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Taste of St. Louis provides plenty of listening pleasure

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 1, 2010 - This Friday through Sunday, Oct. 1-3, the Soldiers Memorial area between Tucker Boulevard on the east and 14th Street on the West -- and Pine and Market streets to the north and south -- will become the domain of Taste of St. Louis.

If you're familiar with past versions of Taste, you know it's a foodie's delight - bringing together more than 40 booths featuring a variety of gourmet fare on "Restaurant Row" on Market Street, renowned chefs competing against each other and demonstrating recipes at the Culinary Stage, and an Art & Wine Walk bringing together artist and wine booths on Chestnut Street.

There's also a kids' area with entertainment as well as a Marketplace area featuring local businesses ranging from PlayStation gaming to the St. Louis Blues.

But music has also become a vital component of Taste St. Louis, and this year's event features music at two stages running from Friday evening through Sunday evening. At the US Bank main stage, at Chestnut and 14th Street, you'll be able to check out an interesting mix of St. Louis-based bands opening for nationally known headliners closing out the lineup each evening.

JJ Grey and Mofro, with its potent blend of edgy blues and Southern rock, headlines Friday night, preceded by the Dogtown All-Stars. Saturday night features another Florida band, Sister Hazel, closing out the Main Stage with New World Spirits reuniting beforehand. And Sunday closes out with a tribute to Sublime by 40oz to Freedom, with Nikko Smith and Murder City Players playing on the bill.

According to Mike Kociela with Entertainment St. Louis, the organization that produces Taste of St. Louis, this may be the best year so far for entertainment - thanks to the national acts as well as a second Blues Stage featuring an array of St. Louis-based musicians.

"Everyone is incredibly excited about JJ Grey & Mofro, New World Spirits, Sister Hazel and 40oz to Freedom," Kociela said. "The lineup this year really offers something for everyone, and it's probable that we will see the biggest crowds ever for the US Bank main stage concerts. In addition, last year we featured a small stage within the picnic table area for blues, and it went over so well that we decided to add a full scale blues stage this year. Spinning off the heels of the successful Bluesweek Festival and events, the hype for blues music in St. Louis has never been bigger."

Highlights on the blues stage include Friday night's Tribute to Otis Redding by Roland Johnson and the Voodoo Blues Band and Sunday's closing set with Charles Rodgers, Silvercloud and the Inner City Blues Band.

But topping even those acts on the blues stage has to be Saturday's closing set - a tribute to St. Louis' own Fontella Bass featuring vocalists Renee Smith, Marsha Evans, Uvee Hayes, Molly Simms, Melissa Neels, Kari Liston.

Terry Perkins is a freelance writer, whose expertise includes music.

Terry Perkins is a freelance writer based in St. Louis. He has written for the St. Louis Beacon since 2009. Terry's other writing credits in St. Louis include: the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the St. Louis American, the Riverfront Times, and St. Louis magazine. Nationally, Terry writes for DownBeat magazine, OxfordAmerican.org and RollingStone.com, among others.