Party Line: Weekend of tantalizing tango, highfalutin barbecue, Dog Day at the zoo

Tav Falco (second from right) brought his Panther Burns band to Memphis for the Center for Southern Folklore’s Memphis Music & Heritage Festival (from left): Peter Mavrogeorgis, Billy Mitchell, Gina Lee and Amanda Morelli.

Photo by Michael Donahue // Buy this photo

Tav Falco (second from right) brought his Panther Burns band to Memphis for the Center for Southern Folklore’s Memphis Music & Heritage Festival (from left): Peter Mavrogeorgis, Billy Mitchell, Gina Lee and Amanda Morelli.

Memphis Music & Heritage Festival featured rock, rap, soul, blues and pop, but it’s probably safe to say Tav Falco and Gina Lee were the only couple doing the tango on stage.

Singer/guitarist Tav brought his Panther Burns group to Memphis for the annual event. The band, which includes Peter Mavrogeorgis on lead guitar, Amanda Morelli on bass and Billy Mitchell on drums, played Saturday on the Greyhound Stage at Gayoso and Peabody Place at the two-day event that ended Sunday. This year’s festival, presented by Center for Southern Folklore, had music on five stages.

Tav and Gina were dressed to the nines, but they got some competition from James and Rosie Hubbard, who made the scene a block or so away. James was in a white tuxedo and Rosie wore a billowing white satin gown. They were married Saturday. They made beautiful music together as they glided through the crowd on Mid-America Mall with nattily attired best man Mario Hunt.

Six teams, six hogs, one great event

You might have seen Rafael Ferreras dancing on stage as the cavalier in the “The Nutcracker” or as Romeo in “Romeo & Juliet,” but Friday night you could have seen the Ballet Memphis dancer dressed as a chef helping prepare pork belly-blood sausage dim sum at the Cochon Heritage BBQ barbecue competition/tasting at Beale Street Landing.

Rafael is a student at L’Ecole Culinaire. “I’ve always loved cooking,” Rafael said.

A full-time dancer with Ballet Memphis for 11 years, Rafael is looking to the future. “I decided, for a career transition, the next thing I want to do after I stop dancing is be a chef. It’s a great school and very close to my (Ballet Memphis) school.”

Cooking and dancing are similar, Rafael said. Cooking involves “a lot of repetition of the same movements. There’s a lot of technical aspects to it. And being able to replicate the same thing over and over again is very similar to what is in ballet.”

Rafael keeps busy pursuing both activities. “I have so much on my plate right now. I dance all day from 9 to 5 and go to school from 5 to 11.”

He will be dancing this season at Ballet Memphis, so you’ll see him in white (not chef’s white, but off white) in his tunic and tights in “The Nutcracker.” “I will be in every single one of the productions. I’m choreographing a piece for the February show.”

So, does Rafael dance while he’s cooking? “I do it in my personal kitchen. I don’t really do it at the school.”

During Cochon Heritage BBQ, six chef teams used one whole heritage breed pig to win votes from 20 judges. Each chef crew had to prepare one plate showcasing the whole hog in six distinct dishes consisting of four meats and two sides.

The temperature was in the lower 90s at the outdoor-indoor event, but people ate barbecue outside in front of a blazing orange sun as if it were springtime. Mitch Huelsing, who was with Ann Marie Tucker, summed it up: “Memphis. You’re used to this. Heat and barbecue.”

The late Mark Newman from Newman Farm, which supplies Heritage Berkshire pork to restaurants in Memphis and around the country, was honored at the event. On hand were Mark’s wife, Rita, and family members, including their children Dr. David Newman, Chris Newman, Susan Foster and Courtney Gunter.

“He would have loved this,” Rita said.

Zoo Brew helps to beat the heat

Dog Day’s Ale from Red Brick Brewing Co., one of the brews on the list at Friday night’s Zoo Brew fundraiser at the Memphis Zoo, was a perfect fit. The hot, sultry weather felt like the dog days of summer, which actually took place earlier in July and August. Temperatures were in the mid to upper 80s Friday night, but it was still great beer-drinking weather.

Some 34 breweries featured brews, including lager, amber, pale ale, wheat beer, brown ale, golden ale, fruit beer, pilsner and stout, but nobody had to worry much about getting too stout because the glasses for sampling were very small.

The event also included live music, so guests could take a break and sip something like maybe a Dead Guy, Laughing Scull or a Mama’s Little Pils and beat the heat listening to some tunes.

Humans will outnumber the animals again Saturday night when Zoo Rendezvous (and maybe cooler temps) will be held from 7 to 10:30 p.m.

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