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10 Classic Tunes to “Liven” up your Barbecue

A Gigawatt Jukebox themed playlist

From Rockabilly to Reggae, Movie Scores to Soul, our Gigawatt Jukebox is out of control.  In true geek style, we submit a never-ending playlist that is not concerned with genre, popularity, or album release date.  

With Summertime Barbecue season in full gear, it is only appropriate to introduce a special edition of the Gigawatt Jukebox.  Imagine instead of your everyday backyard grill-out, you are hosting a tailgate party in your own miniature amphitheater.  It’s simple – just play live concert music rather than standard album cuts using a decent stereo system.   The roaring crowds, clapping, and acoustics will enhance the outdoor experience and spark trips down memory lane of concerts everyone has attended.  So, invite your friends over, add these songs to your playlist, and fire up those grills.


The first band that came to mind for a barbecue playlist was of course, Lynyrd Skynyrd.  The most obvious selection would be “Sweet Home Alabama”, but I’m going with “Simple Man”.  Every party needs a little tempo breather, and this is a perfect mellowing out tune.  What moves me about this song is its reflection upon being a good person, “And be a simple kind of man.  Oh, be something you love and understand…”


Best beloved for their live concerts, the Dave Matthews Band is a staple for any list.  One of their earliest, lesser known, and lighthearted favorites is a song named after Dave’s sister Jane.  This recording of “The Song that Jane Likes” is from an outdoor amphitheater in Washington State where they have been performing on Labor Day weekends for many years.


Aerosmith has become an iconic rock ‘n roll band over the past few decades, still rocking as hard as ever on tours.  I have to go with their 1975 hit “Sweet Emotion.”  You just can’t top their classics.


If you’ve been lucky enough to attend a Elton John concert, you were probably blown away like I was with his powerhouse of a voice and spectacular tickling of the ivories.  He seriously must have forearms of steel!   “Saturday night’s alright (for fighting)” will have you clapping and dancing with the crowd.


Why feature only one superstar, when you can have two?  Tina Turner and Bryan Adams rock the duet that he co-wrote, “It’s Only Love.”  It takes a strong voice to hold up to Tina, but Bryan matched her perfectly.


The Steve Miller Band is one of those laid-back good times groups.  Their classic “The Joker” is an outdoor version of a piano bar song.  Anyone in earshot will be singing along in no time.


Blues Traveler is one of those bands that is a little bit mainstream and a lot of heart. In his book Suck and Blow: And Other Stories I’m Not Supposed to Tell, John Popper tells of how bassist Bobby Sheehan actually wrote “The Mountains Win Again” about a girlfriend who was a snowboarder.  Sheehan has since passed away, and this is his sole writing credit.   I only wish we had a chance to hear more of his writing, as It is my personal favorite of their tracks.  This performance is a vintage one played at the famous CBGB’s in New York City.


The summer wouldn’t be complete without some Marley music.  Although this is a Bob Marley song from his 1977 Album Exodus, I happen to like this relaxed live version by his son Ziggy .


Believe it or not, in 1995, Road Tested was Bonnie Raitt’s first live-concert album release, and it is a must-own in my book.  My favorite is “I Believe I’m in Love With You.”  It is not available on any of her studio albums, so her too-fun live versions are to be enjoyed gritty and rocking like she is.

10. TUSH

A friend of mine told me of how ZZ Top totally kills it in concert.  In fact, they are the longest-running american band who has not had any member changes.  In 1975, “Tush” was their first nationwide hit.  Bass player Dusty Hill explained in a 1985 interview with Spin magazine: “Tush, where I grew up, had two meanings. It meant what it means in New York. Tush is also like plush, very lavish, very luxurious. So it depended on how you used it. If somebody said, “That’s a tush car,’ you knew they weren’t talking about the rear and of the car. That’s like saying, ‘That’s a cherry short.’ But tush as in ‘That’s a nice tush on that girl,’ that’s definitely the same as the Yiddish word. I don’t know how we got it in Dallas. All it could have took was one guy moving down from New York.”   Either way you sing it, “Tush” rocks.  Thanks for the reminder, Kizlev.

Thanks for listening!  Check back regularly for newly added tunes.  

This Special Edition playlist and others are available on YouTube (click the link below):


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