Home of the Live Music Calendar Follow STLBlues on Twitter Follow STLBlues on Facebook Home of the Live Music Calendar Live Music Is Better, Book It Here!! Live music is better, book yours now!
  Big Muddy Undercurrents
 The Big Muddy Blues Fest
Welcome to Big Muddy Undercurrents, where we bring you a behind the scenes, grass-roots perspective of the 2004 Big Muddy blues festival. As you may know, this year's event had some new changes. Here at STLBlues, we cover lots of events, but we've never seen anything produced quite like this year's blues festival. We found some things rather interesting, and thought you may also.

Marketing - An event of this size and history should have a great marketing strategy. You may be surprised to learn that fliers for this year's event hit the nightclubs on the Tuesday before the festival. Not six weeks out, but four days prior! Even our much smaller annual STLBlues fest begins promoting six weeks out. Very common was the remark "they didn't promote this year". All clubs that allow fliers equal free advertising, so why wasn't this done, at the very least? You tell us!

Photography - as you can see here, STLBlues has been reviewing shows and festivals for years. We ran into a rather unique "no photos allowed" policy this year that we've never seen at any outdoor music event, anywhere. STLBlues has been granted official photo/media access by some of the blues world's biggest talents, such as BB King, Robert Cray, and the Neville Brothers, by some of the biggest fests in the nation - the Jazzfest in New Orleans, The San Fransico Blues Fest, and the King Biscuit Blues Fest - and to some of the best venues in St. Louis, such as the Savvis Center, the Pageant, and the Sheldon, and the recent River Splash concert series. Yet we had been officially informed that "all the artists requested no photography, so we won't have a photo well this year". After seeing several photographers in the photo well that wasn't really there, out of curiosity I asked some of the artists about this unprecedented blanket "no photo" policy. The common reaction was "never heard of it", and "we love the publicity".

Media - this is by far the most media-unfriendly festival STLBlues has ever attended - and we've been to a few. Not only were we there to cover and promote this event for STLBlues AND BigMuddyBlues.com - until this year the official fest web site - we were also there to cover some of the festival artists that STLBlues publishes for, such as Kim Massie, Phat noiZ, the Bottoms Up Blues Gang, Brian Curran, Melissa Neels, and more. We're truly disappointed to say that we receive much better cooperation from every out-of-town event we cover than we do here at the Big Muddy, right in our own hometown. Even if the motivation is purely mercenary, and not for the love of the event, media are some of the very people you should accomodate - which doesn't take much. They help publicize the event, which becomes more well-known, creating interest in music fans with $$$$ to spend.

On-line promotion - BigMuddyBlues.com was designed from day one to be the official website for the festival. It achieved immense popularity, and became known as a great on-line Big Muddy resource. It was also a tremendous promotional vehicle for all the St. Louis Blues artists. This year, the Big Muddy management decided that the best marketing strategy for the event and the Laclede's Landing merchants was to close down BigMuddyBlues.com and send all the on-line music seekers to a single web page within the Laclede's Landing website. This was done to "benefit the merchants of Laclede's Landing". This was after we informed the Big Muddy organization that the Laclede's Landing merchants already had much desired website 'branding' established. Not to mention BigMuddyBlues.com also features information that couldn't be found on the Laclede's Landing website, such as a guest book for fest goers, an FAQ page that featured information required by the ADA, and a photo gallery to capture the event for posterity. In other words, the most information rich, globally accessible promotional vehicle for this event, and all our local blues artists, was expendable. But at STLBlues, we think this is unacceptable, and so we'll keep bringing you BigMuddyBlues.com for as long as there is a Big Muddy. You can count on that!

Merchants of Laclede's Landing - according to a very reputable source, quite a few of the Laclede's Landing's merchants did not even contribute to the event that placed over 50,000 potential customers at their front door. That's shameful, from a cultural aspect, and even if their motive is purely greed, spending a little to make a lot seems good business sense. There were very few food vendors from the restaurants lining the streets, and there was only one nightclub - the Train Wreck Saloon - that hired a blues band to perform after the fest, and we recommend you visit them often, just for that very reason! Again, if you have 50,000 potential customers at your door, wouldn't you find a way to lure them into your establishment? It seems good business sense that having a streetside food booth, and/or a blues band in your club after the fest would tap this potential market. That's just our take on the matter.

City of St. Louis - Don't get me started. Sure, some face time is grabbed giving away occasional 'Proclamations' to select artists. but what about actually exporting something besides sports, such as our musical culture, known worldwide? Does 'apathy' describe it?

Why are things run this way? Speculation runs rampant. Opinions vary from "extreme apathy", "it's the new kid on the block" - referring to the relatively new Laclede's Landing management - to the more extreme "they're intentionally trying to make this event a failure". When asked why such an extreme opinion, we were told "what better way to steer sponsorship dollars away from the Big Muddy, to a seemingly more lucrative event". On a personal note, the Big Muddy did donate hundreds of 2003 fest t-shirts to be given away at Shauna's recent benefit - which we gave away to promote the Big Muddy. We thank them for that kindness. Believe what you choose, just share your thoughts on this topic by stopping by the guest book of BigMuddyBlues.com. Maybe we can't change things, but we can offer a forum for public opinion.

Will it change things? We'll know next year! We have no agenda, other than to see this event not only survive, but prosper. We hope that the Big Muddy/Laclede's Landing mgmt. and merchants see this article in the spirit we intended, that is to give this world-class event the world-class promotion it needs to succeed and flourish. Until next year, keep stopping by STLBlues, and get out and support live music!

Editor - STLBlues

 Live Music Calendar | Send Blues News | © STLBlues 2000 | Privacy Policy