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BBQ & Blues fires up for one last time

20-year fundraiser to end Saturday
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
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For 19 years one county event has been cooking up soulful live music and tasty barbecue meals. But now, in its 20th year, the annual BBQ & Blues will take the stage at the Gold Country Fairgrounds for one final performance. The long-standing community event and fundraiser for the Placer Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals will end after its celebration this weekend, which will feature blues music great Curtis Salgado as its headliner. “We have been talking for a while about reinventing the event,” said Leilani Vierra, Placer SPCA CEO. “This will be our 20th great year and before it ends up not being great, we want to go out with a bang and kick off with something new.” Vierra said Placer SPCA officials are still in the brainstorming phase of what event will replace their 20-year success, but she said it will have a four-legged element to it. She explained that BBQ & Blues is not a good environment for companion animals. While the event has been a successful fundraiser for the organization, she said often times people don’t connect the music and barbecue with the SPCA. That will change next year. However, this year officials are planning a memorable event starting with their headliner. Salgado fronted a Grammy-wining group between 1984 and 1986 but perhaps he is better known for inspiring John Belushi for the Blues Brothers act he collaborated on with Dan Akroyd. Salgado has toured with Steve Miller and The Doobie Brothers and was a lead vocalist with Santana during the 1990s. “For many years we’ve been trying to get him as one of our performers and he’s always been on tour,” Vierra said. “We really feel fortunate in this final year to finally be able to bring Curtis Salgado in as our main stage headliner.” Two other blues bands — Café R&B and Mr. December — will take the main stage prior to Salgado’s performance. “Every one of us is a pet owner and we all value pets as a part of the family,” said Dana Moret, lead singer of Mr. December. “Any chance we have to give back and create awareness for other animal lovers is very important to us. We’re honored to be asked to do this.” Also, several other blues bands will play on the Constable Jack’s Stage in the fairgrounds starting at 1 p.m. Perhaps one of the biggest draws to the event this year, Vierra said, is the low $20 ticket price. Vierra said officials lowered the normal cost of entry to celebrate the event’s 20 years. “This really allows everyone accessibility to this event be it to support the cause or, like we all do, to deserve a fun day out that’s affordable and enjoyable,” Vierra said. “You just can’t beat that $20 anniversary price.” In addition to music, attendees can shop items offered by more than 40 vendors. Local nonprofit clubs including the Auburn 49er Lions and Sierra Family Service and the Capital Edge Beasts little league team, will be on site selling food. “One of the reasons why BBQ & Blues is so successful for us is because of the support from both businesses and individuals in the community,” Vierra said. “We know as we transition into a new fundraising event we’ll receive the same support.” Kathleen Harris, president of Harris Industrial Gases and eight-year sponsor of BBQ & Blues, agreed. “I’m a lifelong Auburn resident and my heart will always be with the animals,” Harris said. “They (the SPCA) do a wonderful job of finding homes.” Harris, who owns two dogs, said she has mixed emotions about this being the final year for BBQ & Blues. “Of course I will miss it but I really look forward to a new format for their main fundraiser,” Harris said. “One that would include people bringing their dogs and a more family-friendly event.” The Journal’s Jenifer Gee can be reached at jeniferg@goldcountrymedia.com or post a comment. ---------- BBQ & Blues What: 20th anniversary of Placer SPCA fundraiser BBQ & Blues When: 1 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday Where: Gold Country Fairgrounds, 1273 High St., Auburn Cost: $20 in advance, $30 at the door. Food, beverages and parking not included Performers: Headliner Curtis Salgado takes the main stage at 8 p.m. Others include Café R&B and Mr. December ----------