Photos by Keely Grace
Zingerman’s Roadhouse recently hosted Biscuits for Your Outside Man, A Fundraiser Dinner for the Music Maker Relief Foundation. The night featured eclectic sounds of Grammy Award winning musician Dom Flemons (a founding member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops) and a delicious Southern-inspired menu from Chef Alex Young.
“This is our 12th annual African American Foodways Dinner,” said Ari Weinzweig. “It’s the single dinner that we’ve done more than every other dinner.” Past events have honored Malinda Russell, whose 1866 cookbook was the first written by a Black woman, as well as soul food and African American street vendors.
This year’s sold out event raised over $3,000 for the Music Maker Relief Foundation, an outstanding non-profit organization that provides direct financial support to working-class musicians 55 years or older, who have yearly income of less than $18,000 (the average income for the over 400 artists they serve is $5,000 a year) and are rooted in the Southern musical tradition. The organization offers a variety of services, including monthly stipends for groceries and medical care, a professional development program that produces CDs for artists to sell, and a program called Cultural Access, which gives these wonderful musicians access to play venues, like the Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and the Newport Folk Festival.
For this dinner, Music Maker Relief Foundation founder Timothy Duffy was on hand and spoke on what inspired him to start the organization. “The music that created our American vernacular after The Great Migration—there’s people in the culture that created this music that hold on to dear traditions,” said Duffy. “The record business never helped these people….I engaged in a program to partner with musicians hand in hand to make a better life for them and a better life for us, so we hear this treasured music.”
Flemons stressed the cultural significance of the music and the relief it has historically provided to African American artists and their audiences. “There’s such heavy history with all this music here,” he says. “There’s a lot of oppression, there’s a lot of misrepresentation, and a lot appropriation that’s been within the culture. One of the things that has made it so we as a people have been able to move forward has been those good times and finding a way to laugh. Almost like a little release valve…just like we’re getting together tonight.”
The menu, which was inspired by tracks from Music Makers’ new food-themed compilation album “Biscuits for Your Outside Man,” was a hit. Starting with fluffy, buttery biscuits, it also featured cabbage pie with Broadbent smoked sausage, cornmeal fried catfish, BBQ ribs, black eyed peas with noisette vinaigrette, chicken pot pie, and baked macaroni and cheese. Dessert was cherry pie and banana pudding served with a Nilla wafer and fried fat back (per Dom’s very special request!).
Check out the photos:
Ari and Dom Flemons
Black eyed peas with noisette vinaigrette
Timothy Duffy, the founder of Music Maker Relief Foundation
Behind the scenes, in the Roadhouse kitchen
Cherry pie and banans pudding with fried fat back
Chicken pie and cornmeal fried catfish with greasy greens and mac & cheese