Labor Day is upon us, with the bittersweet long weekend that marks the passage from summer into fall -- school begins again soon for many, and up North, the leaves have already started changing colors around the edges. But summer ain't over yet! Thanks to all of you who sent in your fine, barbecue-themed playlists for the summer playlist contest. We're happy to present our favorite six below, just in time for that final charcoal-fueled blowout before settling down to autumn. Congratulations and thanks to Linsel, Carl, Eli, Jenny, Joe and A. -- you're all winners! And we hope to have another exciting but as-yet hush-hush contest for you in September -- more on that soon. Enjoy!
"Second Wave," by Linsel Greene
The BBQ is approaching that second wave, when the people with kids start leaving and the latecomers begin arriving. We're working on our second bag of charcoal and setting up for a second round of food. The killer punch you've made is looking like it needs reconstituting. People are starting to move into the shade to cool down, and the music should too.
My BBQs tend to go in waves, and as such I've chosen an eclectic mix of music, with a strong emphasis on dynamic changes. I don't tend to have a lot of dancing at my gatherings, so the key is catchy music that isn't going to interrupt the banter, but helps the party cool down.
1. "Calm," Maritime
2. "How We Know," the Thermals
3. "Right On," the Brand New Heavies
4. "The Truth About Cats and Dogs," Pony Up
5. "Jimmy Down the Well," Monkey Swallows the Universe
6. "Climber," Escape
7. "Call You on the Telephone," Sarah Shannon
8. "String of Blinking Lights," Paper Moon
9. "The Garden," Cut Chemist
10. "Tricycle," Psapp
11. "Frog ... Secret Agent," 3 Leg Torso
12. "Summer Song Summer," Radiogram
13. "Another Lost Summer," Blanche
"Charcoal Chimney," by Carl Orr
This thing beats the pants off lighter fluid. It looks like a big metal mug with a rack in the bottom. You cram newspaper under the rack, dump your charcoal in the bucket, then light the paper. The paper ignites the coals on the bottom, and the fire makes its way up until the whole mass of charcoal is lit. Dump 'em into the grill and start cooking. If you use that lump charcoal, it lights quickly, burns hot and fast, then cools down relatively quickly, with minimal ash and no lingering chemical taste.
Also, there's a song in Swedish.
1. "Roses," Bel Auburn
2. "Anti-Anti," Snowden
3. "Everyone Choose Sides," the Wrens
4. "Song With a Mission," the Sounds
5. "Hormone Love," Blowoff
6. "The Dugout," Ladyhawk
7. "String of Blinking Lights," Paper Moon
8. "Glove Box," Paper Kites
9. "Kate," Sambassadeur
10. "Never Heard the Pin Drop," the Light Wires
11. "I'll Run Away," Sarah Shannon
12. "Släpp in solen," [ingenting]
"Symphony in Short Pants," by Eli Ganias
As important as the burgers, chicken pieces, kebabs, dogs and sides is the playlist. A misplaced tune can stick out like a dropped bowl of potato salad; if it's all good, then it's hardly mentioned. Are the briquettes ready? Has the beer been on ice long enough? When do I play the summer anthem? It's a symphony in short pants and it's all about ebb and flow. As the fire cools, the sun sets and your guests start to leave, the thanks you get seem to pale in comparison to the work you put in. But not to worry, true success comes with the next-day phone call -- "Can I have the recipe for that marinade, and who sang that Costello tune?"
1. "All Green," Clem Snide
2. "Happy Fun Ball," Phofo
3. "Summerlong," Kathleen Edwards
4. "Ashes to Ashes," Steve Earle
5. Throw It Into the Fire," the Mendoza Line
6. "When the Sun Comes Out (Live)," John Wesley Harding
7. "Indoor Fireworks," Laura Cantrell
8. "Freedom Park," Marah
9. "All the Young Dudes (Live)," Billy Bragg & Jill Sobule
"Hoedown, with BBQ" (aka "Oh BBQ Where Art Thou?"), by Jenny Newbury
Take a break from the indie rock -- nothing goes better with barbecue than some American roots music, so start stomping your feet. I can't resist starting off with an ode to BBQ chicken, but then we get down to business with some Celtic fiddling. The list evolves, sampling traditional folk, bluegrass and blues, just like I'd sample the ribs, pulled pork and hot links at my fave local BBQ joint, Dr. Hogly Wogly's (Van Nuys, Calif.). Clothesline Revival segues the list into contemporary folk.
1. "Chicken Flippin," Raisin Pickers
2. "A Blast," Natalie MacMaster
3. "Pretty Little Shoes," Big Medicine
4. "The Cat Came Back," Red Clay Ramblers
5. "Study War No More," Joel Mabus
6. "Fly Around My Pretty Little Miss," Mary Z Cox
7. "You Can't Get That Stuff No Mo," Mark Lemhouse
8. "Red Cross Woman," BeJae Fleming
9. "Im Going Home on the Morning Train," Clothesline Revival
10. "Walkin' Man," Guy Clark
11. "The Thrashing Machine," Lehto and Wright
"Housewarming BBQ," by Joe Posnanski
So your friend just bought a house and she's desperate to show she's a grown-up, so she asks you, effete music snob, to put together a sophisticated playlist, but not to make it "too weird" for everyone else who doesn't particularly like the Japanese punk, and you, effete music snob, undertake this job like you're sneaking through Prague to drop off some microfilm for a superspy. The guys at the Beirut table will stop and ask aloud, "Who does this song? And who is the genius who put this track list together?" And the girl drinking Tsingtao and singing "1969" by the Iggy and the Stooges will exchange eyes with you and say "Good job," and the hostess, drunk on Dominican rum and the success of her party, will say this is the greatest string of songs she's ever heard. You know the music will be easygoing, noninvasive, indeed, welcoming -- even somewhat rueful, like the Fiery Furnaces' "Benton Harbor Blues," but the effusiveness of the Paper Cranes and Loose Fur and Professor Murder will take over.
1. "I'll Love You Til My Veins Explode," the Paper Cranes
2. "Benton Harbor Blues," the Fiery Furnaces
3. "Walk in the Park," Oh No! Oh My!
4. "Postcards From Italy," Beirut
5. "Louisiana," the Walkmen
6. "Thursday," Asobi Seksu
7. "Free Stress Test," Professor Murder
8. "Van Helsing Boombox," Man Man
9. "Big Darkness," Crooked Fingers
10. "Black Cab," Jens Lekman
"BBQ Hootenanny," by A. Hodges
During the summer, the backyard becomes our favorite room in the house and the locale of most parties. Yet as the coals turn to ash, the light fades and the mosquitoes chase us back inside, the best barbecues transition into music sessions. The guitar cases snap open, the flute is assembled, the canvas slides off the standup bass. The basket of percussion instruments gets passed around, and everyone contributes ideas and vocals. The music is eclectic: from Hank Williams Sr. to the White Stripes, Bob Dylan to Green Day. Over the past winter and into our rainy spring, the artists on this list brought the energy and diversity of a BBQ hootenanny to my virtual backyard of Cambridge-Somerville-Boston. Come on back soon, now.
1. "Viola," Girlyman
2. "Ghost Repeater," Jeffrey Foucault
3. "Move," Chris Brokaw
4. "Tricycle," Psapp
5. "Tres cosas," Juana Molina
6. "How Soon," Martha Wainwright
7. "Star Witness," Neko Case
8. "Star Star/Pure Imagination," the Frames
9. "Kathleen," Josh Ritter
10 "Looking at the World From the Bottom of a Well," Mike Doughty
11. "I'll Be Yr Bird," M. Ward