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Posted: August 16, 2014 10:00 p.m.

Banjos and barbecue

Get yourself a plate of BBQ and catch live music at Cowboy’s

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Steve and Vicki Deal have been serving the rural community at Cowboy’s BBQ for four years. Their restaurant in Social Circle is going strong, and Steve is looking to expand to a second location within the next year.

The couple is just looking at locations now around Madison, but Deal said they plan on looking for a space that can accommodate their demand.

“Sometimes we have lines Saturday nights,” Deal said. “So we’re looking for a larger dining room and stage area.”

Every Saturday night Cowboy’s hosts a pickin’ circle from 6-9 p.m. They have been hosting the event since they opened, and Deal said it’s something people don’t want to miss.

“Anyone local with talent or who wants to sit down and play with us is welcome,” Deal said. He plays guitar, washboard, spoons, kazoo – and anything else he can pick up.

Friday night is when the music begins. Fridays are reserved for musician Danny Potter of Nashville. Potter, who has played with the likes of Johnny Cash, relocated to the area recently. He charms the audience from 7-9 p.m. with a mixture of bluegrass and country. The show is free, but Deal said he asks customers to have a bite to eat while they watch and listen.

“You can’t find this kind of talent anywhere else in town for free,” Deal said. “Just come eat with us —that’s it.”

And that’s what customers keep coming back for. Cowboy’s menu is full of homemade barbeque, sides and specialties. Deal said the hickory smoked ribs are their trademark.

“It’s the rub I put on my ribs,” Deal said of his most sought-after dish. “We do a spicy rub and pull them out an hour before they’re done, then add a sweet bark. So you first bite into that sweet bark and then into the spicy rib. People come all the way from Carrollton, Georgia to pick up my ribs, and a lot of people from Athens. We’ve been told we’re the best ribs east side of Mississippi.”

The key is that Deal’s meats are smoked daily. Any leftovers are thrown into the Brunswick stew. Deal said making food fresh every day is what made Cowboy’s a spot customers keep coming back to.

Growing up in an Army family and moving from place to place introduced Deal to barbeque recipes from all around the country. His techniques are influenced by the diversity of barbeque from Kansas City, Wyoming to North Carolina.

His four sauces are made from family influences; the spicy rib sauce is his own concoction, while the mustard sauce is based on his mom’s South Carolina recipe. The North Carolina vinegar sauce is from his dad, and the honey barbeque is for the “wimps.”

“There was always a fight at the table as to which sauce was better,” Deal said. But he himself mixes the vinegar and spicy sauce on brisket.

Deal makes sauces and rubs available for purchase in store. Just don’t ask him about the ingredients. He’d have to shoot you.

Upcoming event: Cowboy’s will be vending at the 9th Annual Fall Fling in Shadydale from Sept. 26-28. Come grab a flyer at Cowboy’s for more details.

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