St. Louis Blues
CHASING THE BLUES, CHAPTER 18: St. Louis, MO
We decided yesterday that since we’re in St. Louis, we should try to see some Clydesdales. After all, this has been the home of Anheuser-Busch since the brewery was founded in the 1850s. And since 1876, Anheuser-Busch has been brewing Budweiser beer. And since 1933, Budweiser has been associated with Clydesdale horses. The “Budweiser Clydesdales” were introduced as a marketing strategy in promoting the brewery’s products after the end of Prohibition.
|Breakfast time at the stables|
By the time we got near the farm, it was 9:10, just ten minutes after the opening time. Yet we fell into a long line of cars waiting to park in a lot that was already three-fourths full. After parking we found the location of the Clydesdale stables and waited a few minutes for the barn doors to open for the day. As we were to learn, the horses had all just been fed, and since their feed troughs were at the opposite end of the stall from the viewing spot, we were treated to the sight of lots of horses’ behinds. Outside in the pasture, we did get a look at a couple of foals.
Since we had other things planned and weren’t really interested in looking at the caged camels and zebras and elephants—oh my!—we decided to move on. Our next stop was just across the road from the farm zoo. It was the one-time home of the Grant whose name is attached to the farm—President Ulysses S. Grant.
|Farmhouse of Ulysses and Julia Grant|
Our letterboxes found and duly stamped, it was time to listen to some blues music. We started at Hammerstone’s, a local bar in a 19th century building that housed a speakeasy during Prohibition. Featuring live music seven days a week, leaning toward the blues genre, Hammerstone’s is an important player in the local music scene.
|Rough Grooves on the Hammerstone's patio|
Even though we were on the patio, the air grew thick with both cigarette and cigar smoke as the afternoon wore on. So when the band took a break, we took our leave and drove over to The Pour House on Washington Avenue.
Matt “the Rattlesnake” Lesch, a 17-year-old baby-faced high school junior, and his band were playing the Pour House’s Saturday Afternoon Blues session. Lesch has been called a blues prodigy by some, but he has a way to go to live up to his self-styled “Rattlesnake” persona. No doubt he can coax some mean licks from that guitar and he’s not bad on the harmonica, but his voice still has some maturing to do. However, drummer Marty Spikener helped out with some smooth and seasoned vocals.
The band finished their set just before 7 p.m., and we took that as our cue to leave and check out BB’s Jazz Blues and Soups on Broadway, where we thought another blues band was starting up at seven. When it turned out to be jazz, the hostess graciously refunded our $10 each cover charges—the first we paid today—and the bartender didn’t charge us for the drinks we had only started. Quite impressed with their handling of our disappointment, we hope to return there some day.
Having reached the end of our Saturday musical agenda, we picked up dinner at Whole Foods and called it a day. We plan an early start tomorrow to take advantage of some quiet Sunday morning time downtown in the hopes of snagging some unobstructed and uncongested photos of a few St. Louis landmarks.
- Miles driven: 60
- Miles walked: 4.5
- Letterboxes found: 16
- Weather: sunny, 43° to 68°
- Visitors at Grant’s Farm attraction: 5,812
- Visitors at Grant National Historic Site: 6
- Height of full-grown Clydesdale: 6 ft. at the shoulder
- Clydesdales owned by Anheuser-Busch: 250
- Better name for the Rattlesnake: Teddy Bear
A Sampling of Today's Music
Rough Grooves Blues Band
Matt Lesch Blues Band
More Photos from Today