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!

Blues History MailbagQ: My son is a local St. Louis high school student who is spending his senior year with a family in Germany. The Father in his adopted family is a real music lover such that he even dabbles in a Jazz Club he owns. As my love is early blues and jazz, as a gift to both my son and his German Dad, I'm making a CD and some liner notes about the rich music history of St. Louis and how it's influenced and contributed to the music scene around the world.

I was hoping you could assist me in my path for both music and written history.

I was thinking of beginning it with W. C. Handy (St. Louis Blues); Scott Joplin; Henry Townsend; Chuck Berry & Johnny Johnson; Miles Davis; Ike & Tina; Oliver Sain and so on, to I get to Phat Noize and Erin Bode. The influences of either straight ahead jazz or blues are all around our City. Any additions that you might have would be greatly appreciated.


I'll try to keep this short, but a list important music from St Louis would be as big as a phonebook. A few of the names that I think you should include would be Chuck Berry, Little Milton, Jimmy McCracklin, Fontella Bass & Bobby McClure, Lonnie Johnson, Peetie Wheatstraw, and Albert King.

An overview of St Louis pre-war music can be gathered from the many various artist cds like St Louis Blues 1929-1935 (Yazoo Records), and Delmark Records has a trove of rare St Louis music that is a must for any collection. There are a number of Roosevelt Sykes albums from Delmark and Speckled Red's "The Dirty Dozens" is a classic. Soon to be released is Barrelhouse Buck McFarland's "Alton Blues". James
Crutchfield along with Stump Johnson and Henry Brown and others can be found on Delmark's "Biddle Street Barrelhousin'".

Scott Joplin recordings are often only his music played by someone else, but I prefer to hear the real thing and Delmark released an album of St Louis ragtime legend (and contemporary of Joplin, Marshall and Scott's), Charles Thompson. The cd is titled "Neglected Professor" and it was recorded before he passed.

Delmark's albums by Big Joe Williams and his cousin, J D Short are good representations of country blues music from St Louis, and Delmark's "Dewey Jackson - Live at the Barrel, 1952" shows that Louis Armstrong had nothing on St Louis jazz.

I'd also include Robert Nighthawk (Bricks in my Pillow on Delmark Records), J.B. Hutto & The Hawks (Stompin' At Mother Blues on Delmark Records), Tommy Bankhead ("Please Mr. Foreman" might still be available but, "Please Accept My Love" and "Message To St. Louis" are available from Fedora Records). Johnnie Johnson's last album "Johnnie Be Eighty. And Still Bad" is available from Cousin Moe Music and other albums of Johnnie's are: "Johnnie B. Bad" (Elektra), "Rockin' Eighty-Eights" (with Clayton Love and Jimmy Vaughn on Modern Blues Recordings), "Blue Hand Johnnie" (with Oliver Sain, Gus Thorton and other St Louis stars on Evidence Music).

Bennie Smith's recordings are: "The Urban Soul of Bennie Smith" (Blues Highway Music), "Shook Up" (Fedora Records), and "Bennie Smith All-Star Sessions" (This is Bennie's last recording. I think you can get this must-have from The St Louis Blues Society or at BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups).

I'm not sure if there are any recordings available of James DeShay, The Roosevelt Marks Orchestra (with Gabriel and Bennie Smith), or Silvercloud Coleman but they would be important inclusions. Harmonica Sam Fowler, Erskine Ogelsby, Clayton Love, Big Bad Smitty and Singleton Palmer's recordings might be hard to find but would be important as well. I heard that the Bosman twins were going to release a CD, but I have no information on that at this time.

Records from current artists and St Louis favorites such as Erin Bode (erinbode.com), Kim Massie (kimmassie.com), Big George Brock (cathead.biz), Trio Tres Bien (tresbienmusic.com) can be found at their respective websites as well as on this website and others. Keith Doder, Sharon Foehner, Tom Maloney, Eric McSpadden, Bennie Smith, and Gus Thornton are some of the St Louis stars on "2nd Set" from The Bottoms Up Blues Gang (bottomsupblues.com)

Only space keeps me from going on because this is only a small example of St Louis' great contributions and fine recordings of blues and jazz.


Have a Blues History question?

Send it on over to Kevin, and we'll add it to the Mailbag.

-- back to top --

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