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Sauce Boss And Friends Will Perform To Benefit Bradfordville Blues Club

Man in chef hat sitting on drumset playing the guitar
Tom Flanigan
The cover of Bill Wharton's latest CD "Peanuts," which contains many of the songs included in his daughter Mary Wharton's film documentary, "Jimmy Carter: Rock 'n Roll President."

The venerable Tallahassee juke joint has been without music - and paying customers - since the advent of the COVID pandemic.

Live music is slowly making a comeback in Tallahassee. That includes an all-star jam this Saturday, May 22, to help one of the area's best-loved venues get back on its feet.

The prime driver for the benefit's real name is Bill Wharton, but lovers of gritty, backwoods swamp rock around the world know him as the Sauce Boss. Heading into the pandemic, Wharton was approached by his own daughter, documentary film director Mary Wharton, to help provide the soundtrack for her latest project entitled: "Jimmy Carter: Rock 'n Roll President."

"She said, 'Hey, do you want to submit a few tunes?' And I said, 'Yeah, sure.' So, I sent a bunch of stuff to her. Then she called back and said she might need some more. By the end of the whole thing, I'd contributed 18 or 19 songs comprising about 95% of the whole score."

It was an endeavor that Wharton felt a deep emotional connection to.

"The whole thing with Jimmy Carter being a total aficionado of virtually all kinds of music, from classical to country, international, jazz, gospel, blues and rock 'n roll. And the whole thing with the musicians that virtually put him on the map by doing benefits for him."

But today, there's a different kind of benefit in the works. One to help Tallahassee's own Bradfordville Blues Club. The "B.B.C." for short.

"I'd played the BBC for years and years and years. Even before it was called the 'BBC' when it was 'Dave's CC Club' I was one of the first guys who came in there. And the thing that they have done, it's not only a local scene. People from all over the country and the world have played there and it's their favorite place to play. People come there and go, 'This is an honest-to-goodness juke.'"

Such establishments used to be found all over the South. But today, the BBC is a rare remnant of a vanishing species. One that Wharton insisted must be preserved and treasured. That effort began with a call to the club's present owner.

"When I was able to get out and start playing again, I contacted Gary Anton. And I said I wanted to come out and play for free. I know you guys are hurting and have been without music for over a year and you need to make some money to get you rolling again."

Wharton's next call was to his good friends and fellow musicians Butch Gonzalez, Shawn Scott and Neal Goree. They'll be cranking it up outside the club this Saturday night starting at 7:00.

"It's going to be a good time out there under the oaks. It's the outdoor stage so we can accommodate a whole lot of people and I'm definitely looking forward to getting back to it. It's been a long time. For me, it was a nice little vacation. But the vacation's over and it's time to get back to work."

That work will include Wharton's legendary and traditional serving of Sauce Boss gumbo to close off the performance.

Follow @flanigan_tom

Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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