Chuck Berry Given Lifetime Achievement Award: "It's Beyond My Dreams to be Here this Long, Really."
Following the award presentation, legendary St. Louis blues guitarist Billy Peek led a band in a performance of Berry's best-known songs. Peek has an impressive musical history, including touring with Berry. (And he's a dude from the South Side, so we will forgive him for his involvement with Rod Stewart.) Peek played inspired renditions of "Maybellene," "Roll Over Beethoven," "Sweet Little Sixteen" and "Johnny B. Goode." He even imitated Berry's signature stage moves, including the Duck Walk. (And who was Peek's bass player? He was phenomenal.)
Photo by Theo R. Welling. See our full slideshow here.
During the performance, many audience members stood up at their tables and commenced to boogie, proving that not only are Berry's songs irresistible even when performed by others, but that offering a free cocktail hour before any event is always a good idea. It's safe to say that good times were had by all.
St. Louis is a weird and magical place, but sometimes our collective inferiority complex is silly to the point of being obnoxious. St. Louis is strong and interesting and thriving, just ask the Arts and Education Council. And if anyone steps to your civic pride with claims of lack of culture or significance, just remind them that we made Chuck Berry, goddammit, and he made rock and roll. Argument won.