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  Celebrating the Blues @ Touhill - By Shannon

On Saturday November 6th, I traveled from Wisconsin to St. Louis to see the show Celebrating the Blues at the Touhill Performing Arts Center at UMSL. Having recently relocated to the Milwaukee area, I was quite anxious to get back home and see some good music. The lineup of artists seemed impressive with Shemekia Copeland, Dr. John (Mac Rebennack), and Charlie Musslewhite. Overall, I must admit I was a bit disappointed with the production. Dr. John's band was the "house band" for the show. They are talented, but not quite as bluesy as I would prefer. First, Dr. John and his band played, then Shemekia came to join them and did some duos with the pianist. Finally, Charlie Musslewhite came out to do some unique solo acoustic blues ensembles. For me, this was the highlight of the show. Charlie has been doing his brand of blues for decades and he is a true showman. Finally, it was all three acts together as one band.

I just didn't feel that pull and excitement of soul grabbing blues that I generally feel when seeing a live act. Maybe it was because I was expecting an out and out blues performance or maybe it was because I realized how homesick I am! All I can say is that my disappointment isn't from the lack of talent that was on the stage. Shemekia Copeland has won four WC Handy awards and has a very amazing voice (which I am sure she inherited from her father Johnny Copeland!) While being born in 1979, I can see a bright future for this young woman and her talents. I was impressed with her vocal and stage display, but wished she had done some more traditional blues tunes. Dr. John has been around since the sixties and has played with musical legends including Sonny and Cher, Mike Bloomfield, and Bob Dylan. He has also won Grammy awards and has had music at the top of various hit charts. Lastly, Charlie Musslewhite is definitely one of my favorite blues musicians. It's no wonder he's so talented having played with Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, and Howlin' Wolf. He had his first record release in 1967 and is still going strong today with his newest release "Sanctuary", that is flying high on blues charts.

The Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center at the University of Missouri-St. Louis is absolutely stunning. Though I wouldn't necessarily call it a "blues venue", it has its own appeal and character similar to that of a small version of the Fox Theatre. I was very impressed with the layout and acoustics of the building as well. Overall, I would give this show 2.5 of 5 on the bluesometer. To learn more about the artists that appeared on stage for this show please visit the web links below.

www.drjohn.org  |  www.shemekiacopeland.com  |  www.realworldrecords.com/musselwhite

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