Bram Bessoff stays busy with Team AJT at 2nd Annual Kosher BBQ competition. PHOTO / Bram Bessoff

Bram Bessoff stays busy with Team AJT at 2nd Annual Kosher BBQ competition. PHOTO / Bram Bessoff

BY BRAM BESSOFF / AJT //

All kinds of smoking were going on this weekend in Atlanta, home to two very special events: The A3C hip-hop festival, the biggest in the country, and the 2nd Annual Kosher BBQ Competition held in the B’Nai Torah parking lot.

Somehow I powered through both and am now feeling the effects of my marathon that began last Wednesday.

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I’m making a career shift in the music industry. For the past six months I’ve been training to become a live music producer. Like the recording process, a live show benefits from having someone help the artist “produce” the project.

It’s much more than stage presence. Producers work with artists to turn their shows into unforgettable moments for the audience; in essence I help artists create life-changing experiences for their fans.

I give talks at music conferences and industry associations on the subject and presented my latest talk at A3C this past Friday. About 50 or so hip-hoppers and me stuffed outselves into a tiny conference room with very little AC – it was hot, sweaty and smelled like a Bob Marley concert.

We hashed out how to win audiences over and sell more “merch” at shows – and they got it! People left thanking me, telling me how much this information could change their career and how badly indie hip-hop needs better live shows. Between this and helping artists chart on Billboard, it’s a satisfying job.

Some highlights from A3C outside of the spotlight included two smaller artists that played an early showcase opening night at Space2 (connected to Soundtable) in the Old 4th Ward. Check out Dynasty the “Dream Pusher” at www.reverbnation.com/yagirldynasty and Wordsmith at www.reverbnation.com/wordsmith. Both know how to put on a great live show.

A bright light goes off, and since A3C founder Brian Knott and I go way back to working on Atlantis Music Conference together, this is my “in” to make that connection between the black and Jewish cultures of Atlanta.

Many of you may not know it, but Atlanta and the AJMF are home to some great Jewish hip-hop artists. Here’s some of our favs:

So called http://www.socalledmusic.com/

4th Ward Afro-Klezmer Orchestra , //afroklezmermusic.com/; Y-love, //thisisylove.com/; Drake, //www.drakeofficial.com/; Mac Miller www.macmillerofficial.com/; Kosha dillz, //koshadillzworld.com/; Kosherbeets //supremeink.net/; Darshan //darshanmusic.com/

MUSIC TO MEAT

Has everyone heard about the Annual Kosher BBQ?

I sure hadn’t until the AJT invited me to help out with their team this year. Why doesn’t the whole town know about this event?

I had no idea what I was getting into when I agreed to bring my family down Saturday night and pull an all-nighter smoking kosher brisket, chicken and beef ribs.

We pulled into the B’Nai Torah parking lot and it looked like a full on festival was in the works with party tents, inflatables, a stage and about 20 competitors setting up their BBQ pits.

All meats had to be smoked on a Weber classic grill, but you could use any charcoal you wanted and choose from a vast array of ingredients to prep your meats. The entire social hall was the prep room and the pantry accessible to the competitors was like something out of Master Chef.

A refrigerator truck was brought onsite to hold the hundreds of pounds of kosher meat, two palettes of Kingsford charcoal and three diesel generators. We quickly set up camp and got down to the hard work of drinking and socializing.

We literally stayed up all night bouncing from tent to tent, meeting professional and amateur BBQers from as far as Connecticut and St. Louis; drinking, schmoozing and smoking (mostly meats).

The kids slept wonderfully in the tent. I passed out around sunrise on a cot under the trees and my wife finally napped in the back of the car around 10 a.m. G-d must have wanted this event to be a success because we had a starry night and a beautiful day.

It got crazy fast; somehow I wound up in a tent, only to be woken to urgently break down camp and get grilling. The next moment I’m wearing fire gloves and grabbing racks of meat right off the grill.

We dubbed the AJT “Meat the Press” . Our team included me and my family: Anne, Lola, Riley and our designer-dog Lucy. Also the AJT owner & publisher, Cliff Weiss, and his son Gabriel; Jay and Jake Bischoff, the night shift; and the morning crew led by last year’s grand prize winner Charles Goldberg as our pit master; Al Shams, Kaylene & Bradley Rudy, and Caleb Heller.

The competition included four stages — beans, chicken, ribs and brisket. We began with the beans and finished with the brisket.

It was just like one of Gordon Ramsay’s cooking competition shows but with beer.

Although many teams were ruthlessly competitive, we made good friends with several of them and I did my best to trade taste tests with as many as I could. In the end we took honorable mentions for team name, beans and a third place trophy for our Brisket.

Live entertainment was provided by the Cohen Brothers and AJMF veterans Nick Edelstein and the Groove. Next year I plan to get the Atlanta Jewish Music Festival more involved and create even more synergy between the music and the meat.

I’ve got plenty of pics from both events on my facebook @bramrocks and twitter @bram_rocks pages; check them out and send me some comments and thoughts.

Meanwhile, everyone mark the 3rd Annual Kosher BBQ Competition down for fall of 2014. It was one of my more favorite cultural events of the year so far.

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