BBQ Fest Thursday: Tube top edition

Here’s a look back at BBQ Fest Thursday in the Ques Brothers booth:


Here’s a pic of Otto smoking.


Rehearsing for Ms. Piggie Idol


Stephanie and Erin enjoying Anchor Steam (well, that’s what the tap handle said… tasted like Natty though).  Note that they both have tube top dresses on.


Getting ready to head to Piggie Idol


Suzy had a tube top on.


More tube tops


Ms. Piggie


Adrienne and her friend have tube top dresses on.  The girl on the right gets a “not a tube top but still smoking hot” pass.


A rare pic of me taken with my own camera, posing with Esther.


Here’s a pic of the Nuh-Uh Girl eating.


The reason our booth looked so good


Amanda from the Saucer


Lee got into the spirit of BBQ Fest by wallowing in the mud like pigs do.


Tracy and Nicole from the Silly Goose.  Note that Tracy has a tube top dress on.

I added 230 pics from Thursday to the Ques Brothers photo album.  You can view the entire album here, and the new Thursday pics start on this page beginning with the pic tagged “Thursday, May 14.”

And now it’s time to do it all over again.  The team has Best Booth judging at 11:30, so I’m going to find an alternate location to drink beer until about noon.  Hmmm… maybe… the Saucer?  I think Old Lazy Ass may have day shift at the bar today.  If she does I’ll sit at the window so I don’t have to deal with her.

If anyone got pics/footage of our team at Ms. Piggie Idol, send them to me and I’ll upload.  I had to stay in the booth in case guests came by.

Can’t believe I thought I’d actually catch up on sleep during my time off for BBQ Fest… not gonna happen… time to throw some clothes on and get out there.

BBQ Fest begins: Friends & Family Night

Last night at 5:30 the gates to Tom Lee Park opened for Friends & Family Night, and I walked in and headed straight to our booth at the south end of the park.  Here’s the first look at the finished product:


Looks a little better than last year’s booth, does it not?


This year we added a new key member/sponsor to the team – Brent from Holliday Flowers, seen above directing the booth decoration as we set up on Tuesday.  Brent is a pro and made the booth look amazing.  He’s available to make your events look as great as he did ours.


The seating area right inside the front door.  Our booth looked better than most nightclubs in Memphis.  One team member compared it to Club La Vela in Panama City Beach.


The white triangle in the corner of the seating area was more than just a decoration.  It served as a projection screen as well.  After dark, our sponsor the Center for Southern Folklore showed concert footage.  Above:  The Grateful Dead singing “Touch of Grey.”  Sing it, Jerry.


This year the team has lockers, so we can safely stash stuff we bring to BBQ Fest.  Local artist Shane Paris painted the team logo on the lockers.


Here’s a pic of the Nuh-Uh Girl eating, and as a bonus, the Nuh-Uh Sister eating too.  Our cook Willie is in the background to the Nuh-Uh Girl’s right.  About 6:30 ribs, chicken, and sausage came off the grill, and the Nuh-Uh Girl was all over it, going back for several helpings within the first 30 minutes.


The main dining/socializing area.  See that bar in the background?  Brent built that bar, just for this event.  It looks nicer than most of the bars I sell on Mid-South Alcoholic Supply.


Kelly and Edison boogie down on our upstairs balcony.


View of the booth at night, with the moais in the window lit up.


Our sponsor John Bragg underneath his Circa sign.  Attn Silly Goose: Where was your signage?

All right, that’s the basic tour of the booth.  You can see all 149 pics I added to the photo album here for a complete look at the Ques Brothers’ 2009 home.  I have to believe we’re the frontrunner for the Best Booth award.  It was funny to watch people walking past on the sidewalk, and then they’d see our booth and stop and stare.

Today is the first day BBQ Fest is open to the public.  Gates open at 11… hmmm… you know what else opens at 11?  The Saucer.  So it’ll probably be noon before I make it to the booth.  Hopefully I’ll get a walk-through video of the booth today.  Tonight is the Ms. Piggie Idol competition.  Attn team members:  If anyone with video can film our entry in Piggie Idol and upload it to YouTube, that will serve as a good backup in case I miss it.

A reminder that Hollywood Disco at Vance and Mulberry is open tonight for post-BBQ Fest partying.  They usually aren’t open on Thursdays.

If BBQ Fest isn’t your thing, it’s also rooftop party night Downtown, with parties at the Peabody and the Madison, and post-rooftop parties at the Red Rooster, Flying Saucer, Automatic Slim’s, and all the other hotspots.  Lots to do tonight.

Time to shower last night’s BBQ smoke out of my hair and get ready to do it all over again.  All three camera batteries are charged… many more pics to come.

(Edited to add:  149 to 123!  Haha!  I took more photos than Edison!  I WIN!!!!)

BBQ Fest orientation for those new to the city

Here’s a quick orientation to BBQ Fest for those who are new.

Wednesday night is Friends & Family Night, when only team members and a few invited guests are allowed in the park. You have to have a special red ticket to get in – these are allocated to the teams and are not sold at the gate. A certain number of tickets are allocated per team (not sure exactly how many). Smaller teams get enough to be able to invite family members and close friends. Larger teams, like the one I’m on, find that the tickets are so scarce that team members are lucky to get one ticket, much less extras to give to guests, so it’s more “team night” than “friends & family.”

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, the fest is open to the public. It’s free to get in at lunchtime Thursday and Friday. Otherwise, unless you’re on a team and wearing your official Memphis in May wristband, it’s $8 per day to get in.

Although the festival itself is open to the public, almost all of the BBQ booths are private parties. This is not the choice of the teams; rather, it’s due to health rules that prohibit teams from serving food to the public. So, only team members and their invited guests are allowed in the booths. This means, if you go to BBQ Fest and don’t know anyone on a team, it can kind of suck. There are public vendors that will sell you BBQ, but it’s generally inferior to the stuff served by the teams.

Many teams post security at their booth entrance to make sure that only invited guests get in. The first year we did it, I thought this was unnecessary and complained that some of my teammates were acting like the Door Gestapo. However, once I worked a shift at the door myself, I completely understood their point. Lots of people no one on the team knew approached me with all kinds of lies and sob stories, trying to get in to freeload food and beer.

Many teams hand out their own wristbands to signify that you are an invited guest in their booth.  These only grant you access to that booth; you still have to pay the $8 to get in the festival.  Important note: If you plan on coming to BBQ Fest multiple days, do not cut or pull off guest wristbands at the end of the night. Keep them on for the duration of the festival. Guest wristbands are scarce, and if you take yours off, you may not be able to get another one.

It can be hard to get access to many team booths on Thursday night, even with a guest wristband. For many teams that’s “sponsor night,” where the business sponsoring the team takes over the tent, and invites their employees or clients in. Team members generally wait on the sponsors and their guests, and everyone else is kicked out for all or part of the evening.

My team is an exception to the Thursday rule. We decided early on that we only want sponsors who will party with us, rather than order us around. We found two excellent Downtown sponsors, Circa and the Silly Goose, who felt the same way we did, so we’re going to have a big ol’ party Thursday. Last year Thursday was the most fun night party-wise for us.

Friday is party night for everyone and tends to be the most crowded night. Door security at the booths is usually at maximum strength on Friday, as it also tends to be the night when freeloaders show up in droves.

Saturday is not as much of a party day. In the morning and early afternoon the judges come around, and since presentation is part of the score, teams have to be on their best behavior. Also, nearly everyone is gone from the booths between about 5 and 6:30 on Saturday, because that is when the awards are announced.

Many teams are already tearing down their booths by Saturday evening. By that point, people are tired and worn down from 4 days of partying and 4 days of building before that. My team keeps going right up until the end, though. Last year we had additional reason to party Saturday night, because we returned from the awards ceremony with the Third Place Shoulder trophy. Hopefully this year we’ll bring home an even bigger trophy, and I hear our chances are good in the Best Booth and Piggie Idol competitions as well.

If you plan to go, my recommendation is to go Thursday if you can get access to booths that aren’t doing sponsor night; otherwise, go Friday.

So, if you aren’t an invited guest to any of the team booths, what’s the best way to get invited? Here are some tips:

1) Go during the day Thursday or Friday. Security is a lot more lax and people are a lot more laid-back during the day. You’re more likely to find teams whose members are generous with guest passes and wristbands during those times.

2) If you’re new to Memphis, tell that to people on teams. We were all on the outside looking in at some point in the past, and experienced how not-fun BBQ Fest can be when you don’t know anyone on a team. Maybe you’ll be able to find a team whose members sympathize with you and let you in.

3) If you’re female, hot, and you’re not trying to get some douchebag guy in with you, your chances are generally pretty good at most booths. (Note: Wearing a tube top doesn’t hurt either)

4) Don’t lie. Last year we had people come up to the booth saying “I’m a friend of so-and-so” when they obviously weren’t. This rarely works.

5) Be courteous. Don’t walk up to the door and act like it’s your God-given right to be in the booth if you’re not a team member. We had one douchebag try to push his way in last year because he was a friend of one of the bartenders who worked for the sponsor. Pushiness and douchebaggery do not go over well.

6) It’s generally not a good idea to try and get 20 of your friends in with you, especially if they don’t know anyone on the team. Split up into smaller groups and walk around.

7) If you’re on Facebook or Twitter, might not be a bad idea to post a message that you’re looking for booth invitations.

8  Hang out with people who have guest invitations to several booths, and they can say, “hey, we’re already invited, can we get one more friend in too?” This doesn’t always work but it’s worth a try.

Heading down to the park at 5:30 and am off work for the next two days… should be a fun weekend.

Wed update: skate park, Downtown survey, MED Foundation fundraiser, Peabody parties, and more

Another real quick one before I head to work…

There will be a hearing on building a skatepark on Mud Island tomorrow night.  This would be a great amenity that would attract families to the island and to Downtown.  Details here.

Folks who are working on a marketing campaign to revamp the image of Downtown Memphis need your help:  Please take this short survey here.

I read a report that the Peabody Thursday rooftop parties have been averaging over 1,000 people each week and last week they had 1,450.  They have really been stepping it up this year and it’s paying off for them.  Great job.  Gonna have to miss this week’s due to BBQ Fest though.

Morgan Freeman will host “Zero to 60,” a fundraiser to benefit the MED Foundation, at the Hard Rock Cafe on Beale on Saturday, June 6.  Music by the Bill Hurd Quartet, food, and a silent auction of music and movie memorabilia.  Tickets are $150 per person or $250 per couple, and they hope to raise $60,000 for the foundation.  Tickets can be purchased here.

Didn’t make it to the SMA meeting at the Hollywood Disco last night… the radar looked like heavy rain was threatening, so I decided not to walk that far south.  Rain never arrived though.  If you attended and anything interesting was announced, shoot me an e-mail at

Friends & Family Night at BBQ Fest tonight… first pics of the finished booth will be posted late tonight or tomorrow morning.

Tue update: SMA meeting tonight, Tickets for Troops, bake sale, and more

The South Main Association meeting is tonight at Hollywood Disco. The general manager of the Cook Convention Center will speak. Free hors d’ouevres courtesy of the Disco, cash bar for beer and wine. Meeting starts at 6 PM.

Most likely I’ll make an appearance there, but will probably not stay for the whole program… I’m going to be running around Downtown handing a few people guest wristbands to our BBQ booth, and inquiring about guest wristbands for other team booths. Will probably swing through the Saucer, the Goose, and Bardog at some point… maybe a stop at Circa too since our team members have a deal on beer there this week.

A non-profit called Tickets for Troops will hold a fundraiser at the Memphis Zoo on June 18. This organization welcomes back returning troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, and provides them with tickets to family-friendly events to make them feel comfortable at home. Since the organization’s founding last December, they’ve sent 31 families to Grizzlies games, Tigers games, concerts, Redbirds games, etc. and there are another 600 families in the Mid-South who could use their support. So, they’re inviting you to their fundraiser at the Zoo, with great food, fine wine and spirits, exceptional cigars, and the Jeremy Schrader Jazz Band. Tickets are available on their website.

There’s a bake sale at the Residence Inn at Main and Monroe this Friday, May 15, from 10 AM until 2 PM. If I remember the banner correctly as I walked by last night, it’s in support of Make-a-Wish. So stop by and grab some goodies on your lunch break or on your way to BBQ Fest.

All right, we’re approaching crunch time for BBQ… got a request for people sending me announcements to blog… unless time is of the essence, please hold them until Sunday. If you send them now they’re almost sure to fall through the cracks, as I will have my hands full with BBQ blog posts and photo uploads to the team’s gallery.

Time to get back to work and troubleshoot some database connection issues… ready for tomorrow to get here so the fun can begin.

Art Under a Hot Tin Roof

The Commercial Appeal has an article this morning on Art Under a Hot Tin Roof, a new gallery that opened at Main and Gayoso recently.  I got to meet the people who run the place last Saturday, when I was at their next door neighbor Circa to pick up my BBQ Fest team packet.  They have art, pottery, and jewelry, and a culinary arts section in the kitchen in the back.  They’re the first new business to be attracted to Downtown by the Center City Commission’s forgivable loan program.  They’re open 11 to 6 Tuesday through Saturday or by appointment, and they also have a location in Jackson, TN.

You can visit their website here.

Quick Monday post: Greg Klyma, Bicycle Film Festival, MIFA Store, Blues Music Awards winners

Busy day… I’ve been at the Silly Goose for the last hour and a half adding pics to the Ques Brothers’ 2009 photo album.  I didn’t make it to the build yesterday, so I blasted out an e-mail asking for pics… boy, talk about being careful what you wish for.  Team members sent me almost 200.  I picked the 25 or so that seemed most representative of the build and added those.

Now I’m at the Saucer drinking a Dos Equis Lager… sitting near the pool table because Bicycle Bobby is out here, and I don’t want to sit at the bar with Old Lazy Ass back there.  Chad is on his way up here to bring me my team wristband, which I will proudly wear through the rest of the week.  Here’s a quick look at today’s news:

Greg Klyma will play Memphis Mary’s Thursdays at 345 Madison (the old Stop 345) this week.  $5 cover, two sets starting at 7 PM, kitchen open 6:30 to 9:30.

The Bicycle Film Festival is coming to Memphis May 29-30.  It’s a celebration of bicycles through film, art, and music.  They hope to gather cyclists from all over the South for this event.  Film screenings at the Brooks at 7 and 9 PM on the 29th, after-party afterward at Nocturnal (1588 Madison).  On the 30th, block party at Overton Park noon to 4, film screening at the Brooks at 3, and a Bikes Rock concert at Murphy’s (1589 Madison) with River City Tanlines, Magic Kids, The Warble, and Girls of the Gravitron at 9.  More details here.

Join MIFA for refreshments and entertainment at the grand reopening of the MIFA Store, Saturday May 16 from noon to 2, 910 Vance.

The 30th Annual Blues Music Awards were held here last week.  Click here to view a list of the winners.

Battery is close to dead, so it’s time to hit Publish.  I’m working through Wednesday and have Thursday and Friday off for BBQ Fest.  Posts may be on a slower schedule through Wednesday evening.  I will be doing daily BBQ updates (and possibly multiple per day updates) through BBQ Fest come hell or high water.

BBQ notes and other stuff

Sitting here at the Silly Goose trying to find a good PHP photo album that I can install on the Ques Brothers website… I want the team photos to be hosted on the team’s server from now on, rather than my personal Picasa account.  So far I’ve installed two WordPress plugins and two stand-alone programs, and have not been real happy with any of them.  Installing Coppermine now… I wasn’t completely happy with it the last time I used it in 2006, but I figure it’s had three years to improve.

BBQ season is here… we picked up our team packets yesterday… got our shirts, team wristbands, guest wristbands, etc.  Thanks to John Bragg for providing some great beer specials for the team, and to the Silly Goose for slipping a $10 gift certificate in each member’s bag.

I’m starting to get a lot of requests of the variety “Hey Paul, I’ve never met you personally (or, in the case of some of the requests, I met you at the Saucer about 8 months ago) and I don’t know anyone on the Ques Brothers team, but I was wondering if I could come hang out in your booth for BBQ Fest, and bring a couple of friends.”  Sorry… I know how it feels to be on the outside looking in at BBQ Fest, and was in that position myself for many years.  However, the team is really cracking down on the number of guests in the booth this year.  With over a thousand blog readers per day on the weekdays, there’s no way I can invite everyone who reads my blog to our booth.

I’m probably not going to work a security shift at the door this year.  It takes away from my duties as team photographer, and we need people at the door who are better at saying no than I am.  Some of the stories we get are just ridiculous.  “Hey, I’m friends with someone who knows a guy who works with the brother of one of your team members, can you let me and the 18 people with me in?”  “Hey, we saw a Circa sign on your booth, does that mean you’re giving out Circa cocktails for free?”  Argh.

In other news… MTV is creating a new reality series based on the website Hot Chicks with Douchebags.  That should be fun.  Wonder if they’ll bring the camera crews to Memphis… plenty of ‘bags to film at the Saucer and the Rooster on a typical Saturday night.

Wang dang, sweet Zing Zang… sitting here drinking a Bloody Mary I built myself, while waiting for whoever is minding the store at GoDaddy to get off his lazy ass and set up the database I need for Coppermine… usually those requests take about 30 seconds… this one was put in over an hour ago.  Get with it dude or I’ll call my Congressman and get your H-1B visa pulled and you’ll be on the first ship back to Bangalore.

Damn this is a good Bloody Mary.  Think I’ll have another one.  I’m in no particular hurry to take the show on the road to the Saucer, because the Fire Sale today (Abita Amber) is a rather mediocre beer.

Melvin the parking scammer is on the lot at Main and Beale.  He’s criminally trespassed from that lot.  Bum patrol has been called.  Hopefully he’ll be taking a ride in the back of a white limo with blue lights in a few minutes.

Database still not set up… and my battery’s about dead… and I’m not near an outlet.  Guess I better hit Publish and take the laptop home.  Rain moving this way.

Signature 34 oz. cocktails half off at Kooky Canuck Tue May 12

The Kooky Canuck on Second Street will have their 34 oz. signature cocktails, normally $9.99, on sale for $5 from 5 PM to close on Tuesday.  So come on by… great food, cheap big drinks, and excellent service at the bar.  Designated driver recommended.  Or just move Downtown and stumble home like we do.

Damn between the SMA meeting at Hollywood Disco and this, I may miss trivia for the second week in a row.

Good night tonight… went to Sarah’s birthday at Bluefin then ran into Nicole, who was also having a birthday, at the Saucer and went on a carriage ride with her and her friends.

Load-in day for BBQ Fest in the morning… the team has assigned me to hold down our branch office on Second Street while they build.  I’ll be there around 1.

Whet your whistle for BBQ Fest with a taste of last year

Here’s a look back at my BBQ Fest posts from last year, to help everyone get fired up for BBQ Fest ’09:

Wednesday Friends & Family Night – First look at the booth; Lauren eats a cherry; Skippy gets wasted and smokes a hookah; and, of course, a pic of the Nuh-Uh Girl eating.

More from Wednesday – We established the “hot girls in tube tops get in the booth” rule; the BBQ Fest version of The Window Game; the obnoxiously garish booth next door

Thursday – Otto gets down; the team feasts on turducken; the giant Nestle Crunch bar

Friday – Terry buys the stupidest looking hat in the history of the world; Melissa puts on Mikey’s disco helmet (my God her boobs are fantastic); the team repairs the booth after a storm; the Nuh-Uh Girl eats again

Saturday – The judging; the team picks up the 3rd Place Shoulder trophy on stage; the big celebration; Lauren gets a birthday cake and card

Sunday – The trophy goes on tour