Voted the Best in Blues
After 25 years and many incarnations, the Soulard Blues Band – arguably the hardest working band in town – still tears up the town one show at a time.
It is not every band you run across that has a mission beyond just steady giggin’, but then again, as one of the longest-lasting acts around – and with nine straight wins in the “Best Blues Band” category in a popular local poll – the Soulard Blues Band is not just any band.
As bassist and sole remaining founder Art Dwyer will tell you, “Our mission always is just to leave things around a little better than we found ’em.” That ethic applies equally to song arrangements, the mood of the audience and the entire musical scene in this city that birthed such towering talents as Miles Davis, Johnny Johnson, Henry Townsend, Oliver Sain and many more.
And from all appearances, the mojo is working: the blues landscape in St. Louis now is “better than it’s ever been since we started out, playing in the intersection of Menard and Geyer with absolutely no cars or people coming by to cause us to have to move,” Dwyer says.
He formed the Soulard Blues Band in 1978, “just a long-haired guy in blue jeans and sandals,” motivated in part by memories of the St. Louis of his childhood, when clubs with names like Shalimar and Oasis and the Peppermint Lounge and Sadie’s Personality Bar jumped with live music and people “dressed up looking flashy” any night of the week, and fifty cents’ cover got you in to Ike and Tina Turner’s set at the Club Imperial.
This town has always been alive with world-class players in neighborhoods all over the city,” Dwyer says, and the rest of his band’s roster bears him out. Guitarist Tom Maloney, guitarist Bob “Bumblebee” Kamoske, trombonist John “Wolfman” Wolf and drummer Leroy Wilson create music from both originals and standarts that manages to let each player shine without sacrificing the song to overblown solos. Indeed, that’s one of the goals in group’s frequent rehearsals, says Dwyer:”We are in the business of supporting each other in playing, to play in unison with each other.” And in so doing, blending seamlessly into the fabric of a city with a deep history in the blues.”
Amanda E. Doyle, Where Magazine
St. Louis, January 2003