When Bill Wharton plays the blues on his Telecaster, he really cooks.
Wharton is better known as “Sauce Boss,” and he’ll be performing at Ace’s Live in Bradenton on Sunday.
His schtick, if you want to call it that, is that he brings his own home-made hot sauce, and while he’s on stage playing his roots blues music he cooks a huge pot of gumbo. When he’s done with his set for the evening, everyone in the audience gets a bowl.
It’s kind of gimmick, except by all accounts both his music and his gumbo truly rock. The Sauce Boss is reportedly the only person who has been featured in Living Blues, GQ and Gourmet magazines. His music has been praised for its originality and its authenticity by serious blues musicians.
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You may know his music even if you don’t know his name. The Boss’ “Let the Big Dog Eat” was featured in Jonathan Demme’s film “Something Wild.” The tune was later covered by Alex Taylor and by Albert Castiglia. And if you know the Jimmy Buffett song “I Will Play for Gumbo,” that’s about the Sauce Boss.
He’s known for his guitar playing (according to his bio, one morning in the ’70s he stepped out of his house and found a vintage National guitar in his front yard, and that started his music career), but he’s also a one-man band who plays drums with his feet.
His website says he’s served his gumbo to more than 210,000 people, all for free, over the past 26 years. He regularly cooks and performs at homeless shelters