It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark... and we’re wearing sunglasses. -- Elwood Blues
Oh, Uptown Greenwood is gonna smell sooooooooo good in just a matter of days. As a matter of fact, Uptown is gonna sound real good too.
I don’t care if it’s in the middle of July when just stepping outdoors makes me sweat like a pig, just let me weave in and out between those competition team trailers inhaling the delicious smells that waft past the nostrils and sample those offerings. Let me enjoy getting under the big tent at the CenturyLink stage to enjoy some great music, maybe with a big ole can of freshly made root beer, the kind that darn near takes a person back to grandma’s or great-grandma’s sassafras recipe.

And while the sun will set and night will fall, let me saunter in and out of the various Uptown venues where performer after performer will be serving up the perfect complement to the barbecued pork, chicken, brisket, ribs and hash, and that would be outstanding blues music.
Yes, one of my favorite weekends in Greenwood is about to take place -- the Festival of Discovery and Greenwood Blues Cruise. And based on the ever-growing crowds each  year of the festival, the evidence is clear this weekend is a favorite among many hundreds more. And why shouldn’t it be? Yes, yes we have heard the complaints before about it being just way too hot to be surrounded by hot grills of all descriptions and so much pavement. We know the balance between the heat and humidity is often enough to create a thunderstorm right over Uptown, but if that occurs, think of it as a break from the heat and just keep on keeping on. Heck, you can find refuge in the big tent or mill around some of the Uptown retailers’ shops and restaurants. They’ll be glad to see you too.

ONE OF MY FAVORITE THINGS to do is head over from the newspaper office to Main Street about midday on the Friday of the festival. For one, the walk is good and it helps justify what is about to take place next. That’s when I take in the sights, sounds and -- ahhhh -- the smells. Next up is the selection of a meal from one of the vendors. Or two. Afterward, it’s time for a little more walking around before heading back to the office. But not much, because Friday night is on its way and that’s when we -- Wendy and I, usually along with a handful of friends -- have a coordinated plan of attack to hear the various artists on the Blues Cruise. That’s round one, by the way. We always head back Saturday. Sometimes what we do is take in performances at the CenturyLink tent and then take a break. Maybe it’s a trip to the pool to cool off some or just chill out back home before heading back to Uptown for the evening’s second round of Blues Cruise. Oh, and whenever we can we also try to snag a rack of ribs Saturday. You know, the weekend of sampling and such just whets the appetite for more, so it’s good to get ribs to enjoy sometime after the vendors and competition teams have left.
The Index-Journal has been proud and privileged to sponsor the Greenwood Blues Cruise for some 6 or 7 years now. Gary Erwin organized the Blues Cruise since the festival’s birth and he has always come through with great artists to perform night and day during the 3-day event. Quite a few of those artists have enjoyed the reception Greenwood provides that they have come back a time or two.
I’m already geared up, having enjoyed a preview of two of the groups that are performing this weekend. You’re sure to enjoy Diana Braithwaite and Chris Whiteley. They produce “Deltaphonic,” a term coined by Andrew Galloway. You’ll hear some old-style Chicago Blues, along with an interesting sound that blends Braithwaite’s soulful voice with great mouth harp and slide guitar.

what ails ya if you’ve been suffering through a Blues drought. Adam Gussow and Alan Gross are downright phenomenal. It’s enough to make me want to buy a harmonica. But then, why ruin the sound of Blues by trying to be a player? My musical talent consists of my ability to play CDs and download songs to iTunes.
These guys better bring some CDs with them to sell, though. You’ll want to to scarf up some copies because while the Festival of Discovery and Greenwood Blues Cruise will come to an end late Saturday, your enjoyment of the Blues does not have to end there.
The Blues Doctors released “Roosters Happy Hour” last year. Add it to the collection. And you’ll surely want to get “DeltaPhonic” by the duo of Braithwaite and Whiteley.
So, hope to see many of you this weekend. Chances are I’ll be sporting a blue Blues Cruise button-down as generated last year by the ever-talented Steve Riley at Emerald Ink & Stitches, a Panama hat and shorts. Nose? What nose? Oh, that one in the picture with this column? Hey, I told you I was ready for barbecue and Blues.
All right, now grab your copy of the Festival special section in today’s paper and map out your own plan of attack, for barbecue and Blues. Stop me and say hello, let me know what you think of the ‘cue and the musicians. But don’t stop me for long, and don’t think me rude if I don’t linger with you long. Like the Blues Brothers of “Animal House” fame, I’m on a mission too, so I might be movin’ on to the next venue.

Whiting is executive editor of the Index-Journal. Contact him at 943-2522; email ,or follow him on Twitter at IJEDITOR. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.