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Missouri’s Music

From the of soulful sounds of blues that migrated up the Mississippi and landed in St. Louis, to the spirited rhythms of jazz and ragtime that grew out of Sedalia and Kansas City, Missouri welcomes visitors to follow the drifting notes of America’s rich musical heritage.

In Missouri, visitors can explore the land where ragtime, blues and jazz began – where music legends Chuck Berry, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker and Scott Joplin got their start.
Their creative inspiration includes music styles such as gospel, blues, jazz, ragtime and rock-and-roll, to name a few.

Begin your tour of Missouri’s musical tapestry with a visit to the home of Scott Joplin in St. Louis. Ragtime music was the first original composition music America could call its own, and Joplin was the “King of Ragtime.” Joplin’s ragtime music was the “rock ‘n’ roll of its era.”

At the Scott Joplin House State Historic Site, the former home of the famous ragtime pianist, visitors can listen to the piano rolls of the ragtime era or hear a live rendition of ragtime music as they boogie to the beat of yesteryear.
It was from this modest flat that Joplin produced some of his better known compositions, including “The Entertainer,” “Elite Syncopation,” “March Majestic,” and “Ragtime Dance.”
Just five minutes south of the Gateway Arch in St.Louis the historic Soulard neighborhood is also home to numerous blues clubs tucked away in red brick buildings. When the St. Louis blues were joined by a new sound – rhythm and blues – in the late 1940s and early 1950s, St. Louisians Ike and Tina Turner were at the forefront, playing nightclubs and dancehalls across America. Today, bands carry on the tradition of live St. Louis rhythm and blues at clubs throughout the region. For a taste of St. Louis rhythm and blues, spend an evening in the Loop neighborhood, just a few miles from downtown. While you are in the neighborhood, be sure to visit Blueberry Hill, a club that boasts the best jukebox in the country. A star just outside the door honors St. Louis resident Chuck Berry who still stops in occasionally to wow crowds with his charismatic brand of rock ‘n’ roll.

Across the state, travelers can celebrate Kansas City’s rich jazz legacy, which lives on throughout the region. Born in the speakeasies, dance halls and cabarets in the 1920s, jazz music flourished in Kansas City in the 1930s, even as other cities went dark due to Prohibition. Because political boss, Tom Pendergast allowed alcohol to freely flow in Kansas City, the town became known as an entertainment center, and displaced musicians from across the country moved into town and kept Kansas City swinging. In the 18th and Vine jazz district alone, there were at one time more than 60 jazz clubs. Legends like Count Basie, Andy Kirk, Joe Turner, Hot Lips Page and Jay McShann all played in Kansas City. And, a saxophone player named Charlie Parker would begin his ascent to fame here in his hometown in the 1930s. An outgrowth of Kansas City jazz was the jam session.
A The union hall, which is a National Historic Landmark, remains open on weekends for all-night jam sessions.
Kansas City’s 18th and Vine Historic Jazz District offers visitors a lesson in music history at the American Jazz Museum. The museum features four major exhibits on jazz greats Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and Charlie Parker. Those who want to catch some Kansas City Jazz can head to the museum’s Blue Room, where local jazz artists take center stage four nights a week. Visitors can listen to the jazz legacy of Charlie Parker and Count Basie live on at jam sessions and clubs across town.
Kansas City’s Grand Emporium, consistently earns the rating of the top blues club in the nation, and the Mutual Musicians Federation still remains the after-hours meeting place from some of Kansas City’s most talented jazz performers.

The American Jazz Museum in Kansas City
The American Jazz Museum in Kansas City

Scott Joplin House State Historic Site, St. Louis
Scott Joplin House State Historic Site, St. Louis



Document Information
Source: Missouri Tourism
Last modified: 20050118
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