Did you know you can see that first-ever inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame playing his hometown every month for $35? Considering the creator of the duck walk is now in his upper 80s, this is something any rock pilgrim should prioritize. Quick.
Blueberry Hill in Delmar Loop of western St. Louis is a lively multi-part bar and grill decked out in nostalgia – vintage jukeboxes, Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s” dolls, Chuck Berry’s Gibson used for his 1958 hit “Johnny B. Goode.” Along the strip are other busy restaurants, used record stores, a boutique hotel, the St. Louis Walk of Fame, a new 24-hour diner to open soon, plus a eight-foot bronze statue of Chuck himself.
Didn’t always used to be that way.
“In the seventies, this was all motorcycle gangs and murders here. It was bad. But now?” says Joe Edwards, gesturing to the families and goateed guys in cargo shorts feasting on burgers in the restaurant Edwards opened over 40 years ago. “Yeah, I love St. Louis.”
So does the city’s most famous son, who championed it most in his atlas-trotting anthem “Back in the USA” and never moved away after his songs broke color barriers in the late ‘50s.
His sets in the Duck Room, a 300-capacity basement stack that packs in Chuck regulars each month, may not be the tightest set you’ll ever see. Arthritis has left a mark on Chuck’s guitar chops, but his wit and vocals are 100 percent, plus the incomparable Ingrid (very clearly Chuck’s daughter) sometimes helps out with vocals, as Chuck's complained in recent years of his vocal chords catching up with him. Across stage, his son sometimes fills in on guitar solos too.
“It’s Charles Berry on guitar,” Chuck yells as he hands a solo off. “I love him!”
It’s great fun. And the burgers are good too.
Robert Reid is a travel writer based in Portland, Oregon. He’s covered the Great Plains for Lonely Planet’s USA guidebook and is now the Offbeat Observer for National Geographic Traveler.
MORE SUMMER TRAVEL QUESTS
30) See Chuck Berry Perform