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Stir It Up

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Bill Wharton's musical performances are smokin' — from his swampy Florida blues to the gumbo he cooks on stage. For 17 years, Wharton, aka the "Sauce Boss," has fed his fans the gumbo that he specially prepares during each show.

The Tallahassee musician is now set to jam with his band at Blues City Café from Thursday, July 19th, to Saturday, July 21st, and at the Memphis Union Mission on Sunday, July 22nd.

At his upcoming Memphis performances, Sauce Boss doesn't plan on letting anyone go hungry, especially when it goes to people in need. "We're all about the food," he says.

Four years ago, Wharton founded Planet Gumbo, a nonprofit organization that aims to provide hope and sustenance. Since then, he has performed for and fed residents of homeless shelters nationwide. "We try to give a message of hope — and a big pot of gumbo," Wharton explains. "Food breaks down all barriers and brings people into the kitchen. We bring the kitchen to people, no matter where they are."

Playing blues and cooking gumbo are "one and the same," and only Wharton's special Liquid Summer Hot Sauce rivals his energetic music in spiciness. But for Sauce Boss, "giving back to the communities where we play" is most important.

"I thought I had it really good before I starting doing this. But now that I have a life with service, it's opened up so many avenues," he says. "It's amazing, totally amazing. You've got to give to receive, and you receive an awful lot when you give."

Sauce Boss, at Blues City Café (138 Beale), July 19, 8 p.m. and July 20-21, 10 p.m., free; at the Memphis Union Mission (383 Poplar), July 22, at dinnertime, free. For more information, go to WWW.sauceboss.com or www.planetgumbo.org.

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