Best R&B Band - 2005
The Bel Airs
Though based out of Columbia, the Bel Airs are virtually locals. For years they held a regular residency at Off Broadway, and they now perform nearly every month in Soulard. Brothers Dick and David Pruitt and drummer Mike Cherry keep their recordings as stripped-down and muscular as their live shows, with sax and keyboard textures (and Willie Dixon and Earl King covers that sway and jump like classic R&B) thrown in for good measure. After more than twenty years on the Midwest (and beyond) blues circuit -- heck, they even backed Johnnie Johnson on the late legend's first solo album -- the Bel Airs have nothing to prove: They are the greatest bar band and toughest proponents of R&B in the region.