Texas Monthly Top 50 BBQ covers

The BBQ world is anxiously awaiting the release of the 2017 Texas Monthly Top 50 BBQ list next month.

If Blackie Sherrod were writing this column, he would call it Scattershooting while wondering if Geddy Lee still loves Texas barbecue. . .

Sherrod, of course, was a legendary newspaper columnist. After he died last year, his obituary in The Dallas Morning News began:

“Blackie Sherrod, the greatest Texas sportswriter of his generation or any other, now and forevermore, died Thursday afternoon at age 96.”

Kevin Sherrington, a good wordsmith himself, wrote that. Sherrington tells me Blackie’s food tastes tended toward chili, not barbecue. And he loved red-eye gravy, a Southern specialty sometimes made with coffee.

Blackie was “a breakfast man,” Sherrington says. “Loved to go to the Derby, walk the stables, then go out for breakfast.”

Anyway, from time to time in honor of Blackie, we’re going to take a Scattershooting approach to stuff on this site. Here goes. . .

A hunch that Franklin won't be TM's top joint

Speculation is running high about who will lead Texas Monthly’s influential list of the Top 50 barbecue joints in the state — aka the world. The meticulously researched compilation, expected next month, is a well guarded secret until publication. It can create a stampede of new customers for a previously undiscovered place, as it did for Snow’s BBQ in 2008.

In their story with the last list, which appeared in the June 2013 issue of the magazine, Pat Sharpe and Daniel Vaughn noted that “a tectonic shift” occurred in Texas barbecue beginning about 2009. Sixteen of the top 20 in 2013, including two of the top four, weren’t in existence in 2008, they wrote. Before the shift, the top spots on TM's lists were dominated by classic Central Texas joints such as Kreuz Market and Louie Mueller.

I don’t expect the turnover to be as high this time as in 2013, but it could be substantial, particularly at the top. When Posse co-founder Chris Wilkins and I visited 2M Smokehouse in San Antonio last week, for example, the buzz among customers was that Vaughn had already been there several times, and it just opened in December.

My own experience supports a changing of the barbecue guard. I went to eight places over an eight-day period recently and Franklin’s brisket ranked only third, behind 2M and Stiles Switch, which was a Top 10 joint in 2013.

Whatever happens, the new TM list is sure to draw lots of attention . . . and debate.

The Posse’s own Geddy Lee

Micheal Meadows, left, & Gary Jacobson at Opie's Barbeque in Spicewood.

Among the pleasures of barbecue tours are the conversations while on the road between stops.

Last weekend, I rode with Michael Meadows, a long-time Posse member and the former head of the Dallas Zoo. Never knew before that he was a moonlighting rock singer. He will perform with The MalFUNKtions at the Lone Star Roadhouse in Dallas May 19.

Michael also told me about an earlier band, a long time ago, composed of friends at Highland Park High School. Called Mercury, they covered songs by groups such as Rush and its lead singer Geddy Lee.

Barbecue and certain kinds of music do have a special affinity, like salt and pepper on brisket. Before he became the King of Smoked Meat, Aaron Franklin played drums in a band called Those Peabodys. In 2003, right after Franklin joined the Indie group, the Austin Chronicle reported that one of the band’s influences was Rush.

The Posse’s Meadows says he’s concentrating now on stuff people can dance to, such as Secret Agent Man. But I did manage to find some old Mercury cuts online, and I gotta admit that teen-aged Michael Meadows did a mean Ged.

I sent a link of Mercury's version of The Trees to the biggest Rush fan I know, Barry Vigoda, formerly with The Dallas Morning News, now ESPN. A good portion of Barry’s spare time, with only slight exaggeration, is spent going to Rush concerts, as well as shows by Rush tribute bands.

“Really good,” Barry messaged back about Mercury. “Band was a little fast, but vocals are really close.”

Good job, Michael! We'll get a singalong going on the our next tour together.

And here’s where Blackie’s Scattershooting technique delivers a nice synchronicity. On a trip to Austin in 2013, Geddy Lee revealed his love of Texas barbecue in a Tweet: “Thanks to J.Mueller. . .Best BBQ Ever!!!”

John Mueller Meat Co., a top 10 joint in 2013, is gone now. So, I wonder what Geddy will say about TM’s new Top 50 list?

Get on with the fascination....

Here is Mercury’s version of The Trees, one of my Rush favorites:

Brisket Whisperer

7 years ago

Try Mum Foods brisket and central Texas style pastrami at Mueller Farmers Market in Austin.

Don O.

7 years ago

Somehow I doubt the line at Franklin's will diminish much.

Collin Kennedy

7 years ago

This article was for me! I love Texas barbecue, I have done the tour and have eaten at most of the joints in the running. Also a lifelong RUSH fan. Impressed with Mercury's cover. Bring on the brisket!

Austin Top 5 plus Snow's

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