The 2012 Riverfront Times Music Showcase is two weeks away. And if that is our own St. Louis Music holiday, then consider this the season: Throughout May, we've been making our cases for all 125 bands and artists nominated for an RFT Music Award this year, introducing the nominees from one or more of our 25 categories. For each artist you will find a photo, a streaming track to sample and a few words from the staff at RFT Music.
Big George Brock Still an evocative singer and harp player at the age of 80, Big George celebrated his birthday earlier this month with a show at BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups, making him one of the relatively few blues musicians of his generation still active and performing. While he's spent more than half a century in St. Louis, Brock's sound remains connected to his Mississippi roots, with driving beats and raucous guitars that conjure up the joyous chaos of a packed juke joint on Saturday night. Also known for his charismatic stage personality and the sartorial splendor of his brightly-colored, suit-with-matching-hat outfits, Brock is a vital example of the continued potency of down-home blues. --Dean C. Minderman
Bottoms Up Blues Gang As the revival of pre-pyrotechnic blues continues to gain momentum on the local scene, it's worth remembering that the Bottoms Up Blue Gang was, in many ways, ahead of the curve. Founders Kari Liston and Jeremy Segel-Moss are celebrating their eleventh year together, and their effectively open-invite approach (if you've got the chops) to live performance always ensures that no two shows are quite alike and that each is a celebration of a truly diverse scene. With regular trio member Adam Andrews on harmonica and just Segel-Moss' amplified acoustic guitar and Liston's voice (plus kazoo) pouring out with a gutsy, swing-conscious delivery, BUBG refreshes the blues by stripping away the trivialities and then rebuilding the groove from scratch. --Roy Kasten
Jeremiah Johnson Band Not to be confused with the old Robert Redford movie or a certain NFL running back, Jeremiah Johnson is making a name for himself as a blues singer and guitarist and a compelling presence on the St. Louis music scene. Johnson first heard the blues as a kid attending school in the Soulard neighborhood, and after living and playing in Houston, Texas, for nine years, returned home a few years ago to launch his music career in earnest. Since then, he's self-released a couple of CDs while getting steady work on the highly competitive local club circuit, and earlier this year made it to the semi-finals of the 2012 International Blues Challenge in Memphis. --Dean C. Minderman
Marquise Knox Marquise Knox learned the blues at the foot of legendary singer, guitarist and pianist Henry Townsend, and has been impressing audiences with his singing, stage smarts and guitar skills since before he was old enough to have a driver's license. Now just turned 21, Knox already is something of a veteran, with three albums to his credit, including Man Child, which in 2010 won the "Best Debut" award from Living Blues magazine, and his most recent, Here I Am, on the APO label. Knox has toured in Europe and played festivals across the USA, but also continues to work regularly at home, giving local fans a front row seat for his continued growth as a songwriter and performer. --Dean C. Minderman
Rum Drum Ramblers "The past isn't dead. The past isn't even past." William Faulkner said that. "Never we change our ways. We can keep 'em guessing for days." Mat Wilson said that, or rather sang that. With a sly roll of the vowels and cool swing to his timing, the leader of the Rum Drum Ramblers barely needs the muted trumpets, jittery piano and hot-welded rhythm section to resurrect the golden era of string-band blues and country. Wilson's classic, unaffected songwriting and the sting and thwack of his guitar picking is more than enough to keep that sound vital and undeniably in the present. Still, when bassist Joey Glynn and harmonica and washboard player Ryan Koenig lock in with Wilson's songs, the group bursts into a full-on, juke-joint party. --Roy Kasten