August 25 is the 10th anniversary of Blues, Brews & BBQ, so it has to be something special. One new aspect will be heard on the Randolph Street Stage, which, for the first time at this event, will be all Zydeco music. “We’ve done Zydeco in the past at other events, and everyone loves it,” said Morales. “People have been asking us to please bring it back, and this is the perfect year to do that.” The Beer Garden stage will also get a facelift. “The stage there has traditionally been eighteen inches high to create an intimate, street level setting, but Coombs Street (where the Beer Garden is located) gets so crowded that only the people in the front can see the band. This year, musicians will be elevated on a mobile stage. The sound is much better and it really looks good, too.” Organizers also decided to move the Main Stage, which historically was in front of the County building on the south side of First Street, back to Dwight Murray Plaza. “It makes so much sense,” said Julie Morales, who has been managing Blues, Brews & BBQ and all DNA hosted events, for years. “It’s a small, natural amphitheater, and people can dance without being in the sun all day. We used it for Chefs’ Market back in the day, and musicians and people attending liked it a lot.”
And if you’ve figured it out from the street references mentioned above, the event is moving back to First Street. “It was just too dang hot in the Oxbow Commons, and there is no shade there,” said Steve Pierce, President of the Downtown Napa Association (DNA), the organization that hosts the event. Organizers thought that the lawn seating in the Commons would appeal to attendees, but no one could have predicted that the day was going to be the fry-eggs-on-the-sidewalk-hot day that it was. At one point, all of the attendees at the Main Stage took refuge in the shade of the Wine Train bridge – behind the bands. At least nine people suffered some kind of heat-related issue. Folks are trying to figure out how to provide shade in the Oxbow Commons, but for now, until the organizers figure out how to control the weather, First Street is the most logical answer, where at least one side of the street is in the shade all day.
The move back to First is actually a good thing, as far as many merchants are concerned. “Blues, Brews and BBQ doesn’t have much of an impact on us at the Oxbow Market, but it was huge for our First Street location when it was there,” said Anette Madsen, co-owner of Anette’s Chocolates. “We love the event,” said Susan Altamura, owner of Square One Wine Tasting, next door to Anette’s. “But our business last year, when it was in Oxbow, was the pits.”
What won’t change are the Beer and BBQ aspects of the event. Fifteen BBQ vendors will be on-hand, grilling everything you can think of, slathered in secret sauces the recipes of which none will ever reveal. It is a true feast for the palate. And to wash it down? The Beer Garden will feature forty micro-brewed beers, some being released for the first time. Twenty-five dollars gets people a five-ounce commemorative beer stein and seven tasting tickets, as well as a ticket to use to vote for their favorite beer. The winner of that category will be announced near the end of the show.
The ever-popular Coors Bus will park on First near Franklin. It includes a large, outdoor screen, which could be showing either the A’s or the Giants, as they (fingers crossed) play for the pennant. Moving the event back to First Street isn’t without challenges – guests of Archer Hotel will be unable to drive up to the front door that day. When approached about the possibility of the move, Michael Collins, General Manager of Archer, could not have been more gracious. “We’re part of the neighborhood,” he said. “If it helps surrounding businesses, we are willing to at least try it for a year and see how it goes. Our neighbors put up with the inconvenience caused by all our construction, and it’s the least we can do.”
Sponsored by Blue Moon, Heineken, Jimmy Vasser Toyota/Chevrolet, Bank of Marin, and Napa Valley Marketplace. Without their generous support, the show would not be possible. Admission and parking are free. Ride your bicycle, and take advantage of free valet parking. For band start times and all other scheduling information, visit DoNapa.com.
August 25th - Noon to 6PM | Featuring a Stage of Zydeco!