Music » Music Stories

The St. Louis Sound Project Celebrates the City’s Music Scene Today



The tales told in St. Louis Sound are only part of the story of the city's rich musical culture — as the authors note, that history is still being written today. In keeping, the brains behind the book tapped tastemakers in the local scene for help in booking St. Louis' best and brightest for five days' worth of music at venues across town in a festival they've dubbed the St. Louis Sound Project. Jazz writer Terry Perkins, music producer Rob Ford, longtime KDHX DJs John Wendland and Keith Dudding, and John May, owner of BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups, assisted in putting together a lineup that reflects the abundance of talent in the city's jazz, rock, blues, hip-hop and Americana scenes. Tickets are $10 for each individual night or $30 for all five, and can be purchased at Read on for previews of each show, and make plans to join the city in celebrating its ongoing musical heritage.

Experience Jazz Showcase
Tonina / Adam Maness Trio / Dabby Campbell & Helios, Anita Jackson
8 p.m. Saturday, March 23. The Grandel, 3610 Grandel Square. $10. 314-533-0367.
It's fitting that the Grandel should serve as the venue for the St. Louis Sound Project's jazz showcase — ever since the Dark Room opened in the entrance to the theater, it's served as an unofficial headquarters for St. Louis' jazz scene. This night will see performances by bassist and vocalist Tonina, who in 2018 landed a track on President Barack Obama's year-end list of his favorite songs; the Adam Maness Trio, consisting of multi-instrumentalist Maness, drummer Montez Coleman and bassist Rob Deboo (all constants in the local jazz scene); and a tribute to legendary jazz horn players (and native St. Louisans) Miles Davis and Clark Terry by trumpet and flugelhorn player Danny Campbell and his band Helios, with a guest spot by singer Anita Jackson.

Grace Basement, the long-running project fronted by multi-instrumentalist Kevin Buckley, will perform at the rock & roll showcase. - COURTESY ARTIST BANDCAMP
  • Grace Basement, the long-running project fronted by multi-instrumentalist Kevin Buckley, will perform at the rock & roll showcase.

Experience Rock Showcase
Grace Basement / Desire Lines / Finn's Motel
8 p.m. Tuesday, March 26. The Duck Room, 6504 Delmar Boulevard, University City. $10. 314-727-4444.
What better place is there in St. Louis to celebrate the history of rock & roll than the longtime home of its founding father, Chuck Berry? The Duck Room, named after Berry's famous "duck walk," will play host to three bands carrying on his legacy, each in different ways. Grace Basement, the project of multi-instrumentalist and folk artist Kevin Buckley, will bring its lush songwriting and airtight arrangements to deliver a diverse set ranging from twangy ballads to British Invasion-indebted melodies to hard-driving rock & roll. Desire Lines is the project of scene veteran Jenny Roques, known for her work with the Trio Project, Arson For Candy, Jenny and the Late Nite, Tortuga and JOANofDARK. Rounding out the evening's lineup is Finn's Motel, with smart melodies and even smarter lyrics delivered by frontman and founder Joe Thebeau.

Experience Blues Showcase
Roland Johnson & Soul Endeavor / Marsha Evans / Robbie Montgomery / Rich McDonough & Rhythm Renegades / Vince Martin / Marquise Knox Aaron Griffin Band / Boo Davis Eric McSpadden
8 p.m. Thursday, March 28. BB's Jazz Blues and Soups, 700 South Broadway. $10. 314-436-5222.
It's no surprise that a showcase of the blues booked at BB's would be absolutely stacked — after all, the South Broadway venue serves up the good stuff every single night of the week. Still, this night brings an embarrassment of talent, a veritable family reunion of the venue's regular performers coming together to remind St. Louis that the blues is much more than a game played on ice. Soul stalwart Roland Johnson and his band, Soul Endeavor, will be joined on stage by lifelong blues singer Marsha Evans and Robbie Montgomery, a former Ike and Tina background singer (and Sweetie Pie's restaurateur) fresh off her first release in 40 years. The Aaron Griffin Band will likewise collaborate with fellow traditional blues performers Boo Davis and Eric McSpadden, and Rich McDonough and his Rhythm Renegades will welcome accomplished guitarist Vince Martin and blues firebrand Marquise Knox to perform during their set.

Sprawling jazz-rap collective Looprat will bring its live instrumentation and fresh rhymes to the hip-hop showcase at the Ready Room. - DAVID BOWMAN
  • Sprawling jazz-rap collective Looprat will bring its live instrumentation and fresh rhymes to the hip-hop showcase at the Ready Room.

Experience Hip-Hop Showcase
DJ Sir Thurl / Bates / Saint Oeaux / Looprat
8 p.m. Friday, March 29. The Ready Room, 4195 Manchester Avenue. $10. 314-833-3929.
The Ready Room, a relative newcomer compared to some of the more storied venues hosting the St. Louis Sound Project, is nevertheless a perfect venue to pack in St. Louis' many hip-hop fans. With a capacity of 800, it has the size to handle the crowds likely to turn out for Bates, the hip-hop firebrand and founder of Femcee Nation, who has been on an absolute tear since releasing For Colored Folk in 2016; Saint Oeaux, the New Orleans-born, St. Louis-raised MC best known for his regional hit "We Don't Luv Em"; Looprat, the U City hip-hop collective heralded for its use of live instrumentation in jazz-rap; and DJ Sir Thurl, a radio personality and legend behind the decks who has been keeping the city partying hard for more than fifteen years.

Experience Americana Showcase
Colonel Ford / BAJA / Fine to Drive
8 p.m. Saturday, March 30. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Avenue. $10. 314-773-3363.
Off Broadway is by far one of the most consistent hosts of roots music in the St. Louis area, so it makes sense that it would serve as the home to the St. Louis Sound Project's Americana showcase. Colonel Ford, founded by scene veterans Dade Farrar and Gary Hunt, will deliver a set of original honky-tonk jams alongside a selection of classic covers. BAJA, a supergroup of sorts consisting of Brad and Auset Sarno of the Auset Music Project along with John Wendland and Andy Ploof (of One Fell Swoop, Rough Shop and the Wilhelms), will deliver a set of countrified DIY folk. Fine to Drive caps off the lineup with the soulful harmonies of Suzy Bacino and Michael Eisenbeis and a backing band of pedal steel, drums and upright bass.

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