The 25th anniversary of the Bowlful of Blues on September 22 from 4:00 to 9:30 p.m. in Libbey Bowl would not be complete without great food and beverages to accompany the world-class blues music. To that end, the locally produced, nonprofit festival is featuring Ojai’s own Rondia’s Kitchen, Ojai Valley Brewery and Ojai Vineyard. The menu includes fried and roasted chicken, barbecued ribs, black bean burgers, sweet potato fries, handcrafted beers and award-winning wines.
Rondia Kaufer grew up in Chicago’s infamous Cabrini-Green housing project where her very survival came to depend on her ability to turn out great backyard barbecue as well as play some funky guitar. Here’s how it worked. Her stepfather, like her father, was an original member of the famous doo-wop group, the Flamingos (“I Only Have Eyes for You”). Not surprisingly, Rondia’s home life centered around music as she and her brothers formed their own band. Her stepfather liked to throw big parties in the common backyard of their apartment building, one of several 8-story structures that together housed a mind-boggling 15,000 people.
Rondia was the designated chef who swapped her apron for a red electric guitar when the chicken and ribs came off the grill. While the band played the latest Curtis Mayfield tune, her culinary and musical reputation was spreading through the neighborhood, granting her a kind of immunity from the gang violence that made Cabrini-Green the national symbol of all that was wrong with inner city housing projects and eventually led to its demolition. On September 22 at Libbey Bowl, Rondia’s Kitchen will be serving a limited number of dinners — first come, first served — between 5:00 and 8:00 p.m. from the kitchen to the left of the box office.
Also appearing are the West Coast group Hot Roux with their infectious mix of Louisiana blues & swamp rock ’n’ roll and the blazing guitar blues of the Kwan Telifaro Project. Multi-talented performer Gill Sotu, familiar to those of you who have attended the Juneteenth celebration in recent years, will handle the MC duties.
For tickets and information, visit BowlfulOfBlues.org or call 805-836-4665.