And you thought I have the dream job!
Corporate team builder by day, guitarist-song writer in his spare time, Chris Cassone has turned his twin obsessions for smoked meat and music into a song that has people all over the barbecue circuit stomping their feet: My Baby Loves Barbecue.
“I wrote it for my girlfriend, a Los Angeles TV producer who thought ‘barbecue’ meant grilled hamburgers,” recalls the 62-year-old musician, who lives in Patterson, New York. “I took her to a real barbecue joint with smoke pouring out of the pit. She took to barbecue like a born-again embraces religion.”
So Chris grabbed his 1959 Stratocaster and video camera and embarked on a three-week, 2700-mile journey along America’s barbecue trail, stopping at such legendary smoke palaces as Big Bob Gibson’s in Decatur, Alabama; Arthur Bryant’s in Kansas City; Super Smokers in St. Louis; and the Rendezvous in Memphis — more than 25 barbecue joints in all. At Charlie’s BBQ & Grille in Clayton, North Carolina, state trooper turned pit master Charlie Carden roasted a whole hog for the community feast in Chris’ honor.
Chris also stopped to pay homage to Elvis at Graceland and had the opportunity to jam at the Muscle Shoals recording studio in Alabama. (Yeah, that Muscle Shoals, where the Rolling Stones recorded Wild Horses and Brown Sugar.) “The music at barbecue joints varies as much as the meat does from region to region,” Cassone observes: “Bluegrass in West Virginia, blues in Tennessee, rock-a-billy in Alabama.” What doesn’t change is the hospitality — or passion for slow smoked meats.
Chris began his music career as an entertainer on Amtrak’s 81 Silver Star line (New York to Florida), where he discovered barbecue at the budget joints near the railroad tracks — often little more than a smoker at a gas station. After stints as a sound engineer for the likes of Peter Frampton and Dr. John, he settled into a career as a corporate team builder. The young woman in his video discovering barbecue for her first time is his 23 year-old daughter, Julie.
One thing is sure: His music struck a cord in the barbecue community. My Baby Loves Barbecue recently won Chris an endorsement as a sanctioned entertainer by the KCBS (Kansas City Barbecue Society). He’s working on a new album that will feature songs with titles like Never Too Hot, High on the Hog, and Squeal Like a Pig. And he’ll be playing them on his new custom-designed, swine-faced guitar, the “Little Squealer,” at the World Food Championship in Las Vegas in November. But don’t wait that long. Check out My Baby Loves BBQ today!