bee!

Mrs. Fin and I ventured south to North Cackalacky to the little town of Grassy Creek for the New River Blues Festival on Sunday at the River House Inn. the festival was hosted by Peggy Zamagni, an accomplished bass player and founding member of the King Bees. The festival is in it’s ninth year and showcases some legendary artists they have worked with in the past.

New River Blues Festival site.

It’s a small festival but has a big heart. There was a little rain but most people put up an umbrella and hung in there. There’s a bed and breakfast on the site, but it was closed to visitors that day so no pictures of that. The folks on the porch said that it was always full for events. There were several cottages in view going up the hill from the house. Here’s a video tour of the site.



There was a food tent, fortunately we like Carolina style BBQ. You could have anything you want as long as you wanted BBQ. Actually they had some yummy cookies and I heard there was some salad, but didn’t pursue that avenue!

Mrs. Fin had some issues with the availability of the internet…

Sometimes there just isn't any internet, is there At&T?

I had some with the beer selection…

I still drank it...

I’m pretty sure they have some good beer in North Carolina but none of it made it to the hinterlands of Grassy Creek. We had a good time none the less! Not to give away the secrets or narc anyone out, but I did see some beverages in the crowd that weren’t for sale at the alcohol stand.  Wish I could have snagged one of those Fat Tires. They do have a no cooler rule and I saw no coolers. They also had a selection of wine and some premixed Bloody Mary’s, Margarita’s and Cosmo’s which were pretty tasty actually. For $5 they could have been a bit more generous with the portions.

We enjoyed the music, The King Bees played three sets with various artists sitting in throughout the afternoon. It’s always great to hear some originals mixed in with some old standards done well.

Beverly "Guitar" Watkins with The King Bees.

The festival is about 2 hours from Roanoke and worth a look on a holiday weekend. The Sunday date doesn’t conflict with many other events and the drive is pleasant both ways. We came in from Marion and went out through Hillsville. the Marion route is prettier but the Hillsville way is faster. you could combine the festival with the big Hillsville sale and make a weekend out of it!

Lassaz les bon temps roulez!