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Local Bartender And Actor Turns Her Hatchback Into A Roving Curbside Cabaret

Anna Blair setup
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Theater and restaurant workers have taken huge economic hits lately, and back before the coronavirus pandemic, Anna Blair was a busy member of both industries as an actor and bartender. Now theaters are closed, and restaurants and bars are seeing little traffic.

But after experiencing some initial deep worry, Blair came up with an idea for how she wanted to spend her time during this crisis. She calls it Curbside Cabaret Cocktails. People looking for “a jolt of joy” can book her to serenade them karaoke-style — and mix them a drink while she’s at it, all in socially distanced, contact-free fashion.

The other day, St. Louis on the Air stopped by one of Blair’s curbside performances in south St. Louis.

She opened her hatchback and quickly set up a speaker and music stand on the sidewalk, along with a tip jar. Several people along Magnolia Avenue stepped onto their porches to enjoy the show. Meanwhile, drivers zipped along the busy neighborhood thoroughfare after months of sheltering in place as Blair sang “What The World Needs Now Is Love” and “What A Wonderful World.”

Anna Blair singing in south St. Louis
Credit Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio
Anne Blair sings "What The World Needs Now Is Love" along Magnolia Avenue in St. Louis.

On Friday’s talk show, Blair joined host Sarah Fenske to share a bit more about what this new endeavor entails.

She said the various reasons and occasions prompting people to reach out and book her really run the gamut.

“I just did a birthday for my sixth grade teacher who means so much to me. I actually gifted myself to him and sang him a song and poured him and his wife a drink,” Blair explained. “So [I do] a lot of birthdays [and] driveway parties where people gather. I did one [where] they were showing a Fred-and-Ginger movie … I opened with four songs that Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers have sung in different movies, and so I was kind of their opening act for the movie.

“Anniversaries — I’ve had people have me come and sing a song that [they] danced to at their wedding, and they’ve danced in their yard while I’m singing. It’s very sweet. I’m touched by it. You know, when people hear a song that means something to them and I see them kind of wipe a little tear away, it means a lot to me, too, that I can do this for them.”

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Evie is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.