John Lee Sanders
Photograph by: Surrey NOW

The second annual Blues BBQ Bash at Blue Frog Studios is bringing back southern barbecue, artwork and live music to White Rock this Friday and Saturday.

The two-night concert series features blues keyboardist John Lee Sanders and his band headlining the first night and the boogie-woogie rock 'n' roll of the Michael Van Eyes Band closing the second night.

"This is a great opportunity to be up close and personal with both artists," said studio owner Kelly Breaks.

Sanders - who is opening for Bonnie Raitt at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Aug. 10 - has a long history in blues, working alongside such greats as Long John Baldry.

"He grew up actually down the street from where Elvis lived in Memphis," Breaks said of Sanders. "He's a very interesting character and just a great, phenomenal singer and piano player."

This year's shows are presented by Blue Frog Studios and the White Rock Blues Society in a recent partnership. Last year's inaugural concerts were an outdoor escape from the studio's main theatre, and they both sold out quickly.

"We do a series of recorded concerts in our studio and we wanted to try something different in the summertime," said Breaks.

North Surrey blues talent nominee David "Boxcar" Gates is opening both nights. He participated in the 2012 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, reaching the semi-finals of the solo/duo category.

Organizers are expecting an intimate crowd of 80 people nightly who will enjoy the music while they dig into the pulled pork, barbecue chicken, cornbread and southern sides.

The studio will also display southern blues artwork from local artists, as well as Stan Street, a southern artist from the legendary blues city of Clarksdale, MS.

A musician himself, Street has shared the stage with such blues forefathers as Bobby Rush and the late Pinetop Perkins.

"He has jam nights in his gallery and pretty much every famous blues musician around has played at his place," said Breaks.

The doors open at 6 p.m. both nights with Gates taking the stage at 8 p.m. and the headliners at 9 p.m. Attendees must be 19 or older as there will be a bar on site.

Tickets for the concerts cost $47.50 per night, which also covers food and admission to the art show, and can be bought at bluefrogstudios.ca. Blue Frog Studio is at 1328 Johnston Rd.

@jacobzinn