Some may call Jazz, Blues, and Ragtime dying arts, but Webster Groves, Missouri is determined to prove the heart and soul of a truly American made musical form pulses with life at the 12th annual Old Webster Jazz and Blues Festival on September 15, 2012. Started in 2001, the event doesn’t just draw in people from the surrounding St. Louis Metro area, but is a draw to those throughout the region—from at least as far away as Ohio. The Old Webster Jazz and Blues Festival was held on two stages. The Allen stage was dedicated to the Blues and the Gore stage was for Jazz.
Ragtime from the St. Louis Ragtimers warped the audience back to the time of Joplin and Louis Armstrong. The St. Louis Ragtimers played together for 50 years, bringing Dixieland Jazz and Ragtime to life with their own flavor to entice the ear. With Trebor Tichenor on the keyboard, Al Striker as vocals and playing the banjo, Don Franz on the Tuba and Bill Mason on the trumpet, there can be no question why they were once a Gaslight Square famed act and a treasure of the Gateway city. Constantly playing at festival and concerts around the world, they prove the art form’s alive and kicking.
Blues and Jazz continued next on the two stages as a third kind of jazz, a new jazz called PoJazz –a fusion of poetry and spiritual jazz played in the MCCaughey & Burn Fine Arts. Raven Wolf, the one man musical half of PoJazz makes his Jazz by mixing Native American and other genres of jazz. As Raven Wolf played with the poets Dwight Bitikofer, Jennifer Fandel and Father Gerard, the Allen Stage was the taken over by the Dave Black Quartet with their slow smooth relaxing Jazz and Blues. The Dave Black Quartet, which was made up of five musicians rather than four, fused elements of jazz, funk, blues, rock and the world beat. Meanwhile, Boss Hall’s band let loose the soul of the event on the Gore stage. Boss Hall’s band is made up of guitarist Tom Hall, vocalist and flutist Margaret Bianchetta, dobro player Bob Breidenbach, bassist Vince Corkery and violinist Kevin Buckley.
After the Dave Black Quartet and Boss Hall band finished their sets, the stages were the homes to Jim Stevens and his band and the legend David Dee and his band. Jim Stevens started the music fire on the Allen Stage with a saxophone blazed with Blues, Soul, and the groove of Funk. Where Jim Stevens brought the fire of Jazz and Blues, David Dee heaped on the fuel until it was a bonfire on the Gore stage. Dee sung what is called the St. Louis Women’s anthem of “Gone Fishing.” He continued on to many other songs that had the audience dancing in the aisles. Dee writes and performs songs for “the female—for the woman.”
Jim Stevens and David Dee surrendered their stages to the Webster Groves High School Band and the Webster University Jazz Ensemble, who in turn gave over the stages to the day’s headliners Rich McDonough & Rough Groves with Anita Rosamond on the Allen stage and Marsha Evans & The Coalition with Roland Johnson on the Gore stage.
Rich McDonough opened for Albert King, Junior Wells and Robert Cray among others. He once shared the stage with the late Johnnie Johnson at the Sheldon Concert Hall. He played at the Grand Emporium in Kansas City and the Blues Route Festival in Holland. Rich’s music brought the soul of Blues to the pinnacle as the band played and he alternated between vocals and harmonica.
Marsha Evans earned the title as “The River City Show Stopper.” She headlined the Big Muddy Blues & Heritage Festival. She also performed with Johnnie Johnson. She was joined on the Gore Stage by Roland Johnson, who’s named the “Best St. Louis R&B artist” by the Riverfront Times. Her music drew the people to dance in front of the stage and in the aisles, on the sidewalks and on the street. Her voice filled with the love, the passion and the power of someone like Aretha Franklin, whom she recently opened for. Her title is well earned.
When Roland Johnson took over the stage and later she joined him, you could feel the artistic love the two performers shared all the way to the end of the packed two blocks. Their act brought a crescendo to another successful Old Webster Jazz and Blues Festival.
Follow David Lucas on Twitter @owlkenpowriter.
Music is the soul of any culture. The Latin American soul sung in Kiener Plaza September 7, 8 and 9, 2012. The Hispanic community of the Greater St. Louis metro area celebrated its diversity and richness through food, crafts, and music. People danced in front of the stage, with the Gateway Arch in the background, as musicians played Latin Pop, Salsa, Rock, and much more.
Music reflects the culture from which it came. While the lyrics were in Spanish, it was clear the origins were diverse. The cultures of North, Central, and South America called the people to dance floor. Each culture gave the audience something different. It didn’t matter if you spoke Spanish or not, the emotions of the songs and various types of beats made you dance. Even the vendors and onlookers had to toe tap and dance.
Latino music coming out of the United States echoes with memories of the countries from Latin America. It resonates with triumph and heartache of trying to fit into an alien culture. The struggles of growing up and living in modern America with the crime and discrimination play across the songs. It recalls the dangers of illegal immigration and the blind groping of the legalization process to stay in the new home. The music cries the loneliness of leaving wives and children and all they have known. In all of the music, there is the hope for the future.
The Festival gave St. Louis community a taste of what the Hispanic culture brings to the Midwest. Like all good appetizers, the music at the Hispanic Festival leaves you wanting more.
Follow David Lucas on Twitter @owlkenpowriter.