Singing the Blues on Broadway
That song was "Saint Louis Blues." Bessie Smith sang it. So did Chuck Berry. Louis Armstrong even played his own version. "Saint Louis Blues" is one of the most recorded songs in history. It captures the spirit of a time and place. Today, Kim Massey stays to true that spirit. She takes the stage twice a week at Beale on Broadway in the Soulard neighborhood. Beale and Broadway owner Bud Jostos says Massey and the other artists who play at his club, keep the spirit of traditional blues alive.
"There's always a bit of debate on how blues is doing, it tends to go through cycles," Jostos said.
People don't know that here at Beale on Broadway, on a Tuesday night, Kim Massey plays to a crowd for whom there's no debate about the blues.
"Everybody in life has something that puts them down," said Dennis Smith, blues fan and musician. "And music soothes the soul, and I think that's why so many people like the blues because they can relate to their own blues from the music."
That music is a true American original, a sound that began to build around the turn of the century and came into its own in the 1920's. That's when Mamie Smith recorded her smash hit "Crazy Blues." In the early 21st century, music fans can get their blues fix at neighborhood clubs in St. Louis.
"There are so many good blues musicians around," Dennis Smith said. "St. Louis really has it going with the blues."
Jostos dreams of a day when the blues in St. Louis might regain some of its old blues glory.
"Back in the late 50s and 60s there was a place called Gaslight Square," Jostos said. "And you would park your car and walk, and there were literally 30 different establishments that you could go into."
For now, he says, the blues is in no danger of fading.
"You appreciate it for what it is, and every now and then you need a dose of good blues," Jostos said.