Labor Day in Downtown St. Louis means one thing: blues music! For the last 23 years, the Big Muddy Blues Festival has celebrated this genre at a multi-day event on Laclede’s Landing. With more than 60 musical acts performing, all coming from the Gateway City, this three-day festival will showcase a plethora of styles under the blues umbrella. The first night of the event (Aug. 31) is free to the public, and tickets to the all-day events Saturday and Sunday are available starting at $15.
We caught up with local musician Jeremy Segel-Moss, who is the current producer of the event, to find out more about this year’s annual blues celebration.
How has the festival changed over its 23 years?
Originally, The Big Muddy Blues Festival was called the St. Louis Blues & Heritage Festival, which was started by The St. Louis Blues Society in 1986. Over time it evolved and changed ownership so that it is now owned by the Laclede’s Landing Merchants Association. The Big Muddy Blues Festival is an ever-evolving production. Some years there are more stages than others, some years there is a mix of local and national acts—but no matter what version of the festival is produced, the blues make it a great musical weekend for everyone.
The line-up is entirely local. Why is the organization so focused on featuring STL acts?
First and foremost, the St. Louis music scene and community that surrounds it is one of the greatest in the world. I’ve been a musician for almost 20 years and have toured throughout the county, and there is just no place like St. Louis—currently or historically. We have had a huge impact on American music; from Scott Joplin to Chuck Berry, St. Louis has created some true icons of music. It is my intention to shine a light on the incredible music scene in St. Louis by celebrating the wide range of blues-centric styles that are performed every single night of the week. The festival accomplishes this by featuring contemporary artists on seven stages throughout the weekend, while also hosting two tribute shows at the National Blues Museum. This year’s tribute shows will honor two St. Louis legends: Oliver Sain and Fontella Bass.
This year’s Big Muddy Blues Festival features 69 acts and I kid you not, that number could have been over 100 without trying and without losing a bit of quality. There are just so many talented musicians in St. Louis that there isn’t a festival that could currently hold them all. I think Big Muddy Blues Festival is the place to celebrate what happens every day in St. Louis.
What are you most excited to share with attendees at this year’s event?
This is the third consecutive year the line up has been all St. Louis, and as in the past few years, one thing I’m excited for is the music. With so many groups, from soloacts to full 10-piece bands, there is something for everyone.
There are a couple of new aspects to the festival this year that I’m excited for people to experience. The Lodge Stage will feature an all-piano line up. The room is set up for listening and each of the ten piano players will get to showcase their particular style. St. Louis has historically been a piano town, and this stage is a celebration of that fact. There will also be a kids’ tent with arts and crafts sponsored by Artists First. But what always excites me the most is when an attendee hears a band for the first time. Discovering new bands and musicians in St. Louis is one of the most fun parts of the weekend!