Way of Life: Let the Music Play on Historic Main Street in St. Charles


The popular Music on Main returns to St. Charles’ historic Main Street this summer.

Contributed photo from Greater St. Charles CVB.

Held on the third Wednesdays of each month from May to September, the free concerts not only bring the community together, but also impact the area’s small businesses in a positive way.

Artists covering a range of musical genres, from classic rock to country to Motown, come from all over the world to perform during Music on Main.

“It started out as one man on a guitar and it grew over time,” said Chris Black, chairman of the events and promotions committee of St. Charles. “Now, it attracts thousands of people.”

Black, a longtime musician, also performs with Butch Wax and the Hollywoods, one of the
bands scheduled to perform this summer. For almost 30 years, he has managed Music on Main, an event he describes as a huge block party that shuts down part of downtown St. Charles’ most famous thoroughfare.

“I have bands lined up wanting to play,” Black said, adding that part of the process is trying to determine which bands are a good fit.

This summer, bands include Common Ground (June 21), Russo & Company Band (July 19), Butch Wax and The Hollywoods (Aug. 16) and Vynal Tap (Sept. 20). The type of music
performed varies by the band featured.

The eight-piece band, Butch Wax and the Hollywoods, performs cover songs from artists like Tina Turner, Chuck Berry, The Temptations, Johnny Cash, The Beatles and more. While the band hails from St. Louis, it has performed sold-out shows around the country for almost four decades.

“Soon as we play the first song, people are up dancing,” said Gene Ackmann, keyboard player and vocalist of Butch Wax and The Hollywoods. “It’s really a great feeling. Historic Main Street is one of our favorite places to play.”

Ackmann has a strong connection with Music on Main. He grew up in St. Charles County and attended Francis Howell High School (Class of 1972). Many of his close friends and family come to see his band perform at the event.

“It so nice to see so many people I went to grade school with,” Ackmann said. “It’s like a family reunion.”

Contributed photo from Greater St. Charles CVB.

Local businesses get a huge uptick in revenue during the event as it draws considerable crowds. Magpie’s Café, a restaurant on Main Street known for its baked potato soup, even sets up its own live music program by reaching out to local and national artists through social media.

“We have a group from Nashville that travels around, and they have their own albums,” said Mallory Schaffrin, manager of Magpie’s Cafe. “We do music events in spring all the way to late fall until it gets cold. It brings in a lot of business.”

Black says St. Charles is growing in leaps and bounds, with three more entertainment districts being built in the near future. He credits previous St. Charles mayors and current mayor Dan Borgmeyer for their support of the arts.

Music on Main concerts are from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on North Main Street in historic St. Charles.

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Lonnie Walton
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