Sunday, August 23, 2009

New book by Kevin Belford chronicles pre-WWII history of St. Louis blues

St. Louis artist and author Kevin Belford, who has made local musicians a frequent subject of his work over the course of his career, has a new book coming out that chronicles St. Louis blues musicians of the 1920s and 1930s.

Issued by St. Louis-based Virginia Publishing, Devil at the Confluence: The Pre-War Blues Music of St. Louis is a coffee-table book recounting the stories and songs of legends including Peetie Wheatstraw, Henry Townsend, St. Louis Bessie and many other pre-World War II era performers.

The product of years of research, the book is illustrated with Belford's original paintings, plus vintage photographs and other material he unearthed during his digging. As a bonus, there's also an accompanying CD of rare recordings of St. Louis blues legends, produced by former St. Louisan Bob Koester's label Delmark Records.

Devil at the Confluence is scheduled for official release in September, and Belford will be doing a number of promotional events, the most ambitious of which would seem to be a one-night-only showing of the paintings from the book, to be held from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 on Friday, September 11 at Mad Art Gallery.

Other planned events include a signing at the Big Muddy Blues Festival downtown over Labor Day weekend; another at Webster Records during the Old Webster Jazz and Blues Festival on Saturday, September 19; and two more later in the month at BB's Jazz Blues and Soups and the Blues City Deli. For more info, check out the blog Belford has set up in conjunction with the book's release.

Known among local music fans for his posters of St. Louis jazz legends and blues performers, Belford has worked as a freelance illustrator doing advertising, corporate art, and editorial illustration for books and for print media such as The Sporting News, the St Louis Post Dispatch, St Louis magazine, and the Riverfront Times. His previous books include The Ballpark Book (for The Sporting News) and the children's books Amazing Arthur Ashe, Spirit Of A Champion and Twist Of Fate-The Miracle Horse Of Longmeadow Ranch.

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