As so often happens when one of their own needs a bit of help, St. Louis musicians are banding together to put on a benefit show this weekend, with an impressive lineup of talent set to help raise funds for bassist Gus Thornton (pictured) from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 8 at BB's Jazz Blues and Soups, 700 S. Broadway in downtown St. Louis.
Thornton is an East St. Louis native who's known for long associations with blues guitarist Albert King and pianist Johnnie Johnson, and currently works regularly with singer Kim Massie. He has a history of heart problems and recently had a new pacemaker installed, racking up some substantial medical bills while simultaneously being forced to take time off from gigging during recovery, which meant a double hit to his finances. The benefit, organized by Tom Maloney and Art Dwyer of the Soulard Blues Band, will raise money to help with Thornton's medical and living expenses.
Although his highest-profile work has been with blues artists, Thornton also has done a lot of jazz gigs around town, and so it should come as no surprise that the roster of performers for Sunday includes practitioners of both genres. The scheduled acts so far include the aforementioned Soulard Blues Band and Kim Massie, as well as the Mighty Big Band, Skeet Rogers & the Inner City Blues Band, the Ground Floor Blues Band, guitarist Dave Black, Anita Rosamond, Renee Smith, Oliver Johnson, Rough Grooves, and possibly saxophonist Willie Akins, with whom Thornton has done a lot of playing over the years.
Admission to the Gus Thornton benefit at BB's is $10 per person, and do note that, in addition to the announced lineup, these sorts of benefit shows almost always attract some last-minute surprise guests and sit-ins, as well as providing a chance for spontaneous one-off combinations of musicians who don't usually work together. It should be a good time for a good cause.
(Full disclosure: Yr. humble editor has known Gus Thornton for more than 10 years, has played hundreds of gigs with him, and considers him a good friend. I'll be there on Sunday, playing piano with singer Renee Smith and, if needed, perhaps others as well.)
Photo of Gus Thornton from STLBlues.net