I'm not a Comfest extremist. I mean I certainly don't hate it, but if I never went again, I'd be cool with that, too. That said, if the weather's nice and there's some music worth seeing, and a few pals are there willing to float me a token or two, well, why the the hell not?

Of course the Off-Ramp's got most of the best acts, but here are couple non-ramp bands that were worth lending an ear to:

Derek DiCenzo, Bryan Olsheski and Bobby Floyd at the Jazz stage--real sophisticated pros conjuring up the great Coleman Hawkins

Tim Easton, JP Olsen and the Madison Square Gardeners--channeling oldies like Van Morrison, Dylan, Uncle Tupelo, Steve Earle, Jason & the Scorchers and "a crazy motherfu&%er from Shelby Ohio" and with a 4-guitar attack, they served up some tight, energetic and rollickingly fun rawk with just the right amount of jagged noise and angularity to it.

After a couple vats of CBC's refreshingly hoppy Summerteeth, I needed to shift gears, and the Rossi's stout and dark Room 19-G (made with rum and rye--sounds like something a pirate might enjoy) hit that spot.

And this Watermelon Gazpacho--heated by jalapeno and cooled by mint--was terrific

Then it was off to Gallo's Kitchen and the best wings in town--sea salt-brined and atop a mustardy creole sauce

Also love the housemade meatball and sausage (ask for a 1/2 and 1/2 and they might comply); in the background are possibly the best fried oysters I've ever had in town

Instead of Fest grub Saturday night, I hit up Alana's for her 12-year anniversary party--replete with 12 year old prices that made this rich salmon cheesecake excitingly cheap. I really like how Alana's wit surfaces with these course-twisting creations i.e. a dessert form made with appetizer ingredients.

Lovely Zucchini pancakes in a light and lemony yogurt sauce

Black bean hummus with all the fixins (red pepper coulis, diced mango, avocado, warm corn chips)

Another playful dessert/app and a Moroccan classic--the killer super flaky bisteeya, dusted with powdered sugar and almond slivers, and stuffed with stewy and aromatic chicken meat evocative of sulrty North Africa

Fried green tomatoes plated with players (such as chorizo, cheese, enchilada sauce) that were richer than Trump--but smart and with much better hair

Asian-inflected shrimp--tangy and addictive

Vossler's ribs--these tender love bars almost started a fight amongst our "sharing" crew

Luscious Lambchops with a trio of Mediterranean sauces--wowzers!

My rowdy bar gang included birthday boy (and ace musician) Derek DiCenzo, and let's just say there was singing. The celebratory evening ended (and this was after several bottles of a Cremant D'Alsace rose, plus countless Comfest vats) with slurps of that crazy Italian quaff called Fernet-Branca (not un-Riccola-tasting, but mighty intoxicating) plus atonal group-serenading and one member of our crew wearing a folded cloth bread container as a fez.

See you next year at the Off-Ramp