St. Louis Music Park has a special request for the Rolling Stones tribute act Street Fighting Band: Start me up.
The venue was scheduled to open last year but wasn’t able to because of the pandemic. This weekend’s Street Fighting Band concert will give music fans their first look at the new 4,500-capacity facility at the Centene Community Ice Center in Maryland Heights.
Street Fighting Band is nearing its 10th anniversary as a fully going concern, having come together in various stages of development a couple years before that. The genesis was when singer Andy Shadburne’s band Via Dove played a handful of Rolling Stones songs during 2009’s edition of An Undercover Weekend — a once-upon-a-time annual event in which local bands took on the guises of their favorite artists.
The next year, guitarist Jimmy Griffin joined in, playing Keith Richards to Shadburne’s Mick Jagger. At that point, the (steel) wheels started turning.
“It was like, ‘Oh, wow, if we polish this up, it could become really great,” Shadburne recalls. “For something like the Stones, you want to make sure that everybody’s on the same page.”
Personnel changes continued, and as it’s currently configured, Street Fighting Band constitutes an all-star collective of St. Louis musicians. In addition to vocalist Shadburne and guitarist Griffin, it includes keyboardist Dave Grelle, guitarist Jim Peters, drummer Kevin Bowers, bassist Andy Coco, trumpeter Adam Hucke, saxophonist Charlie Cerpa, trombonist Aaron Chandler, and vocalists Erminie Cannon and Tandra Williams.
Performing as Mick Jagger is not something Shadburne was necessarily born to do, but it was something that came to him fairly early on.
“I remember being like 4 or 5 or 6 and seeing (the Stones) play ‘Satisfaction,’ probably on Ed Sullivan or something,” he says. “I feel like my dad had a VHS tape of those performances, and I was just drawn to the way Jagger would do it. So I would start mimicking him and doing that for kicks and for people that would come over for dinner.”
As he became a rock ’n’ roll singer himself, he took notice of artists ranging from INXS’ Michael Hutchence, U2’s Bono, Sade and Tina Turner, and their flamboyance and stage presence informed his own style.
And then, of course, there’s Jagger.
Shadburne divides the Stones singer’s style into various eras. Early on, he was “tethered” by a corded microphone, and those performances were “more visceral,” Shadburne says. Later, after he went wireless and the stages he performed on got bigger and bigger, Jagger exuded a higher degree of energy but eventually kind of went over the top. “I’ve heard it called ‘Mick Jagger doing Mick Jagger,’” Shadburne says. “Which is fine. That’s him.”
When he’s performing, he says, he thinks: “How would I want to see this done? I want to make sure that it’s dialed in. I want to make sure it doesn’t look forced.”
But while Shadburne is performing as Jagger, he’s not experiencing a personality crisis.
“I’m still me; I’m not him,” he says. “But there’s gonna be some of that bleedover, for sure, because I take on that persona for the gig. Everybody else kind of falls into that as well. Jimmy — he’s a very lovable character, much like Keith Richards. So it’s pretty easy for us to slip into that.”
Shadburne says Street Fighting Band’s material is drawn largely from the Rolling Stones “golden era” from 1968 to ’72. “You’ve got to kind of do the staples — the big hits,” he says. The group also does some of the Stones’ early material, as well as Chuck Berry and Bobby Womack songs that the Stones covered. A couple of shows Street Fighting Band did in May delved into the group’s “dirty disco” period, Shadburne says, and included songs such as “Emotional Rescue” and “Shattered.”
“Both of those tunes are just clinics and super fun to do,” he says.
For the last year, Shadburne has been experiencing something of his own “Exile on Main Street” — or maybe, in his case, Exile on Market Street?
In 2016, he and his wife moved to Perth, Australia — he to help start a church there and his wife to teach gifted students. Soon after emigrating, they had a daughter and became permanent residents.
They returned to St. Louis in May 2020 thinking they’d stay until December, but COVID complicated matters, at first closing the borders entirely, but more recently making going back merely complicated and expensive. If nothing else, it allows time to squeeze in more Street Fighting Band gigs.
“There’s a little bit of a nomadic quality to all of this,” Shadburne says. “Which is not great when you have a 4-year-old. But it’s kind of the hand we’ve been dealt, so we’re just playing it, you know?”
What Street Fighting Band: A Tribute to the Rolling Stones • When 7:30 p.m. July 16 • Where St. Louis Music Park, 750 Casino Center Drive, Maryland Heights • How much $10 • More info ticketmaster.com