A musical favorite son is back in Tallahassee for a good cause. Tom Flanigan reports the legendary “Sauce Boss” will be stirring up some tasty sounds in support of the Lemoyne Center for the Visual Arts.
Tallahassee has fostered some great musicians over the years. But the musical force of nature named Bill Wharton stands alone. For twenty years, Wharton has seasoned his hard-charging blues and boogie repertoire with a truly unique performance element; whipping up a huge pot of steaming gumbo towards the end of each show and then dishing it out to the audience. That’s where the “Sauce Boss” moniker came from and Wharton says it’s by no means a gimmick or – you should pardon the expression – a “schtick”.
“It’s more than just a ‘schtick’ because it came out of my life. And the whole thing about sharing gumbo is bigger than some kind of scheme or scam. It’s like gumbo is what we are; we are like a gumbo. We’re all different, but deep down we’re all the same. Gumbo’s a whole bunch of different stuff.”
For Wharton, that sharing is a real communion; a musical Eucharist if you like that brings its own kind of blessing.
“We go down to a homeless shelter and play for people who can really use a bowl of gumbo. We were just in Durham, North Carolina last Thursday at the United Ministries there and we had a really, really good time with those people.”
Wharton says he’s written somewhere around one hundred songs, nearly all are firmly anchored in the American blues.
“There’s a great portion of the blues that’s really uplifting music and it was used as a vehicle of expression. Not just an expression of, ‘Oh, my life sucks!’”
Bill Wharton has become an international sensation. A hometown appearance is a rare and cherished event. This Thursday evening (9/27/12) between 6 and 9, the Sauce Boss hits the stage at Tallahassee’s Goodwood Museum and Gardens Carriage House.
“The first set we’ll come out and do the jaw-dropping stuff – the gumbo stuff – and people are like, ‘Wow!’ And then second set, as Emeril says, we do it up a notch and invite a few friends and blow the roof off the place. It’s just kind of our modus operandi.”
Bill’s old pal and band mate J.B. Babich is expected to join the jam this time around. And Wharton says the cause is something he deeply cares about.
“Well you know the Lemoyne is an institution here in Tallahassee. It’s helped out so many artists and given them and a lot of my friends a venue to put their art out and it’s a beautiful place. I’m just glad we were able to get it together.”
Besides the Sauce Boss show, Art and Soul features a live and silent auction of works by nearly twenty outstanding local artists. Check out: www.Lemoyne.org for more advance information.