The lineup of free concerts for the 2009 Fair St. Louis and Live on the Levee series has been announced by presenting organization Celebrate St. Louis, and once again, our town's indigenous musical forms of jazz and blues have been snubbed.
To be fair, the organizers did make some small progress this year in diversifying the lineup. Booking seminal alt-rockers Sonic Youth, who will appear on July 17, demonstrates a certain degree of risk-taking mostly unseen in recent years. (Mind you, what's considered "risky" in St. Louis might be rather mundane elsewhere.)
In addition, the past lack of hip-hop shows has been addressed, and fans can look forward to an August 1 concert by Lupe Fiasco and Black Spade. Neo-soul fans can check out Angie Stone on July 24, and country music aficionados also will get a Live on the Levee show, with southern Illinois native Gretchen Wilson of "Redneck Woman" fame performing on July 25.
Rock bands Counting Crows (July 3) and Train (July 4) will headline the two days of Fair St. Louis, with Little Feat (July 18) and Guster (July 31) rounding out the Live on the Levee schedule.
What's missing, once again, are any shows including jazz or blues, which seems simply absurd for a city with St. Louis' musical history. For more on why this is a disservice to the entire community, please check out any of these four past posts on the subject; any further extended repetition here seems redundant, in a beating-my-head-against-the-wall sort of way.
Suffice it to say that, in addition to having rather dull taste in pop and rock music, the "powers that be" in the city of St. Louis apparently are still unable to grasp either the importance of jazz and blues in our community's culture or the potential present-day appeal of jazz and blues music in terms of marketing, tourism, and so on.
From New Orleans to Chicago, Austin to Nashville, there are plenty of examples of cities that, to one degree or another, do embrace embrace their local music cultures, and have realized significant benefits from that emphasis. It's a shame our local leaders seem unable to learn from those successes, and continue to promote events allegedly "celebrating St. Louis" that have nothing to distinguish them from concerts in, say, Des Moines, Denver or Phoenix.