Fans of early rock music can always go the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland for a dose of the good stuff. Or they can go to St. Louis and see one of the hall's legends still performing — at age 87.
Chuck Berry isn't wiling away his golden years in seclusion. He performs, most every month, here at home in St. Louis. When the $35 tickets go on sale, they often disappear within hours. So vigilance is a must.
Berry performs in the Duck Room at Blueberry Hill, a restaurant and performance venue in The Loop area of St. Louis. The Duck Room is in the basement and features carved and molded ducks all along the ceiling. It's intimate and homey, with limited seating. You can expect to stand.
When I went, there might have been 200 or more people in the room, yet it did not seem crowded.
A St. Louis band, The Trip Daddys, opened, then out came Berry with his band. When he was announced, he bounced onto the stage. In a red coat and captain's hat that night, he did not look his age.
Make no mistake. This is not the Chuck Berry of "Johnny B. Goode." His voice was softer, a little hoarse. His fingers sometimes couldn't quite keep up with the music. Did I mention that the man is 87?
He did an instrumental number or two, then went into "School Days" with its familiar "Hail, hail rock 'n' roll" refrain. A daughter joined him on stage, playing a terrific harmonica and belting out a great song. Then Berry took over again. Doing his duck walk, the crowd roared.
Berry started doing the monthly shows in 1996; the show I saw was his 205th. He ended it with poetry, but when his words faltered, his son came to escort him offstage. Everyone cheered.
So not only did the audience get to see a rock legend, we also got a great lesson in how to duck walk right through old age.
For info, visit blueberryhill.com.