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Culture » Summer Guide

Party Like a Rock Star

Local musicians rhapsodize about their ideal barbecue



The Gypsy BBQ
Leisl Bonell, lead singer of Juana Ghani
The day begins with the rhythmic pulsing of music, setting a heartbeat tempo that drives the early preparations. The sound of knives on cutting boards picks up the tempo as vegetables are cut and plates are gathered. As the morning lengthens into early afternoon, the smells of garlic and basil and balsamic vinegars twirl around the kitchen in an anticipatory dance. The time for partying is close.

Friends and family begin to gather in the yard, hugging and kissing each other hello. The sounds of their visiting and laughter ring out. Children run through the house, squealing as they chase each other in one door and out another. Grills are fired up and beers are opened, and the feeding/drinking frenzy begins.

The sound of a single guitar drifts over the crowd. Soon, a second guitar lends its voice to the first. Hand drums join in, driving a rhythm that leaves bodies no choice but to begin dancing. As afternoon moves into evening and the day’s temperatures begin to cool, the heat of the party increases. The guitars and drums are joined by a multitude of other instruments and voices—accordions, fiddles, mandolins, clarinets, spoons, ice chests and whatever is at hand with a song to share. A fire is burning in a rock-guarded pit as dancers of all ages spin, jump and laugh to the music being created by friends who are family. Ouzo begins to flow freely as the sunset bursts into full color as if it, too, were dancing. The skies darken as the stars join in to sing along. Someone begins a fire dance, weaving the flame around his darkened silhouette, his movements casting a spell of passion for life. Children fall asleep a safe distance from the fire and drift off into dreams that will remain with them forever.

Midnight passes and the pre-dawn flirts with the eastern horizon. The music has become softer, quieter, and the dancing more sedate. Stories are told around the fire, soft songs are still being sung, joined now by the early-morning birds reminding people it’s time now to gather their dishes and children and return to their homes. Goodbyes are said with hugs and kisses as promises and plans are made for the next gathering.

The Rapper BBQ
Scott “Atheist” Knopf
Fat rappers care about only a few things, and you can find all of them at a barbecue. The first is delicious food. The second is great music. The third and fourth are friends and fly honeys.

Summertime food should be simple, but these little extras will give your party that special boost it deserves. Everyone knows that bacon is your buddy, and you should always invite your buddy to your barbecue. But if bacon wants to bring his friends chorizo, lamb sausage and T-bone … the more the merrier. Also, try putting peanut butter on a hamburger. You’re welcome.

You’re going to be tempted to play Fresh Prince’s “Summertime” on repeat, but let’s not act like rookies—you’re better than that. The ’90s were the pinnacle of barbe-rap; you have plenty of choices. Aim for tracks like Mac Dre’s “California Livin’” or De La Soul’s “A Roller-skating Jam Named ‘Saturdays.’” Even Coolio’s “Fantastic Voyage” will do in a pinch. And remember, everyone’s there to have a good time. If the song has police sirens or gunshots in it, leave that one at home.

The final important element of a successful barbecue is who you invite. Don’t make an open Facebook event for your party. Send a few select texts, keep the numbers down, and don’t try to combine too many of your social circles at once. Chances are, your religious sister-in-law isn’t going to hit it off with the pack of dudes you met on the Wendover Fun Bus. Or maybe she will, and you’ll have to explain to her parents why they got a text message saying, “church sux, beer rulez, im out!!!1!”

In closing, there are a lot of ways to barbecue. Most of them are wrong. This is serious business, so prepare accordingly.

The Hippie BBQ
Talia Keys, lead singer of Marinade
My ideal barbecue: beautiful weather, friends, food and Bob Marley. I also like an ice bucket filled with deliciously crafted beers: IPAs, ambers, ales, lagers and the occasional juju ginger, apricot ale or strawberry blond. Wait, are we talking about girls or beer? If a liquor-store run can’t be made, then Squatters’ Full Suspension or Uinta’s Cutthroat Pale Ale will do. I also make sure to have that handy 30-bomb of PBRs.

Then comes the food. I love to cook. Homemade salsa and guacamole is a must. I also like to make my veggie pasta salad—peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, feta, mozzarella, rainbow pasta and a balsamic dressing. Or my grandpa’s Powell potatoes—taters, garlic, white onion, salt & pepper, rosemary, chives and more garlic. Chop it, wrap it in foil and throw it on the barbecue. Hint: Fresh jalapenos make them extra yummy. For the protein, I like to serve both kinds, for the meatatarians and vegetarians. Colosimo sausages are still my favorite local brats. For the nonmeat crowd, get some marinated portobellos or spicy black-bean burgers to grill.

When the sun sets and the food is gone, it’s the perfect time to bust out “Martha Stewart,” my portable, reliable and surprisingly charming fire pit. She's a big hit at all the parties. “Martha” enjoys the company of smokers, s’mores and live music.

Always on hand are the acoustic instruments for awesome campfire jams of “Bennie & the Jets.” Another hint: I love hand drums, but they usually bring the fuzz, and the fuzz don’t care that your grandma is still partying and enjoying the music—it’s still too late for your “hippie music”!

So, again, what makes a good barbecue? Friends, family, music, food, beverage and no fuzz.

The Metal BBQ
Jeff Anderson, guitar player for Top Dead Celebrity and Oxcross
I like to keep the essentials handy for impromptu barbecue parties throughout the season. First and foremost: meat, preferably a large variety, like sausages and chicken. They both freeze well and are relatively hard to screw up. Sausages have the added benefit that when done, you can move them to the top rack, letting pork fat drip over the chicken. I’m not even going to bother with a vegetarian joke, though I cook veggies on the grill regularly.

Whether it’s an apartment hibachi or a Grill Master 5000 that offers hand jobs at the end of the meal, the key is practice. Know where the grill’s hot spot is, and even better, know where it’s not. Always keep something along the lines of Full Suspension, margarita ingredients or, in a pinch, PBR, on hand for rapid consumption.

While the last Tombs record might fit some of my guests’ taste, usually someone’s significant other—including my own—complains about all the shouting, so I tend to keep music for parties to nice happy staples. Led Zeppelin, Foo Fighters and Rush will suffice. Don’t stray too far. Know this: If you start playing Belle & Sebastian or the new Taylor Swift, and I’m in your backyard, you can bet I’m peeing on the side of your house rather than using the toilet like a civilized human.

A grill is a large cooking vessel. Its finest attribute is the ability to cook large amounts of tubed, ground and pattied nasty parts in a relatively short time, which is why it’s so great for cooking for a lot of people. You always need good people—you know, the kind who will take the time to find the toilet, and at least bring beer or tequila.