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'Tis the BBQ/Guitar-Throwing Season

Ladies Sing the Blues'    The Knoxville Blues Society presented Ladies Sing the Blues on Mother's Day at the historic Bijou Theatre. Proceeds benefitted the Knoxville Area Rescue Ministries Serenity Shelter, a safe haven for battered women and children.

   Featured artists included Micol Davis, Sara Jordan, mother and daughter Janice and Jadacka Mazon, Jenna Moore, Sharon Mosby, and Cheryl Renee. Accompanying musicians included Michael "Bones" Allen, Mark Caldwell, Bill "Shack" Dickenson, Ricky Davis, Jim Haggarty, Rocklan Hughes, Labron Lazenby, Danny Ledford, Henry Perry, Terry Schmidt, John Stern, Geoff Trabalka and Wendal Werner.

By Steve Harnar

Yes, yes. Bar-b-que.

    Finally broke down and got me a new smoker, one of them slow-cooking things that sits close to the ground and has a big bowl of water over the coals. The first weekend I cooked some hamburgers and a couple of big baking hens. Assembled the Q'er after work and started the coals late afternoon, left the hens on all night. The next morning I was pleased to find them still cooking and done, but not dry or over-cooked.

    Last Saturday we decided on brisket and country style pork ribs. I started the fire about mid-morning and placed the brisket on the lower grill with the ribs on the top (it's a two-tier contraption). I threw some hickory chips on the coals and we loaded the ice chest and headed down to our friend Banjo Dan's for his "third annual plug-&-play" and "guitar-throwing competition."

    Every year about this time Dan sponsors this little event out in the breezeway beside his music emporium and recording studio in Hot Springs, Ark. Since many local musicians are associated with Dan (many work in the shop), he gets most of the local acts to perform.

Dan and Roger
Banjo Dan & Roger Menefee
    The highlight of the day is the "guitar-throwing contest." Now, I'm not big into guitar-throwing and never even thought about entering the competition, until the Blues Society president (and emcee) approached me, pleading (as only Roger Menefee can plead) for me to pay the $20 and enter the short field of four other contestants.

    I was looking at that pretty powder-blue guitar they were giving as a prize. I mean, yeah, I win this guitar, buy an amp, learn a couple of blues tunes and I too can be up on stage at the Wednesday night blues jams, basking in the limelight with the other jammers.

    "Okay Roger," I said. "You think I ain't got $20?" I pulled out that last lone twenty and slapped it in the big guy's hand and said, "Sign me up!"

The Guitar-Throwing Contest

    My wife warned me: "Don't drink too many beers. You have to throw a guitar." And of course I did what any red-blooded American husband would do — I ignored her advice and ordered another Bud.

Tina throwing guitar
Tina Menefee takes her turn.
    Now remember, I'd never thrown a guitar before, never even seen anyone throw a guitar before, but I'd already developed this new "scientific" style of guitar throwing. It was kind of a cross between a hammer throw, a golf swing and a "Charlie Lauo" homerun swing.

    The wind was blowing at my back and I had discussed with one of the other contestants the idea that we needed altitude, to take advantage of the aerodynamics of the light, hollow-body balsamwood guitars and that strong tailwind. I was thinking, just don't let my name be pulled first. I desperately needed to see someone else throw a guitar, so I could get an idea about how these theories are going to work. My number was pulled first. My luck held.

    So as I approached the red line of death I told myself, whatever you do, don't try and throw it too hard. You're gonna do the same thing you do when you try and kill the ball on the golf course, top it and send it dribbling into the trees to the right, behind you in the rough.

    I picked the smallest, most aerodynamic and sexiest guitar to throw, stepped up to the line, took a practice swing. The crowd drew silent. Standing sideways to the red line I raised my guitar over my right shoulder. I eyed the pin about 30-40 yards away (next to the portable toilet amidst the bails of hay).

Steve throwing guitar
The fateful toss.
    The guitar began to drop. A little voice said "harder." I didn't let go when I should have, the guitar hooked over my left shoulder and headed towards a second-story window. We all covered our heads in horror and ran for cover expecting broken glass and shattered guitars.

    Luckily my toss was so weak that it neither shattered the guitar nor the glass. Now the next guy up just kinda stepped up and threw the damn thing side-arm like a Frisbee and it sailed right down to the pin and would have hit it if not for the bail of hay in front. The guitar just laid there as if to say "ha, ha." That guy won the powder-blue guitar.

    We went home broke and disgusted (not really), took the brisket and the country style ribs off the Smoker and crashed.


    For future reference: The ribs were good. The brisket although very well-smoked wasn't completely done. Conclusion: Either parcook the brisket beforehand next time or let it smoke 24 hours instead of 12-to-13. That'll probably mean reloading and restarting the charcoal.

    Have a happy summer, y'all!

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