Day 1 of the 2004
Big Muddy Blues Fest opened on a steamy
St. Louis summer day, but with no mention of
rain. Quite a change from last weekend at the
Promise of great music was palpable to the gathering
music lovers, as the stage crew busied themselves
with last minutes preparations. The St. Louis
Blues Society was on hand with thier ever-expanding
clothing line, with shoppers buying them up
all day long. "Sales are good", according
to Blues Society volunteers. Not a member of
the Blues Society yet? Join
right now, it's good Blues karma.
Long standing legend David 'Honeyboy' Edwards
was up first, showcasing an outstanding acoustic
set, with some fine harp working along. Honeyboy
Edwards began playing music at age fourteen,
performed with Big Joe Williams in 1932 and
toured briefly with Charlie Patton in 1934.
He played with The Memphis Jug Band from 1935
to 1936 and worked with Walter Horton in 1936
and Robert Johnson in 1938.
began recording for the Library of Congress
in 1942, when Alan Lomax tracked him down to
be recorded for the Library of Congress' Archive
of American Folksong as a major national resource.
Fast forward to 2004, and Honeyboy seems to
still be at the top of his game, putting on
a well-received demonstration of classical Delta
country blues. Following Honeyboy was St. Louis'
own Master of the Stratocaster, Mr.
Bennie Smith. Bennie has been a fixture
on the St. Louis Blues scene for a long time,
and has quite an interesting
story to tell. Bennie performed some his
standard covers, such as 'Drown in my own tears',
'Stand by me', and more. Bennie and his solid
band Urban Blues Express can be heard around
town each week, in case you missed them, or
just want more!
The Holmes Brothers were up next, with a very
soulful, gospel-tinged set of music. They've
recorded with Van Morrison, Peter Gabriel, Odetta,
Phoebe Snow, Jungle Brothers and Joan Osborne,
and have gigged all over the world, even performing
for President Clinton.
A stage push was then in order, to catch some
of St. Louis' finest. Over at the President
Casino stage were the sounds of the Melissa
Neels band, always a pleasure to hear. Then
it was 2 blocks of uphill cobblestone to the
show, where Rich was showcasing his new band,
which did a silky version of 'Yellow Moon',
a Neville Bro's standard. Just a block away,
Massie was beginning her set over at the
Embassy Suites stage. Kim, just in case you
don't know, is one of St. Louis' biggest Blues
voices, captivating the crowd with her styles,
ranging from a powerful cover of 'At Last',
to a burning version of "Whole lotta love",
which certainly pleased to crowd, judging from
their standing ovation.
Back to the main stage just in time to witness
the magic that is Clarence
'Gatemouth' Brown. Louisiana-born, Texas-raised
multi-instrumentalist Clarence "Gatemouth"
Brown has been dishing up his unique blend of
blues, R&B, country, jazz, and Cajun music
for more than 50 years. A virtuoso on guitar,
violin, harmonica, mandolin, viola, and even
drums, Gatemouth has influenced performers as
diverse as Albert Collins, Frank Zappa, Lonnie
Brooks, Eric Clapton, and Joe Louis Walker.
Clarence was in command of all his skills on
this night, demonstrating what he termed 'Louisiana
Bayou Rock'. Joining Gatemouth near the end
of his set was Bennie Smith, as they teamed
up on 'Okie Dokie Stomp', with Bennie working
the Stratocaster as Gatemouth joined in on fiddle.
A great way to end Day 1. The fun continues,
as Day 2
brings even more great sounds to the Big Muddy.
We'll see you there!