Shiner Bock Twin City RibFest: Ribs and Trashy Women

by Matt Goldman

I’m originally from southeastern Pennsylvania – the home of such delightfully unhealthy indulgences as the cheesesteak and Yeungling lager. When I moved below the Mason-Dixon Line a few years back, my knowledge of the Southern equivalent to such delicacies did not move far beyond hush puppies, grits and moonshine. As a food lover, especially of the unhealthy variety, I adapted quickly upon my arrival. “Sweet tea” took the place of “iced tea” in my vernacular and I learned the difference between hash browns and home fries.

My transition from “Northern grease” to “Southern fried” was smooth and I found everything I tried to be satisfactory. Even so, I still maintained a predilection for the Yankee diet.

Until I discovered ribs, that is.

The South, namely the Carolinas, absolutely trumps the North when it comes to barbecuing and much of the reason for this is their total dedication to the activity. Carolinians devote entire weekends to the art of grilling in the countless festivals that occur all across the region.

The Triad is no exception.

Winston-Salem will host the third annual Shiner Bock Twin City RibFest from June 14-16. Six barbecue outfits from all over the country will converge on the parking lot of he First Presbyterian Church in the heart of the city to share their skills with the crowd for just $8 a head. There will also be copious amounts of beer straight from the taps of Greensboro’s own Natty Greene’s, a recently acquired RibFest sponsor.

The other beauty of this festival is the quality ear candy that accompanies the massive amounts of beer and meat. It’s as much about music as it is about ribs. Organizer Allen McDavid has a knack for picking an eclectic mixture of local and national acts, including last year’s main attraction the Avett Brothers, whose distinctive fusion of bluegrass and rock continues to gain notoriety.

This summer there will be a veritable melting pot of musical genres. The almost unclassifiable group Bombadil will kick things off on Thursday night with their unmistakable mixture of folk rock, classic rock and, oddly enough, British invasion. On Friday, Russian surf rockers the Red Elvises will take the stage as the last act of the night and on Saturday Asheville-based Afromotive will likely be the highlight. The lively 10-piece act is a modern spin on Afrobeat music and includes dancers. And, naturally, to adhere to the down-home motif there will also be a number of country music acts as well.

The headliner for the event is Confederate Railroad, who have sold nearly five million albums.

Songs like “Queen Of Memphis,” “Trashy Women,” “Jesus And Mama,” and “Daddy Never Was The Cadillac Kind” became major hits and established Confederate Railroad as a key part of country music’s landscape during the genre’s expansion of the ’90s.

You can bet I’ll be there to take in this unlikely collision of cultures. If it’s as good as it sounds on paper, I may just start calling myself an honorary Southerner.