A Columbus institution of sorts, thousands flocked downtown to celebrate the tides of summer with hot ribs and cool jazz. Along with delicious barbecue, this year’s Jazz & Rib Fest offered plenty to please, including quality music.
The aroma of BBQ wafted across three stages hosting local, regional, and international jazz artists, while barbeque pit masters served up sizzling ribs, chicken, and more.
The music was infectious, from old New Orleans to hard bop to blues standards to salsa — all quality acts, such as:
• Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra: Arturo is the son of the great Chico O’Farrill, performing delightfully heavy stuff as a master pianist, reminding me of the Afro-Cuban mid-50s sound.
• Brandon Coleman Quartet: Wailing on guitar, this excellent combo offered almost all original material. Larry Coryell would have been proud.
• Joey DeFrancesco Quartet: A true favorite of festivals, Joey D. certainly did not let the crowd down, taking on standards and some solid blues riffs.
• Dirty Dozen Brass Band: They stole the show, leading a large audience through a journey of All-American horns with amazing stage presence.
• Spyro Gyra: The heavy jazz-rock that grew from late 60s Miles Davis, like Mahavishnu Orchestra, and Weather Report, was challenging to listeners. However, the hard stuff ran its course in the mid-70s, leading to the lighter calypso-funk fusion of Spyro Gyra. A good performance that “calmed” the crowd.
• Doc Severinsen: The “Doc” was joined by the head coach of the Columbus Jazz Orchestra, Byron Stripling, and the kings traded killer trumpet solos. A joy to watch.
• Mike Monford and Detroit Effervescence: Probably my favorite set of the weekend, the group offered incredible vibes, similar to Columbus legend Rahsaan Roland Kirk.
23 award-winning barbeque teams from around the country competed for the Jazz & Rib Fest “Best Ribs” bragging rights, delivering the savory goods. Our congratulations go out to top champ Porky ‘N’ Beans, who, down at one point three games to one, never gave up.
Here they are, folks, the 2016 Jazz & Rib Fest Top Ten.
1. PORKY ‘N’ BEANS
PORT ST. LUCIE, FL
Gator Hot Sauce
They have been a member of the National Award Winning Rib Cookers of America since 1983, traveling between 10,000 and 15,000 miles yearly, competing in cities across the U.S., winning the Golden Rib Prize.
2. TEXAS OUTLAWS
Texas Outlaw Sauce
Their seasoning and 6 to 13-hour slow-smoking style creates an authentic pink smoke ring in the meat, meaning real hickory wood smoked BBQ. Each year, they win awards for their ribs, serving up to a quarter-million pounds of BBQ from coast-to-coast.
3. BAD WOLF BBQ
Smoky & Sweet Sauce
Their ribs are slow cooked for hours over a variety of woods and charcoals before they are sauced up and put on the grill. Their use of genuine Alabama smokers give their meat a rich, hearty flavor, a feast for the palate.
4. CAROLINA RIB KING
King Solomon Sauce
In a league of their own, they have emerged as one of the top rib cookers in North America. Solomon Williams clings to his Gullah heritage, combining tastes of the low country along with his own touch of herbs and spices, creating tasty, succulent barbecue.
5. ARMADILLOS BBQ
Made From Scratch Sauce
Armadillo’s serves up hometown BBQ with an award winning sauce recipe, combining Midwestern and Southern flavors, dedicated to providing only the best, guaranteed to make anyone’s mouth water.
6. BUTCH’S BARBEQUE
MOUNT LAUREL, NJ
Smack Your Lips Sauce
Butch uses real hickory wood smoking, using a basting mop over a cooking pit, developing a line of sauces and seasonings, each with different ranges of heat.
A family owned and run business specializing in rib competitions, winning over 250 awards for Best Ribs & Best Sauce, priding themselves on having the most meaty, tender ribs, offering four different sauces.
8. JUST NORTH OF MEMPHIS
Sweet/Hot Kristy’s Sauce
Their BBQ is served ‘Que “dry.” With five different flavors, sauce is served on the side for dipping, to help accentuate the flavor of the meat, claimed by heat connoisseurs to possess a great burn with awesome flavor.
9. CHICAGO BBQ COMPANY
BURR RIDGE, IL
Stinging & Funky Sauce
Owner & barbecue expert Tom Ferguson, trained in the fine art of low and slow smoking, works to bring his love and passion for creating the ultimate BBQ experience to every slab served.
10. JACK ON THE BONE
Jack Daniel’s Sauce
All of their food is sprayed with Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, 100 percent pure from the bottle. If it can be drilled, then it can be “Jacked,” creating a startling, savory flavor.
WHAT THE PORK?
REAL FACTS ABOUT PORKY PIG
• Nationwide, more than 68,000 pork producers annually market more than 110 million hogs, providing gross total receipts of $23 billion.
• The pork industry supports about 550,000 jobs, ranging from pork producers and meat processors to transport and businesses.
• Sales from national hog slaughtering and processing sectors support far ranging services and
consumer purchases worth $122 billion.
See you at the Jazz & Rib Fest next year.
Tom Caruso and Natalie Cooper contributed to this article.
About Breck Hapner
Managing Editor Breck Hapner covers every facet of the Columbus nightlife, entertainment, festival, music, food & drink, art, film, and fashion scene, while also being known to pen articles, reviews, editorials, and even photograph from time to time.