Getting Sauced With the Boss

An evening with Sauce Boss Bill Wharton

By Mike Marks

Saturday night April 1st a small group of Parrotheads from the Washington Area Parrot Head Club made a short pilgrimage to the Adams Morgan section of DC for a special sermon, "The Gospel according to Gumbo".

Inside Madam's Organ we found a small stage with the normal instruments of a southern blues band with one exception--large pot and a propane burner. Bill Wharton, also known as the Sauce Boss, has lately made notoriety among Parrotheads from Jimmy Buffett's song "I Will Play For Gumbo". Bill Wharton has been playing blues and cooking gumbo for many years and has served over 70,000 people one bowl at a time and tonight it was our turn for a bowl of that funky spellbound stew.

When the Bill Wharton took the stage wearing a black T-shirt, black jeans, and white and black wing tip shoes he began playing slide guitar blues riffs that few could match. The feeling he put into his music was evident by the contortions of his face. After a few songs Bill transformed himself into the Sauce Boss by donning his trademark chefs coat and hat. The pot was set on the fire with the roux beginning to simmer to which he added onion, pepper, chicken, chicken stock, beer, and a bottle of Liquid Summer hot sauce. Bill Wharton and the Ingredients continued to play, including his own rendition of Margaritaville, while the odor of simmering gumbo began to permeate the air. At the end of the first set everyone was given an invitation to come up and stir the pot as well as purchase some of Bill's Liquid Summer hot sauce. During the intermission I was able to talk with the Sauce Boss for a few minutes and get some tips on making gumbo.

The second set brought more great blues music and more cooking. Sausage, zucchini, okra, along with more stock, beer, and hot sauce were added to the pot and the aroma was nothing but delicious. While Bill and the band were playing, members of the audience including the parrotheads helped with the gumbo by stirring the pot. Toward end of the second set Bill made his way through the crowd and wound up standing on the bar singing to the crowd in the back. The gumbo was almost done and shrimp, clams, and crawdad was finally added to the pot. Then the last song began. The encore of the night was an instrumental with the Sauce Boss serving up bowls of rice and gumbo to the audience. The Music was great and the food was good, though it could have been a little hotter for my taste. Everyone had a great time at Madam's Organ that night. If you have the chance I would recommend seeing Bill Wharton and the Ingredients.

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