Live from the Boom Room: Showcasing St. Louis Musicians

This will be an obvious statement for anyone who’s already tuned in, but local music is not second-tier entertainment. Let’s get this crucial point out of the way immediately. Sure, national touring acts snatch most of the headlines, but they all got their start and honed their craft somewhere. Filmmaker and longtime musician, Brian McClelland, is on a mission to build a bigger audience for a St. Louis music scene that is magnetic; bursting at the seams with expert singers, songwriters, instrumentalists and producers.

McClelland, owner of Blip Blap Video, is working hard to show people what they’re missing through Live from the Boom Room, his standout live music video series featuring performances from St. Louis musicians. His productions are impressive from both an audio and visual perspective. What makes it more remarkable is he creates the videos by himself. In his basement. While sometimes wearing slippers.

Equipment setup, lighting, soundcheck, audio recording, operating two cameras, editing and even wafting fog from the fog machine as needed, McClelland puts all his heart and skills into showcasing artists in the best possible light. He’s not only amplifying talent that stretches across multiple genres, he’s also providing intimate, professionally-produced pieces that capture the artists’ energetic live shows for free. Funded in part by grants from the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis, McClelland is offering a valuable service from a place of personal passion. And the word has spread. McClelland says he could book the next three seasons of the popular series because he’s getting so many submissions.

As season four of Live from the Boom Room wraps up, McClelland reflects on filming his 100th episode – an impressive milestone for someone who has turned a side project started during the COVID pandemic into one of the best places for people to discover their next favorite band.

Now, a live show celebrating the season five premiere and 100th episode is shaping up. Slated for Saturday, May 25 at St. Louis’ Off Broadway concert venue, 10 acts (currently TBD) will perform. Until then, people can go down a musical rabbit hole, exploring the Live from the Boom Room series on Blip Blap Video’s YouTube channel. Then, get up close to this thriving community at spots like Platypus, The Dark Room, Venice Cafe, The Heavy Anchor or any number of amazing STL music venues and festivals. And finally, join McClelland’s mission to open everyone’s eyes to St. Louis’ acclaimed local music scene.

Don’t miss the Q&A with McClelland below.

Featured in this video: The Ish Ensemble,James Líôn and Aida Aide

Q: What inspired you to start the Live at the Boom Room series?
With this project, I wanted to create a document of what was happening in the STL music scene here in the 2020’s. The scene is so incredibly diverse and ever-expanding. Even after 30 years of actively being a part of it, the sheer amount of amazingly talented artists that I somehow never heard of is often shocking to me. I wanted to create a series that showcases that wide variety of artists – genres be damned – and offer them a professional promo video free of charge that they use for their myriad of promotional needs. After two plus years, we are hitting our 100th episode.

The name of the series comes from where we produce it; in my basement band rehearsal/karaoke room called the Boom Room. People sometimes confuse us with the very successful burlesque venue in town called the Boom Boom Room – ha – but we hope that people can figure out the difference between the two.

We shoot the series over three separate weeks, taking place approximately every 3-4 months, with each artist session lasting only 90 minutes, from load in to load out. I am the only crew in the basement studio, responsible for video and audio. We originally were doing 60 minute sessions, but those were starting to kill me. 90 minutes gives us a bit more breathing room to allow for larger bands with more members.

After funding the first season’s production myself, the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis (RACSTL) has generously provided some financial support through two artist grants that have helped keep the series in production. I couldn’t be more excited and thankful about the support from RACSTL.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish with the series?
I hope to help artists in the STL region get wider exposure and increased fanbases here in town as well as help get their work out into the wider world. I have been a member of the local music scene since the early ’90s (Whoa Thunder, Middle Class Fashion, Tight Pants Syndrome, Hotel Faux Pas, Kid Scientist), and as a struggling musician, I remember how important quality music videos were for emerging artists, and how unaffordable they were for most of us at the time. It’s a win-win, allowing me to work with really talented artists and delivering free, much needed promo materials for these often underserved artists.

Q: After filming so many amazing artists, are there any overarching observations that stand out about the caliber of musicians and the diversity of music coming out of St. Louis?
While it comes as no surprise just how strong the hip hop scene is in STL, in my opinion, the jazz scene is equally as strong. So much talent! And I would love to get more of our town’s legendary blues artists in the studio – Marquis Knox, hit me up!

Q: As someone who is making a concerted effort to showcase talent in a region that’s steeped in musical history and influence, what should music lovers looking to visit St. Louis know about the scene here?
There are passionate, dedicated artists making every kind of music here, and they are doing it at a professional level. Whether you are into folk, rock, hip hop, country, blues, rap, outsider artists, or whatever, please feel free to ask me for recommendations. I will send ya to someone you will love. There are just so many artists of all genres here worth checking out.

Q: Appreciating that it’s likely very hard to pick favorites, what are some under-the-radar artists/bands that people should know about?
My favorites list is indeed long, but a few of the artists that have really impressed me in the Boom Room include Dave Grelle’s Playadors, StringzEMB, The Burney Sisters, Superfun Yeah Yeah Rocketship, Po, Neil Salsich, Chan Maurice Evans (our most viewed episode!), Joanna Serenko, Spectator, DDare Bionic, Lola Kristine, Jeffy & the Sunken Heads, Daemon, Hunter Peebles, The Legendary Tiger Rider… Ha, yeah, I can’t start listing my favorites, ’cause the list just keeps going on and on. And of course, my guy, Clownvis, who was gracious enough to be my very first episode in October 2021.

Explore more from the Live from the Boom Room series on Blip Blap Video’s YouTube channel.