Monday, 04 March 2013 14:01

When Worlds Collide - Soluard Blues Band and Meramec Symphonic Band 3.3.13

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I’ve been playing percussion for the Meramec Symphonic Band for four years now. It’s truly an incredible band and we’ve made some amazing music over the years. It is comprised of musicians from the area as well as music students of Meramec. We come together once a week and put on concerts twice a semester. Last year we brought in the Funky Butt Brass Band for a featured performance and had a wild time. It’s not everyday a six piece band gets backed-up by a sixty piece band. This year we had the Soulard Blues Band join us.

Soulard Blues Band is one of the longest running bands that St. Louis has to offer, 35 years. Even though Art Dwyer is the only original member left, the list of musicians that have joined them as regular members throughout the years is impressive. The current line-up is Art Dwyer on bass, Marty Abdullah on voclas, Kirk Grice on drums, Tom Maloney on guitar and Brian Casserly on trumpet. We rocked out to tunes like Hoochie Coochie Man, High Heel Sneakers, Stop Your Doggin’ and The Thrill is Gone.

This was an interesting experience for a number of reasons. First being that for Meramec’s band you have over 60 “classically” trained musicians that are used to having everything spelled out in the greatest detail. When we hit the stage, we know exactly what’s going to happen, when it’ll happen, how loud and for how long because the little black dots on the sheet music tell us. There’s no deviation from this. Then you have the Soulard Blues Band . . . . . . .they are used to sometimes rehearsing (maybe), calling out songs right before they’re played, no set-lists, taking solos for however long they deem necessary at the time, ending however they want; they have the ultimate creative freedom on stage. Now when you combine these two different worlds the results are intriguing. Every musician on that stage was out of his or her comfort zone. Meramec’s members had to fly by the seat of their pants and jump between following the singer, the drummer and our conductor. The Soulard fellas were doing everything in their power to do a proper job at leading a 60-piece band. And ya know, we did all right. Some endings were a tad shakey, some solos didn’t happen in the right place but I promise there has not been a concert like that in a long time; musical boundaries were tackled in an impressive way. And I think we all had fun doing it.

Another point of the concert that was interesting was the fact that I was playing on stage with Brian Casserly and Tom Maloney. I’ve known both of these guys for a while now from photographing them around town. They’re just some of the sweetest guys you’ll ever meet and they give me all-access when I want to shoot. I’ve spent a number of nights closing down BB’s with Tom and Brian before and we always have a ball. But I’m always in front of the stage when it come to working with these two, photographing, listening and enjoying. This concert gave me the chance to share the stage with my friends and it made it truly memorable. My two different worlds, my life as a photographer and my life as a musician were able to collide that afternoon and that is always a humbling experience.

I really just had fun playing “blues timpani” . . .I don’t think it happens too often, they’re kind of hard to get to the gig.


Since I was on stage, I was not able to photograph the performance. Lucky for me, Art had asked my good buddy Reed Radcliffe to document the event. Please check out his work, he does killer stuff.