Monday, 23 September 2019

Boogie on down for 4th of July barbecue

Boogie on down for 4th of July barbecue

DAVE Torkanowsky served his apprenticeship in the brothels, speakeasies, jive dive bars and nightspots of New Orleans’s French Quarter, writes Paul Clerehugh.

After five decades of playing Louisiana’s jumping live music venues, it’s safe to say Dave Torkanowsky is the real deal.

A Mississippi delta jazz and blues man packing out legendary New Orleans venues The Petroleum Lounge, Spotted Cat, House of Blues, Chickie Wah Wah and The Preservation Hall.

Playing R&B with his mates Walter “Wolfman” Jackson, Little Freddie King, Trombone Shorty and Kermit Ruffins.

An outstanding talent keeping the flame of New Orleans music burning, he stands in the tradition of Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Domino, Louis Armstrong, Harry Connick Jr, Allen Toussaint, Errol Garner and Dr John.

New Orleans is the birthplace of down-house jazz, ragtime, rhythm and blues. A melting pot of enslaved African spiritual rhythm and blues born of hope and despair.

Gospel music achieving bluesy heights. Native Louisiana Indians adopting Mardi Gras Creole from the mid-1600s French settlers and the traditions of jazz processions.

Celebrating American Independence Day on Wednesday, July 3, and Thursday, July 4, Dave Torkanowsky and his Jazz, Rhythm & Blues Mardi Gras band will play two party nights at the Crooked Billet in Stoke Row.

As the pub’s chef proprietor, I’m ecstatic to be hosting the legendary Mississippi delta boogie pianist’s shows.

The Crooked Billet has been so lucky to attract some incredible musicians over the years, astonishing European gypsy jazz musicians including Django Reinhardt, world famous classical musicians including Jon Lord, John Williams and Miranda Sex Garden, rockers including Gary Moore, Jeff Beck and Thin Lizzy.

From Showaddywaddy to Squeeze, Kiki Dee to Mike D’Abo, the odd Beatle and Stone, and British treasures such as John Cooper Clarke, Tenpole Tudor, Ian Dury and an incredible evening of stories and anecdotes from Sir John Mortimer.

Now the Torkanowsky delta band are flying over to celebrate Independence Day with us.

The Crooked Billet promises a full Independence Day menu with plenty of American specials, seafood chowders and lobster.

Creole, gumbo and cajun specialities. The brigade cooking from the barbecue outside. Some American influenced desserts — but I’ll avoid the American cheeseboard and stick to local and British cheese.

Californian wines at “house” price. If the weather allows, the dinner, barbecue, concert and independence party will be hosted outside. Log braziers and snuggle blankets provided.

I have two restaurants to my name — the London Street Brasserie in Reading, which was built in 1776, the year America became independent of the British monarchy. Meanwhile, the records of the Crooked Billet date back to 1621 — the first American Thanksgiving. So we’re destined to throw a great Independence Day party.

On July 3 and 4, Dave Torkanowsky will be joined by world-famous knuckle busting creole jazz, rhythm and blues fiddle player George Washingmachine.

Internationally renowned and starring at all the world’s major jazz festivals, Washingmachine is also an acclaimed actor — amongst numerous TV and stage appearances he played Jake in the world touring stage production of the Blues Brothers.

Electric guitar and bass accompaniment will come from Dave “The Rave” and Dave “Succotash” Blenkhold.

Things sizzle when Dave Torkanowsky’s around.

For more information, tickets and table reservations, call the Crooked Billet on (01491) 681948.

Paul Clerehugh is chef patron of the Crooked Billet, Stoke Row, and the London Street Brasserie, Reading. Catch his weekly Food on Friday show from 2pm to 3pm on BBC Radio Berkshire for recipes, foodie affairs and light-hearted kitchen chat.

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