A large crowd covered the lawn outside of the Snus Hill Winery (hidden back on a gravel road between Madrid and Slater) on Sunday to relax with a nice bottle of wine, enjoy some blues music, nosh on some sliders and snacks, and enjoy the 74-degree July day. Other than a rather strong, cold breeze it was a perfect day to do all of those things.
First of all, Snus Hill has a great set-up for events like these. Besides the wine, they have a large, shady lawn, a large patio, and a large balcony that all have a great view of the building where the bands set up. The winery also has a concrete area perfect for dancing, a bocce ball pit, and dozens of patio chairs and wine buckets for patrons to use. Patrons can also walk through a corn maze if they need to stretch their legs or get their restless children some exercise. Most of the kids, though, chose to dance or hula-hoop instead of wandering through the corn maze on Sunday.
And why wouldn't the children (and adults) want to dance, with Hot Tamale & the Red Hots performing? The 2014 Iowa Blues Challenge runners-up played a lively show. Lead singer Cindy Grill exudes energy and can liven up any room, or in this case, lawn. Grill combines the zany attitude of Melissa McCarthy with a big, bluesy voice similar to that of fellow Des Moines blues singer Tina Haase Findlay (Bella Soul) while on stage. The Red Hots' rhythm section features two members of the 1998 Iowa Blues Challenge-winning band Fat Package, Bobby Cassady on drums and Robert Bayse on bass. The two lay down a solid foundation beneath the talented grooves of guitarist Dave "Bonedaddy" Jenks and harmonica player Kevin Bodtke. The band wound their way through blues standards while mixing in a few originals from their 2007 album Hot off the Grill.
I can't think of a better way to pass a summer Sunday afternoon than with a couple of tender barbecued pork sliders from Saddles BBQ Bistro (who offers food at the winery each Sunday), a glass of Snus Hill's Spinna or Ditchweed Red, and some good, old-fashioned, soulful blues. The winery has regular Friday evening and Sunday afternoon live music events throughout the summer and fall months, and I highly recommend a visit for anyone looking for a relaxing way to spend kick off or wind down a weekend. The music is free, you can bring your own food or purchase food on-site, and the events are very kid-friendly. Check out pictures from Sunday's event in the nearby slideshow.