My friend and luthier Dean Nickless (he builds amazing acoustic guitars and takes great care of my herd) recently shared a pertinent bit of wisdom with me. He told me about the two main side effects from the COVID-19 vaccines, and they are: relief and euphoria. He’s not kidding. As Monroe County is in the top 3 counties statewide for total vaccinated population, we are getting back to our version of normal. That’s a really great thing!

As we come out of the pandemic, it’s so wonderful to have real honest-to-BBQ-goodness events back! There’s a big one on tap for this weekend — the inaugural Florida Keys BrewBQ. A celebration of barbecue, craft beer, and community, the BrewBQ also has some pretty good live music on tap as well.

Adrienne Z and I kick off the event at noon on Saturday as Jade Storm unplugged. We’re both local singer-songwriters, and we’ll be playing a mix of our originals with some really cool covers. Adrienne sings like an angel and writes amazing songs; she’ll be playing songs from her best-selling CD, “Chameleons.” I’ll be playing songs from my brand new “After The Storm” CD as well as my “Keys Disease” and live CDs, and I’ll have plenty of copies there for sale.

The really great thing about playing with Adrienne is being able to sing harmony with her. I’ve been told we have a really nice vocal blend, and as a singer, it’s just really wonderful to be able to sing harmony.

Beginning at 4 is the set from Nashville singer-songwriter-producer Bridgette Tatum. She was recently profiled in these pages; suffice it to say that she’ll bring her songs and talent (as well as her #1 country hit for Jason Aldean, “She’s Country”) to the BrewBQ stage.

That evening, get set to rock out with Rock Show. This band played our most recent Seafood Festival, and they lit up the stage with note-perfect renditions of your favorite classic rock songs from the ’70s and ’80s. This group faithfully recreates everyone’s favorites, from Pink Floyd to Guns N’ Roses. High energy, high velocity, high impact rock and roll will be the perfect complement to savory barbecue and cold craft beer.

By the way — did I mention that there are going to be 20 craft beers featured? Not only that, but big barbecue rigs from Battle Rig BBQ, Pig In And Pig Out, and local favorites the Green Turtle Inn BBQ rig will serve up that smoky savory goodness. And some south-of-the-border barbacoa and street tacos will be served up fresh by the local Marathon folks from La Isla Tacos. Between the craft beers and all the food choices, it’s a good idea to make plans to attend both days to be able to sample everything. Now, back to the music.

Sunday’s musical show kicks off with the talented acoustic duo of Terry Cassidy and Mike Bailey. Cleveland native Cassidy made his way to Key West for a two-week vacation and never left. His island lifestyle brought inspiration when it came to writing songs which can be described as Island folk music. Bailey, originally from the Jersey Shore, is also a guitar player, singer and songwriter. His inspiration stems from listening to the music of the ’60s. About five years ago, they got together during open mic sessions at Boondocks and they’ve been playing together ever since.

What would a BrewBQ festival be without some blues? The Original Lady A Blues Band takes the stage at 2:30 p.m. for some amazing classic blues and rock. Featuring the Original Lady A on vocals and Ric “Bluesfuze” Arra on lead guitar and vocals, this band will go from gritty heartfelt blues to some amazing Eric Clapton covers. They’ve been entertaining around the world and in South Florida for many years — we’re lucky to have them as part of the BrewBQ.

This new summer event is hosted by the Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce, and is brought to you by the City of Marathon and the event’s generous local business sponsors. Our community is ready to resume a somewhat normal existence again, and this event can be the kickoff party for getting back to our sunny tropical lifestyles. 

I really hope you can come out to the BrewBQ this weekend. It’s going to be a lot of fun, and the Keys deserve a great new event to celebrate our resilience, our perseverance, and our sense of community. Besides, there’s barbecue and craft beer. And great live music. I hope to see you this weekend!

Catch John Wednesdays at Herbie’s, Thursdays at Sparky’s Landing, Friday on Facebook Live, and this weekend at the Florida Keys BrewBQ. Music wherever you get your streaming or downloads. www.facebook.com/john.bartus

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