Sometimes, it’s great when you have the blues — the funky, musical blues.

And when your life is in the pits — the barbecue pits, that is.

That means good times are brewing.

Such is the view of Steve Leach, owner of the Garage Pub & Grill. He along with Kurt Schwarze, co-owner of Fourth Street Bar & Grill, are the organizers of the fourth annual MainSource Bank BBQ Blues & Brew event from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. June 24 on Washington and Fourth streets in downtown Columbus.

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That’s the smorgasbord of barbecue, blues and beer that grew last year to attract an estimated record 8,000 people.

Leach always has described the popularity in very basic terms: people like to eat, listen to good tunes, and enjoy the increasing high-profile of craft beer, to say nothing of specialty cocktails at a full bar.

Any questions?

“It’s a format and formula that seems to work,” Leach said. “We’re also getting more families earlier in the day because we have more kids activities.”

That includes the returning stunt jump, bounce houses and “an awesome kids zone that’ll leave your kids not begging to go home every 10 minutes,” according to organizers’ promotions.

But the gathering will feature a wide range of people beyond youngsters. Three bands, including longtime popular group and event headliner Oddz R, will entertain. Three class reunions will gather. The Firecracker 5K Run & Walk will be a part of the proceedings. The Columbus Young Professionals Amazing Race ends at the event.

And the Columbus Firemen’s Cheer Fund A.B.A.T.E. of Indiana Ride will be part of the day.

“People love that there’s no admission (charge),” Leach said. “And it has something for all ages. It is a true eating, drinking, outdoor entertainment event within our blessed days of summer. It has a very broad spectrum of appeal.”

Leach pointed out that the event budget gradually has increased, thanks in part to a Columbus Area Visitors Center grant and a range of other support.

Duke Blevins of Big Poppa’s Pork Pit in Spiceland will be making his first appearance among the local and regional award-winning pit masters for the event.

“I have a lot of repeat customers and a lot of people who seem to follow me around,” Blevins said, adding that he takes his grill and smoker to a variety of places to feed people.

Pulled pork sandwiches constitute his best-selling item. He also expects to offer ribs and what he calls Q-bombs — pulled pork, barbecue sauce and other ingredients smattered over corn chips. Why the name?

“Because it’s great barbecue and it’s the bomb,” Blevins said.

Greg Allen, a singer and guitarist with local rock band Oddz R, mentioned that the group has prepared a bluesy set that includes tunes from artists such as Eric Clapton and the Allman Brothers, and begins at 7 p.m. The Columbus performer emphasized that the group’s appearance at the gathering is timely.

“We’re considering doing a blues album, including writing some of our own stuff,” Allen said. “As we’ve grown a little older, our crowds have grown a little older, and it just seems like a natural thing to switch things up.”

Allen acknowledged, though, that he and his bandmates will be for more than filling an appetite to entertain.

“We’re looking forward to sampling a little of everything,” he said.

If you go

What: Fourth Annual MainSource Bank BBQ Blues & Brew.

When: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. June 24.

Where: Washington and Fourth streets in downtown Columbus.

Admission: Free.

Music: Three live bands playing a mix of blues and rock. Faded Memory Blues Review; Wayne Ellis Watson + Bluescake; and Oddz R.

Food and drinks: Pulled pork, ribs, chicken, brisket, craft beers, specialty cocktails and other offerings for sale.

Parking: Along downtown streets and in the downtown garages (for free).

Information: Facebook page for 2017 BBQ, Blues & Brew.

Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5672.