BENTON PARK WEST – At Cherokee Street and Nebraska Avenue, Love Bank Park is a small and fairly intimate spot among the streets’ restaurants, businesses and homes. It’s a nice place to enjoy the weather and maybe catch a few basketball games from the neighborhood children on a normal day. But over the weekend the park became a platform for artists, DJs and music lovers to catch a vibe.
Saturday, St. Louis-based music brand Grnd Hvus, pronounced as Grind House, hosted its first event at the park.
Named Grnd Hvus Day, the four-hour event was a music showcase that included a plethora of performances from musical artists as well as providing school giveaways. It started slowly about 3 p.m. but began to catch momentum once DJ Domo and the show’s master of ceremony, Supreme (@Who_TF_Is_Preme), took control of the event until 7 p.m.
“I used to be out here [on Cherokee] when I was 15, 14,” Supreme said. “I [mess] with Grnd Hvus heavy. … I told them, if you build this, it will grow. Everybody’s diverse and was able to come out, jam out, rock out and have a good time.”
Clarentz Guerrier co-founded the brand. Before building the Grnd Hvus, Guerrier had experience while living in Philadelphia, working with teams that have backed stars including The Roots and Drake in their early years. He began building the brand once he moved back to St. Louis, meeting his colleague Asa Strawter before starting the process.
Many of the artists at Grnd Hvus Day were people the co-founders met while building the brand from the ground up.
The point of the showcase was not only to introduce the new music brand as a platform to connect artists around the city, but to show area youth a slew of musical artists whom they can look up to for inspiration.
“There’s so many kids in this community who need something or someone to look up to,” Guerrier said. “We kind of throw our kids underneath the rug. … When it comes to the schools or kids, especially black and brown kids, we don’t pay any attention to them. Let’s have backpacks, let’s have music. If you have an artist you look up to, you’re more willing to do things and get to where they are and aspire for those goals.”
With the new school year approaching, the showcase also took in donated school supplies. From free haircuts to backpack/pencil giveaways, Guerrier and Strawter collaborated with Cherokee businesses including STL Style and Kuts By Kurtis in order to support their bottom line on back-to-school prep. Plant-based BBQ business Original Family Smoke House provided a healthy menu of food for attendees throughout the day.
“I think that it’s cool y’all doing the bookbag and pencil giveaway” said MikeyFromTheBlock, one of Grnd Hvus Day’s performing artists. “[They’re] right on Nebraska, this is where we grew up and where I be. [They’re] on the poor side of the neighborhood, where kids need backpacks and pencils. [They’re] in the right area.”
Grnd Hvus Day ended on a positive note, with the crew already planning what’s next. The collective is working to showcase an annual event.
“It’s great to have this momentum as the first step,” Strawter said. “The city is [messing] with us, but we can’t worry about it. … If Clarentz say we’re doing this or whatever he puts on the budget, we’re going to make it happen.”