In Its Second Year, Music at the Intersection Will Be Bigger and Louder
By Rachel Huffman
In its second year, the festival has grown bigger and louder. Its outdoor footprint includes a mix of urban streets and green spaces, and organizers are expecting approximately 10,000 people to attend the two-day event this weekend.
Focusing on “St. Louis made,” the festival pays homage to the city’s impact on the Great American Songbook, its relationship to its sister cities along the Mississippi River and the musical genres that have been founded and fostered here.
“From jazz, blues and soul to rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop, St. Louis artists have birthed and stewarded these great genres, and now, the rest of the world gets to enjoy playing and listening to the music that we’ve been so instrumental in breaking,” Chris Hansen, executive director of Kranzberg Arts Foundation and chief producer of Music at the Intersection, says. “From the creation of rock ‘n’ roll with Johnnie Johnson and Chuck Berry to the evolution of jazz with Miles Davis to Henry Townsend – one of the only American artists to produce a blues record in all eight decades of his life – [St. Louis] has a really storied history; it’s an important part of American music but a lesser-told story. We’re not known for one sound like a lot of other manufactured cities; we’re really rooted in the foundation of American music. And we’re going to celebrate that all weekend long.”
Headliners of Music at the Intersection include R&B icon Erykah Badu, international indie soul group Hiatus Kaiyote, jazz saxophonist Kamasi Washington and soul-rock band JJ Grey & Mofro, along with other artists who have direct ties to the St. Louis area.
Alternative rock group The Urge combines genres such as hardcore punk, heavy metal, ska, reggae, funk, rock and R&B, and over the years, the St. Louis-based band has earned a reputation for its high-energy live performances. Fun fact: Original (and current) members Steve Ewing and Karl Grable were classmates at Webster Groves High School, and Ewing owns Steve’s Hot Dogs, a St. Louis staple where the whole family can eat like a rock star.
Other local celebrities include trumpeter Keyon Harrold from Ferguson, Missouri; Foxing, an indie rock band from St. Louis; and Murphy Lee and Kyjuan of St. Lunatics, a hip-hop group born locally.
St. Louis shares music as well as cultural style with its sister cities, which will be represented at the music festival by blues guitarist and singer Buddy Guy, who got his start in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, before moving to Chicago, where he fell under the influence of Muddy Waters; Booker T. Jones, who is considered the architect of Memphis soul and led the city’s famed Stax Records house band; and New Orleans’ bass player George Porter, Jr. of the Meters, who is recognized as one of the progenitors of funk.
Additional acts connect with St. Louis through musical genres. For instance, the rock ‘n’ roll of Chuck Berry spurred today’s blues, rock, indie and alternative sounds, including those of headliner Gary Clark, Jr., who wrote a tribute to Berry for Rolling Stone.
Music at the Intersection will also feature tributes to St. Louis legends such as Albert King, Henry Townsend and Tina Turner, alongside a special celebration of Montez Coleman.
“[Music at the Intersection] could become a destination that people all over the world want to experience,” Hansen says, “but it will always tell our story and hold onto our heritage.
“Every year, we aim to make this festival more accessible, diverse and multidimensional,” he continues. “An attendee might buy a ticket with a favorite like Erykah Badu, Buddy Guy or The Urge in mind, but that ticket gets them access to an incredible, dynamic urban music experience – and we hope they explore it all.”
Presented by the Kranzberg Arts Foundation in partnership with the Steward Family Foundation and the Regional Arts Commission (RAC) of St. Louis, Music at the Intersection emphasizes art and culture as well as music. Central to the festival’s landscape, the Mural Market will feature local artisan vendors, live street art activations, artist talks, large-format murals, high-definition projection mapping and immersive video art.
“A great festival is always three-dimensional,” Hansen says. “We want to celebrate our great music, our great art and our great culture. It’s important to share that collaboration and connectivity between the different art forms.”
Through a partnership with Sauce, the festival will feed your other cravings, as well, with a variety of local food trucks on-site, including Farmtruk, Grace Meat + Three, Pete’s Pops, Super Smokers BBQ and Tuk Tuk Thai.
The Big Top, a multi-use arts facility operated by the Kranzberg Arts Foundation – which will be one of the stages at the festival – inspired the carnival-esque amusements and activities that will also be available for attendees to enjoy.
In 2021, Music at the Intersection was held indoors at The Fabulous Fox Theatre, Jazz St. Louis and the Sheldon Concert Hall and Art Galleries with audience capacity strictly limited to 25 percent of the seats due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “We wanted to see it happen last year,” Hansen says, “but this year, we get to bring St. Louis a full-fledged festival: Something that is the same scale as the major festivals all over the country, but that is deeply rooted in St. Louis’ footprint on the American Songbook.”
Some of Grand Center’s world-class partner venues – think The Grandel, Jazz St. Louis and the Sheldon Concert Hall and Art Galleries – will still have a role in the festival, as they will open their doors for official pre- and post-party concerts.
Prior to Music at the Intersection, there will be an artistic development and thought leadership micro-conference, which is free for all. Intersessions will focus on the nexus of art, music, technology and entrepreneurship. On Sept. 8 from noon to 4 p.m., Webster University School of Communications will host a series of artist development workshops targeted specifically at emerging musicians and those pursuing or interested in pursuing a career in the music industry. Highlights of the schedule include music publishing 101, recording studio session preparation, YouTube maximization, music’s impact on the St. Louis economy and the future of live music.
On Sept. 9 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., creatives and entrepreneurs from all backgrounds are encouraged to attend the professional development portion of Intersessions, which will feature a heavy-hitting roster of influencers from the worlds of music, art, technology and business participating in a highly curated schedule of panel discussions and presentations. The list boasts Tracy Whelpley of Greater St. Louis, Dan Merker of The Factory, Reid Wick of The Recording Academy, Tony Alexander of Made in Memphis Entertainment, Alyssa Mark of A2IM (American Association for Independent Music) and more.
Music at the Intersection and its many innovative facets is an event that residents and visitors alike should experience. Get your tickets here.