When Melinda Sorrentino opened Chittenango’s Ridge Golf Club and Tavern in 2011, she already had an idea to mix her favorite things: bacon, bourbon, music and a good cause. A co-founder of Clear Path for Veterans, Sorrentino made bacon a Ridge staple on its food menu and has a serious connection to both bourbon and music.
“My bourbon obsession started years ago with a bottle of Woodford Reserve that we shared upstairs at the Westcott Theater with the Wood Brothers,” she said. “I’ve known Oliver (Wood) for about 30 years; he dated my best friend, and they had it that night. So music led to my love of bourbon and that’s why we made a music festival to celebrate it.”
The Bacon and Bourbon Festival will celebrate its third year at the Ridge Tavern on Sunday, June 5, from 1 to 10 p.m., with music from 10 acts, more than 50 bourbons for tasting, prize giveaways (including a raffle for a bottle of Pappy VanWinkle bourbon), a live broadcast on WXTL-FM 105.9 (The Rebel) and more.
The Clear Path cause remains dear to Sorrentino’s heart. The first festival in 2014 raised more than $6,000 for the organization, while the 2015 edition doubled the amount to more than $12,000.
“Clear Path was founded on the principle that it is our responsibility to recognize what an asset our veterans are to our community,” she said. “They continue to serve even after they leave the military and have much to offer as examples of discipline, integrity and the importance of giving back. Supporting Clear Path and its programs and events like Bacon and Bourbon is a way to show this appreciation.”
The daylong stage slate includes the all-vets band, Veterans Salute, amid a wide-ranging roster of bands. “The lineup is created of diverse musical talent that spread multiple genres,” said Musical Director Jordan Davies, who admits to being hooked on the vanilla taste of Jefferson’s Very Small Batch bourbon. “All of the acts have a local connection, even though there are two national acts on the bill.”
Tas Cru and His Band of Tortured Souls will feature local bassist Bob Purdy. Dynamo, based in Nashville, includes Syracuse native Nate Felty and Hamilton’s J.J. Murphy.
“I am most excited about everyone seeing Dynamo,” Davies said. “They are a nine-piece live fusion of jazz, rhythm’n’blues and funk. Think along the lines of Snarky Puppy, but better. Plus, there might be a surprise with our hometown favorite trombonista joining in.”
Bacon, of course, will be wildly prominent on the day’s menu. “Our staff collaborates on all of the menu items,” Sorrentino explained. “But our chef, Kristen Pratt and the Ridge’s great kitchen crew do a phenomenal job of pulling it all off. It’s great fun to use bacon in creative ways.”
This event will also mark the first of several summertime Ridge fests. Almost Famous Fest, featuring tribute sets devoted to David Bowie, Pink Floyd and Bruce Springsteen, is slated for Sunday, July 24. On Saturday, Aug. 27, Ridgestock will recreate the famous Woodstock festival and feature local artists including Skip Murphy and the Merry Pranksters, The Barndogs and Grupo Pagan.
The Bacon and Bourbon Festival takes place Sunday, June 5, noon to 10 p.m., at The Ridge, 1281 Salt Springs Road, Chittenango. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door, available at the venue or online at eventbrite.com.
Bacon and Bourbon Schedule
Opus Black String Quartet (noon)
Veterans Salute (1 p.m.)
Castle Creek (2 p.m.)
Joe Driscoll (3 and 4:20 p.m.)
Spring Street Family Band (3:20 p.m.)
Tas Cru and His Band of Tortured Souls (4:40 p.m.)
Jamie Notarthomas and Liz Friedel (6 and 8:10 p.m.)
Dynamo (6:30 p.m.)
Los Blancos (8:40 p.m.)