Beloved BBQ Eatery & Renown Music Venue Vandalized

Photo: Chris Johnson
Photo: Chris Johnson

A popular local eatery, and an internationally-important music venue was vandalized Tuesday night (7-28) in Bayport, Minnesota, just east of the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Along with serving award-winning barbecue (the restaurant was recently visited by Guy Fieri for feature on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives) it is one of the last remaining Deep Blues music venues in the world supporting independent blues, folk, and country acts traveling through the region.

Chris Johnson, the beloved owner of Bayport BBQ operated by him and his family, arrived at his restaurant Wednesday morning to discover the store front facing 5th Avenue in Bayport had been spray painted with words like “rude” and “closed” and an expletive inscribed across a picture window. The front door was also screwed shut and the screw heads cut off, rendering the door un-useable.

Chris Johnson is the founder of the Deep Blues Festival, which draws its inspiration from the north Mississippi Hill Country Blues scene that grew out of the launch of Fat Possum Records and the music of artists such as Junior Kimbrough, R. L. Burnside, and T Model Ford. The “Deep Blues” term also grew to encompass artists such as Scott H. Biram, Possessed by Paul James, Charlie Parr, and others. Along with hosting Deep Blues festivals in Minnesota, and most recently in Clarksdale, Mississippi, Chris Johnson and Bayport BBQ regularly book artists traveling through the upper Midwest for intimate shows.

Luckily, Chris Johnson was able to find some neighborhood kids to help clean up the graffiti, and the vandalism won’t affect the food or music operations one bit, despite the assailant’s best efforts. Anyone with information on who might have vandalized the storefront is asked to call the Washington County Sheriff’s Office at (651) 430-7600.

The next Deep Blues Fest is scheduled to happen on October 15th thru 18th in Clarksdale, MS. A Deep Blue Fest Northwest is also scheduled for July 31st thru August 2nd.

Neighborhood kids cleaning up the graffiti.


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