Some things just go together: yin and yang; margaritas and a salty shoreline; Bogey and Bacall; barbeque and the blues.
The last of these idyllic pairings is the premise behind South Knoxville's beloved Sweet P's Barbeque and Soul House, a place where the motto "low and slow" could apply as much to the smoked meats as to the bluesy weeknight entertainment.
"A lot of patience and time is the biggest thing with barbeque," kitchen manager Eddie Faircloth said. "You've got to use low heat and let it a cook for a long time, and that's really it for us. Yeah, the seasonings are all great and everything, but really it's the theory and practice of the cooking that makes (the food) so great."
Cooking "theories" aren't generally something one associates with a family-owned barbeque joint, but at Sweet P's, meat quality is serious business.
Faircloth, who has manned the kitchen at a litany of Knoxville-area greats including Litton's, Regas and The Orangery, holds the purveyors of what will become the restaurant's beef brisket, pulled pork, ribs and chicken wings to rigidly high standards.
"We're out to get the best quality meats that we can," Faircloth said. "I really stick it to my purveyors. Every week I'm looking over these meats, inspecting them, and if they don't meet our standards, I'm on the phone with them. That's not what we're going to serve."
Co-owners and cousins Chris and Jonathan Ford founded the restaurant, which expanded out of the former's self-owned catering company nearly five years ago, on a similar standard.
"We take a lot of pride in the food we put out, not just the pork and meat, but in the sides and dessert as well," Jonathan Ford, who also serves as general manager, said. "Chris put a lot of time and knowledge into developing his recipes. Basically if it's not perfect, we won't serve it."
Part of this knowledge stemmed from Chris Ford's job title before his entrepreneurial food endeavors: bandmate.
"How Chris got into this business and started doing barbeque was he was in a band before this and they toured around a lot," Jonathan Ford said. "They ate a lot of barbeque because it was cheap and they all liked it.
"He learned to love barbeque and developed a real passion for it, as did I."
The Fords' passion for both pork and music is evident throughout the interior of the riverfront restaurant.
Tabletops are ornamented with album covers; the beaming faces of Dolly Parton, Hank Williams and Ray Charles peer out between customers' plates piled high with smoked meat, mac and cheese and chocolate chess pie. A jukebox occupies one corner, and the lower level seating area is often converted into a stage for live music events.
"We do these shows called 'Even Thursdays get the Blues' on every even numbered Thursday of the month," Jonathan Ford said. "We have this great new dude booking for us, Michael Gill, who also does things like 'Live at 5' at the Knoxville Museum of Art. He helps us bring in local and regional blues artists.
"It's a great opportunity for families to come out on a Thursday night and hear some good music and get a great meal along with it."