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Round 2

Stanley Cup Playoff postcard: St. Louis

LNH.com's Arpon Basu enjoys delicious barbeque, experiences National Blues Museum

by Arpon Basu @ArponBasu / LNH.com Senior Managing Editor

ST. LOUIS -- The Western Conference Second Round series between the St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators pits two cities against each other that have two things in common.

They are both tied to a certain style of music, country in Nashville and the blues in St. Louis, and they both have good barbecue. (I would never dare say they have great barbecue or the best barbecue because people tend to freak out about the quality of a city's barbecue, as I learned on social media. Even saying they have good barbecue might be going out on a limb).

As such, I decided to sample both on the St. Louis side of things.

My day started at Sugarfire BBQ downtown and, well, no complaints from me. As a Canadian from Montreal, we have many great culinary offerings, but good barbecue is not one of them. So I jump at any opportunity to have some, and that need was fulfilled in St. Louis.

Mother Nature threw a bit of a wrench in my tourist plans, but I'm glad she did. I had initially hoped to visit the city's world-renowned zoo, but it was pouring rain outside and, well, that's not good zoo weather.

Then I figured I would take a trip up the Arch, the famous Gateway to the West, but again with a dreary day I figured the view would not be quite as great as it usually is.

So instead, I went next door from Sugarfire to the National Blues Museum. And am I ever glad I did.

The museum is a treasure, chronicling the evolution of blues music from the Deep South up the Mississippi River to St. Louis and beyond and eventually to Chicago in the north, and how the genre influenced essentially every type of American music we know.

There were interactive stations where you could build your own blues riff by digitally choosing lyrics, laying a harmonica, guitar and piano track and finally mixing your own song, complete with its own album cover.

My song was called The Sitting Around Doing Nothing Blues. I giggled. I'm probably the only one.

I also was given a digital tutorial on how to play the washboard, which reaffirmed what I already knew; that I don't have a single musical bone in my body, even when it comes to hitting a metal board with a stick.

We all have our strengths.

But the best part of the visit was learning about the blues and its significance in American history, how it is essentially a living, breathing history of African Americans and their experience in this country, and how its reach is felt in practically all the music we hear today.

My favorite quote in the museum summed it up nicely, and it came from someone who knew what he was talking about.

"The type of music that we play is like the mother tree, and it has many branches." -- B.B. King.

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