by Charlie Hansen
Pigs in Z’Hills is perhaps not the most inviting name for an event that draws many thousands of people to an airstrip usually used for skydiving but this year’s Pigs in Z’Hills BBQ and Blues festival packed them in like never before. This has become an annual event that draws people from all over the south east to this small town in Florida.
Over 30 BBQ vendors line the various areas of the grounds and compete for prizes and trophies donated by the sponsors of the event but for me the core of the event was the blues festival featuring bands from the Tampa Bay area. First up was a local group called “Cold Iron” (youtu.be/4KVVk9jdFak) that started the day with a good solid set of blues, some original but mostly covers.
Next up was Doug Deming and the Jeweltones (youtu.be/2RwbxzYPhOY) featuring harp master Dennis Gruenling who is one of the nastiest harp players I’ve ever heard. All in all a great set.
The next group to take the stage was my favourite of the day, The Lauren Mitchell Band (youtu.be/2RwbxzYPhOY). This band comes from Sarasota and are a staple on the blues scene in this area and all around the US. Lauren is a disciple of Etta James and she delivered a great set backed up by a great band.
The final group on the show was TC Carr and The Bolts of Blue (youtu.be/ j81SfJS-ZcY). TC has unique vocal sound and is just as unique on the harp. Dickey Betts says, “He’s one of the best.” I couldn’t think of a better endorsement.
I’ve included some links so that you could hear some of these groups. They’re not performances from Zephyrhills but it will give you an idea what they sound like.
Of course, this event also being a BBQ festival we had to stop by some of the booths and try everything pork and a few nice cold beers. Great on a warm Florida afternoon which we haven’t had many of lately.
Besides the blues and BBQ there is also a component of this festival that features monster trucks as well as antique cars and airplanes. With Zephyrhills being the sky dive capital of the US I guess it would only be natural that there would be planes.
The next day we headed off to Gibsonton for the Gibtown Bike Week. This event features hundreds of motorcycles from all over the US and Canada along with, you guessed it, BBQ and beer. Lots of people attend this event each year and, by the look of some of them on Sunday, I’d say there was a party on Saturday night. The Bloody Mary for $1.00 tent was very popular.
We saw lots of great bikes as well as antique cars and some good ole southern rock being played by a group of bikers from the area.
Well, I’m tired now from all the excitement so I’ll close for this month by reminding you to support live country, bluegrass and blues and listen to Bluegrass Island every Sunday evening at 9:00 on CFCY FM 95.1 in Charlottetown and on the web at www.cfcy.fm.