National Blues Museum

Although the origin story of the Blues is full of hardship and drama it is, as well, beautiful and gripping. It has been said that while the lyrics of the Blues are often speaking of woeful times, the music itself is meant to be a happy music. The southern central portion of the United States is where the Blues were born and then migrated northward to Chicago where it exploded with global interest.  St. Louis found itself right in the middle of it all. 

Historically, enslaved people working on southern plantations would sing while working and during spirituals at church. They had half-note tones (now called Blues notes), raspy singing, voice cracking, and call and response (known as field holler). These elements had come from traditional African Folk Music. After the Emancipation Proclamation, African Americans began playing Blues music individually and performing at Juke Joints. They sang about their lives as freed people. Many migrated north looking for something better.

St. Louis was a pitstop for many on their way north. Ideas were being shared and multiplied at our interchange. W.C. Handy had some rough times here. He recorded the “St. Louis Blues” in 1914. It is known as one of the most recorded and celebrated Blues songs in history. W.C. Handy was originally from Memphis but found himself in St. Louis and was taken aback by a woman wandering the streets who was expressing even more grief than his own. That was the basis for the famous song. 

It is fitting therefore that St. Louis is home to the National Blues Museum. It is downtown off Washington Ave. next door to America’s Center. It opened in 2016 with an introduction from Surly King, the daughter of B.B. King. The building has been beautifully redone. Another one of St. Louis’s historical gems, it was originally the Stix Baer & Fuller department store from the 1920s. 

Inside, you’ll go on the journey of the evolution of the Blues and come to understand how the Blues are the basis from which all American music stems from. You'll have a chance to make your own tunes as well. The museum hosts live music events. On the upcoming schedule you’ll find the Thursday Night Blues Jam hosted by Kasimu Taylor featuring the NBM Band. 

In addition, The National Blues Museum rents out event spaces. The Lumiére Place Legends Room has an amazing performance stage and can accommodate 100 dinner guests or 130 for a cocktail party. The Scott and Diane McCuaig and Family Gallery features an urban art gallery style with soaring windows, it accommodates 120 dinner guests and 150 for cocktail style. 

Whether you're new to the Blues or not, there's much to appreciate and celebrate visually, audibly, and historically at the Blues Museum. 

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