Music at the Intersection: Two Days of Music in St. Louis

Buddy Guy photo by Tre Parmalee


–by Randy Thompson and Vicki Lee


We entered the Music at the Intersection festival with anticipation, unsure what we would be experiencing as the festival was only introduced in 2021 during the pandemic.

It was presented by the Kranzberg Arts Foundation in partnership with the Steward Family Foundation and the Regional Arts Commission with the purpose of celebrating past and present musicians of St. Louis and her Mississippi River sister cities music scenes. Many of the artists had strong St. Louis connections and several were national acts who have been influenced by the music produced in the region. Several area radio stations were represented on the grounds and on the stages. The bands represented a wide variety of musical genres including R&B, the Blues, funk, soul, rap, hip hop, rock and jazz.

Crowd enjoying live music at Music At The Intersection. Photo by Martell Stepney


As we left the press area and entered the festival, all five of our senses were affected at once. The first thing that you see upon entering the area is a tidal wave of colorful wall murals produced by local artists. Followed immediately by the powerful scents of barbecue, Thai, fried fish, and other delights filling the air and you realize that you will not be going hungry today. There were at least fifteen food trucks and bars stalls, all presenting an impressive array of culinary art and liquid refreshments.  Vendors were ample and you could touch, peruse and purchase items ranging from used vinyl records to beautiful fans, handmaid honey tea and works from local artists. And then, you find yourself grooving to the music floating through the air from almost anywhere that you stand. The stages are far enough apart that you do not experience a cacophony of noise.

After perusing all those delights for the senses, it was time to get down to serious listening. There were many offerings throughout the festival, and it was nicely laid out so that the Field stage and the Washington Avenue stage, (two outdoor venues) were far enough apart to ensure that one band never interrupted the sound of another. In between those venues was the Big Top Stage. This shady covered stage was an ideal place to rest your bones out of the sun. Opposite the Big Top was a small grassy area with a live DJ tent with a few scattered chairs and the nearby bands’ merch table.  Our only suggestion to the organizers would be to have more performers’ CDs available as well as T-shirts.  Or to allow the bands to have their merch near the stages where they performed.  We were often so excited by what we had just heard that we could have been easily influenced to purchase music. The restroom facilities, vendors, and tasty treats were all centrally located to the stages and easily accessed from any stage.

The weather on Saturday was a bit sultry but there was no significant rain and it cooled off nicely by night.  Sunday’s afternoon sunshine and cool breezes kept everyone comfortable as they stood in line for food or sat outside listening to the music.

The only mishap for the organizers was that they had difficulty getting the Washington Avenue stage set up on Friday and the bands were all delayed at that venue for about 2 hours on Saturday. That issue caused visitors confusion as they had to figure out when that venue’s performers were going to appear and pushed the last show into the midnight hour.  By Sunday that glitch was worked out and after a few performances were shuffled at the Big Top Stage, all was settled. There were too many performances for 2 people to see but here’s what we were listening to over the weekend.

Our Saturday Band highlights. We started with the Bosman Twins, St. Louis natives with a classic jazz group bringing strong sax grooves augmented by a tight band with good energy. There were classic songs held up by fluid piano playing set over solid jazz sounds. The drums sat up front, and a highlight was hearing a jazz rendition of “Over The Rainbow” with the flute opening it up.

Bosman Twins photo by Martell Stepney


Rose Royce had a packed in crowd at their beck and call. They have created a strong following over the years, and despite changes in personnel over the years, all of the great hits still hold their own. The audience sang along, danced, and stayed on their feet for the whole set. Samantha Cooke has great vocals and the band supported her well with solid guitar and keyboard. They closed the set with three hits that revved up the crowd funky versions of “I Want You Next To Me”, “Carwash” and “This Is How We Do It”. The band was tight, professional, and gave the audience what they were waiting for.

Peter Martin headed a jazz trio that lit up the stage. They were very entertaining, energetic, and another St. Louis native. There was humor blended with exceptional jazz stylings. Peter Martin had great connection with the audience, and he made a point to reference great Missouri artists such as Scott Joplin, Miles Davis, and Chuck Berry.

Booker T Jones photo by Martell Stepney

An excellent St. Louis area band, The Urge, came out swinging. They have a very powerful lead singer with good vocal harmonies provided by the saxophone player and the drummer. The horns filled in exceptionally well with the hard rock sounds and funky rhythms. Everyone in the band was very energetic on the stage, keeping the movement going and the energy at a high level. The audience was standing and dancing the whole time, supporting a band they knew well with great enthusiasm.

The day ended with Erykah Badu coming on at the Washington Stage.  The crowd was large and waited, cheering her name.  Her backup singers started with “Phone Down” as she joined them on stage.  Her presence was both electric and mystical. She introduced herself in her usual way.  She sang a mix of old and new music “Appletree”, “Times a Wastin”, “20 Feet Tall” and a cover of “Leave Other People’s Business Alone” which the crowd sang with her.  Her band supported her pure, soulful voice through them all.  It was an amazing performance and as the clock reached midnight, she sang her last song and left the stage and the first day of Intersection ended.

Erykah Badu photo by Tre Parmalee_

Our Sunday Bands Highlights.  We started our day with Southern Avenue and wow, what a way to start your day. Southern Avenue is a very energetic band playing soulful, Memphis blues tunes with high energy and a little sass. The lead singer is extremely talented and was supported vocally by the backup singer and drummer. The keyboard player was truly exceptional as is the lead guitar. This is a very charismatic group of performers. They ended their set with the song called ‘Don’t Give Up’ which is something this band would never consider. They are very talented and kept the early afternoon audience moving and excited.

The Motet is a very talented group out of Denver. They drew a large, enthusiastic crowd with the drums sitting up front on the stage and a very talented vocalist at the helm. They played a nice mix of R&B, funk, and jazz.  There were times when the lead singer would step away and the band carried on very well on its own. Every member of the band was sharp, and they were a tight knit unit throughout the show. The crowd was on their feet throughout and I personally enjoyed watching the look of intensity on the bass player’s face as he played. They were having a great time on stage and it was easy to join them from the audience.

The Seratones:  This high energy, extremely talented band out of Shreveport, Louisiana came out to the stage ready to blow the audience away with their Power, which happened to be the name of one of their songs. Led by vocalist AJ Haynes, the group has real talent at every instrument. Not only that, but they developed a strong rapport with the audience immediately. AJ interacts well with the crowd and she was caught several times making experimental sounds with the trilling of her tongue and even music that sounded like whale calls or, at times, exotic birds. While they basically gave us a beautiful blend of high-powered soul/rock, they weren’t afraid to throw in some gospel and blues. And at times they provided us with some experimental electronic sounds that took their music to another dimension. At one point AJ came out into the crowd to dance with her delighted fans. She also made a shout out to the LGBQ community in St. Louis as supporting those groups is of importance to the band. But when they were on stage, they were busy sweeping us away into their hurricane of energy and sound with songs such as Get Free, and Good Day.

The Seratones photo by Martell Stepney_
We left feeling giddy and chanting the lyrics, ” Free your mind, and your behind will follow”.


This next performer, Buddy Guy and his backup band, deserve more than a short review. But we don’t have much space in this article, so I would suggest reading an entire book about his life entitled “When I Left Home”.  Buddy Guy is one of the premiere blues artists of his time.  He played with exceptional vitality for a performer much less an 89-year-old superstar. He was funny, endearing, and he has “Somethin’ I wanna tell ya” anytime he spoke at the mike. But most of the time, his music spoke for itself as he did amazing things on the guitar, including a reverb trick using a cloth and a drumstick to play some Hendrix. It was an amazing show, with an engaged audience who clung to every lick and lyric. This is a performer that you need to see before you die if you get the chance.


JJ Gray and Mofro had the audience up singing and dancing from the very beginning of their performance. He has deep Southern drawl and an incredible singing voice.  They play gritty southern funk and blues and they do it fiercely. JJ wailed on harmonica, and he had great support from the guitarist to the keyboards to the amazing trumpets and drums. He played songs that the audience anticipated and were thrilled to hear. To say that the band has an intensely devoted following here would be an understatement.

The band played “Blackwater Roll”, “Everything Good Is Bad”, among many other excellent tunes. But the most powerful song of the festival had to be the band’s rendition of “House of the Rising Sun”. This is the first time that either of us had seen them, and we both walked away seriously impressed and entertained.

Kamasi Washington photo by Martell Stepney

The last performer in our review was certainly one of the best that we had seen during the festival. Gary Clark, Jr. played to very large and enthusiastic crowd. He hails from Austin, Texas and they play a unique and skillful fusion of Blues, rock, soul, and hip hop. They blasted songs such as “You’re The One”, “Baby’s Gone”, “There Will Be Days Like This”, and “You’re Gonna Know My Name”. He has a clear and pure falsetto while possessing extraordinary vocal range as well as a masterful guitarist.  The band is strong and connected. They were able to reach amazing heights with the magical style of music being played. What a way to end and a remarkable festival experience.

Congratulations must be sent out to the organizers and staff of this most excellent event.

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