Music was again in the air in one of the blues capitals of the world!
Down on the mighty Mississippi river, in Laclede’s Landing, a premier restaurant district in Saint Louis, the Big Muddy Blues Festival sent blues music pouring into the streets thicker than the rain that accompanied it — the unfortunately timed remnants of Hurricane Isaac. But a little mist couldn’t even slow down thousands of dedicated blues fans, or the incredible talent that again graced the famous fest, named for the Mississippi River it sits adjacent to. With three stages, two days, four powerhouse headliners, and fantastic local talent such as Marquise Knox, Soulard Blues Band, and Funky Butt Brass Band, the Big Muddy brought the blues.
Saturday Night, taking an indoor stage away from the spotted bouts of rain, brought one of the hottest live bands touring right now, the Royal Southern Brotherhood. While the all-star band members don’t want to be slapped with a genre label, and won’t be named a “blues band”, they instead simply strive to play incredible music. And that’s exactly what they did in Heartbreaker’s Saloon, to a packed and ecstatic crowd. Outside, despite poor weather, the streets were filled with festival-goers, many standing by speakers, doors, and windows to catch the show.
Celebrated Hellfire. Walker is an incredible musician, with unmatched guitar power, and a stage presence that was far too big for the bar that tried to hold him. An outstanding individual who made a recent cover of Blues Revue magazine, Walker left yet another audience in awe of his show.slinger Joe Louis Walker took the stage after RSB to wild cheers and enthusiasm, playing a set with some favorites from his latest album,
Sunday night, the skies remained mostly clear, bringing the large main stage, almost right on the Mississippi River, back to vibrant life, with blues fans packing the hillside to catch their favorite acts.
Ana Popovic started the evening’s headliners. The Serbian-born slide guitarist is one of the finest musicians on the blues circuit. With jaw-dropping slide work & intense songwriting, the electrifying artist and multiple Blues Music Award nominee hit #1 on the Billboard Blues Chart for her latest two albums. On stage, she shows exactly why she’s one of the most popular, in-demand blues players on the circuit. Much of the crowd took to their feet to dance — slippery hillside be damned! “Do you wanna hear some blues?!” she hollers at the audience — to a roar of ecstatic response. Ana’s performance is nearly beyond words, and, as even the staunchest critics have been saying, must be experienced.
To close out the evening, Big Muddy brought a little help from the Doctor – Dr John. The suave embodiment of New Orleans sashayed onto the stage, starting out with a few tracks from his highly acclaimed new album, Locked Down, produced (and played on) by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys. Among his incredibly talented band members was a special New Orleans guest: pianist Jon Cleary. Two Crescent City piano legends on one stage. TV’s Oprah Winfrey Network was on hand filming the Dr’s set. One of the original backup singers for the good doctor (who returned to grace the stage for the night with her vocals) owns one of the most popular soul food chains in Saint Louis, and has a reality show, “Welcome to Sweetie Pies”. With a few tricks up his sleeve, Dr John broke into a custom rendition of “That’s Life”, something often done by a musical predecessor and former member of his band, the New Orleans piano genius James Booker. Dr John’s set had the crowd whipped into a frenzy, booming his unique and blues for an awestruck, standing audience. “If you didn’t have no blues,” the legendary musician told us, “you wouldn’t have a hell of a lot of music out there!” On that note, Dr. John delivered the blues as only he can.
If the rain drove any festival-goers away, it was hard to tell — thousands of blues fans from Saint Louis and across the country proved why STL is still one of the bluesiest cities in the world by their sheer enthusiasm and dedication to a distinct festival in an incredibly unique atmosphere.