|Cincinnati's Goettafest attracts thousands during a typical year|
The combo of COVID and the winter months, when people tend to want to hunker up inside anyway, has many worried, if nothing else from the mental drag of feeling cooped up for what has been several months now for those who have been heeding the advice of experts the most.
It's that aspect that inspired this week's playlist - admittedly, the focus for us in the next few months continues to be local in focus, but we can at least dream about traveling again. For us, one of the main treasures of travel to far off places resides in the cuisines and specialties of a particular city or region.
Of course, Ohio has its own unique regional creations, from Buckeye candies to Cincinnati Chili to Ohio Valley Pizza. Did any make our musical playlist this week? Well, the photo might be a big clue to the answer, but you'll find we went well beyond the borders of this state to complete this week's musical culinary platter.
1) "Red Beans & Rice" - Michael Franti and Spearhead: Franti has proven to be one of the most durable and socially conscious musicians of the past three decades or so, with stints in The Beatnigs, Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, and Spearhead. Here, he and his Spearhead bandmates sing about this New Orleans/Creole stew consisting traditionally of red beans, bell pepper, onions, celery, various spices and pork bones, along with a protein such as ham or andouille sausage.
2) "Goetta Picnic" - Fort Defiance: Hailing from Nashville, this husband/wife duo has received much critical praise for their Americana/folk music, and has been one of the hardest touring musical acts on the circuit, knocking out 250 shows per year before the COVID pandemic hit. Here they bring Goetta to the table, a blend of ground meat, oats and spices that is a regular breakfast staple in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area and is the inspiration behind the annual Goettafest, typically held each summer in Newport, KY.
3) "Mission Burrito" - Yeti: The iconic Mission Burrito dates back to the 1960s in, appropriately enough, San Francisco's Mission District. Unlike your standard issue burrito, the Mission Burrito is distinguished by its sheer size and number of ingredients contained inside; the restaurant chain Chipotle has turned this template into a multi-million dollar enterprise. The somewhat funky, jam-like tune dedicate to this treat is performed by Yeti, which has a number of albums dating back from the 1990s but not much other info out on the Interwebs that I can find.
4) "Captain Pasty" - Black Francis: Originating in the Cornwall region of England, the pasty (essentially a hand pie stuffed with diced beef, rutabega, potato and onion) provided hearty and portable sustenance for tin miners. Stateside, most purveyors of this creation can be found in this country centered in the Northern Michigan area. Admittedly, we're stretching the song representation here a bit, but when you have the well-respected and well-admired front for the alternative band The Pixies, that in itself qualifies the song for inclusion on this playlist.
5) "The Geoduck Grill" - Epiphany Road: Geoduck is not related at all to ducks; rather, it's a rather phallic-looking clam which makes its home in the muddy coasts of the Pacific Northwest. Its name actually derives from the native Nisqually tribe, whose given name gweduc referred to this bivalve's ability to burrow itself deep into the earth. Similar to the band Yeti, I couldn't find much about Epiphany Road on the Internet; however, they are listed on the University of Oregon's Eugene-based musicians, and I can imagine listening to this catchy ditty while cruising alongside the forested hillsides next to the Willamette River.
6) "Chicken-Fried Steak" - Lenny White: The second appearance of this seminal jazz fusion musician on these playlists, White and his bandmates put down a funky groove on this instrumental ode to this comfort food staple, which is ubiquitous throughout the South but is associated specifically to Texas and Oklahoma. This hearty concoction is simple in design (pounded steaks coated with flour and fried in a pan) but as good as anything when prepared right.
7) "Fish Taco" - Dick Dale: Traveling up north from the Baja Peninsula from Mexico, fish tacos have have migrated up to Southern California, where the freshest of fish from the Pacific Ocean is also easily attainable. Perhaps it's more than fitting than legendary king of surf guitar, Dick Dale, would pound out an ode to these tacos, which consist of grilled or breaded fish placed on a lightly charred tortilla, and then topped with various sauces, crunchy fresh cabbage slivers, and pico de gallo.
8) "Try Lutefisk" - Ann Reed: Originating in Norway, it's not surprising that Lutefisk (a dried whitefish pickled in lye) would find a home in Minnesota, a state where many Scandinavian settlers made their home. And if there was anyone that was going to give proper due to this unusual delicacy, Ann Reed would be that person, a native Minnesotan and 40-year veteran of the folk circuit known for her husky voice and irreverent sense of humor.
9) "Runza Rex" - Funkmammoth: Also known as a Bierock in some circles, the Nebraska-born Runza is essentially a bread pocket filled with beef, onions, cabbage or sauerkraut, and various seasonings. Perhaps it's no surprise that Funkmammoth, which according to its Discogs page "samples heavy sounds to a hip-hop influence," also hails from The Cornhusker State and pays homage to this homegrown creation.
10) "Key Lime Pie" - Kenny Chesney: The Key Lime Pie is associated with Key West, FL, but native Conch Republic residents were distressed to hear that the recipe behind this iconic pie might have actually originated in....New York City? (For more on this little tidbit, check out this Southern Living article on the controversy.) Of course, the artist performing this tune, Chesney, really needs no introduction as one of the top country artists of the past two-plus decades, with four "Top Entertainer of the Year" awards and over 30 number one singles on the country chart.