KEVIN SUTTON and JIM McLAUGHLIN
Guitarist Kevin Sutton went to Saint Louis in his 20s to try and discover what American music was, and it was there that he became a part of a very vibrant music scene.
“Some of the great old-school Blues guys were still around then that you could sit in with, like James Crutchfield, Big Bad Smithy, Bennie Smith, and Henry Townsend.” Says Kevin, “I was lucky enough to also get a chance to play piano for Blues legend Tommy Bankhead for a period as well as the well-known bluesmen Jimmy Lee Kennett and Steve Pecaro. That education gave me a firm foundation in what the music we call Blues means. This music is a reflection of people’s lives up and down the Mississippi river and these people play the way they live. There is a musical honesty to these river people that rubbed off on me. No one more so than Johnny Johnson, who I was actually able to hire as a sideman, an idea that I still can’t quite believe happened. This was in the years before and after he was “rediscovered” by Keith Richards during the process of producing the music for Chuck Berry’s 60th birthday movie, “Hail Hail Rock and Roll.” Johnny did not change one bit after finding renewed success. Chuck himself would regularly visit local clubs in the Delmar Loop area of town. At the same time that the blues scene was going strong, another element of American music was in its infancy there as Jeff Tweedy was beginning his career with a band called Uncle Tupelo. He would go on to form Wilco and make an indelible mark on the world of music. There are many stories like this that were, and are, still happening today in St. Louis. As a community of musicians, back then we were all searching for that magic that so many found. This combination of music, and musicians, allowed me to understand what is so great about our music, our American music.”
Jim McLaughlin is a two-time World Harmonica Champion and the 2013, 2014 and 2015 winner of the Washington Blues Society’s Harmonica Player of the Year award. In 2016, he was awarded the Washington Blues Society's Lifetime Achievement Award and was inducted into the organization's Blues Hall of Fame. Jim is ever popular for his harmonica playing locally, nationally and internationally. He has performed with such notables as: The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, WAR, James Cotton, Vassar Clements, Townes Van Zandt and Charlie Musselwhite and many more esteemed artists.