I went to a concert at 2720 Cherokee Friday night and thought I would post about it since it is a relatively new edition to both the STL live music scene and the Cherokee streetscape.  The venue is located 2 blocks west of Jefferson in a terra cotta 2-story building on the south side of Cherokee Street.  Technically this is in the Gravois Park neighborhood but Cherokee is the dividing line between Benton Park West and Gravois Park on this side of Jefferson.  This is just about 2 blocks down from some of the Mexican restaurants that Cherokee Street has become known for among city residents.  The first floor is a wide open room with tall ceilings, a stage, and a bar.  There is art strewn up and down the walls including a giant eye on the right side of the stage that seems to follow you around the room as you are watching the show.  There were also artists working on water color paintings to the left of the stage during the opening band’s set.  The opening band was local act that I would describe as an instrumental power trio with some jazz influences.  Their closing number was a riff on some Led Zeppelin stuff.  They went on at about 8:30, which is late for an opener at most places I’ve ever seen a concert.

The headliner was a band with New Orleans roots called Garage a Trois.  They can best be described as a New Orleans, Jazz, Fusion, Funk Mix.  The driving force behind the band is drummer Stanton Moore known mostly for his work in his main band, Galactic.  Moore is a renowned jazz drummer and besides touring the country with Galactic and/or Garage a Trois he puts on drum clinics nationwide and instructs drum students. The entire band feeds off of his energy and lead.  One of the lead and rhthym instruments in the band was a dedicated xylophone player.  Never in my life did I think someone could make a xylophone sound the way this guy did.  This wasn’t the “Mary Had a Little Lamb” xylophone sound you hear in an elementary school music room.  This guy was playing full on solos like you would hear at an Allman Brothers or Phish concert…except it was on a xylophone instead of a guitar.  The band was rounded out by a keyboard/synth player, who was pretty impressive in his own right, and a saxophone player.  Again, no vocals in this band.  The room filled up for the headliner quickly and everyone gathered around the stage for 3 plus hours of music and dancing.  It turned into a really great atmosphere that went on until well after 1AM.

It was a young crowd, mostly 20’s and 30’s, but it was very eclectic crowd besides the age.  There were preppy, hipsters, young professionals, and hippies all out to see the same band or bands.  In my opinion this is the beauty of adding a venue like this to the Cherokee corridor.  You begin to attract many different types of people to the same or different events on the same night.  Suddenly, people are walking the streets, patronizing the other businesses, and the neighborhoods start to feel alive at night.  This has been going on in The Loop now for 20 plus years and I see Cherokee headed that direction over the next 20.   The storefronts are beginning to fill up in the 2700-3000 blocks of Cherokee with a few other outlying restaurants and businesses doing well closer to both Jefferson and Gravois.

This is also fun for me personally because this is a venue I can walk to.  Being a Benton Park resident, I have noticed that the neighborhood has become infinitely more walkable since I have lived here.  The Mississippi Mud House and The Stable have been two major editions.  There are great food options like Luvy Duvy’s, Kevin’s Place, and Benton Park Cafe.  Gus’ Pretzels and Blues City Deli are St. Louis institutions at this point.  Now it seems that Cherokee is going to take this walkability factor to a whole new level by adding 2720 (music venue and art gallery) along with the great Mexican options that have been there for years.  La Vallesana or “the taco stand” as my friends and I refer to it, has completed an amazing renovation.  I’ll blog about that another day, however.

All in all it was a fun night and I continue to look forward to the new heights the Cherokee corridor will continue to reach in the coming years.  Its sure to make its mark on the St. Louis social scene and become another of St. Louis favorite destination areas for nightlife and restaurants.