A stunningly landscaped setting and inclusive atmosphere set apart the Whitaker Music Festival, which has been inviting guests to free Wednesday evening concerts at the Missouri Botanical Garden for 23 summers.

“I think we’re unique because, in our opinion, we have the best concert venue in St. Louis in terms of being in the most beautiful spot,” said Adam Jaschek, senior events coordinator for the Missouri Botanical Garden. “Then, we bring in the most exciting local bands.”

The all-ages performances start at 7 p.m. each Wednesday, kicking off in late May/early June and extending through July. Jaschek suggests attendees don’t dawdle once the doors open at 5 p.m.

“Some people have been coming year after year and arrive early to get ‘their spot.’ They bring special picnic tables — everything measured out just for the show. It feeds off itself,” he said. “The Children’s Garden also opens at 5 o’clock [during the Whitaker Music Festival], and kids love running through the fountains there before the concerts.”

Folks are welcome to bring their own food and drinks, picnic baskets, camp tables and chairs, and coolers. Picnic fare, beer, wine, soda, and snow cones are also available for purchase on site.

Al Holliday and The East Side Rhythm Band at the Whitaker Music Festival

Whitaker Music Festival, Al Holliday and The East Side Rhythm Band

The festival is funded by the Whitaker Foundation, which supports St. Louis arts and parks to promote common heritage, celebrate diversity, and encourage vitality within the community. The Whitaker Urban Evening Concert Series, another collaboration, takes place on Thursday evenings at St. Louis Place Park in north St. Louis.

“Whitaker Foundation is this incredible organization run by great people, with the mission to get people outside and bring the arts to them, to combine beautiful scenery with first-class entertainment,” Jaschek said.

Mardra and Reggie Thomas, a St. Louis jazz and blues duo, will perform at the Missouri Botanical Garden on July 3. Boomtown United, compiled of veterans from all over the local ska and reggae scene, will play on July 10, followed by traditional jazz band Annie and the Fur Trappers the next week.

Dave Grelle’s Playadors will take the stage on July 24. “That’s an interesting story,” said Jaschek. “Grelle has played [the keyboard] with a bunch of well-known area bands. He was almost killed in a car accident crossing Grand Avenue last year and is making his comeback with his own soul-jazz group.”

Starwolf, a synth-pop trio that has played at Delmar Hall and Ballpark Village, rounds out the remaining musicians on the schedule for 2019.

“St. Louis is very lucky to be the crossroads of so many musical styles. We try our best to bring that to the festival,” said Jaschek. “You’ll hear world-class jazz, Americana, funk, pop — all across the spectrum.”

Bike racks provided by Trailnet are located at the Ridgway Visitor Center, the main entrance to the Missouri Botanical Garden. Don’t miss your chance to roll over and enjoy a truly idyllic outdoor music experience this summer.


Upcoming Shows at the Whitaker Music Festival at MoBOT

July 3 – Mardra and Reggie Thomas
July 10 – Boomtown United
July 17 – Annie and the Fur Trappers
July 24 – Dave Grelle’s Playadors
July 31 – Starwolf

Author: Brad Kovach is the editor/publisher of Terrain Magazine.