BLUES ON BRAND: Kasium Taylor and the NBM Jam Band perform at “Blues on the Block” outside the National Blues Museum, supported by the St. Louis Blues as part of their new marketing campaign. (Courtesy team)
Live music centerpiece of “Rhythm & Blues” campaign
The St. Louis Blues have the blues, man. The NHL team, in a partnership with three local civic groups, is celebrating the authentic American style of music as the centerpiece of its new marketing campaign for the 2023-24 season.
“Rhythm and Blues,” the campaign’s tagline, is tied to the city’s vibrant music scene with a nod to the team’s brand. The St. Louis Blues were named after the song of the same name, written by blues pioneer W.C. Handy in 1914.
One-hundred ten years later, the Blues are collaborating with the National Blues Museum, the Gateway Arch Park Foundation and the Kranzberg Arts Foundation to help activate the program, starting with three events in August and September.
More details on the overall scope of the campaign for the coming season will be announced in a few weeks, which will include live performances at Enterprise Center, among other events around St. Louis.
St. Louis Blues players will be integrated into the campaign and the team is talking to some of its top sponsors about producing a big season kickoff concert. Officials are waiting to confirm participating acts.
Over the past year, the Blues worked with their advertising agency, Kuhl/Swaine, to help create a new campaign to replace “All Together Now,” which ran for six years with a focus on growing youth hockey in Greater St. Louis, said Brenda Wilbur, senior director of branding and catering.
“We felt now was a good time for a change,” said Wilbur, entering her 17th season with the Blues. “It felt so natural. It harkens back to our history of the blue note brand. There’s so much energy around the campaign and what you can do with it. Plus, our venue is music-driven, the way culture, sports, art and music are intertwined these days to bring people together.”
The campaign kicked off last week with “Blues on the Block” outside the National Blues Museum, downtown, one mile northeast of Enterprise Center. The museum started Blues on the Block, a series of free concerts during the summer, in 2020 during the pandemic as a way for blues artists to reach their audience safely.
Now, the series has the St. Louis Blues supporting those events.
On Aug. 5, the Blues brought their mascot Louie, a blue bear, and set up “Rhythm & Blues” branded banners to connect with the event. The team presented a $5,000 check to the museum to support their community outreach program, and fans wearing Blues gear received 10% off food served by team partner Hi-Pointe Drive-In.
As part of the campaign, the museum will work with Anna Goff, the Blues’ director of game presentation, to help book musicians performing live during pregame and intermission at Enterprise Center.
The performances expand on what the team has done in the past to showcase live music during NHL games. Local acts have perform on a permanent stage at the Anheuser-Busch Biergarten on the east side of the main concourse, and their sets are recorded and shown on the center-hung videoboard in the seating bowl. The acts are paid, as they will be this season, Wilbur said.
In addition, for 10 games this season, the Blues will activate a busker program with multiple blues musicians performing outside the arena, placed strategically along the most popular routes as fans arrive for hockey games.
Marquise Knox, a homegrown St. Louis blues artist, has performed at the biergarten in the past, plus the 2017 NHL Winter Classic at Busch Stadium as part of the house band for that event. Knox is officially on board with the new campaign, but the Blues are still completing details of his involvement.
Knox, 32, is part of the new generation of blues artists keeping the music alive. He’s performed professionally since his early teens and has shared the stage with Henry Townsend, B.B. King, Robert Junior Lockwood and Pinetop Perkins, among other blues greats.
In 2019, he opened for the ZZ Top/Cheap Trick amphitheater tour, playing 16 of those dates.
Most recently, he’s played festivals and toured Europe. He’s booked for the Big Blues Bender, an annual festival in Las Vegas, Sept. 7-10 at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino, packed with a who’s who of blues.
In St. Louis, Knox, said he’s prepared to expand his role as brand ambassador in an official capacity.
“Blues is in their name and turning to the local blues community to build that relationship is beautiful,” he said. “I’ve played at several games already and people know me from playing at other venues in St. Louis. I love playing there; win or lose, the crowd is great.”
As it evolves over time, Wilbur said the new campaign is designed to make meaningful contributions to blues music and recognize new talent in general.
“We don’t have to do everything in year one,” she said. “We’re dipping our toe in the water and as we do more things, we can grow it.”