The Blu City All Stars are an old-school soul ensemble. No tricks, no gimmicks. They play with gratitude and reverence developed over decades of perseverance and experience. Experience developed under the influence, you might say. The heavy influence of generations of world-class singers, guitarists, bassists, percussionists. Bluesmen, Soul Queens, Jazz cats, and Funk maestros that call St. Louis home. Stars and sidemen and women have left an indelible mark. The roots run deep and wide in St. Louis. For hundreds if not thousands of years, the waters of the Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio Rivers brought cultures, ideas, traditions and influences together. The massive earthen mounds of Cahokia are monolithic reminders of the spirit of cooperation and coordination that resulted from these interactions.
Big Mike & the Blu City All Stars are proud of their St. Louis heritage. Big Mike Aguirre was adopted and instructed in the arts of performing Blues & Soul by the Elders of the St. Louis blues and soul family. As a 19-year-old apprentice guitarist, he ventured alone into communities he and others of his suburban upbringing were warned against to perform with local luminaries like Big George Brock, Boo Boo Davis, Arthur Williams, David Dee, Blues Boy Bubba, Barbara Carr, Oliver Sain, Willie Johnson, and dozens upon dozens of backing musicians with decades of experience of their own. With the steady encouragement of the musicians who had groomed him, he eventually stepped up to the microphone and stepped up into the shoes of a bandleader by seeking out as many St. Louis musicians as he could, forming the Blu City All Stars as a testament and vehicle for showcasing the depth and breadth of musical talent within St. Louis.
Thousands of gigs later, now 38 years old, Big Mike works tirelessly to share the joy and spirit of St. Louis music all over the world. A veteran himself, Big Mike has performed at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, NYC Winter Jazz Festival, Bevridjingsdag “Liberation Day” Festival in the Netherlands, the Rendezvous Blues & Folk Festival in Anguilla, and thousands of club, theater and festivals in and out of St. Louis. Through it all, he remained committed to St. Louis, sacrificing full-time road work and the notoriety and opportunities that accompany it in order to remain in St. Louis to raise his son, who is months away from graduating high school.
For 17 years Big Mike has been hustling, working full-time as a professional bandleader and carrying on the legacy of St. Louis’ musical tradition. With his debut studio record a few months from release, Big Mike is primed and ready to take the next step and spend the rest of his time on the planet sharing the spiritual power of St. Louis music with the world at large.
The Blu City All Stars, formed in 2009, have featured incredible talent over the years. 4 years ago the revolving cast of featured musicians coalesced into a fearsome foursome: Nathan Hershey, an accomplished audio engineer and producer in his own right, plays Hammond and Wurlitzer through his Leslie/Deville rig. Nathan’s partner in crime for the last 15 years, Andy Coco, a seasoned audio engineer, DJ and Director of Production atKDHX 88.1 FM Community, plays bass with the taste and style befitting his affinity for soul jazz and funk. Kevin Bowers is a maestro of percussion with an impressive solo career of his own.
Together, the Blu City All Stars eschew the approach taken by many blues bands — overplayed guitar, overelaborated vocals, and an overplayed setlist of standards — in favor of pinpoint dynamics, effortless volume control, mutually supportive ensemble playing, lush three-part harmonies, and a fearless repertoire of originals and deep cuts from within the universe of recorded blues, soul, jazz and funk. Featured performances includes the patented Blu City All Stars Horns, a triple saxophone unit with a taste and tone unlike any other. Like the city of St. Louis and the mightiest of American rivers that meet at the confluence of the Midwest, their musical signature is a fluid blend of styles and genres, fortified by expert musicianship developed by decades of stagecraft, that goes straight to the Soul of the listener.
Stay tuned for announcement of the release date for Big Mike and the Blu City All Stars’ debut album this summer.