By Kasey Joyce
St. Louis (KSDK) -- The blues are getting a new home in St. Louis. And we're not talking hockey.
Construction is underway for a new Blues Hall of Fame in downtown St. Louis. Spinnaker St. Louis developers are transforming the old Dillard's building at 6th and Washington into the new blues center. They plan to build a hall of fame, retail center, concert venue, restaurant, recording studio and educational classrooms. It's part of the larger Mercantile Exchange development.
Mike Kociela is organizing St. Louis Blues Week. He's also one of the driving forces behind the new hall of fame. He said it was about time St. Louis started embracing our rich music history.
"You could almost trace the time line of rock and roll and music in America through St. Louis, from ragtime blues, to jazz, to rock," Kociela said. "Other cities have taken advantage of that. Other cities have taken advantage of that and used that to draw people to their cities. That's an opportunity that has been missed."
Kociela said the response to St. Louis Blues Week has been incredible. He believes the same will be true of the new hall of fame.
"If you just sit down and take a second and listen to the music, it touches peoples' hearts," Kociela said. "The momentum is unbelievable. It's across all boundaries: black, white, young, old. Everybody loves the blues."
A big part of the new hall of fame complex is the educational component. There are plans in the works to bring the blues into St. Louis classrooms and to bring students down to the new hall of fame.
"What I'd love to see is both an in-house center in the hall of fame with an educational center and an outreach where we're sending musicians out to classrooms, performing in the classrooms, spreading the history of the music on a very basic level, root level," said STLBlues.net publisher and educational consultant Dave Beardsley.
The new hall of fame is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2011. To find out more about St. Louis Blues Week or to check out some of the music, click here.