Hogs For The Cause: Great food, music at Crystal Bay Casino

Muddy Magnolias
Muddy Magnolias’ debut Friday at the Crystal Bay Casino is part of the Hogs For The Cause benefit.

Ever eat a po’ boy? A real one? Folks who have never had the culinary experience can get their chance at a Saturday afternoon outdoor barbecue, which is part of the second annual Hogs For The Cause, a two-day event hosted by the Crystal Bay Casino.

A benefit with proceeds going to the Hogs For The Cause Foundation, the event includes a gala dinner prepared by four of the top chefs from New Orleans, an afternoon courtyard barbecue and two full nights of music in the casino’s Crown Room and Red Room.

The New Orleans-based nonprofit Hogs for the Cause started in 2009 to throw a benefit barbecue for a boy named Ben Sarrat who had been diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer. After 200 people turned out for the worthy cause, the organizers realized that they were on to something. Now, the organization is one of the largest nonprofit barbecue outfits across the country. Hogs for the Cause holds its primary event each year in early April at City Park festival grounds in New Orleans, along with other events year-round.

The Crystal Bay Casino has a long-running connection with New Orleans – NOLA – featuring musical artists such as Dr. John, Galactic, Dumpstaphunk, Anders Osborne, the Neville Brothers and, just announced this week, Dragon Smoke. In 2014, General Manager Bill Wood met members of one of the teams that compete in the annual event and in July 2016 he organized in the inaugural CBC Hogs Tor The Cause event.

Friday will mark the Lake Tahoe debut for Muddy Magnolias, a new Nashville group fronted by Jessy Wilson and Kallie North, who blend urban R&B with Delta blues.

In a press statement, North said, “The first day we wrote together there wasn’t much thought that we were blending genres and worlds. That never came up. It was just natural. She had never written a country song and I was writing them every day. We sat down to write one but when we listened back it was a country R&B song. And we decided to become songwriting partners.” Before long, they had their first cut as collaborators, and they were off and running. The debut album is entitled “With Broken People.”

“The spirit of the Muddy Magnolias existed from the moment we met but we didn’t know we were the Muddy Magnolias yet,” Wilson said. North was toying with the idea of a solo career; Wilson had aspirations of making history as an African-American female songwriter in Nashville. Their new friendship was a game-changer.

“We spent a whole year writing, trying to understand what our message was when we combined our stories,” Wilson said. Then one day over afternoon wine at Burger Up, their favorite hangout in the 12 South section of Nashville, both admitted to be being at a crossroads. “The next thing you know,” North says, “Jessy said, ‘What if we made a record together?’ It was like all of our dreams in one.”

“We went back to that same office on Music Row where I saw the photograph,” Wilson says, “and sat down side by side in Clay’s office and said, ‘We’ve got something to tell you. We’re going to make an album together.’ ” Bradley believed enough to sign on as their manager. They held three days of band auditions and found four best friends who had been playing together since college, primarily doing jazz. The fit was perfect, providing just the right sonic backdrop for their soulful approach and high-energy delivery.

The New York Times listed the band among the “25 Must-See Acts,” writing “With North’s porch-side Mississippi roots and Wilson’s asphalt Brooklyn breeding, they bring a sound that melds city grit and Delta dirt, exploding onstage not like two lead singers but more like parts of the same whole.”

Friday’s after-party also marks the Crystal Bay Casino debut for Kansas City blues guitarist Nick Schnebelen, best known for his family band Trampled Under Foot, the 2008 winners of the International Blues Challenge. Schnebelen plays in a trio with Cliff Moore who played bass with Michael Burks and drummer Adam Hagerman, who has played with the Hadden Sayers Band, as well as Junior Watson and Big Bill Morganfield.

Saturday night features a couple of longtime Crown Room favorites from the Bay Area, the jam band New Monsoon and Afrolicious, a wild percussion and horn driven collective.

  • Hogs For The Cause
    Crystal Bay Casino
    Friday, Aug. 25
    6:30 p.m. — Hogs For The Cause Gala in the Steak and Lobster House. The Silence of Da Ham crew will prepare a specialty course paired with wines from Minder Family Winery. The executive chefs from New Orleans are Michael Brewer, Morton’s Steak House, Tory McPhail, Commander’s Palace, Chris Montero, Napoleon House, and Jared Ralls, LaBoca and partner at Primitivo. Prizes will be raffled. Tickets: $125
    9 p.m. — Muddy Magnolias headline the Crown Room concert. The Suitcase Junket opens. Nick Schneblelen plays the Red Room after-party. Tickets: $15 in advance or $18 on the day of the show.
  • Saturday, Aug. 26
    1 p.m. — Courtyard Barbecue and Silent Auction. Silence of Da Hams includes smoked offerings and inventive seafood options. Live music by Nick Schnebelen. Admission is free. Food and drink sales benefit the Hogs For The Cause Foundation.
    10 p.m. — New Monsoon and Afrolicious co-headline in the Crown Room. Object Heavy plays the free Red Room after-party. Tickets: $15 in advance or $18 on the day of the concert.

ABOUT Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.


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