The Party of the Summer happens this Friday, July 12. Darke County Center for the Arts annual “Barbecue and Blues” fundraiser has always been an amazingly festive occasion, but last year the event was moved downtown to the Greenville Public Library lawn, and it zoomed from just amazing to spectacular. Everybody was there, everybody had fun, and a wonderful new tradition was begun.
Once again this summer, a kaleidoscope of wonders await; where to begin this revolving array of delights. The event’s title may provide the best place to start. The food vendors include Main Street Greenville businesses The Merchant House and Romer’s Catering selling their barbecued chicken dinners, as well as local food truck favorites Nacho Pig and The Homestead Spud. And, of course, there will be drinks, including micro brews from Moeller Brew Barn, as well as expanded wine offerings.
The blues will be provided by Dayton-based blues legend Eric Jerardi and his band, as well as extra-added attraction Austin “Walkin’ Cane,” the Cleveland-based bluesman whose many past appearances in our community have won him a legion of fans.
Austin “Walkin’ Cane” Changarat specializes in Delta blues, but says that his repertoire is a “gumbo” that conjures up many shades of blues expression. “Walkin’ Cane,” whose nickname refers to the assistive device Austin used due to a congenitally damaged leg prior to that limb’s amputation, is known as a master of the slide guitar as well as for his smoky baritone voice.
Eric Jerardi began his musical career winning a Battle of the Bands at Ohio University in 1989, and then two years later, winning another local contest that also earned him a spot on MTV as the Best Unsigned College Band in the Midwest. The intervening decades have seen the guitar wizard play countless blues festivals and major concerts around the country, including headlining gigs at Chicago’s House of Blues and B.B. King’s in Nashville. But it’s not just Jerardi’s guitar mastery that has attracted a huge following; his smooth and soulful vocals provide the perfect complement to his guitar style, magically creating a sense of timelessness in his original compositions as well as traditional blues tunes.
But wait, there’s more! This family event will offer an exhibit of work from participants in the Anna Bier Gallery’s Children’s Art Club, as well as batik pieces created at a workshop hosted by Greenville Art Guild. Also, handmade jewelry from The Happy Lark will be available for perusal and purchase, and Natural Path will provide information about their products and services.
Proceeds from “Barbecue and Blues” help make possible vital DCCA programming, including Arts In Education that presents professional performing artists to students in all grades of every local public school at no cost to students, the Family Theatre Series which brings live theatre to local youngsters and their families at the low, low ticket price of $5, and the summer theatre residency by Missoula Children’s Theatre, which offers local students the opportunity to star in a live theatrical production at historic Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall.
A dedicated team of volunteers spends countless hours planning and executing this good time for a good cause under the watchful eye of DCCA staff, including Artistic Director David Warner, who is overseeing his first event in this new position. And what does David have to say about all the anticipated hullaballoo? “I will enjoy watching the tranquil space of the library lawn transition into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities bringing family and friends together for a fun night out,” he stated, succinctly setting the scene for a successful soiree while also cleverly integrating DCCA’s season theme, “Kaleidoscope,” into his statement.
Admission to “Barbecue and Blues” is $10 for adults, and $5 for children 12 and under. (Children under 2 will be admitted free of charge.) Food and drink are not included in the ticket price. Although the weather forecast looks perfect, if it rains the fun moves to the Elks Club at West Third and Sycamore. Everybody you know will be celebrating summer tomorrow night; take your blankets and lawn chairs downtown and join them!