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RONDORondo, one of St. Louis' well known Blues vocalists, recently left this remark on the Big Muddy Blues guestbook - "I am disappointed and frustrated that my band was not asked to play at this St. Louis sponsored event. We are at least among the best known and certainly long-lasting blues artist here in St. Louis. I/we have played this music in this town since 1962. I would like to know why we were not invited. RONDO!"

Rondo now has a spot at the Big Muddy, replacing the Cryin' Shame band. Read more below! Editor - STLBlues

If you read just below Rondo's guestbook entry, you'll see the flip side, all the entries that reflect their love of this event. There's always two sides to every story, so we recently spoke to Dawn Massey (producer of the Big Muddy), and here's what she had to say.

"We bring the Big Muddy festival to you for free, because we want to keep the Blues alive. The festival will remain free, but finding sponsorship is getting tougher, and we tend to run over budget just trying to keep this event alive. The City of St. Louis does nothing in the form for sponsorship, and we rely soley on the sponsorships and the merchants of Laclede's Landing for this event to be possible. The Big Muddy allows us to bring the music out of the bars, into a family friendly atmosphere, and expose families and the under-21 youth, who will be the generation that will have to pass on the Blues 'torch' and keep the Blues genre alive.

We had to cut Mondays out, rather than water the event down. Budget just couldn't support it. We (Laclede's Landing Merchants Assoc.) really love bringing this music to the community! John May has worked his tail off, and I was amazed how many local bands he was able to fit into the schedule. The St. Louis Blues Society is also a big help, as always!"

There's politics in everything, it seems, even in the Blues community. Let's remember above all that the Big Muddy is our biggest showcase of St. Louis talent, and presents the music of our local Blues talent to a wide fan base of different ages and people - in an outdoor, family friendly atmosphere. If it dies, what then? We've already seen the unfortunate demise of the former Blues Heritage Festival. Do you have a Big Muddy comment? Let us know!!

If only St. Louis supported & exported its music as much as it does its sports, we'd have been another Motown long ago...but that's why we exist, to help fill that
STLBlues brings you BigMuddyBlues.com as a service for you - the Blues musicians and fans that keep the Blues alive.
void, as do our friends at Playback magazine.

The evolution of BigMuddyBlues.com........

We originally designed BigMuddyBlues.com in association with the Big Muddy, but several key people there then retired. Afterwards, the then-new management at Laclede's Landing decided that the Laclede's Landing website sufficiently served festival needs, and BigMuddyBlues.com became expendable. So here's their Big Muddy page, and as long as you get your festival info, and attend the festival, we don't really care how you get there, just get there and support live music!
*Okay, we really do prefer you visit BigMuddyBlues.com, after all it is a STLBlues production :-)

We at STLBlues aren't about to let BigMuddyBlues.com disappear into cyberspace, we realize what it does to promote the world class Blues musicians of St. Louis, and the Big Muddy showcase. After all, promoting local Blues music is our mission at STLBlues! So we'll continue to bring you BigMuddyBlues.com as long as there is a Big Muddy Blues Festival!

Have some Big Muddy comments you'd like to share? Good or bad, let us know your thoughts on the state of the event known as the Big Muddy. Just visit the Big Muddy Guestbook!

More from Rondo

"I'd like to add that we have been invited to play the Big Muddy Blues-Fest this year. However it was only because one of the bands, 'The Crying Shame' band, instead of substituting for members who couldn't play the gig, made a sacrifice and gave us their spot. This, of course' was a very unselfish thing to do on the part of John May (the leader , blues musician & one of our most fervent activists in St Louis ) . But it should have been unnecessary !

St Louis, in my opinion, has repeatedly used St Louis talent to build these City wide events, such as The VP Fair ( now Fair St Louis ) The Jefferson Barracks festival, and The Blues Fest. and after using us to build these attractions, we are discarded for 'National Acts'

Try that in Chicago, or Memphis or, Greenville Miss, or Portland, or any major Blues venue . Correct me if I am wrong, but you will see a lot of 'local acts' on major stages along with the major acts. They heartily promote their own 'musical treasure' as well as non-local. And what is this stigma on"local"acts. All acts are local to somewhere.

Why are we sheepishly letting this happen?

And now, there is a fairly valid argument that this might be the last Blues Fest. There are only so many sponsors in St Louis. and if they are being sold the idea the non-local entertainment is the way to go (Ala: River Splash) we have few sponsors left to back our festivals. (the budget for this year is cut in half, with only 2 days instead of 3), and less stages. They are also cutting support for some of our major blues publications, such as www.bigmuddyblues.com or ignoring our Internet Blues radio shows, such as DJ Paul Fields.

It seems we have some new non-local people in charge who don't have our local musicians and their supporters high on their agenda. I understand 'the bottom line'. However, to keep investing big money for non-local talent (sending money out of St Louis) while killing support and cutting budgets for our own is self defeating and shortsighted and a bit callous and caviler when it comes to those of us who were here at the beginning, some times playing for nothing - or less to nothing, because we share the desire and need for a 'stage to the world'.

There is an old-school saying, "if you can make it in St Louis you can make it anywhere". If musicians in St Louis can climb to the top 'here', honestly based on talent and not politics , to the world who has always recognized us as the home of "Blues, Booze & Shoes" we will fair just fine! We need to be honored by our own community, promoted by our own community, supported by our own community!

It seems to me we have a weak self image when it comes our own blues musicians as a whole (other styles speak up - should you feel the need). As a somewhat traveled musician, it might get different in other places, but it is not better, on the whole, than our own players.

We have lost a host of 'good to great' musicians to this silent wall of resistance. They become disillusioned, beat up & wore down. It is amazing to see how many of us are still playing after all these years for the love of what they do and the hope of a fair chance to "just be heard".

Until we ... as not only musicians, but 'blues'ers', start notifying sponsors & event holders themselves that we care about and support our own talent, they will keep 'sending out' for more and 'sending down the river' money & talent and promoting others at a cost to us 'local musicians' .

I use that term with pride, not as if I am making an excuse ! Thanks for your ear."


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