Written by Jim Bille
May 25, 2011 at 08:00 PM
OK, I’m going to date myself by saying this but I remember seeing Chuck Berry over 40 years ago at a place called Lake Milton outside of Youngstown, Ohio and can say I have never forgotten that show. So needless to say I was thrilled to have the opportunity to possibly relive that time last month in St. Louis when I scored a hard to get ticket for Chuck’s monthly show at a great place called Blueberry Hill.


The Duck Room is a small downstairs set up at Blue Berry Hill that might hold 300 people if you really squeeze in. This is where Berry has held Rock and Roll court every month for a number of years now. The venue only has a handful of seats available leaving the rest of the crowd on their feet and jammed shoulder to shoulder. I found out real quick that the best thing to do is find your spot and don’t move because you’ll never make it back.


Berry’s band had two special performers in it. The first was Chuck Berry Jr. on guitar holding the ryhthm and beat down and together as his dad filled in with the guitar riffs that made him of one of Rock and Rolls premier guitarists. The second was Berry’s daughter Ingrid. Wow! This woman was an amazing addition to Berry’s line up as she contributed to a number of songs during Berry’s hour or so set. Not only does she have an incredible vocal range but she also filled in on many of the numbers with some unbelievable harmonica back ups and solos adding a bluesy flavor to the show.


Rounding out the band was long time Berry bassist, Jimmy Marsala, Bob Lohr on keyboards and Keith Robinson on drums. Along with the Berry kids this line up made the perfect band for the Rock and Roll master.


Chuck Berry himself still long and lanky, looked and sounded great. He still owns the show with his on stage swagger and strut and if you are wondering about the duck walk…he still has that as well.


It may be difficult sometimes to realize or remember how many hit songs Chuck Berry actually has had over his career and his hour or so show didn’t even scratch the surface of his work but what we heard at the Duck Room that night was some of his best.


Numbers like ‘No Particular Place to Go’, ‘To Much Monkey Business’ and ‘Roll over Beethoven’ were all featured by the St. Louis born rocker.


Ingrid Berry really stood out on my personal favorite song of the night ‘Let it Rock’ as she blew the harmonica and the crowd over with some awesome playing.


For all the music Berry has released over the years it’s hard to imagine that he only had one song to ever top the music charts at number one. From his 1972 release’ The London Chuck Berry Sessions’, a novelty song called ‘My Ding a Ling’ revitalized Berry’s career and became a smash hit for him. Of course, just like the original live recording, everyone at the Duck Room joined in on the chorus as the smiling Berry led the way.


At one point Berry toyed with the crowd by asking ‘Did we play Johnny B. Good yet’. This question was answered as soon as Berry tore into the opening guitar solo of his signature song and proceeded to give everyone a live history lesson in Rock and Roll. This number in particular seemed to be the one that the packed house wanted to hear the most. Berry didn’t need to sing since the joyous crowd hit every word of every verse though out the hit song with Berry chanting ‘sing it children’. During this number is when it happened…Berry’s famous duck walk. The frenzied crowd roared as Berry chugged across the stage, scootin and low stepping as only he can do while never missing a beat as he and his band really worked it up for the crowd.


The final song found Berry inviting the ladies of the crowd on stage to help out with the dancing as he and Ingrid swapped vocals on the classic ‘Reelin and Rockin’. Snaking his way through the onstage female mosh pit Berry exited the stage as the song wound down, leaving the crowd wanting more.


Chuck Berry and his legacy are beyond icon status. His music continues to transcend generations and has influenced every Rock and Roller that has come along since he first showed them how to do it back in the 50’s.


Hail, Hail!!!!………….Chuck Berry!!