By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
The entire first-aid team originally scheduled to work at the festival had been diverted to flood relief efforts, and insurance regulations demanded an onsite medical facility. Could Beardsley put together a substitute team of medical personnel on short notice? "The EMS world is pretty small. It only took two days to fill all the volunteer slots," recalls Beardsley.
A successful festival and more volunteer work at the next year's event led Beardsley to an ongoing involvement with the Blues Society. He began writing articles and taking photos for the society's publication, the Bluesletter,and later served on the board of directors for the 1997 festival. The next year, when the society wanted its own Web site, Beardsley volunteered to help get the group online. Though his primary qualification at the time was "a friend that knew how to do Web design," he learned HTML, the coding system used to create Web pages, and created a site for the society.
"Once that project was in place, I decided to start STLBlues.net, mainly because I wanted the creative control that being part of a committee just doesn't allow," he recalls. "When I began, I was told by web experts that a regional blues site wouldn't make it, that to succeed we had to have a national focus."
Beardsley disagreed, contending that that St. Louis' blues music was "a story unto itself. St. Louis is under-recognized as a blues entity," he says, and his faith in the talents of the city's musicians remains a motivating force. "My whole purpose still is to export St. Louis blues music."