‘Que & A: Charleston’s Bassists Pick Apart the Best BBQ in Town 

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    ‘Que & A: Charleston’s Bassists Pick Apart the Best BBQ in Town 
    Published: January 30, 2024

    Home Team BBQ’s Pulled Pork Sandwich with Mac & Cheese. Source: Instagram

    Bassists play one of the most influential roles in a band: laying down the foundation of a tune. A bass line is like the beating heart of a song, and the rhythmic support of a skilled bassist can build and transform the energy of a piece of music.

    Bassists fuel the tunes, and we wanted to know what fuels them. Because they’re so adept at plucking strings, we figured they’re pretty good at picking bones, too. So we asked some of the Charleston area’s most notorious bassists to wax poetic on their favorite barbecue spots in the Holy City.

    Their answers vary, but one thing is clear: bassists love brisket. 

    Benjamin Mossman (Little Bird, Lureto, Magic Dust)

    Favorite Order: Fried Ribs and Noodle Soup with Pork Belly at King BBQ

    Bass player, synth artist, and “general noise maker”  Ben Mossman, who plays in Little Bird, Lureto, Majic Dust, and Space Armadillo, among other projects, sings the praises of a relative newcomer on the barbecue scene: King BBQ in North Charleston. 

    The Chinese-meets-southern style barbecue joint is the brainchild of the Jackrabbit Filly team and opened its doors last fall.

    “I’ve been a fan of the crew there since Jackrabbit Filly opened up, and I cannot get enough of their take on BBQ. They do a great job of maintaining the balance between traditional and explorative,” he said.

    “You have to get the fried ribs.  Not an option. The Noodle Soup (request spicy!) with pork belly is my usual go to. The fish fry on Fridays is a sleeper hit too.”

    The fried ribs at King BBQ. Source: IG
    Noodle Soup at King BBQ. Source: IG

    Blake Ratliffe (Youngster)

    Favorite Order: Beef Ribs at Lewis Barbecue

    Blake Ratliffe is a bassist, musician, composer, and producer who, in addition to his solo work and his role in group Youngster, has collaborated with artists like Persona La Ave, 2 Slices, Creighton Barrett, DK Yama, and more.

    Ratliffe is a fan of Texas-style barbecue spot Lewis Barbecue, a smoked meat stalwart on Nassau street.

    “Although it’s a hard decision, I have to say my favorite barbecue is from Lewis,” Ratliffe said. “The giant beef ribs on Saturdays are unbeatable.”

    Corey Stephens (Motown Throwdown, Broken Speakers)

    Favorite Order: Two Meat Combo at Home Team BBQ

    If you’ve ever gotten down to the live tunes at the Charleston Pour House’s Sunday afternoon Motown Throwdown, then you probably recognize bassist Corey Stephens. The musician also plays in several other groups, like Broken Speakers, Delta Circus, Sufferin’ Moses, and Josh Roberts & the Hinges, to name a few. 

    Stephens cites longtime Charleston barbecue beacon (and hangover cure) Home Team BBQ as his joint-of-choice, and has a particularly warm history with the West Ashley location.

    “I created such a rapport with the staff at the West Ashley location that I actually got a job there when I moved into town,” he said.

    “I’m a fan of everything on the menu, but if I could only have one meal there for the rest of my life it would be: a two meat combo with wings & fried ribs, cucumber & tomato salad, and collards with a Game Changer, of course. Without a doubt, my favorite meal to get there.”

    George Baerreis (Lindsay Holler, Mash Music Mondays)

    Favorite Order: Sliced Brisket at Lewis Barbecue

    George Baerreis is a multi-instrumental talent who, in addition to bass, also plays drums and piano. Formerly a part of A Decent Animal, he now joins forces with the likes of Lindsay Holler, as well as Mike Quinn and co at Bar Mash, and recently has played with Genrevolta and White Boy Crazy.

    His favorite barbecue joint in town is Lewis Barbecue. “I was born in Austin, Texas, so bricket is important to me and those guys do it right. It’s definitely the best brisket I’ve had on this side of the Mississippi that I didn’t cook,” he said.

    “My go-to at Lewis is the sliced brisket (always the fatty cut), hot guts, whatever side strikes my fancy that day and banana pudding.”

    Grayson Lentz (Greg Keys Group)

    Favorite Order: Sliced Brisket at Lewis Barbecue

    Bassist Grayson Lentz is not beholden to any one type of music. The bassist plays tunes across the genre spectrum, with pop acts like the Greg Keys Group as well as rock artist Fo Daniels and country musician Meredith Foster.

    “When it comes to barbecue, for me, it’s all about the meat,” said Lentz. “When it comes to brisket, it’s pretty hard to top what they have going on over at Lewis. Perfectly tender beef, beautiful smoke ring, and a flavorful bark are all crucial ingredients to a good brisket and Lewis checks all of the boxes.”

    His go-to order? 

    “1/2 lb of brisket (fatty), or the Sancho Sandwich, with green chile corn pudding, collard greens, Mac and cheese, pickles, and pickled onions. Load up on sauce for dipping,” he said. “If I was on death row and had to pick a last meal, this would probably be it.”

    Jenna Desmond (Babe Club)

    Favorite Order(s): Home Team Dry Rub Rings or Lewis Barbecue Green Chile Corn Pudding

    You may know Jenna Desmond as one half of the duo that is indie pop outfit Babe Club. She has also written and co-written songs with an array of artists, including Georgia VanNewkirk and Slow Funeral and Local Nomad. Desmond had a hard time narrowing down her absolute favorite barbecue join, feeling loyal to two of Charleston’s most popular spot.

    “My favorite place for barbecue is tough. I would say a cross between Home Team – because I always have a great hang with my people there – and the dry rub wings make it special. Lewis BBQ is so good though. Not going to give a straight answer here,” she said.

    “[At] Lewis Barbecue you can’t really go wrong with any of the barbecue there but my favorite thing is the green chile corn pudding.”

    Home Team’s famous dry rub wings. Source: IG

    Michael Ahern (Tree Limbs)

    Favorite Order: Pulled Pork Sandwich at Home Team Barbecue

    Michael Ahern, bassist in local indie rock groups Tree Limbs and Mirage, revealed that Home Team’s West Ashley location is a “classic pre-show stop” before a gig at area dive bar/music venue Tin Roof.

    “I really feel like I’m playing at my peak after a pulled pork sandwich and some of their top-notch mac and cheese,” he said.

    “Swing and Swine is another local classic which I adore,” he added, shouting out another longtime Charleston smoked meat spot that now boasts three locations.

    Ryan Stasik (Umphrey’s McGee, Doom Flamingo)

    Favorite Order: Wings/Burger/Tacos at Home Team BBQ

    Ryan Stasik, who plays in bands Umphery’s McGee, Doom Flamingo, and Death Kings, identifies as a “bass player who does not sing well.”

    Stasik frequents the Home Team location on Sullivan’s Island. “It is my home away from home.  Obviously I love the bbq but I also love their wings and the burger,” he said. “Burger is as good as any in town in my opinion. I live close so I’m there a lot enjoying some cold beers and tasty food.” 

    His order of choice rotates from burger, to wings, to tacos, depending on his mood. “And a cold beer of course.”

    Burger at Home Team. Source: IG

    Tommy Merritt (The Simplicity)

    Favorite Order: Chopped Brisket Sandwich at Home Team BBQ 

    Tommy Merritt lends pure rock ‘n’ roll bass lines to the music of Charleston-based groups The Simplicity and Hollifield. When he’s taking a break from slapping the bass to eat barbecue, it’s most likely at Home Team.

    “I would not consider myself to have a wealth of knowledge on BBQ,” he said, “but the chopped brisket sandwich [with a] side of collard greens and mac and cheese with an ice cold pineapple game changer on the side puts one in a wonderful mood.”

    Frozen Game Changer from Home Team. Source: IG

    Wesley Heaton (Daddy’s Beemer)

    Favorite Order: Chopped USDA Prime Brisket at Lewis Barbecue.

    Daddy’s Beemer bassist Wesley Heaton has been playing the instrument since he was ten years old and eating barbecue practically since birth. He’s a fan of Lewis Barbecue because their traditional Austin, Texas style conjures flashbacks to his favorite moments in the Lone Star state. 

    “My go-to order there is always the ‘Chopped USDA Prime Brisket.’ Not only is it delicious, but it’s cut fresh right in front of me. I dress it with vinegar based sauce and drift away into a smokey paradise,” he said. 

    He also preaches the importance of sides. “Even vegetarians can weigh in on the debate of the best BBQ restaurant in town, based on the quality of sides alone. While I think that the main protein is most important, you absolutely must pay tribute to the accompanying act. At Lewis my side order is always the creamy potato salad. If I’m particularly hungry that day I’ll add in some collard greens or tangy coleslaw.”

    Lewis BBQ. Source: IG
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