New music festivals coming to downtown

ST. LOUIS - Dave Grelle's never met a note he didn't like.

"I'm a guy for hire for gigs. I play in a lot of rock pop groups, jazz and soul groups, blues," he said.

He plays with "The Feed," and loves the local bands he jams with, "like Blues City All-Stars, like the Funky Butt Brass Band, like the Pernikoff Brothers."

Festivals are among his favorite because they're a built-in audience and a great way to develop a fan base. He says St. Louis has some of the best music festivals in the country.

Lou Fest, Big Muddy Blues, Blues Week, Taste of St. Louis, Fair St. Louis are the bread and butter for up and comers because festival organizers hire local musicians.

Two long-time music festivals, owned by the same company, Taste of St. Louis and Blues Week, are moving out of downtown after years of presence in the city. Their operator wouldn't return our calls about why he's moving, but Grelle says they're moving because a brand new big name music festival is close to moving into St. Louis.

It's called Summer Rocks. Its partner, ICM, represents the biggest names in the music business.

"There's a 20-year exclusivity agreement for the space that Blues Week, Taste of St. Louis, and a number of other festivals used. They can't use that space anymore, and that has driven them elsewhere,"' said Grelle.

He says he's excited about the new festival, but worries the new company won't hire local musicians.

The mayor's communications director says Grelle has it wrong. The festivals that already exist in downtown St. Louis will be grandfathered in to any agreement the city makes with Summer Rocks. She says the new company will need local musicians to fill the stages between the main acts, and that Summer Rocks will bring in a lot of money to the city.

The company came to the city because they wanted to be a part of St. Louis' thriving music scene.

St. Louis aldermen will decide on Thursday whether they will sign a deal with Summer Rocks. It will be the first step to working out the rest of the details. The exclusivity of the agreement would prevent other festivals from other cities to play in St. Louis in the places and dates reserved for Summer Rocks.


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