features Nikki Hill belted out an upbeat set at the Baby Blues Showcase, backed by a band including her husband Matt Hill. »
Baby got blues Young musicians play the Baby Blues Showcase at BB's Jazz, Blues, and Soups while also supporting charity.
by Tara Pham, photo by Madison Thorn For six hours on Sunday, November 27th, hundreds of people showed to support the Baby Blues Showcase, celebrating its 10th birthday. For 10 consecutive years, the showcase has given the stage of St. Louis’ premiere blues venue, BB’s Jazz, Blues, and Soups, to blues musicians under 30 years old for the Sunday evening after Thanksgiving. This year, the event had a dual philanthropic element: accepting food can donations, and holding a raffle to raise funds for Play It Forward, a local program that gets musical instruments into the hands of needy children in the St. Louis area and supports school music programs. The local Bottoms Up Blues Gang originally began the showcase as a way to book themselves on the BB’s stage. BUBG guitarist Jeremy Segel-Moss elaborates, “A little over ten years ago… BB’s was like the Fox [Theatre] to us – because that’s where we went to go see our favorite musicians. And so we were all sitting in the parking lot… wondering how we can get a gig at BB’s. And we just thought of it like activists. It was like, ‘Y’know, we can never get a gig at BB’s [by ourselves], but if we get all the young people together, we could have a show on a night when they’re not doing anything’ – which was the Sunday after Thanksgiving… We got whomever we knew together and did it. Then we did it every year, and then we outgrew it because it was 30 and under... And so then we just kept putting it on. But it all happened because we wanted a gig at BB’s. That was our first gig at BB’s, the first Baby Blues Showcase.” Since 2001, the Baby Blues Showcase has become a stellar platform for local and national blues musicians to gain recognition from all sorts of audiences, including the older blues crowd
and newcomers who do not consider themselves blues fans. “The music is already excellent,” Segel-Moss describes, “and it’s now got a community of people that comes to support [the performers]. Like, they’ve watched some of these kids grow up on stage. Marquise [Knox] would be a perfect example.” The now 20-year-old phenom Knox played the showcase as his first big show at age 15 and has since toured in Europe and won numerous nominations and awards, including the Living Blues Best Debut Artist Award for his album MANCHILD. This year’s lineup included Knox, as well as Derek Bonn, Elliot Sowell, Rum Drum Ramblers, Paul Niehaus IV, and more. The show’s youngest were East St. Louis Senior High School’s Miles Davis cover band, Miles To Go Jazztet. Bottoms Up Blues Gang singer Kari Liston emceed. “We aged ourselves out of our own show,” laughs Segel-Moss. With its ongoing success, the Baby Blues Showcase is leaving young blues musicians to find new reasons to sing the blues. »
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