by Michael R. Allen
Headliner Kim Massie thrilled the large crowd at the Thursday kick-off of the Whitaker Foundation/Grace Hill Urban Evening Series at St. Louis Place Park in north St. Louis. Massie’s blues-oriented programs deviated for a crowd-pleasing cover of Gretchen Wilson’s “Redneck Woman,” showing that music can knock down any supposed cultural divide. Gene Dobbs Bradford & Blues Inquisition opened.
This is the year for the series at St. Louis Place. St. Louis Place, laid out in 1850, is one of the city’s oldest and most beautiful public parks. The music energized the neighborhood, with residents of Rauschenbach and 21st streets flanking the park hanging out on front stoops to get an earful of tunes.
Concerts run each Thursday at 7:00 p.m. in St. Louis Place through July 24; full schedule here.
The joy of Thursday night came on the heels of national publicity for the neighborhood to the east, Old North St. Louis. The acclaimed conservation group the Natural Resources Defense Council’s blog featured a laudatory entry by its Kaid Benfield, director of the council’s Smart Growth program. Benfield’s post “Of the community, by the community, and for the community: the rebirth of Old North Saint Louis” celebrates the community-driven resurgence of downtown’s northern neighbor.
Meanwhile, the North City Farmers’ Market featuring produce from St. Louis Place’s New Roots Urban Farm, started on Saturday, June 7 and runs through October 25. Each Saturday from 9 a.m. until noon, people can purchase fresh food and enjoy cooking demonstrations at the intersection of 14th and St. Louis in Old North.
On top of all of this, the Mississippi River flooding has avoided the popular North Riverfront Trail, which remains open and accessible east of Old North.
Residents of the near north side are having a great summer — good music, the world’s coolest urban trail, a farmer’s market and awesome music usher in a pleasant season.
(Photographs by Lynn Josse.)