Saturday’s Pints in the Park at Brazos Park East features Texas barbecue, Texas craft beer and — Texas bluegrass?
Texas bluegrass, in the form of Austin band Wood & Wire, joins singer-songwriter Paul Cauthen as the live music component of the annual event that mixes music, barbecue from 10 Texas pitmasters and 13 craft breweries.
Tony Kamel, Wood & Wire’s lead singer, guitarist and songwriter, admits that bluegrass music isn’t woven into the state’s musical fabric the way that it is in, say, Kentucky or Tennessee.
“The Texas fiddle scene is certainly related, but it’s not the same thing,” he said in a phone interview from Austin. “I venture to say a kid growing up in Kentucky is more likely to hear bluegrass than a Texas kid hear Texas-style fiddle.”
That said, Texans can be fast learners. Some six years after Wood & Wire formed from the Austin roots music scene, the band won a Grammy Award nomination last year for its album “North of Despair.”
The foursome took the honor in stride — “I was just happy to be there,” Kamel said of attending the ceremony — then returned to the business of making music its own way. “We don’t make our music trying to win Grammys,” he said.
Kamel, a Houston native, started playing guitar as a teenager, then a music world that leaned on Phish and High Rise opened when, as a University of Texas at Austin student, he tapped into one of the university’s music libraries and discovered Bill Monroe, the Stanley Brothers and his favorite, Doc Watson.
His entry into bluegrass music was easy enough, but mastering it was another matter. “It’s a difficult style to play. The solos and rhythm were different than what I was used to, but if you want to sing and play it, it’s not too hard,” he recalled.
He found like-minded souls in the Central Texas Bluegrass Association and, over time, what became Wood & Wire assembled from Kamel, banjo player Trevor Smith, bassist (and high tenor) Dominic Fisher and mandolinist Billy Bright.
The foursome crafted their own path in bluegrass, developing a distinctive sound with an interplay between mandolin and banjo.
After driving through Waco innumerable times to other gigs, Kamel and his bandmates are looking forward to making their Waco debut and demonstrating their Texas flavor of bluegrass.
They’ll open for Texas musician Paul Cauthen, who returns to Waco after past appearances at Brazos Nights and Pints in the Park.
The barbecue and beer portion of the event starts at 2 p.m. for VIP ticket holders who get first shot at craft beer and barbecue, with BBQ and Beer ticket holders and concertgoers admitted at 3 p.m. Family games also will be provided on the premises for parents and kids attending the event.
There’s a local component in this year’s offerings, with Guess Family Barbecue, Honky Tonk Kid BBQ and Helberg Barbecue on the meat side of things and Bare Arms Brewing and Brotherwell Brewing on the beverage side.
Rounding out the barbecue providers are Dayne’s Craft Barbecue and Goldee’s Barbecue, Fort Worth; Rossler’s Blue Cord Barbecue, Killeen; Brett’s Backyard Bar-B-Que, Rockdale; Evie Mae’s Pit Barbecue, Wolfforth; Bodacious Bar-B-Q, Gladewater; and Schmidt Family Barbecue, Lake Travis.
On the craft beer side, curated by Dancing Bear Pub and Ben E. Keith Beverages, are (512) Brewing, Austin Beerworks, Bishop Cider Co., Cigar City Brewing, Community Beer Co., Deschutes Brewery, Live Oak Brewing Company, Oasis Texas Brewing Company, Oskar Blues Brewery, Real Ale Brewing Company and Wild Acre Brewery.
Barbecue samples will be available for VIP and BBQ and Beer ticket holders until 5 p.m. or supplies run out. Food and drink also will be sold at the event.