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No 8-DEC. ’12-JAN ‘13

THE LINER NOTES OF ST. LOUIS

HAPPY OLD YEAR! lessons learned, bridges burned, and records turned

EL MONSTERO INSIDE: ANAÏs Mitchell • tiM Gebauer • holidaze • happy 50th issue!

i’m dreaming of a pink christmas

PLUS: cover songs considered, black James and spelling bee reviewed, and more! CHECK IT OUT

eleven MaGazine voluMe 8, issue 8

COMPLIMENTARY

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DEPT. OF

PERIODICAL LITERATURE ST. LOUIS, MO

Issue No. 8, Volume 8

FRONT OF THE BOOK 5 Editor’s Note 6 Letters 8 Where Is My Mind? 10 Essentials COLUMNS 10 Nook of Revelations by THOMAS CRONE 11 Rockin Our Lives Away by BOB REUTER 12 The Radius COLUMBIA, MISSOURI

13 Load In by DAVE ANDERSON FEATURES 14 Interview: Anaïs Mitchell by KYLE KAPPER 16 By the Way, Which One’s Pink? El Monstero by CHRIS WARD 18 Common Tongue: Considering Covers by EVAN SULT What Makes a Good Cover? by HUGH SCOTT

December 2012 / January 2013

FEATURES CONT’D Happy Old Year! 18 Our Top Eleven Everything THIS MONTH IN MUSIC Musicalendar 26 BRING ON THE NIGHT Show Previews228 bilal, Jc brooks & the uptown sound, Father John Misty, Grace potter & the nocturnals.

Short List 29 Holiday Hot Spots 30 HOT ROCKS Guest List 31 by NICK ACQUISTO . New Album Reviews 24 black James, clinic, spelling bee, picture day, the incurables, Mt. thelonius

.

The Rebellious Jukebox 32 by MATT HARNISH . THE WAY BACK PAGE

19 Case Study: Dreamin’ Wild by RYAN BOYLE

Paper Time Machine 34 by PAIGE BRUBECK .

29 Case Study: The Blind Eyes

robert rauschenberg

COVER DESIGN: SLEEPY KITTY ARTS. Photos of El Monstero by PAUL ADDOTTA. Photo of Matt & Kim’s Kim Schifino by MICAH MICKLES.


PHOTO OF KIM SCHIFINO OF MATT & KIM, AT THE PAGEANT: MICAH MICKLES

Eleven Magazine issue 8 | volume 8 | december 2012 / January 2013 PUBLISHER hugh scott EDITOR-IN-CHIEF evan sult SPECIAL ASSIGNMENTS paige brubeck ART DIRECTION evan sult CONTRIBUTING WRITERS dave anderson paige brubeck ryan boyle Juliet charles thomas crone suzie Gilb Matt harnish Kyle Kapper nelda Kerr cassie Kohler amanda Krebel Josh levi ryan Mcneely sean nelson zev powell Jack probst bob reuter Jason robinson robert severson blair stiles bill streeter brian vaccaro robin Wheeler PHOTOGRAPHERS ned brubeck nate burrell Jarred Gastreich ashley Gieseking patrice Jackson lee Klawans Micah Mickles bob reuter

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Jason stoff bill streeter bryan sutter COPY EDITOR hugh scott PROMOTIONS AND DISTRIBUTION suzie Gilb ann scott CONSULTATION clifford holekamp derek Filcoff cady seabaugh hugh scott iii FOUNDED in 2006 by a group including Jonathan Fritz, Josh petersel and Mathew strรถm ELEVEN MAGAZINE 3407 s. Jefferson st. louis, Mo 63118 FOR ADVERTISING INQUIRIES hugh scott advertising@elevenmusicmag.com CALENDAR LISTINGS listings@elevenmusicmag.com LETTERS TO THE EDITOR deareleven@elevenmusicmag.com We welcome your comments. please let us know if you do not want your letter published.

INTERESTED IN CONTRIBUTING? getinvolved@elevenmusicmag.com HAVE A QUESTION FOR US? info@elevenmusicmag.com ONLINE elevenmusicmag.com twitter.com/elevenmag facebook.com/elevenMagazine copyriGht 2012 scotty scott Media, llc


Editor’s Note

by Evan Sult

Hello Cool World FIRST OFF: I NEVER had any use for a Mayan calendar before, and I don’t intend to start now. Even so, I’ll feel better once 12/21/12 is past, the same way I was glad last October when that preacher’s apocalyptic math fritzed out, and when Y2K did not end civilization as we knew it. There’s just a nervy edge to December’s end-of-theworld hoedown that I’m not enjoying much. The reason is simple: I don’t want the world to end. I’m having too much of a good time. Great shows keep rolling through town, the parties have all been good lately, I keep stumbling upon great bands (check out page 25 for my favorites), and the Fortune Teller Bar has delivered night life to Cherokee Street... You can keep your black holes and dark prophecies, there’s too much cool music going on! This issue covers both December 2012 and January 2013, so let me be the first to wish you a hell of a happy new year. There are so many great things going on in STL music, even with an additional eight pages we weren’t able to get to them all. But that’s what the new year is for, right? Oh yes, and before I forget (it’s very late where I am now, and it’s been so long since I slept): Congratulations are in order! With this publication, we mark ELEVEN’S 50TH ISSUE. Seeing as I’ve only been involved in the magazine for the last four issues, I’d like to send out my congratulations to the people who got the magazine this far, specifically Josh Petersel, Jonathan Fritz, Matthew Ström, Tara Pham—and especially Eleven’s publisher, Hugh Scott. I do believe that St. Louis has a bountiful music scene (check out page 6 for a dissenting opinion), and I do hope to see Eleven make it another 50 issues. This is a weird and cool city in a weird and cool age, so let’s make the most of it, yeah? Cheers, peers.

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Correspondence

LETTERS

Eleven welcomes letters from readers. Please direct letters to deareleven@elevenmusicmag.com, or mail to 3407 S. Jefferson St, St. Louis MO, 63118. This letter was condensed for space.

Caught up in the hipster fads of yesteryear

Dear Eleven, I was disappointed to pick up the September issue of Eleven magazine. It seems this was the first issue with Evan Sult, drummer for popular local band Sleepy Kitty, as the editor-in-chief. Much of the writing was sloppy—littered with the typos typical of past issues of the magazine—and went to great length to say nothing of importance. What bothered me even more was how much it was saying things that were actively unproductive and, in some cases, offensive. I remember hearing that Evan Sult was going to be taking over the position of editor at Eleven. I was not pleased. This is not because of anything to do with Evan as a person; I know little about Evan, and we have never met. But I do know that Evan plays in the band Sleepy Kitty, and that he does a pretty good screen-printing business for album art and show posters. This is why I was unhappy: it is a complete and total conflict of interest for Evan to be the editor of a local music magazine, as he stands to benefit (and potentially even make a profit) by gaining more exposure from the very magazine he is editing. In Journalism 101, this is exactly what you are told you are never allowed to do. This conflict comes through in sentence number two [of the Editor’s Note]: Evan brings up being at Euclid Records. Euclid is a record store, and Evan endorsing that store is fine. Except Euclid is also a record label, and that record label released Sleepy Kitty’s latest LP and single. (They also plan to release their next LP this fall.) An endorsement of a company that you are monetarily tied to is an ethical issue—one that, at the very least, readers and community members ought to be aware of. (The conflict is most egregiously obvious, however, on the LouFest spread, where the only local act to get a photograph is Sleepy Kitty.) But speaking only of the circumstances of Evan’s involvement as editor says nothing about the writing itself, which speaks to the St. Louis music scene in profound—and likely somewhat unconscious—ways. The first two paragraphs of Evan’s editor’s note sound like an advertisement for Pabst Blue Ribbon, which is an indicator not only of the heavy involvement of alcohol in the St. Louis scene and what bands are labeled as “interesting” and worth the audience’s time, but also to the standard demographic of the

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readers and writers of this magazine. The “hipster of ‘05” that tends to occupy most of St. Louis’ musical happenings is the exact same as the one living in the pages of Eleven magazine. I find this to be incredibly frustrating. People in St. Louis have been trying to “solve” the problem of the local music scene for the past seven years or so—perhaps even longer. Everyone continues to wonder, “Why does St. Louis music suck?” Eleven ran a cover story about two years ago proclaiming that “ST. LOUIS MUSIC DOESN’T SUCK!” This seems to be the generally agreed upon method of combating the ever-burning question: if one continues to proclaim that exciting and interesting things are happening in the St. Louis music scene, it will somehow become true.

This isn’t to say that exciting music doesn’t come out of St. Louis. I’m convinced that it does. But I’ve never really heard any of it. I hate to be a nay-sayer around town, but this isn’t working. If we talk about how exciting St. Louis music is, and have these illusions of grandeur (like, for instance, Evan’s belief that St. Louis music is making some impact on the national music scene), we aren’t doing ourselves or anybody else any favors. We have to be realistic and identify problems. Even more than that, however, we have to actually make things that are interesting in order for our music scene to be interesting. That’s the main thing that isn’t happening. This isn’t to say that exciting music doesn’t come out of St. Louis. I’m convinced that it does. But I’ve never really heard any of it. What gets coverage from Eleven and the RFT is largely boring music. As a friend of mine once said, “We have bands that sound like better bands.” St. Louis is culturally caught up in the hipster fads of yesteryear, and the music suffers the same fate. But we have some 300,000 people

living in St. Louis city proper, and some 2.8 million people living in the St. Louis metro area. Some of them must be doing something interesting. We have few venues that are available for kids to play where there’s low pressure from profit-minded business owners, a low price tag on admission, and all ages allowed. Furthermore, our community rewards mediocrity. People who are attempting to do something interesting and different rarely get any attention, whereas people imitating other nationally recognized acts are often told they’re “original” by local media outlets. From an audience point of view, it’s baffling and frustrating. If we’re ever going to have an effective and interesting music scene in St. Louis, we have to be honest and supportive. A local music magazine should cover local music, absolutely. But there’s no reason for a local music magazine to not call bullshit when it sees it, and to keep saying that the mediocrity our city currently wallows in is “exciting” and competitive with the national scene. It is the job of the publication, in part, to find those interesting bands that only 25 people have heard and give them the attention they deserve. One of the major problems that I have with [September’s] issue of Eleven is that it does little to illuminate what’s great about our city. Much of what’s talked about involves endorsing non-local businesses and non-local bands (putting Guided By Voices on the cover [where] Evan just babbles out some meaningless and vague praises of an old band’s new record). What’s needed is an honest and positive opinion of what’s going on. If we want to have a productive music scene, we’ve got to do more than just say that we have one—we’ve actually got to put in the years of work to build one. Eleven occupies a strange niche, one that’s morphed along with the magazine. It’s not reckless enough to be considered a local artist’s journal, but it’s not professional enough to be considered legitimate in any sense. I want to hear bands that are pushing boundaries, and I want to see the rest of the community of artists & writers responding positively. I think it is imperative that we stop lying to ourselves about the nature of our city. However, it is equally necessary


Correspondence that we not whine. We must create the environment that we wish to live in. That is what I am trying to do by writing this letter, and by being a part of this community. I am trying to form something that resembles my vision of the ideal. I hope that everyone else can put their vision forward as well, and that we can become a productive and nonjudgmental body, accepting and respecting one another’s intentions, celebrating and encouraging our differences and the unique works we alone have to offer. Sincerely, with much hope for the future, Eric Williger Evan Sult responds: Eric, thanks for having a strong opinion about the magazine. First off: I fully acknowledge the typos from the first issue. Believe me, they’re at least as painful to me as anyone. I loathe typos, but didn’t have a proofreader set up for the first issue. Hopefully you have seen the improvements in subsequent issues. More interesting is the charge of a conflict of interest. As you note, I’m a member of Sleepy Kitty, the band and art-making project. Similarly, all of our columnists are musicians in active bands, except Thomas Crone, who DJs all over town. Contributor Suzie Gilb has a couple of bands; I met contributing writer Jason Robinson as the leader of The Orbz. The Guest List section

invites record store specialists and DJs to talk about upcoming releases. These writers write both as fans and as active players in St. Louis. I see this not as a conflict, but as a confluence of interest, and their perspective complements the work of contributors like Nelda Kerr, Kyle Kapper, Jack Probst, etc, who write from the other side of the stage. Eleven unapologetically includes coverage of music released by our writers among all of the music that we write about, local or national. But you can rest easy: no one’s going to write a review of his/her own album, and not all of the reviews will be (or have been) glowing. There is and will be negative response in our criticism, but in general, I’m more interested in making readers aware of an excellent release than spending precious word counts trashing someone’s music; as with the Cahiers du Cinéma crowd, the best response to a bad film is to champion a good film instead. As for that tenet of Journalism 101: from the editors and staff of the NY Rocker in the ‘80s to the music editor and staff of the Chicago Reader in the ‘00s, there’s something of a tradition in music journalism of working the space between the stage and the page. Besides that, though, I do believe we’re in agreement on a key point: there is compelling music happening in St. Louis, and the more we can find out about and

broadcast the good stuff, the better off we’ll be as a city. Your opinion about what is good STL music seems to be different than mine—Dubb Nubb, The Union Electric, and Jon Hardy, all covered in September’s issue, all rate higher than “bands that sound like better bands” in my opinion—but the goals of Eleven include, as you say, “creat[ing] the environment that we wish to live in.” I don’t know what a “local artist’s journal” is in your definition, but I think of Eleven as the sum of its contributors’ interests. The new version of Eleven endeavors to bind documentation to fandom to discovery to advocacy to narrative to critical inquiry. I agree that we’ve got to have a “productive music scene,” and thus, as you suggest, we are “put[ting] in the years of work to build one.” Our purview is wide open, as is the voice we write in, the bands we cover, the music we think is exciting, and the way we interact with a city whose music scene is bubbling over with potential both latent and realized. But you know what? Your instinct to hunt for under-appreciated, unknown music in St. Louis is a solid one. I’m curious myself about what you’ll find. So please consider this an invitation to contribute to Eleven as a writer. You can document your hunt for bands that are pushing their boundaries, right here in this publication, and provide the voice that you yourself say is missing. What do you say?

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WHERE IS MY MIND? This Month in the History of Now

BRING BACK THE GUNS

WHEN SO MANY DYNAMOS released their debut EP, “Are We Not Drawn Onward to New Era?” in 2003, they probably didn’t anticipate the title becoming prophecy. One decade and several lineup changes later, they’re still writing and playing the dancy, punky electropop that propelled them from Edwardsville IL out into the national indie music scene. For many bands in St. Louis, So Many Dynamos’ career success is the model to emulate. On February 1 they’ll celebrate their tenth anniversary with an Off Broadway blowout. Founding member Aaron Stovall reports that

<<< GO TO FOAM COFFEE & Beer’s open mic on any Wednesday and it’s pretty likely that you’ll get to hear a few songs from TIM GEBAUER. His performances are commanding, not with volume but with intensity. Most often he doesn’t use the PA, choosing to stand on a chair and project instead. The St. Louis singer/songwriter has been charming the open mic crowd with his keen sense of melody, and suggestive and welcoming lyrics for over a year. But while he was nominated by the RFT for 2012’s Best Singer/Songwriter next to scene veterans Beth Bombara, Caleb Travers, Ellen the Felon, and Langen Neubacher, he hasn’t played any official shows outside of Wednesdays at Foam. This changes on December 14 when he’ll open for Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons at Off Broadway. Cory Chisel played at the inaugural LouFest in 2010, and Tim Gebauer’s songs should be a good pairing, and a good way to kick off the night. EVAN SULT

PHOTO: NHALSKI STUDIO

by Dave Todd

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ROBIN WHEELER

FROM OPEN MIC TO OPENING ACT

LIT FIT Feeding Back: Conversations with Alternative Guitarists from Proto-Punk to Post-Rock

tim Gebauer

they’re anticipating a whopping twelvemember version of the band taking the stage, with guests from local bands old and new: Née, Bear Hive, Union Tree Review and Funky Butt Brass Band. The supergroup will play at least one song from every So Many Dynamos release. They’ll also celebrate the release of show opener NÉE’s EP, Finches. “It’s crazy to think about the 1,000-plus shows we’ve played in the States and abroad over the past decade,” Stovall says. “We’re excited to bring new life to some of the old songs, even if it’s just for one night.”

IT SEEMS LIKE THERE’S just no good word for the kind of music that I, my friends, and probably you, really dig. In the old days, say the ‘60s and ‘70s and ‘80s, it was called underground—by the time I was in college it was called alternative, and these days it mostly goes by the phrase indie. The problem, of course, is that we’re usually trying to describe an aesthetic element in music, some broad but common feeling, and the word we try to apply is borrowed from a different system, one describing the means of production—underground vs legitimate, alternative vs mainstream, independent vs. corporate—and not an aesthetic at all. Aesthetic/production contradictions then immediately intrude into any conversation about music (Did Nirvana cease to be “alternative” when they moved from Sub Pop to Geffen? How could Radiohead be an “indie” band?) and hopelessly muddy conversations about the music itself that could have otherwise gone somewhere interesting. Dave Todd faces this dilemma head on with his introduction to Feeding Back, and really, he has to: his declared subject is “alternative guitarists,” so he has to tell us what that means—and from what these players alternate. The introduction alone is worth the full

price of the book. Todd delves into a broad historical range of musicians, conceptualists, and visual artists to find an “alternative lineage,” “best conceived of as a series of intersections, with many ways of equal merit to view the big picture.” He does it quickly, confidently, and unpretentiously, moving through the Stooges and the Velvet Underground to Sonic Youth, but including “John Coltrane or John Cale or John Cage” as rough equivalencies. He’s looking for a common element among players who are defined by their uncommonness. “As a defining trait,” he contends, “these alternative guitarists are bent on seeking new ways to modulate the content of whatever they’re working with, to taint the form or perversify the tone. They are not retro in orientation but futuro.” Todd manages to define a common urge behind the playing without having to define what it sounds like. (And his definition of the “mainstream trajectory,” the non-alternative universe of rock music, is ingeniously simple and effective.) Thus, when he gets into the actual interviews, he can spend his time finding out why a guitarist plays or writes a certain way—what motivates that player, whether s/he be a fingerpicking maestro like Richard Thompson, a feedback sculptor like Lee Ranaldo, or an avowed guitar hater like Lydia Lunch. For both musicians and careful listeners, the insights into the writing process are invaluable. EVAN SULT


PHOTO: JASON STOFF

paul Mccartney and abe laboriel, Jr., scottrade center

DEFINITELY I’M AMAZED

From the first note of “Magical Mystery Tour,” PAUL MCCARTNEY’s Nov 11 show at the Scottrade was a pop master class. Modern music was created, in very large part, by that man right there, but he and his five-piece band played the songs not like museum pieces but as the muscular pop powerhouses they are. It’s thrilling, of course, to hear the co-author of “Eleanor Rigby” play the song—but sobering to realize that even Paul can only cover the Beatles. As great as his band was (especially drummer/harmony singer/macarena-er Abe Laboriel, Jr), their strength was in modernizing the arrangements and avoiding playing roles as false Beatles. The surprising result was that the Beatles songs were fantastic, but the Wings songs were superlative in this setting: “Jet” and “Let Me Roll It,” especially, stepped out from behind his other band’s long shadow. Though the rendition itself was great, McCartney winced his way through “Live and Let Die”’s indoor fireworks—while the crowd roared with delight, he shook his head and covered his ears, mouthing, “Too loud, too loud!” Otherwise, though, he looked to be enjoying every moment almost as much as we did. ES

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ESSENTIALS 3

2

1

1 We’ve been talking about it for months, but now we’re calling it downright essential: a SUBSCRIPTION TO THE TOWER GROOVE RECORDS SINGLES CLUB. It’s only $60 for the whole year and you get a new 7” record featuring two St. Louis bands every month. Great for your own collection, but also a great Christmas/Hannukah gift for any vinyl enthusiast or St. Louis music lover. 2 In 1975, all you needed to open up a bottle of beer in the parking lot before the REO Speedwagon show was a lighter—that one you were planning to

NOOK OF REVELATIONS

hold aloft later during the encore. Times have changed, man, and we do that stuff with our phones. Well, yeah, the cellphone can handle the encore glow, but how’s it going to crack open your beer? Behold the iBOTTLEOPENER from Pacific Productions. 3 It’s not the clearest way to listen to music, nor is it the loudest. But it doesn’t require electricity or a battery and it sure does look pretty! Take it back to the way, way old school with the iPHONE GRAMOPHONE from Restoration Hardware.

A chronicle of musical encounters by Thomas Crone

Restaurant Rockology WANNA GET SMART about a bunch of music, quick? Wash some glasses with open ears. For the past half-decade, my “replacement 401K” has been a part-time job at a restaurant. With academia and freelance writing falling just short of an ideal cashflow scenario, a job in the service industry’s always been a decent enough way to keep the personal financial cliff (and Suze Orman’s scoldings) a little bit off in the distance. It’s not exactly news that the service industry is filled with folks who do other, creative things. There are something like three drummers at the spot where I hole up twice weekly. No, wait. One drummer recently left, but he was replaced by a teenaged oboe player. So the point essentially stands: musicians are the base ingredient of any kitchen or floor staff. But you’ve also got your makeup artists, your photographers, your typesetters. An occasional actor blows through, before moving (back) to Chicago or LA. And what’s a restaurant without a resident sketch artist, or four? Whether they’re musicians, or not, restaurant and nightclub staffers have strong opinions about music. Where I work, four DJs play weekly, with the balance of the days’ soundtracks programmed by the lead bartender. For the most part, people live in peace, and even the most

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egregious song runs its course in three or four minutes. Here, the default cuts are relatively cool. According to our house PA, acts like Wire and the Modern Lovers never needed to come back; they’ve always been in fashion. The flipside—and I swear, they’re playing this second, as I type—is that Iggy & The Stooges are on a daily loop. The constant infusion of the Stooges is killing

Musicians are the base ingredient of any kitchen or floor staff. me, slowly destroying my soul. I’m starting to hate this band. Not really, not altogether. But six months of Iggy-free existence sounds about the right amount of time to hit the reset button on Ann Arbor’s finest. But this isn’t a place to crab (except about that one thing). The clear positive from bar gigs is that co-workers are constantly bringing new influences and sounds to a night’s close. The DJs are great for this, too, of course, and who among us, spinning records in public, doesn’t wanna hear those gorgeous words, “What’s that you’re playing?”? There are a couple of

tracks that seem to exist comfortably in everyone’s sets: The Undertone’s “Teenage Kicks,” George Clinton’s “Atomic Dog,” Fugazi’s “Waiting Room,” Yeah Yeah Yeah’s “Heads Will Roll,” New York Dolls’ “Personality Crisis.” These are the staples. So things could be much worse. But within minutes of the DJ rig getting stashed away, the house sound system kicks right back on. And, at that point, it’s something of a free-flowing experience. There are a couple of co-workers with a yen for sparkling, of-the-second pop, the kind of music that harkens back to my own new-wavey roots. Through Lex and Matt, there’s been a connection made to Starfucker, Delorean, Neon Indian. At times, a small explosion of krautrock breaks loose, with acts like Can and Neu and Amon Duul sending us into space through the the night’s close. Thanks to Robert, the final hour on the clock, with the lights on and the spirits flagging, might mean Black Sabbath or John Coltrane. Many worse fates could be imagined. I can picture working at a loosely themed Irish pub, where the sleeved-out Yo-Bro manager flips on the house lights every night, cranking the Dropkick Murphys. And as much I enjoyed my one visit to a certain Midtown GLBT hamburger-and-drag bar, no human deserves to unwillingly hear that much Madonna.


A photo and its story by Bob Reuter

PHOTO: BOB REUTER

ROCKIN OUR LIVES AWAY

White in the Bottle, Pink on the Cheeks USED TO BE A BIG old ugly rusty black iron bridge they called “the Viaduct” that connected Midtown with the Southside. I used to ride ’cross that bridge on the Grand Avenue bus with my mom and sister from North City on our way out to visit relatives in Maplewood. I hated that ride and that old bridge depressed me. When those iron girders flashed by I was halfway to my little Sunday afternoon hell. But at the end of that bridge, you’d look up to the right and there was what I thought to be an amazing sign: the Pevely Dairy Building. They had this mascot with a blonde boy’s head on a bottle body—ha ha—”White in the bottle, pink on the cheeks” was their slogan. The kid was in black and white ,of course, with these fat, slightly darkened cheeks. The Sign lit up in three colors, each in its own time: once in white, once in red, and then finally in white and red. Riding that bus back home at night was always a drag, but I looked forward to seeing that sign. At night it was amazing; I thought it a wonder. The Kroger grocery store factory was right there too, and as I waited to change buses there on Manchester, I could smell the heavenly aroma of baking bread in the

air—cold milk and hot bread—the stuff of American champions, back there in those wonder years. Time passed, decades passed, 1977 hit, and that sweet little kid had become a drug-ingesting lost boy. Again I remember crossing that bridge, now heading home to the Southside, and seeing that same sign. We’d both seen better days, me with a head full of reefer and the sign with burnt out and flickering letters. The bottle-bodied boy lay drained in some alley, I supposed. “Red in the stool, white on the cheeks,” I heard in my mind. Now as I looked up, there it was: fine at first, but when the sign meant to flash red, all it could manage was x-E-V-E-L-x-x Whoa, I thought. I remember telling someone the next night, “I SWEAR, when it came to flash red it said ‘EVEL’! In hellish red!” “Dude,” I was told, “That’s not even how ‘evil’ is spelled.” “No, no.... You don’t know... It flashed EVEL!” And times roll on again... I’ve seen that building and sign change with me all my life,

it’s always been there. That ugly old iron bridge is gone now, and in its place is a fine new roadway, with almost designer lighting, that connects St. Louis University to itself. You hardly even notice the trainyards and industrial jungle below anymore. Swallowed up and all but totally gone is the grand old red brick Pevely structure, as the megalomania of higher Catholic education sprawls on its way out toward Gravois. Well, that’s how history works, worlds rise and fall and soon it’s as though things have always been thus. But whether ya know it or not: if you live here, you still carry the shadow of that past world. Whether it’s Kerry Patch, Laclede Town or Pevely Dairy casting that shadow, you look back hard enough and the present day world starts to make more sense. If you’re looking and listening, it tells something of who we were, and from that you learn more ‘bout who we are today. The trademark on the phrase “White in the bottle / Pink on the cheeks” has expired, and is available for use again. Recommended, according to the trademarking website, for use on products involving milk.

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Each month The Radius features a city within a day’s drive of St. Louis. Whether you’re in a touring band or just want to meet some of our neighbors on the map, use this section to get a head start.

COLUMBIA, MO by EVAN SULT, with help from CHRIS BARICEVIC and JACK GRELLE

124 MILES FROM ST. LOUIS, or a little over 2 hours by car EXACTLY HALFWAY between STL and Kansas City, Columbia MO is an ideal stopover for a St. Louis band on a regional tour—or a perfect place to check out a show that didn’t make it to our own city. We asked CHRIS BARICEVIC of BIG MUDDY RECORDS— home to RUM DRUM RAMBLERS, BOB REUTER’S ALLEY GHOST, HOOTEN HALLERS, and JACK GRELLE & THE JOHNSON FAMILY—to point out some highlights. Our thanks to Chris and Jack for lending the knowledge!

ROCK N’ ROLL ON, COLUMBIA

Hooten Hallers GOOD BANDS IN A FEW WORDS

PHOTO: PETER LEE, COURTESY OF BAYPORT BBQ

RIPRAP: “Grunge pop” HOOTEN HALLERS: “Can’t say Columbia and not say the Hooten Hallers!” LUNAR MANSION: “They’re good ol’ boys” HOTT LUNCH: “Psychedelic garage” CABIN SESSIONS: “Pretty and rooted” THE UNTAMED YOUTH: “Deke Dickerson’s band that hasn’t existed for decades but they still rule”

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RECORD STORES HITT STREET RECORDS 10 hitt st It’d be a cool record store all on its own, but Hitt Street is in maybe the raddest building in town—see Ragtag, below. MAUDE VINTAGE 818 e broadWay Cool vintage clothing store that sells some records on consignment.

VENUES MOJO’S 1013 parK ave This is just a totally solid venue, a gem of the Midwest. If you’re in the city to play or to see music, be sure to check out Mojo’s. THE HAIR HOLE 104 orr st One big “DIY showspace/art/ practice space/community space/good stuff” repository, says Chris Baricevic. THE DOME 1157 e nashville church rd, ashland Mo

POSTER BY ART CHANTRY

THE RADIUS

A DIY venue and living space run by Joe Dames, the Dome is also the home of the Hooten Hallers. An actual geodesic done in the woods outside Columbia, this is a true DIY party spot. THE BLUE NOTE 17 n 9th A little like the Pageant, but significantly smaller and less intense all around, the Blue Note has hosted some great national acts that’ve passed by St. Louis. ROXY’S 1025 e broadWay A strange melding of showgoing music folks and hard drinkin pubbers. They treat bands well, though, says Baricevic, and he gives props to Jessie, the old punk who books the place, for bringing both Hooten Hallers and STL’s own Bob Reuter’s Alley Ghost back repeatedly. THE BLUE FUGUE 120 s 9th Full of history, the Blue Fugue is one of Columbia’s most infamous clubs. It’s also been friendly to St. Louis bands touring through. There’s also a good bookshelf for browsing. “Man, there’s been some wild times there in the past,” Baricevic confirms.

BARS RAGTAG / UPRISE BAKERY / 9 STREET VIDEO 10 hitt st

One really cool building holds several of Columbia’s best businesses. Ragtag is a

movie theater as well as a bar; Uprise “is a lot like Local Harvest,” says Baricevic; and the video store is totally legit. As if that’s not enough, Hitt Street Records is in the building as well! BOOCHES 110 s 9th st A classic, long-lived Columbia bar featuring cheap beer and tiny hamburgers.

OTHER COOL STUFF EL RANCHO 1014 e broadWay A “greasy, beautiful Mexican joint,” promises Baricevic, with “Mexican food made by Mexicans. The steak fajita nachos are a mighty pile, everything covered in queso cheese.” It’s open late, and Baricevic declares El Rancho the “best drunk food ever.” CAFE BERLIN 220 n 10th st Also a venue, Cafe Berlin excels at the brunch menu. They feature a local, organic menu, and it’s a popular spot for getting over last night’s misadventures. CENTRO CELLAR 15 austin ave Down the alley from the liquor store, off the business loop, Centro Cellar is a giant shack in a backyard—and a really cool home studio that Big Muddy has been using of late. Owned and operated by Wil Reeves of the band Cabin Sessions, a lot of Hooten Hallers’ and Jack Grelle’s stuff has been recorded there. ERNIE’S CAFE & STEAK HOUSE 1005 e Walnut The classic Columbia diner. Only possible competition: Broadway Diner, 22 s 4th. ROOTS N BLUES N BBQ A very popular festival with a slew of national artists, Pokey LaFarge recently played a crazy great show with the Hooten Hallers here. Last year also featured some guy named Edward Sharpe. TRUE/FALSE FILM FEST Feb 28-Mar 3, 2013 This may be the best film fest in the Midwest. and this’ll be their tenth year. The films are top notch from around the festival circuit, and “the whole town comes out for this one,” says Baricevic. Downtown is transformed into a half-dozen or more screening rooms, and there’s a lot of acoustic busking outside and electric rock inside. Baricevic says, “My experience of it is that I showed up in a whirlwind, stayed in a whirlwind, played in a whirlwind, and then woke up in St. Louis.”


LOAD IN

Expert gear testimony by Dave Anderson

PHOTO OF JIMMY GRIFFIN’S PEDALBOARD: NATE BURRELL

El Monstero’s Monster Tone Revealed!

THE HOLIDAY SEASON IS here, and South City houses are lined with Christmas lights. Candy Cane Lane is bustling with cars, and Ted Drewes is serving free frozen custard with every Christmas tree, while the boys of El Monstero once again busy themselves assembling the set for their own holiday tradition: a string of (most likely) sold-out shows at the Pageant. To describe El Monstero as a Pink Floyd tribute band is an understatement— it’s a full stage experience, packed with pyrotechnics, lasers, and gigantic props. But as spectacular as the visuals are, the musicians themselves are the center of the show, summoning the many textures and colors of one of rock’s most identifiable recorded bands. I caught up recently with Jimmy Griffin, Mark Thomas Quinn, and Bryan Greene at Killer Vintage to pry out some of the secrets of their gear, and just how they cop those legendary tones. Jimmy Griffin has been playing the El Monstero gig for seven years now, and ever since he got the call to sling some guitar in the David Gilmour style, he’s been using his Lake Placid Blue K-Line, Springfield model (see November’s Load In for more about K-Line’s top-flight, STL-based gear - Ed). Griffin also keeps a Nash Strat or Tele as a backup guitar, and employs a Gibson Chet Atkins acoustic/electric for some of the mellower moments in the show. For amps, Griffin depends on two Matchless Clubman 35 heads and two 4x12 cabinets in stereo with a Fulltone Tape Echo.

Jimmy Griffin, Mark Thomas Quinn, Bryan Greene: El Monstero, St. Louis He also uses a Hiwatt clone, hand built by Matt Murphy, that runs a 4x12 cabinet, and a Fishman Loudbox which runs direct and is blended at times with the other amps for songs like “Run Like Hell” and “Breathe.” Griffin’s signal from the K-Line goes into a One Control Chamaeleo Loop selector which controls his distortions/overdrives, modulation effects, volume pedal, and fuzz effect. To coax a studiosworth of tone from his instrument, his pedalboard is prolific. Ready for it? The pedal run-down is as follows: Fulltone OCD, Menatone Red Snapper, Rockett Pedals, Animal OD, Big Muff Rams Head clone built by Mike Murphy, Demeter Opto Compulator (which runs after the overdriven signal), Boss RT-20 Rotary Ensemble, Fulltone Supa-Trem, MXR Phase 90, Prescription Electronics VibeUnit, and a Rockett Pedals Chicken Soup and Fender stand-alone reverb unit that works in conjunction with the Hiwatt clone only. While Griffin’s rig is inspired by the early sound of Pink Floyd, Bryan Greene’s rig is influenced by the later era of the band. Greene’s approach leans on a whole arsenal

of guitars that he switches between to achieve specific tones on specific tunes. Greene starts with a Fender Custom Shop ‘72 Strat loaded with an EMG DG-20 David Gilmour set, and a Fender Custom Shop ‘68 Strat with reverse headstock and the Gilmour EMGs (both Strats are refretted with 6100 jumbo wire). He also plays a 1977 Gibson Les Paul Custom “Black Beauty” used on “Dogs” and “Money,” 1980 Gibson ES335 for “Fearless,” Fender Custom Shop ‘52 reissue Tele for “Run Like Hell,” Fender ‘63 Reissue electric 12 string, Gibson Chet Atkins acoustic (Nashville tuned), and an Alvarez Yairi classical guitar. For amps and outboard gear, Greene uses a Custom Audio 3+SE preamp for clean tones, VHT 250 stereo power amp into two Marshall 4x12 cabinets, 1973 Hiwatt DR103 with a matching 1973 Hiwatt 4x12 cabinet, Lexicon PCM 70, Line 6 Echo Pro, Line 6 Mod Pro, Boss CS-2 Compressor, Ibanez TS-9 with Analog Man mod, 1970sera Ross Distortion, Dunlop Crybaby 535Q Wah, Rocktron Banshee Talk Box, Suhr Riot pedal, Electric Mistress Flanger, and two Line 6 Wireless units. All effects are controlled via a Digital Music Corp Ground Control Pro. Mark Thomas Quinn takes a bit simpler approach to his rig. For electric instruments, Mark uses a 2007 Nash Esquire and a 1949 Supro lap steel. For acoustics, Mark uses a 2001 Gibson Chet Atkins acoustic electric, a 1996 Alvarez DC112 for “Wish You Were Here,” a 1969 Guild M20 (Nashville tuning) for “Hey You” and “Comfortably Numb.” All acoustics are run through a Radial PZ-Pre. Electrics are run through a Traynor YGM 3 Guitar Mate. Outboard effects include a Motion Sound Pro 3 Leslie Effect (modified by Obeid Khan) for “Brain Damage” and “Eclipse,” and an Earth Quake Devices Dispatch Master. This is a long list of excellent gear, and there are many valuable secrets contained herein. But the best way to hear just how impressive this gear sounds is to stand right in front of it and drink it all in, singing along to songs you’ve known for at least half your life. El Monstero runs December 21-23 and 27-29 at The Pageant. Tickets available at ticketmaster.com.

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A Mint Jewel Ups the Sage Who is this siren from nowhere, who caught the ears of ani diFranco and bon iver—and then cast them in a dark, mythical narrative of her own devising? ANAÏS MITCHELL talks with eleven’s Kyle Kapper about the wild songs of yore, the music industry of today, and the fearsome world yet to come.

PHOTO: JAY SANSONE

ANAÏS MITCHELL, IN THE moment I first saw her, was standing in Glasgow’s Old Fruitmarket beneath Victorian cast-iron columns and greengrocer signs adorned sparingly with strings of holiday lights. With her distinctly sweet voice and coquettish knee-kicks taking center stage, she was playing an exquisite Eurydice in Hadestown, the incredibly imaginative acoustic interpretation of the story of Orpheus that Mitchell herself had penned. To her left, as Persephone, was Ani DiFranco. To DiFranco’s left, as Hades, was Martin Carthy, the venerable British folk legend who once tutored Bob Dylan and Paul Simon on songwriting. The evening was a genre-bending, spectacular high watermark in the ancient city’s wintry festival, Celtic Connections. It was also a long way from where Anaïs Mitchell’s story began. Raised on a small sheep farm in Vermont, Mitchell studied political science at the nearby esteemed Middlebury College, a school whose liberal spirit originated largely from the four decades Robert Frost spent on the faculty there. She interrupted her studies often to focus on music, to the point that she packed herself into her car for six months and set out across the country—much in the spirit of her hero Bob Dylan’s lost summer. Eventually, she

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Punch Brothers, Anaïs Mitchell Friday, January 25

SHELDON CONCERT HALL, 3648 WASHINGTON AVE

found herself in Austin, where she recorded an album so guileless that she has since entirely disowned the piece. Her two followups, however—the politically scathing Hymns for the Exiled and especially the heartbroken The Brightness—earned her life-changing admiration. The Brightness caught the ear of another of Anaïs’ heroes, Ani DiFranco, who attended one of Mitchell’s shows in Buffalo, NY, and was impressed enough to sign Mitchell to her label, Righteous Babe. Likewise, upon hearing The Brightness just once, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon invited Mitchell to open his upcoming European tour, and the musical arc that began at a frosty campus’ open mic nights took wing. This year, Mitchell followed the release of Hadestown, which included Justin Vernon in the role of Orpheus, with her fifth album, Young Man in America, an eloquently unforgiving meditation on learning humility the hard way. She did her own work the hard way as well, heading out on tour to introduce herself to audiences as the opening act for both Bon Iver and Josh Ritter. In March of 2013, she will release Child Ballads, her take on the monumental collection of English and Scottish folk songs amassed by Francis J. Child in the late nineteenth century. She is also in the early stages of preparing Hadestown as a theatrical stage production. Mitchell will grace another historical stage on January 25, this time supporting the Punch Brothers, in St. Louis’ Sheldon Concert Hall, as that venue continues to celebrate its centennial year, and I had the


good fortune recently to speak with her. Eleven: The Child Ballads are a collection of timeless themes. What appealed to you in them, and what did you hope to add or change? Anaïs Mitchell: There was something about those English and Scottish and Irish, Celtic/ British Isles type music that got in my blood, and I couldn’t stop listening. As someone who really cares about words, they’re just so poetic. Like a lot of songwriters, I was really inspired by early Bob Dylan records, and those records and that way of writing and seeing was really a style that he copied from British folk music: the long lines and the run-on sentences and the ornate storytelling. It’s really like a form of narrative writing more than just music. The stories are pretty wild. I feel like the ballads that made their way across the Atlantic to the States often have a stark, Christian token vibe. I found that the British stuff is much more free-flowing, with a lot of supernatural stuff going on: fairies and witches and a lot of young girls running through the woods having sex with random people. It’s wild. It was exciting to get in on those songs and let them work on us as much as we worked on them.

where the political science student in you wanted to speak out through your music? AM: I’d say that my first record, Hymns for the Exiled, was the most political of all in the catalogue. That first record was inspired by studying politics, the times, the first term of W Bush, all of that stuff. My music turned away from that kind of deliberately soapbox-y protest music [because] my voice changed—my songwriting voice—and I think that just happens. You do one thing until you just can’t do it anymore. Music has the unique capacity to make people feel, to make people cry,

11: Earlier in your life, you stepped out of your collegiate existence and into, essentially, a half year of homelessness. What would you say to that rambunctious undergrad version of yourself? AM: Oh God, what a question. Wow. Wow. I’d say “Go, girl!” I think we all do what we have to do until the moment we have to do something else, and we’re all just putting one foot in front of the next. Every step of the way in those ten years was part of my life and part of my learning. So I don’t think there’s any advice I could give myself looking back on it. Those lessons were part of the thing.

Right before the election I went to this artist residency for climate change. It was really inspiring to be in that setting. And then I come back to New York, and suddenly there’s a hurricane.

11: You’ve worked with quite a few amazing musicians, from Ani DiFranco to Martin Carthy, but I have to ask you about Justin Vernon. Could you speak a bit to what you’ve learned from each other? AM: I mean, gosh, he’s not really like anyone else, right? His story has been so unusual and inspiring, I think, for musicians. The crazy thing is he was the Orpheus character on Hadestown. I think of that, and I think that that’s Orpheus, and he hears the music in his head and just knows it. It’s not coming from a calculated place at all. He’s just a pure channel for feeling and emotion and what’s crossing through his heart. When he did the stuff with the Orpheus character, he layered all those vocal parts immediately onto the melodies. I think I saw him go to the piano one time to check, “What would this sound like?” He was a cosmic guy for that part. Also, what’s great is that he has this really deep, low end of his voice which is very manly and masculine, and then he has this very beautiful, high, ferial part of his voice which is very emotional and feminine in a way. The way that he’s able to bring those things together—I think it’s almost healing for people, this coming together of the masculine and the feminine in this sort of strength and emotion. I think he allows especially men to be in touch with their feelings somehow. 11: Although you are candid with fans on topical issues via social media, you’ve stopped being so direct in your music. Was there a point in the recent U.S. election cycle

to make people identify, to make people inspired. It’s not the same thing as a really awesomely written letter to the editor or essay. Those things are great, but that’s not really what I want to do as a songwriter. As for this most recent election cycle: God, I’m so relieved about the second term. One thing that’s been coming to a head for me is climate change. Right before the election I went to this artist residency for climate change. It was really inspiring to be in that setting. And then to come back to New York, and suddenly there’s a fucking hurricane. In the moment I got back to New York, I said to my husband, “I think you should tell your dad to sell his house on Long Island because I don’t think it’s going to be there in five years.��� Everyone knows this storm is not a random isolated event. Everyone knows there’s going to be more of these. 11: I lived in New York for a few years, so it was very difficult to watch the reports coming in, and for two years in a row. Thankfully Hurricane Irene didn’t amount to much… AM: I know, but the crazy thing is that with Irene we thought it was going to hit New York, and then instead went to Vermont, which is where I’m from, and so many of my friends and neighbors in Vermont lost so many farms that were on rivers. The entire season got washed away. This train is moving so quickly, and the engine of the train is the fossil fuel industry, and we have to ask citizens and consumers to take on that industry and make it change. That’s the only way that we’re going to avoid complete catastrophe.

11: You once said that starting out, you saw the music industry as very approachable. Now that you’ve come to a new level of success, do you still see the industry that way?

AM: I really came of age during this golden age of DIY independent musicianship, and that was the model, and nobody would say that it wasn’t a serious approach to put out your own record, or get in the car and play for tips. I think that I supported myself and was floated by that model when I first started, that I could sell records and make most of the profit, and that regardless of whether I was getting paid a lot to be performing, I could get to the next town. And I don’t think that that would be the case now if I was starting out. People are just buying so much less music. It’s hard to know if it’s a systemic thing or if it’s just a bad year or something. I know there’s been some big articles about people like Cat Power and Grizzly Bear who don’t have health insurance and can’t afford to keep going, even though they’re selling out Radio City or whatever. It’s a remarkable, weird thing, and it’s true. I started my own record label recently with my manager in England, and that’s been really awesome. I’d just felt like it was time in this crazy world to get our hands on the reins a bit. That’s been cool, but I do think as a society, we’re all dealing with the fact that we haven’t really figured out how to value the work that musicians are doing…It’s like I got lucky, right? 11: Well, your music did capture the ear of quite a few well-respected artists. AM: Totally, and those people played a big role in why I got to keep making music, but I almost feel like, “Whoa!” You’ve gotta make great music. You’ve gotta work as hard as you possibly can. You’ve gotta stay true to the muse. All these things. But even if you’ve done all of those things, the cards might have fallen in a certain way that you just lose heart. But I’m still in the game! I’m still into it. I don’t think I could stop now. I love it too much, and it feels too good.

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“By the Way, Which One’s Pink?”

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live strippers, 50-Foot Fireballs and the Gestapo: chris Ward finds out how EL MONSTERO is giving cover bands a good name. photos by paul addotta LET’S ROLL AROUND IN old thumbtacks and go ass-first down a water slide. Let’s gargle near-beer with Stephen Baldwin on his patio this holiday season. Let’s sell leftover Todd Akin campaign hats at Lilith Fair. And let’s sell them at a markup. Let’s do anything. Let’s do anything but devote precious ink to a local cover band—that’s what I wanted to tell Eleven magazine. On its face, I have no interest in that article. Do you have any interest in reading it? Even the phrase “local cover band” is total bird flu. But here’s the thing: this will not be a story about a local cover band. A Local Pink Floyd Cover Band, at that. This isn’t even a story about a Pink Floyd tribute band — an important distinction, some will argue. This is a story about one of the weirdest phenomenons to ever materialize on the St. Louis music scene: a homegrown show that outsold Ozzy’s last trip through town, and then raised him six more sold-out shows in a row at The Pageant. It’s about a show christened El Monstero—a sulfurous machine that channels Pink Floyd’s ghost—and why everyone from South City scenesters to ’til-death-dous-part denim-rockers line up each year to celebrate two great American traditions: Christmas and Ball-Shaking Pyrotechnics. And if you want to callously dismiss El Monstero as a “Pink Floyd cover band” without seeing the show first, that may depend on your perspective of what cover music is, what it isn’t, and what it can be. “I enjoy the idea of both cover and tribute bands when it is done well,” says local music fan, and Vintage Vinyl employee, Jim Utz. “Hearing any music in a ‘live’ setting that otherwise might not ever be heard is important. And in a lot of cases the original entity is no longer alive, or performs, so this is the one way to hear a catalog of music performed. The St. Louis Symphony is one of my favorite cover bands.” Some brief background. El Monstero was birthed in the bowels of the snuffed-out Mississippi Nights venue in 1999 by bassist Kevin Gagnepain, out of sheer boredom. Kevin and members of his ’90s alterna-rock band Stir were fresh off a second album for Capitol Records, but going nowhere fast. “You finish recording a record and then [the label] has to get the machine turning and it just takes forever.

So, during that time, we’re like ‘we don’t want to sit around. We don’t want to blow a bunch of money and go out on the road without any support from the label,’” says Gagnepain. “So we just started a cover band around St. Louis. But we didn’t want to be Stir, so we grabbed another guy to sing, and that guy is Mark Thomas Quinn, the singer of El Monstero.’” They also enlisted some of St. Louis’ best musicians, including Bill Reiter and John Pessoni of The Urge, and current members Bryan Greene on guitar, keyboardist Jake Elking and saxophonist Dave Farver.

Jimmy Griffin of el Monstero, 2011.

Gagnepain notes a line in Pink Floyd’s “Have a Cigar” that goes, “We can build this thing into a monster.” And, in effect, that’s what St. Louis music fans did. One annual show grew to two. Word of mouth spread about the monster-truck atmosphere. The nude pole-dancers. The excessive lights and sonic bangs, note-for-note details and keyboardists suspended in mid-air. Three sold-out nights. Four more. Six shows a night at The Pageant, and eventually packed houses at Verizon Wireless Ampitheatre, a spectacle complete with about 100 crew members, an “Animals”-style hot-air pig balloon and The Wall’s menacing helicopter hovering overhead. Then, apropos of nothing, Mayor Francis Slay declared his fanship. In short: Money. It’s a hit. “At the time, [the show] was really fueled by Stir having an audience,” says Gagnepain. “But now El Monstero has its own complete

audience and I don’t think anyone even knows I was in Stir… And we never looked back.” Jimmy Griffin, the David Gilmour to Gagnepain’s Roger Waters, joined seven years into a now fourteen-year stretch, as flawless a guitar player as the city has ever seen with his 40-odd years of head-banging rock locks intact. Griffin’s own early adventures-inmusic-industry-headaches broadly echoes Gagnepain’s: he starred in a blink-andyou’ll-miss-it MTV hit called “I Do You” with ’80s hair band King of the Hill (whose only other claim to fame is a cult video clip of Alice in Chains’ Layne Stayley, smugly mumbling his refusal to play with the band because of the lead singer’s so-called “faggy mustache.” Sadly, that debate still rages for the ages in YouTube’s witless cesspool of anonymous commenters.) Now, Griffin’s music career exists in two spectrums: writing and releasing original, independent music with his band The Incurables and playing in other tribute acts such as “Celebration Day: A Tribute to Led Zeppelin” and Rolling Stones tribute “Street Fighting Band.” “Some people are still like, ‘Eh, fuck it, it’s a cover band,’” says Griffin. “I have friends who are like, ‘Why? What is this thing you’re doing?’ And these are friends I play with in original bands. And I’m like, ‘Have you ever seen it? Here’s some tickets, come down and see the show.’ And when they see it, they’re like ‘HOLY SHIT, man!’” Gagnepain, who also writes and records original music with fellow El Monstero members in Shooting With Annie, echoes that sentiment. “I don’t care what you call it,” he laughs. “I don’t even think about it. El Monstero is just El Monstero. And if El Monstero is just a Pink Floyd cover band, then 13,000 people just came to see my Pink Floyd cover band. And that makes me feel pretty good about it.” “The theatrics are phenomenal. It is a five-star production that rivals any other Pink Floyd tribute band out there,” says Jesse Raya, media and marketing director for The Pageant. “They have the lead singer shoot out of a podium fifteen feet in the air, eye level with the balcony. Nuts. They had children with picket signs march through the Loop, and then members of the band dressed as Gestapo threw them all in police cars. I’m not hating, but Australian Pink Floyd doesn’t even go as far as this.” This is where, dumbfounded, I stop to Google “Australian Pink Floyd.” Apparently, this is a real thing (they even played the Fabulous Fox in November). That band’s site boasts “This act is so good they were even engaged by David Gilmour to perform at his 50th birthday celebration!” (Note: they (Continued on page 24)

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DAN MEEHAN of HUMDRUM channeling BECK at an under cover Weekend.

Common Tongue by evan sult

PHOTO: BRYAN SUTTER

the case and place for cover songs

ST. LOUIS IS A CITY that loves to cover music. Every city is home to a certain number of hard-working cover bands, but St. Louis has an exceptionally high incidence of tribute bands (El Monstero, Celebration Day, Mommy’s Little Monster), tribute nights (including Roy Kasten’s KDHX benefit show series at Off Broadway), and special events (A Salty Salute to Guided By Voices, two years old and going strong) built around performing the songs of other artists.

An Under Cover Weekend (see Case Study: Seth Porter, page 20), which just completed its triumphant sixth year, is an institution among the indie bands of St. Louis, and of course Halloween is a prime night for putting on another band’s persona, here perhaps even more than elsewhere. In the independent rock music world, there’s always been a sense of controversy around the act of covering someone else’s song. It’s a funny thing, really, because that’s how rock and roll got started: the Beatles playing four sets a night, seven nights a week in Hamburg, Germany, with only a smattering of their own songs, and Bob Dylan learning Woody Guthrie’s entire body of work before ever composing his

first song. Pretty much every musician goes through a journeyman phase of learning songs in order to learn the instrument. But there are two ways of making music, and they sometimes find themselves in conflict. On one hand is the gigging musician, who makes a living with an instrument however s/he is needed, from blues band to wedding band to studio hotshot; on the other hand is the musician as artist, expressing something of personal significance in an idiosyncratic manner, and hopefully pushing the envelope of what is possible in music. Those are two different modes—and motives—for making music, and a sort of distrust can easily develop between the two kinds of musicians.

What makes a great cover song? I’M A CONNOISSEUR of cover songs. I love ‘em. At last count, there were 156 songs on my iPod’s “Covers” playlist. There are two reasons why: first , I really love hearing bands I already admire give me some new information about their idols and influences, and two, it’s immensely interesting to see which bands and which songs a band chooses to cover, either live or in the studio. Usually I get into the covers that break new ground with the material. But sometimes it just takes the raw energy of a young band breathing life into a straightforward cover. It’s always disappointing, especially in a live setting, to hear an artist play a completely uninspired cover. Ben Harper, for example, seems to pick the most obvious songs to cover. If he plays a Bob Marley tune, it’ll be “Get Up, Stand Up.” If he plays Jimi Hendrix, it’ll be “Purple Haze.” Not that those aren’t great songs, but Ben, you aren’t digging very deep into catalogs, are you? On the other end of the spectrum, there are bands who pick a cover so deep in

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another artist’s catalog, you might not even know it’s a cover at all—like Frank Black dusting off the Beach Boys B-side “Hang On To Your Ego.” Or more famously, Manfred Mann’s take on the Bruce Springsteen original “Blinded By The Light.” As with “Blinded,” there are cover versions much better known than the original, such as Ace Frehley’s version of Hello’s “New York Groove” or “I Got My Mind Set on You” which was originally by James Ray and released in 1962, but was a massive hit for George Harrison in the ’80s. Sometimes bands pick completely bizarre songs to cover. Yo La Tengo covering NRBQ’s ode to a wrestler, “Captain Lou,” comes to mind—but then, Yo La Tengo’s catalog is filled with famously unlikely covers. Richard Thompson taking on Britney Spears’ “Hit Me Baby One More Time” is another. Occasionally, an artist that I think highly of (but don’t listen to much) will reinvent a band that is a serious guilty pleasure of mine. A lot of us were surprised and

moved by Johnny Cash’s recasting of Nine Inch Nail’s “The Hurt”—but also, just last year, Willie Nelson covered Coldplay’s “The Scientist” with stark and stunning results. But the golden score is when a cover usurps the original, becoming the true standard for the song: Jimi Hendrix steals the authorship of Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower,” and plenty of listeners consider Tim Buckley’s version of “Hallelujah” to be the definitive one—never mind that Leonard Cohen’s still performing the song this year. In the end, successful covers illustrate how all music is connected, no matter how commercial or how cheesy or how different the original style is from the re-worked one, and that’s what really makes them great. If Beachwood Sparks can play a remarkable and wholly satisfying version of a Sade song or Belly can bring all the emotion Gram Parsons’ intended in their version of “Hot Burrito #1,” it’s a success for everyone. Even if, and especially when, they sound nothing alike. HUGH SCOTT


UM nder The flash point for this debate is the cover song. There’s a kind of shadow hanging over cover songs among a lot of original musicians, like it’s somehow crossing a line into dangerous territory, a first step down a slippery slope to playing three nights a week on the Landing. Of course, a good cover is a beautiful thing, making use of the musical vocabulary we all share, accessing the complex skein of associations, influences, lyrics, and styles that all music lovers live among. Perhaps that’s part of the issue—we hold our music dear, and we don’t want it to be harmed by a poor rendition. “As a performer, I think [playing a cover] just comes back to when you’re a kid, playing air guitar along with your favorite guitar solo,” says Josh Siegel of the Chicago-based band Bailiff. Bailiff is very much an original band, with an EP and a full-length to their name, and a new one in the works. They’re known in Chicago for their musicality, both in their technical skill and their impeccable sense of taste. They also tend to cycle their own version of another band’s song into their set, from Bill Wither’s “Grandma’s Hands” to Tears For Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” to Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark.” The appeal of a cover song to the player is obvious. “There are songs you love,” says Siegel, ���in that if you’re a musician, it’s just really fun to play the songs that made you want to write your own songs in the first place.” Beyond that, though, covers offer some tempting opportunities for interpretation. Of Bailiff’s melancholic version of “Dancing in the Dark,” Siegel says, “I’ve always loved the song. I felt like the lyrics and melody cut through, but I wasn’t a fan of the doubletime drumbeat, and the really kind of fast, poppy—it just sounded like they were going for a smash hit. And they got one. But I always felt like the song was actually sadder, and with that song, changing the arrangement was—dare I say—us thinking we could come up with a cooler arrangement than the original.” You can hear their interpretation at bailiffmusic.com. It oscillates between familiar and unfamiliar, and the lyrics arrive from an unexpected direction, and their version of the song resonates in a way that Springsteen’s recorded version doesn’t. Bailiff’s version is strengthened by its variations from the original, and only contributes to the song’s depth. Siegel can also appreciate a different approach to covers, though. “A band that can prove how cool it is to do a note-for-note cover is Ween,” he says. Though they’re a legendarily bizarro band, “They did ‘Let’s Dance’ by David Bowie, and they have a lot of covers where I think that’s their thing: they do like an impersonation of the original. That can be cool too, because the band

turns into a full-on cover band and it’s this transformative thing.” Gabe Doiron is a St. Louis guitaristabout-town who has spent a lot of time on the other side of the musical coin, gigging professionally in both cover and original bands, and as touring guitar tech and sideman. His father, Jim Doiron, worked as a soundman for guys like Ted Nugent, Mountain, and Leon Russell, and Gabe grew up with a sense of practical professionalism about music. Around the house or around his dad’s work, ”I’d be around guys that were specifically players,” he says. He split time between both original music and cover gigs that paid actual money. There’s an odd conundrum in the music

world: with the exception of actual majorlabel rock stars, cover musicians are the guys who actually make money playing music, while bands playing their own music get paid very little if anything for a night’s work. But that money doesn’t confer status—rather, the reputation of a cover band is often that they’re “hacks,” recycling someone else’s material without adding anything. Doiron, obviously, doesn’t see it that way. What he finds valuable is “the amount of time you get onstage playing in a cover band,” he says. “To me, it’s actually really valuable. Say in an original band, you’re onstage for 45 minutes once or twice a month. And if you’re in a good cover band, you’re onstage for three hours a night, three

Case Study: Dreamin’ Wild

THE BEST COVER SONGS reveal something not only about the creators or the artists refashioning them, but about us as listeners, and the tastes and sensibilities of the age in which we live. Take the song “Baby,” from the ultimate ‘70s obscuro album Dreamin’ Wild—reissued this summer by Light in the Attic—as a perfect case study. The unearthed song has recently taken on a strange new life, far from its original creators, Donnie and Joe Emerson. Who?! Exactly. Don Emerson, Sr. was a man who so believed in the talents of his two sons that he built them their own personal 300-person venue—complete with ticket booth, stage, and pro lighting—and $10,000 recording studio on the family farm 70 miles west of Spokane, WA. The resulting album, 1979’s Dreamin’ Wild, featured the boys posed on the cover, earnest but awkward, in wide-collar white Elvis suits. The music is a hodgepodge of soft rock, lover-man R&B, and AM radio pop, although the recording quality and the mix are poor. The bass and vocals are far too loud, the drums and guitar almost inaudible.

Despite this, it’s a compelling listen because of just how much these kids felt, and how deeply they believed their wild dream. Heard now—which would only happen thanks to Light In The Attic—Donnie and Joe’s naivete is charming in an ironic way, not unlike the pleasure of sinking into the couch in front of I Love Lucy or My Two Dads reruns. But by “Baby,” something remarkable happens: the brothers’ belief actually pays off. Even with the absurd album art and the improbable storyline, “Baby” is a shockingly great and tender love song, one that communicates real vulnerability and teen longing. The song is a masterpiece of sincerity. Enter Ariel Pink, a modern master of irony and distressed recordings—songs that sound like they could have come over the Emersons’ own cheap ‘70s transistor radio if they weren’t about nymphos at discos, hot body rubs, or men going through menopause. Less than a month after the 2012 rerelease of Dreamin’ Wild, Ariel Pink unveiled his new album, Mature Themes, and its first single: a cover of the Emersons’ “Baby.” Pink is a man who can barely make it through his own songs without multiple inside jokes undermining any emotional honesty. However, his cover of “Baby,” a collaboration with synth-funk revivalist Dam Funk, is stunning. In a recording that somehow sounds older than the original, Pink plays it totally straight for once, his raspy voice conveying the same moonlit longing as the original. It may be his finest recording; it’s certainly his sexiest. And thus: a man cloaked in irony earnestly covers an actual lost gem by a group so earnest that people appreciate the irony. It’s something like passing through a wormhole into a bizarro negative zone and finding you’re exactly where you started. Which is the best any cover can hope for. RYAN BOYLE

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physically helped me as a player having to do things that were out the comfort zone of what I was used to. When you learn guitar based on only things that you write, you tend to write things that you can play.” Preparation for AUCW’s half-hour set of another band’s material can take months. The Blind Eyes opted out of 2012’s AUCW to spend time working on their new record—but they will be combining forces with the guys in Kentucky Knife Fight to play a fun-times cover set at Off Broadway on New Year’s Eve. This’ll be their third year doing it, and according to Porter, this set is different than preparing either an AUCW set or a Blind Eyes show. “It’s more like DJing a party,” he says. “People are there to see the show, but it’s also an event that’s different than just a show. It’s New Year’s Eve! So we’re sort of like a slightly left-of-the-dial, cool wedding band, you know what I mean? We don’t play ‘Celebrate Good Times’ and ‘The Chicken Dance.’ I’ve thought probably way too much about the way to select songs for that show, and I think the best ones are the ones that people know but they’re just still not expecting to hear, even though they know the song.” The evening’s set up more like a traditional Off Broadway rock show with STL headliners than like a cover night—because that’s really what it is. “We do a Blind Eyes set, a Kentucky Knife Fight set—and then we do the super set,” Porter says. “We wanna assert that fact that we’re not a full-time cover band. This isn’t meant as any disrespect to a cover band, but that’s not what we do.” EVAN SULT

times a week, you know? With guys that actually care about what’s going on, your tone’s going to get better, your hands… You’re going to get more time to figure things out. It doesn’t fly by like an original set does. You’ve got time to revamp, revamp, revamp.” Time spent covering songs has translated into more comfort onstage, “just from having been onstage with a guitar around my neck so many times,” he says. “I learned so much from being in a cover band, as far as what different kinds of guitars can do, background vocals, so much stuff like that.” The result is a confident style of playing that you can hear in Doiron’s work with Old Lights on their 2009 album Every Night Begins the Same, and more recently onstage trading licks with John Horton in Karate Bikini. Beyond what he does with covers in Bailiff, Siegel has other uses for covering songs. As a guitar teacher in the Chicago area, “That’s the foundation of my whole teaching method,” he says. “I think it’s absolutely crucial for a beginning musician to build up their repertoire, and I think it’s a great way to develop technique. I’d much rather develop speed by playing a Jimi Hendrix line over and over again than just playing a C major scale over and over again.” Covers are a way to learn music by going directly to the source: the songs that made the instrument so exciting in the first place. “For me, there has to be a love of pre-existing songs,” Siegel says. “The thing that would make me sit and practice the C major scale was if I knew it would make it easier for me to play that Jimi Hendrix riff. And that somehow is all tied back to that air guitar thing. Wanting to sort of join the lineage of musicians you love.”

(the sound system expense alone in the six figures) is channeled right back into the show to make it bigger each year (and to cover the pyro, insurance for the pyro, the fire marshals, the fire testing…) The group has tried to bring El Monstero on the road a few times, but, for the time being, putting on a big, dumb, over-the-top Pink Floyd party in St. Louis still seems to be at the forefront. In a city loaded with strange anomalies (a four-story museum playground, a celebrity carpet saleswoman, a bizarre pizza-cheese hybrid), El Monstero—Local Pink Floyd Cover Band—is still heralded by so-called music purists and cock rockers alike. And it doesn’t appear to be hitting the proverbial Wall anytime soon. “The idea is to keep it growing. It’s too much fun,” says Griffin. “Any time there’s 2,000 people that you get to play for…I’ll do that forever. If we were just going through the motions it wouldn’t be what it is. And some

people aren’t going to like what we do, or think it’s stupid, and that’s cool too. I just know what’s right for me, and what I like to do.” For critics who hate cover bands, and for those don’t care whether Don McLean is belting out “American Pie” or Madonna is, there will always exist a rift. Us and them. But by somehow managing to respect and make a spectacle out of one of the biggest rock bands of all time, El Monstero have rung loudly the Division Bell every Christmas, and both sides of the aisle keep responding with an equally resounding “YES.” “I never had a plan to make a living playing Pink Floyd music—nor is that a plan right now—but if it happened I don’t know that I would be worried about it,” says Gagnepain. “I would love, somehow, some year, for Roger Waters to just happen to be thumbing through Pollstar and say, ‘What is this El Monstero Pink Floyd tribute that sells 15,000 seats in St. Louis? What the hell is that?’”

PHOTO: DARREN SNOW

Case Study: The Blind Eyes

IN ADDITION TO HAVING released two albums and an EP of their own songs, THE BLIND EYES have played their share of covers as well. The four-piece has performed twice at St. Louis’ killer indie tribute tradition, An Under Cover Weekend (AUCW), in which an original band performs a half-hour set of songs by one of their favorite bands. The Blind Eyes performed as Elvis Costello in 2008 and Fleetwood Mac in 2010. “I wouldn’t say we did radical reinterpretations,” singer/guitarist Seth Porter says of those sets. “At the time we were just a trio so, with Fleetwood Mac especially, our goal was to solve the puzzle of, ‘What is the core musical essence of this song?’ What we were doing for the most part was a sort of a distilled version of what the originals were.” The process, it turns out, had practical applications for the band. For their Elvis Costello set, Porter says, “I was still green enough on the guitar that it actually

EL MONSTERO (Continued from page 17)

turned down this gig, supposedly, because the vocalist had to undergo throat surgery, making this either the worst luck of all time or the bullshittiest bullshit story ever). Covering music will always be big business: whether it’s Blues Hammer at your uncle’s second wedding reception, or deadeyed vanilla bean talent shows like The Voice. The clone wars continue for Journey, Boston and Queen, who are all currently covering their own music with warm new blood plucked from YouTube and American Idol. Search online for “Pink Floyd Cover Band” and you’ll even get an international directory listing both the predictably named Comfortably Numb to the groan-inducing Floydian Slip. But if El Monstero was only in it for the money, they have fooled me. Most of the band has a music-related day job of some sort, and Griffin claims 90% of the money

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our top eleven everything IT’S BEEN A QUICK twelve months, by my count. St. Louis has been cranking out the great shows, albums, parties, late night hangs and long studio days. Though Eleven’s rebirth is only a handful of months old—we relaunched in September of this year—our contributing writers have been living the musical life the whole time. Now, as 2012 becomes 2013, we take a moment to consider some of the memorable developments in the St. Louis music scene and beyond. Cheers to the year as it passes—cheers to the year on the way! Evan Sult, Eleven editor-in-chief LOAD IN’S BEST REGIONAL PRODUCT RELEASES FOR 2012 PHOTO: FLAMING LIPS’ WAYNE COYNE AT LOUFEST 2012 BY JARRED GASTREICH

by Dave Anderson 9. Boat Paddle Ukelele’s ML Style Soprano. Handmade ukuleles built in New Haven, MO. 8. Rein Custom Guitars Model R-1 Thomas Rein builds handmade guitars in Webster Groves, MO. 7. Analog Outfitters Sarge Amp Custom Amps and Repair from Champaign, IL.

Hand-built amps in St. Louis, MO. 2. Sarno Music Solutions Earth Drive Hand-built effects and preamps in Webster Groves, MO. 1. K-Line Guitars KL series set neck Hand built electric guitars in St. Louis, MO.

TOP ELEVEN THINGS I LEARNED FROM TOUR THIS YEAR by Paige Brubeck

6. JHS Effects Super Bolt Custom made pedals from Kansas City, MO.

1. Always take a shower if you have the opportunity.

5. Landry Amps LS100G3 Custom made amps in St. Louis, MO.

2. Don’t seek out pizza. Pizza will find you.

4. Bearfoot FX Green Machine Distortion Handmade effects in St. Louis, MO. 3. Reason Amps Reato 40

3. Comedy records make time disappear on long/late drives. 4. AAA membership is totally worth it. 5. Always use your food tickets if you’re

playing at a club that has a restaurant. No matter how delicious somewhere else might be, it’s not as good as a meal you’ve earned by showing up and playing rock and roll. 6. Contrary to the previous, never feel obligated to use all of your drink tickets. Seriously, it will be fine. 7. I’ve been vegetarian since high school and Mother’s in Brooklyn serves the best veggie burger I have ever had. 8. It doesn’t actually end up saving anyone any time to share drumsets. 9. The This American Life App (and in baseball season, the ESPN App) is as good at making time disappear as comedy records! And it’s so affordable. 10. E-Z Pass makes tour so much easier! Especially out east. It’s such a thrill when we avoid a long wait at a toll and digging for change—or a $20 bill, for certain tunnels. 11. This wasn’t something I learned this year, but it was as true in 2012 as when we learned it the hard way: get and use “The Club” for your band van.

TOP ELEVEN COOLEST THINGS TO HAPPEN TO / IN STL IN 2012 by Suzie Gilb Look, there probably won’t be any sort of world-stopping apocalypse in December 2012, regardless of what your Mayan

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Happy Old Year! calendar may tell you. We all know this deep down, but it seems the idle threat has lit a fire under the asses of St. Louisans. Here are a few of the notable happenings this year. • We saved the Saucer! One of the city’s most iconic pieces of architecture, threatened with imminent demolition, was saved and repurposed by Starbucks and Chipotle. You hate corporations a little less now, right? • STL bands made music videos. Any child of the ‘90s can tell you the coolest thing about being a rock star is having an epic video. Must-see videos include Née’s “Pretty Girls” video (by locals First Punch Productions) and Bill Streeter’s Lo-Fi Cherokee series (go subscribe to the Lo-Fi Saint Louis podcast to keep yourself up to speed). • Not one, but two bars opened on Cherokee Street. Cherokee has officially become the art district of STL, and both Livery Co. and Fortune Teller Bar are cozy places with cheap booze run by friendly locals. What could a creative type want more than a stiff drink after a long day locked away in a studio? • Giant national acts showed up in St. Louis. It seemed everyone and their mom toured this year, and most of those major tours actually made stops here this time ‘round. Personal faves: Kishi Bashi with Tall Tall Trees, Fiona Apple, Radiohead, Regina Spektor. Seriously y’all, I can die happy. • Plush opened. We needed that, especially in the up-and-coming Midtown area. It’s a restaurant with locally sourced ingredients and hand-made everything. It’s an elegant yet quirky bar. It’s a huge venue with a killer sound system (something lacking in all but a handful of STL venues). We could’ve used one of those things, but it is truly a trifecta of greatness. Oh, and check out the upper floors. That place is gigantic! • STL Record labels and music collectives. Tower Groove Records, more a collective than a traditional label, put out a 21-song doubleLP comp showcasing some of STL’s finest, and next up is the Singles Club: a monthly 7” split with an existing TGR artist and a newcomer. Then there’s Americana powerhouse Big Muddy Records, boasting Rum Drum Ramblers, Hooten Hallers, Bob Reuter’s Alley Ghost and Irene Allen. Expect great things from both these labels and others (The Loud Label has been killin’ it lately, too!) in 2013. • Grand Bridge re-opened. For those of us who live or hang out in the city near I-64/40, it was a huge sigh of relief. Plus the new bridge is so damn clean and fancy! • Pokey LaFarge & The South City 3. They’re blowing up, if you somehow haven’t heard. They toured nationally and throughout Europe (again). The boys performed on a track from Jack White’s 2012 solo release, Blunderbuss, and then toured with him. One of their own tunes was featured on HBO’s Boardwalk

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Empire. They even made St. Louis magazine’s “100 Greatest Musicians in St. Louis History” in April 2012 (yes, as in ever, with the likes of Miles Davis and Chuck Berry). And they’re just getting started; a new album, Live in Holland, just landed Nov 20, so expect his star to keep rising. Viva South City! • Hope for a safer city. Well, maybe that’s optimistic, but the city ‘s finally getting local (rather than state) control over its police force as a result of the 2012 election. Having been listed as one of the top three dangerous cities for way too long, here’s to hoping the change makes St. Louis a safer, better, and even cooler city. • Chevy Music Showcase STL. Featuring twelve diverse artists, this series has given some well-deserved PR to some of this city’s most talented musicians, including some air time on KMOV/Channel 4. Short list includes Bottoms Up Blues Gang, Tight Pants Syndrome, Geoff Koch and Beth Bombara. • Eleven came back. Right on! I mean, we’re pretty excited about it. See you in the post-apocalypse!

PHENOMENAL FINDS FROM THE FIRST FIVE FEMALE FOLKSINGERS FROM THE DECADE’S FIRST FIFTH by Kyle Kapper 11. “The Shepherd,” Anais Mitchell 10. “Way Down Hadestown,” Anais Mitchell (feat. Ani DiFranco & Ben Knox Miller) 9. “Salinas,” Laura Marling 8. “Rambling Man,” Laura Marling 7. “Don’t You Know,” Beth Bombara 6. “Pots and Pans,” Beth Bombara 5. “Gold Rush,” Basia Bulat 4. “Run,” Basia Bulat 3. “Auscultation to the Nation,” Laetitia Sadier 2. “There Is a Price to Pay for Freedom (and It Isn’t Security),” Laetitia Sadier 1. “Our Lady of the Underground,” Anais Mitchell

TOP ELEVEN BANDS WHO ROCKED OFF BROADWAY AT SHOWS Y’ALL SHOULD’VE SEEN IF YOU DIDN’T by Amanda Krebel 11. Bailiff, with Joe Pug, with JC Brooks... 10. Jonny Corndog with Shovels and Rope— and Shovels and Rope was my all-time favorite show of the year! 9. Spring Standards, with Tim Easton 8. Patrick Sweeny, also with Tim Easton 7. Sleepy Sun, with White Hills and Troubadour Dali 6. Bog Log III, with Cheap Time

5. Everest, with Alberta Cross 4. Joe Ely, at Strawfoot’s annual Halloween adventure 3. Will Johnson & Anders Parker 2. Crooked Fingers & John Vanderslice 1. Leo Rondeau

TOP ELEVEN ST. LOUIS HAPPENINGS by Josh Levi 11. Interviewing Bob Reuter An hour of unforgettable tales of grit in the city from one of St. Louis’ living legends. Priceless. 10. Shaved Women’s street performance at Apop’s Record Store Day Shaved Women rip a righteous set at the corner of Cherokee and Oregon. Punks, Beers, Chains. 9. Chris Corsano at Kranzberg Arts Center Corsano brings the punk back to free jazz. He made his first St. Louis visit, astounding everyone with his extended percussive technique and circular breathing. 8. Featureless Ghost at Barbarella It appears Pitchfork is finally taking note of these minimal/darkwave ATLiens. They played at Barbarella to a crowd of 7 or so people. 7. MSIF perform at Eleven’s Roller Disco party at the Skatium 1/3 performance art. 1/3 rock opera. 1/3 dance extravaganza. MSIF’s farewell before the trek to Atlanta leaves onlookers confused, excited, and a little concerned. 6. Global Distance / Radiator Greys Tour Not only did I get to represent the weird of the city with my Radiator Greys project, but I also was able to see St. Louis’ most outrageous duo every night. 5. Zapcone MSG at Floating Laboratories Synth madness from Floating Labs founder Kevin Harris and modular troubadour Adrian Mcbride. Lush electronics for the wild at heart. 4. Jeremy Kannapell moves the New Music Circle forward as Program Director One of the city’s most brilliant minds continues to curate for one of the US’ longest running organizations dedicated to avant garde music. 3. Raglani releases Real Colors of the Physical World / Black James releases im A mirAcle St. Louis runs deep. 2. Form-A-Log performing at Night of Tapes Getting to watch one of my favorite bands at a night dedicated to one of my favorite formats! Top that! 1. Last Bikini Acid show at Pig Slop My farewell to St. Louis and the community I hold dear. Even amidst a mid-set technical difficulty, a supportive crowd cheered me on to chug several beers in honor of my great city and the people who make it so.


Happy Old Year!

FAVORITE PHOTO OF 2012 by Corey Woodruff: Pokey LaFarge. “i spent a couple hours hanging out with pokey as we shot a series of portraits in February,” says Woodruff of this selection. “he sang and joked around and we both had a blast.” laFarge also ended up on more than one contributing writer’s top eleven list—2012 was definitely his year. TOP ELEVEN RELEASES OF 2012 by Orlandez Lewis 11. Best Coast, The Only Place Sure, I know it’s winter already, but this album just makes you want to slip the old aviators on and cruise down the highway with the windows down. Bethany Cosentino’s vocals and guitar riffs are an absolute delight for the ears, and it doesn’t hurt that the record was produced by the great Jon Brion. If only St. Louis had “the sun and the waves” year round. Oh, to dream. 10. Wild Nothing, Nocturne I absolutely love this laid-back, very, very chill music. You pretty much have to listen to this record if you’re in or looking for a mellow mood. recommended: “rheya,” “only heather,” “shadow”

9. Quantic and Alice Russell, Look Around the Corner This record could’ve been released in 1968 and charted, I guarantee it. Soulfulness to the umph degree. Alice’s voice is a gorgeous blend of many soul singers from the good old days, like Aretha, Minnie, and Dionne. Fascinating music. recommended: “here again,” “Magdalena,” “i’ll Keep a light in My Window”

8. Kimbra, Vows

Another debut from an incredible singer in New Zealand. Most know her from her feature with Gotye on “Somebody I Used To Know,” one of this year’s hugest hits, but this girl is where it’s at. I absolutely adore her voice and music ability. recommended: “plain Gold ring,” “old Flame,” “settle down”

7. Grizzly Bear, Shields It’s been three long years since Veckatimest, and I was sooo glad to see their album on the release schedule. A great autumn record. recommended: “speak in rounds,” “sleeping ute,” “sun in your eyes”

6. Of Monsters And Men, My Head Is an Animal This Icelandic band made many fans when they busted onto the scene with this debut, and I definitely am one of them. I still can’t believe this type of music has come from Iceland, of all places! Move over, Bjork! recommended: “love love love,” “dirty paws,” “Mountain sound”

5. Dirty Projectors, Swing Lo Magellan Dirty Projectors never ceases to amaze me, and this record didn’t either. Lead singer David Longstreth shines as usual on most tracks, but lets some of his band members get some along the way, as when Amber Coffman takes lead vox on “The Socialites.” They also put on a hell of a concert.

recommended: “the socialites,” “about to die,” “dance For you”

4. Frank Ocean, Channel Orange Odd Future member Frank Ocean made a household name for himself with this one. It damn sure made me a believer. His mesh of soulfulness and hip-hop works almost too well here. A future classic, that’s for sure. recommended: “super rich Kids,” “pink Matter,” “Monks”

3. David Byrne & St. Vincent, Love This Giant I still thank the Almighty Whoever for making this record happen. Byrne’s playfully constructed lyrical sense is heavily shown on certain tracks alongside Annie Clark’s monstrous playing and angelic voice. Their chemistry is hand in glove, and musically there is nothing like this album. It straight-up gives me hope for the future of music. Great album. recommended: “Weekend in the dust,” “ice age,” “lightning”

2. Tennis, Young & Old This record, along with Beach House’s Bloom, brings on a certain good-vibration feel. Produced by Black Key Patrick Carney, this killer album has been very underrated. Tennis is one of those bands I just have a strong feeling you haven’t heard the last of—or at least I hope not. recommended: “petition,” “origins,” “My better self”

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Happy Old Year! 1. Beach House, Bloom Everything about this album just screams awesomeness. Released in late spring, Bloom was the soundtrack to my summer, and with winter approaching, it still has not left my car. Their Pageant show this year was incredible as well. A truly great band. recommended: “troublemaker,” “lazuli,” “irene”

ELEVEN BITS OF INSPIRATION, 2012 by Seth Porter of The Blind Eyes • Nick Lowe at The Sheldon, September 26. I went to this show during the time we were recording the new EP and I was frantically trying to finish writing lyrics to the songs. I walked out of the auditorium telling myself “Less! Less! Less!” So many of his songs take the tiniest bit of lyrical material and spin it out into something really elegant. • “Ocean” by The ACBs; video by Danny Gibson. The Blind Eyes have had the good fortune to play with Kansas City’s The ACBs quite a few times over the years. I feel like their music is sort of a stoned, art-school cousin to ours and I try to keep tabs on what they’re doing. It’s been awhile since they’ve released anything and this little amuse bouche has me very excited for the full-length record to come. • Louie Season 3, Episodes 11-13 “Late Show.” The scenes between CK and Jack Dall (David Lynch) where Louie is forced to face his shortcomings as a performer hit hard (and close to home) while still managing to be very, very funny. • “Eighth Avenue” by Hospitality. “Eighth Avenue” starts in pretty familiar Belle & Sebastian/ Camera Obscura territory but quickly pivots on a four-chord figure to some-

thing that would be completely at home in 1970s Brazil. Behold the power of chords! • “Better Living Through Music” column by Ryan Wasoba in the Riverfront Times. The column always reads as the words of a person for whom music plays a central and supremely important role in life. I suspect that even if Mr. Wasoba didn’t have a column to write, he would think and talk about these things. • Nikka Costa at Jovita’s in Austin, TX, March 17. Costa had this trombone player who looked like a normal person you might see at the the dentist’s office, and who probably has a marching band varsity jacket somewhere in her past. I think it’s fair to say that she stuck out a bit next to sexpot fashionista Costa and the sea of dudes-who-look-like-dudesin-bands at SXSW. Thing is, she seriously brought the funk. It was wonderful. I had a gigantic grin on my face for the whole set. “Origins” by Tennis. There’s a really great synth countermelody in this song that could pass for a fuzz bass. This song is quite literally inspirational: I sat in my car with [Blind Eyes bassist] Kevin and said, “Wouldn’t it be great if the bass sounded like this?!” while getting ready to record a new song. • “Grizzly Bear Members Are Indie-Rock Royalty, But What Does That Buy Them in 2012?” by Nitsuh Abebe in New York magazine. Perhaps “inspirational” isn’t quite the right word here. Sobering? In any event, I think that having a clear idea about what the music industry is in 2012 is probably, on balance, a good thing for musicians and audiences. Van Dyke Parks at Luminary Center for the Arts, April 5. I grew up in an environment where

music was very much a craft, and have always been suspicious of musicians calling themselves “artists.” It wasn’t until very recently that I even entertained the possibility that I might be one myself. Mr. Parks spoke passionately and humorously (and sometimes nonsensically) about what it means to be an artist in our culture. I left the performance with a wonderfully light feeling. Medical Tourists by Medical Tourists on Rerun Records. The Ron Keas painting of the band at Lambert Airport is reason enough to buy this record. As a bonus, the music is terrific and unique. A testament to patience and completeness of vision. “Cooking Isn’t Creative, and It Isn’t Easy,” by Alex Halberstadt in the New York Times. I’ve always viewed Cook’s Illustrated and America’s Test Kitchen bowtie daddy Christopher Kimball with a mixture of deep admiration and eye rolling, but there is no denying his obsessive dedication to his mission. Not sure that all of the lessons apply to songwriting (which hopefully is creative), but it’s always nice to hear about someone who insists on doing things right.

TOP ELEVEN RELEASES OF 2012 by Jack Probst 11. Hospitality by Hospitality (Merge records) Debut album from Brooklyn power-pop trio, and a perfect addition to the Merge lineup. Every track sticks in your head. 10. Strange Weekend by Porcelain Raft (secretly canadian) The musical project of Mauro Remiddi, an Italian singer-songwriter who weaves loops and beats into superb beauty. 9. When Flying Was Easy by Cookie Duster (cobra) Brand-new album from Brendan Canning’s preBroken Social Scene band, with all the hooks and power you’ve come to expect from him. 8. Black Light by Diagrams (Full time hobby) Solo project from Tunng frontman Sam Genders, which manages to be both haunting and whimsical. 7. In Our Heads by Hot Chip (domino) The fifth album from the eccentric lovers of soul, funk, and electronica; a band that just keeps getting better with every record. 6. Maraqopa by Damien Jurado (secretly canadian) His eleventh record sees the folkster troubadour experimenting with psychedelic guitars as he warbles soothing, personal songs of love and loss. 5. Django Django by Django Django (ribbon records) A stunning mix of folktronic and psychedelic post-rock, which at times feels like the perfect soundtrack to an old-school video game.

FAVORITE PHOTO OF 2012 by Bryan Sutter: Fucked Up at the Firebird, April 8. “by now it’s common knowledge that Fucked up are one of the best live bands in indie music,” says sutter of this photo. “their second show at the Firebird was as intense as it was oddly beautiful. i hate to say this photo was dumb luck, but it was.” 24 | ELEVEN | elevenmusicmag.com

4. Year of the Witch, by Races (Frenchkiss) A stunning debut from this Southern California band, full of dreamy harmonies, heavy guitars, and a whole lot of love. 3. Shrines by Purity Ring (4ad)


Happy Old Year! This Canadian electronic duo combine sexy beats with luscious vocals and sensual lyrics.

and the band ruled so hard it wasn’t even funny. Except when it was.

three days after moving from Brooklyn to KC. Their music is crafted from the finest ‘90s ore.

2. Mixed Emotions by Tanlines (true panther sounds) Punchy, electro/indie pop-dance with the occasional island groove thrown in. Proof that sad people need dance music, too.

1. I ordered a pizza the other day and got a Taylor Swift CD. Is this the future of music purchasing? Am I going to buy a hot dog and get the new Urge album? Will the new Postal Service album only be available at actual post offices? If so, sign me up—but please, keep that Guided By Voices 7” out of my Office Max.

• Ornery Little Darlings (chicago il) El Leñador, where have you gone? I caught this Chicago trio opening for Netherfriends, and their foxy, drunken dynamic was a real turn on. Can’t get enough, can’t wait for more.

1. Threads by Now, Now (trans records) The second album from this incredibly young band is possibly the most sweetly depressing record of the year.

ELEVEN BEST AND WORST THINGS ABOUT 2012: A PERSONAL JOURNEY by Jason Robinson 11. Korean pop star PSY becomes an instant celebrity in the US because of the infectious video for his hit “Gangnam Style,” inspiring parodies, mash-ups and so much horse dancing. Justin Bieber signs him to his label. 10. Former Dresden Doll and verifiable internet celebrity Amanda Palmer asks for $100,000 on Kickstarter for her new album, raises $1.2 million, and then asks semi-pro musicians to play for free. She’s verbally smacked down by many, including Steve Albini. 9. Axl Rose performs at The Bridge School with some hired guns and forgets the lyrics to “Welcome to the Jungle,” continuing the sad downward spiral of the snake-dancing frontman. 8. Beth Bombara wins a Chevy-sponsored contest and nets herself a tour vehicle, proceeds to do 5,000 miles in 2 ½ weeks. 7. Cicero’s fires Mike Cracciolo and Kenny Snarzyk from booking shows for no good reason. Notice how that venue’s show booking quality dropped? 6. Matthew Sweet’s Girlfriend turns 21 years old. To celebrate, he plays a show at Blueberry Hill in sweatpants. Surreal does not even cover it. 5. Aquitaine releases American Pulverizer, one of the year’s best EPs, pumping out ’90s-leaning Brit-rock so lean and grimy you’d think half of them were Gallagher brothers. They then up the ante by covering Oasis at An Under Cover Weekend. 4. Speaking of An Under Cover Weekend, RFT writer Jaime Lees takes a huge dump on the event the night before in a blog post entitled “The Problem with An Under Cover Weekend.” Despite Ms. Lee’s hit piece, the event sells out both nights. Right back at ya. 3. RFT writers Daniel Hill and Kenny Snarzyk take their flasks of whiskey to a Justin Bieber concert and report the results, pulling off some of the finest music writing this town has seen in a while. Hilarious, brutal, and unflinchingly honest. 2. Guided By Voices bring the ’90s back, breaking the non-smoking laws so flagrantly you’d wonder why the audience didn’t just light up right then and there. The set was tight, furious power pop from days of yore

ELEVEN SONGS FOR THE END OF THE WORLD by Hugh Scott Nuclear war? Environmental catastrophe? A pissed off ancient God? We don’t how the world will end, but it may be nigh if the Mayans are right. To celebrate, a crucial mixtape for any properly apocalyptic party. • “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine),” REM Sure, it’s cliché and overplayed, but really, you’re not going to be the guy that ignores it because you’re too cool, are you? • “(Nothing But) Flowers,” Talking Heads Remember when consumerism ruled the world? Yeah, I miss it too. • “Five Years,” David Bowie At least they received a little warning for this ending. Enough time to start a band and get famous, even! • “2 Minutes To Midnight,” Iron Maiden Generations have grown up with the threat of a nuclear holocaust and the Doomsday Clock running in their head. • “99 Luftballons,” Nena The Germans are scared, too. • “Party At Ground Zero,” Fishbone The end of the world is more fun with Angelo & Co. Turn it up and skank to the end! • “East Hastings,” Godspeed You! Black Emperor If ever an instrumental song can portray what the end might be like, it’s this one. Twenty-eight days later, we’ll still have this song in the background. • “Idioteque,” Radiohead Women and children first into the bunker, but that won’t save us all: the Ice Age is coming. • “Talking World War III Blues,” Bob Dylan Written back when Zimmy was still overtly political. It’s a dream we’ve all had: the nightmare about the end. • “Waiting for the End of the World,” Elvis Costello 12/21/12 draws closer and closer… • “Earth AD,” The Misfits Let’s just hope it’s not this violent. Seriously.

TOP ELEVEN BANDS I FIRST HEARD THIS YEAR AND FLIPPED FOR by Evan Sult • Schwervon! (Kansas city Mo) Nan Turner and Matt Mason played El Leñador

• Broncho (tulsa oK) Chris Keith gave me his trademark Dude-you-haven’t-heard-of-these-guys?!Seriously?-You-gotta-fix-that face the day before Broncho played the Firebird, so I hastened over. He was right—I hadda fix that. • Animal Empty (st. louis Mo) Same night as Broncho, Animal Empty opened the show and hit me hard with Ali Ruby’s imposing voice. I was knocked right out. • Bug Chaser (st. louis Mo) The more I hear, the more I hear. Plus there’s honest moshing at the shows. It’s the chaos and hot plasma of creation. • Chain and the Gang (Washington dc) Walked into Pig Slop with no expectations, and was soon swept up in the dance party gettin’ down to Ian Svenonius’ brilliant latest project. “What is a dollar?” he demanded of the crowd, while the band woogied and chonked, then proceeded to give a long musical lecture on the subject. Svenonius is righteous, but it’s ultimately the cool-blooded vox of bandmate Katie Alice Greer that knocks the band up a couple notches. • Brotherfather (st. louis Mo) John Krane has had one of my favorite singing voices in STL for a couple years now. If only he could meld it to thoughtful, powerful indie rock. Ah HA! Brotherfather’s recorded version of “Stick Around” may be my favorite STL song this year...and I’ve still never seen ‘em live. • Speedy Ortiz (northampton Ma) If you’ve been missing the old, fearless Liz Phair, check out Northampton, MA’s Speedy Ortiz right away. Why isn’t this already getting constant radio play? • Friend Roulette (new york ny) My band played a CMJ show with this Brooklyn gang. Tricky time signatures, group vocals, and a space-age clarinet—so awesome. Come this way, guys! • Maximum Effort (st. louis Mo) I’d never met Zeng, and I’d certainly never seen him in action, but when he freaked the fuck out at the TGR release party, holding up a sign with the word DECLASSIFY! scrawled on it while he raved with wild eyes over fast-forward paranoid punk, that was it. Count me in. • Cave (chicago il) They named their best song “This Is the Best,” because it is. Saw em at 2720, then at Plush, won’t miss ‘em again if I can help it.

elevenmusicmag.com | ELEVEN | 25


Live Want to have your show listed? E-mail listings@elevenmusicmag.com!

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VERIZON AMPHITHEATRE

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BLUEBERRY HILL

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14141 Riverport Dr, 63043 BL VD

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6161 Delmar Boulevard, 63112 DEC 21-23 El Monstero 27-29 El Monstero JAN 5 Bottle Rockets, Bunnygrunt, Old Lights 10 Grace Potter & the Nocturnals 15 Reel Big Fish, The Pilfers, Dan P (MU330) 19 Bloc Party 30 Ellie Goulding 31 Yo La Tengo, Calexico

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DEC 13 it!, Goodness Gracious, Music Embryo 16 Theresa Payne 27 Duke of Uke

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FUBAR 3108 Locust Street, 63103

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What Made Milwaukee Famous Mr. Gnome, Sleepy Kitty, CaveofswordS, Middle Class Fashion Tidal Volume, Robie K & the Gentlemen, Fiona Wild & the Midnight Lights Local H 7 Shot Screamers, Doomtown, Lonesome Cowboy Ryan & His Dried-Up Teardrops

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Check out reviews and previews of a bunch of these shows at elevenmusicmag.com!

elevenmusicmag.com | ELEVEN | 27


BRING ON THE NIGHT

Want to have your show listed? E-mail listings@elevenmusicmag.com! (CALENDAR CONT’D FROM PREV PAGE)

20 OLD ROCK HOUSE

1200 7th Boulevard, 63104

DEC 22 Talib Kweli, Tef Poe

21 LUMINARY CENTER ARTS 22 JEFFERSON WAREHOUSE 23 WAY OUT CLUB 24 CBGB FOR THE 4900 Reber Place, 63139

2501 S. Jefferson Street, 63104

2525 S. Jefferson Street, 63104

3163 S. Grand Boulevard, 63118

25 MANGIA ITALIANO

3145 S. Grand Street, 63118 DEC 20 LB Johnson 22 Carriage House

26 BLUES CITY DELI 27 VENICE CAFE 28 LIVERY COMPANY

2438 McNair Avenue, 63104

1903 Pestalozzi Street, 63118

3211 Cherokee Street, 63118 DEC 20 Cara Wegener, Suzie Cue, Lisa Nikole Houdei

29 EL LEÑADOR 30 2720 CHEROKEE

3124 Cherokee Street, 63118

2720 Cherokee Street, 63118

DEC 20 First Friday Arts Affair 31 Cornmeal

28 | ELEVEN | elevenmusicmag.com

Father John Misty

>>PREVIEW

Bilal, Tiffany Elle, Black Spade,

Nappy DJ Needles, 18andCounting, Lamar Harris, Thelonius Kryptonite thursday, december 13

2720 CHEROKEE In a world where pasteurized, corporate music dominates the airwaves and occupies the servile lobes of the populace, there exists an oasis of asynchronous loveliness wherein lies the magical Bilal. Bilal’s music is an intriguing tribal dance of discontinuous rhythms, unintelligible samples, and wobbly vocals. If that kind of strange, carefully confusing music turns your cranks like it does mine, you should get down to 2720 to check out this latest production by Leisure Studies. In fact, you might want to get your tickets early, because despite his musical convolutions, Bilal has collaborated with enough high-voltage names—Jay Z, De La Soul, Erykah Badu, Common—to draw a crowd of charm-seekers. You can hear why he’s sought after, too: he’s got the serious soul chops in his vocals, and he’s clearly pursuing his own internal vision of what makes a song truly sexy, structurally and aurally. If those marquee names aren’t the kind of bona fides you’re looking for, I offer another medal to pin on Bilal’s chest: one of St. Louis’ finest musicians, Theresa Payne, seems to be utterly enthralled, if not obsessed, with Bilal—and upon further examination, one can hear traces of his jaggedy switcheroos in, say, Black Spade’s production decisions in Theresa Payne’s “This Love.” Which turns out to be motivation enough for me to get off of my ass and out to experience the awe that is Bilal. BLACK SPADE, St. Louis’ own Godfather of Disconcerting Funk, will be representing onstage as well, and the evening is packed

with notable St. Louis stage-hoppers, both on the mic and in the mix. Big room,big stage, and Bilal’s going to draw a big crowd— with this much hype on the line, it’s safe to say you should arrive in time to catch the match getting lit: the fireworks start early. RYAN McNEELY & EVAN SULT

>>PREVIEW

JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound The Pinstripes, Bailiff Friday, december 30, all ages

OFF BROADWAY Chicago’s JC Brooks spent 2012 on a mission to conquer St. Louis, and here’s hoping he succeeded. If you’ve seen JC Brooks before, you know why a New Year’s Eve Eve party with him and his band is such a fantastic idea. If you haven’t—just be sure to bring your dancing shoes, and be ready to get knocked out by Brooks’ straight-up modern soul blastoff. And whether or not you’ve seen JC Brooks, do yourself a favor and get there early. BAILIFF’s debut album, Red Balloon, is the sharpest sound coming out of Chicago right now, and their new material brings even more intricately layered vocal harmonies, virtuoso instrumentation, and gut power courtesy of new(ish) bassist Owen O’Malley. This is rock music with a sense of history and a confident future. Start your New Year’s celebration a night early—a year from now, tickets to a lineup like this won’t come so cheap. EVAN SULT Also, check out Bailiff’s Josh Siegel discussing the act of covering a song on page 18. >>PREVIEW

Father John Misty, Magic Trick tuesday, January 8, all ages

FIREBIRD Josh Tillman’s first release as Father John

PHOTO COURTESY SUB POP RECORDS

Live Music


Live Music from Ryan Adams’ Cardinals with plenty of heat of her own, and she proceeded to, ahem, mingle with Ms. Potter onstage nightly. Alas, she departed the band last year, and there is no replacement. Fame and fortune have brought a certain level of polish to the group, but pure rock still emanates from their every sound and movement. Ms. Potter’s dresses tend to be shinier— and shorter—these days, but there comes a point in every show where Ms. Potter kicks off her heels and dances at a pace so feverish that Tina Turner would be impressed, all while wielding beguiling melodies from her own signature Gibson or a Hammond B3. GPN will fill the Pageant with rock, soul, gospel, and lust. I suggest you be there.

Misty, Fear Fun, was postponed by his threeyear gig as drummer for Seattle brethren Fleet Foxes—not a bad day job, all things considered, and very handy on the resumé. His previous solo work, as J. Tillman, never garnered as much attention as his new band already has. What is the difference between J. Tillman and his new persona as Father John Misty? Apparently it involves the liberal use of psychedelics, at least in the writing phase, to catch the wisps of a fever dream by the tails. Fear Fun’s origin story puts Tillman behind the wheel of his van with a mountain of mushrooms as his copilot, overnight southbound to L.A., transmogrifying the passing miles into Bacchanalian fantasies of therapist canines who morph into monkeys, a dominatrix who calls him “Nancy,” and a bad trip courtesy of a Canadian shaman. These stories are sung with a voice that melts over the songs like butter on toast, filling every crevice with a decadent richness that eases from falsetto to craggy vocal throws. When he and his band performed “Nancy From Now On” on Conan O’Brien’s late-night talk show, this voice came from a body that bumped and jived like a lost member of the Bee Gees. He acted out lyrics, twirled his wrists before they landed on his forehead to look distraught, popped his ass like a Trey Songz video vixen, and scooted with enough style to land an audition with a prestigious all-girls dance outfit without resorting to spirit fingers. Please, Lord, let him bring that sweet ‘70s hustle when he plays The Firebird. BLAIR STILES

KYLE KAPPER

DECEMBER Miss Jubilee & the Humdingers THE SHELDON BALLROOM

Friday, december 14, 8PM Amy LaVere and The Hooten Hallers* OFF BROADWAY

thursday, december 27, 7:30PM J.C. Brooks & the Uptown Sound, The Pinstripes, and Bailiff* OFF BROADWAY

sunday, december 30, 7:30PM JANUARY The Queers, The Manges, Bassamp & DanO, The Humanoids, and the Haddonfields*

Grace Potter & the Nocturnals

FUBAR

thursday, January 10

sunday, January 6, 7PM Jeff Mangum with Tall Firs THE SHELDON BALLROOM

Wednesday, January 16, 8PM The Bad Plus* JAZZ AT THE BISTRO

January 16 thru 19, 7:30PM Yo La Tengo and Calexico* THE PAGEANT

thursday, January 31, 7PM *= all ages

Handsome Tyrants, Swim Ignorant Fire, Kevin Harris, Frances With Wolves, Heyoka

FOAM COFFEE & BEER 2700 Cherokee Street, 63118

LEMP ARTS CENTER THE HEAVY ANCHOR 5226 Gravois Avenue, 63116 Black Shades, Bruiser Queen, Thee Fine Lines The Skekses, Letter to Memphis Electric Dollhouse Groove Buggy, Don’t Forget Your Dinosaur, Jeremy Joyce Tok, The Quiet Type, This City of Takers The Dirty Pigeons, Go Long Mule

OFF BROADWAY 3511 Lemp Avenue, 63118 Jack Grelle & the Johnson Family, Doc Ellis Band, Doormat & Little Rachel The Incurables, Phonocaptors, Jimmy Lee King Bros Lazaroff Hanukkah Hullabaloo Bobby Bare Jr, Eef Barzelay Cory Chisel & the Wandering Sons, Derek Hoke, Tim Gebauer Funky Butt Brass Band Holiday Brasstravaganza Celia’s Yuletide Xpress Secular Holiday Sing-a-long NRBQ Bo & The Locomotive, Magic City, David Vandervelde,OldLights,PrettyLittleEmpire Rum Drum Ramblers Amy LaVere, Hooten Hallers John Hartford Tribute KDHX Benefit JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound, Bailiff Doc Ellis’ Awesome Possum, Griddle Kids

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5800 Gravois Avenue, 63116

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Acorns to Oaks, Letter to Memphis Death of Yeti, Giants in the Sky, Soma, Tok, Saluda

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POP’S 400 Monsanto Avenue, Sauget IL, 62201 Jc brooks & the uptown sound

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DEC Vanilla Beans, We Should Leave This Tree 7 Volcanoes, Bear Hive 12 Sugar Stems 28

LEMMONS

PHOTO COURTESY JC BROOKS

THE PAGEANT Since their eponymous debut record just two years ago, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals have skyrocketed into the mainstream with their version of powerhouse soul, blazing from one genre to the next. The fact that their latest, this summer’s The Lion The Beast The Beat, took so many chances speaks of Ms. Potter’s refusal to put her career in cruise control, even if she did bring along (cough) Kenny Chesney for the album’s bonus track. Actually, to say The Lion The Beast The Beat takes chances does not do the album justice. The title track is a high-throttle rock affair; “Parachute Heart” provides one of the most astute melody-to-lyric emulations I’ve heard; and the innueudo-cumproposition of “Turntable” ensures you will never hear that kerthump-kerthump at the end of a vinyl disc the same way ever again. In person, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals have always produced a sexy, tremendous live show—and this is still true, despite the unspeakably tragic absence of Catherine Popper. Popper arrived to the Nocturnals

MUSHMAUS 2700 Cherokee Street, 63118

3301 Lemp Avenue, 63118

SHORT LIST

>>PREVIEW

(CALENDAR CONTINUED)

Coheed & Cambria Chevelle

37

DEC 2 7

elevenmusicmag.com | ELEVEN | 29


Live Music

Holiday Hot Spots Well, somebody’s feeling the holiday spirit! Off Broadway has five different holiday events, if you can keep up (and cross religious traditions). From Hanukkah to Christmas to New Year’s Eve, you need never spend the night alone.

Brothers Lazaroff 2nd Annual Hanukkah Hullabaloo

Marquise Knox Christmas Blues

with Will Soll’s Klezmer Conspirarcy, The Vaad, James Stone Goodman Saturday, December 8, 9PM

SHELDON BALLROOM

OFF BROADWAY

Mic the People For the People, Holiday Community Open Mic Show! Sunday, December 9, 2PM-6PM OFF BROADWAY

Preservation Hall Jazz Band Creole Christmas Sunday, December 9, 7:30PM SHELDON BALLROOM

4th Annual Funky Butt Brass Band Holiday Brasstravaganza Saturday, December 15, 8PM OFF BROADWAY

Celia’s Yuletide Xpress Secular Holiday Sing-a-Long

Friday, December 21, 8PM

The Annual Off Broadway New Year’s Eve Party with The Blind Eyes, Kentucky Knife Fight & “Dino’s House Band” OFF BROADWAY

December 31, 21+, free, 7:30PM

Cornmeal 2720 CHEROKEE

December 31

New Year’s Eve Speakeasy: From Prohibition to the Rat Pack THE DECO FORTRESS

December 31, 8PM, $50

Orgone with Funky Butt Brass Band (Dec 30)

Sunday, December 16, 2:30PM

Orgone with Big Brother Thunder and the Master Blasters (Dec 31)

OFF BROADWAY

OLD ROCK HOUSE

8PM, 18+, $30 2-day ticket

30 | ELEVEN | elevenmusicmag.com


Album Reviews

HOT ROCKS = stl release

Guest List Each month we ask a specialist to pick some new release musts. This month’s Guest List is assembled by NICK ACQUISTO, host of THE SPACE PARLOR on KDHX 88.1 Scott Walker Bish Bosch 4AD | Dec 4

His first album since The Drift was released in 2006.

Beck Song Reader [hardcover] McSweeney’s | Dec 11

Beck is now pro-folk and anti-recording. Song Reader is a hardback book of sheet music. To hear Beck’s twenty new songs, you’re going to have to learn to read music and play them yourself. Or wait for the hundreds of YouTube videos to start pouring out renditions. Readers and select musicians’ versions of the songs will also soon be featured on McSweeney’s website.

My Bloody Valentine TBD TBD / Dec ?

They’ve had 21 years. If it actually comes out, this had better be good. 

Villagers  {awayland} Domino | Jan 14

The follow-up to his dark and thoughtful indie-folk debut album Becoming a Jackal. 

Toro y Moi Anything In Return Carpark | Jan 22

Chaz Bundick’s groovy take on a dance-pop release.

Ra Ra Riot  Beta Love Barsuk | Jan 22

More hook-driven pop, now with more dance and synth fuzz.

Big Harp  Chain Letters Saddle Creek | Jan 22

Their loud, confident, angular, rockin’, hooky sophomore release.

Gliss  Langsom Dans Modern Outsider | Jan 22

Fuzzy, airy, spacial shoegaze. Now with electronics.

Bleeding Rainbow  Yeah Right Kanine | Jan 29

Moody, dark, My Bloody Valentine-inspired female-fronted foursome from Philly.

Mice Parade Candela Fat Cat | Jan 29

Still noisy; this is expected to be their most melodic and poppy album to date, too.

Pere Ubu  Lady from Shanghai Fire | Jan 2013

An album, of course, of spastic sci-fi art rock. This album is meant to induce “fixed” dancing.

Black James im A mirAcle Farfetched

KNOWN ABOUT TOWN as the dark-sided, banjo-strumming siren Black James, Jennifer McDaniel has returned from the electric abyss with her latest effort, im A mirAcle. Released in cassette/digital format and clocking in at around 70 minutes, mirAcle is a departure from the freakways folk of 2010’s Waterhead. Trading in the gritty pickings of Appalachian forefather Doc Boggs for blackened reverb and programmed drum patterns, the album is a seamless amalgam of sample-heavy incantations, cryptic

Clinic

Free Reign Domino Records

Liverpool’s Clinic has been at it now for fifteen years and despite critical touting and nabbing opening slots for Arcade Fire and Radiohead, many still wonder, “Who are those masked men?” They remain as enigmatic as ever. Their proclivity for psychedelic album covers and outfitting themselves in surgeon masks and scrubs has allowed them to retain an aura of mystery and evolve. Sonically it’s all experimenting and being off kilter. They march to a different beat with their reliance on retro analog instrumentation, psych rock grooves, out of sync chord shifts and shaky percussion. While not as clangy or raucous as previous efforts, their seventh album, Free Reign, builds on the pop direction of 2010’s Bubblegum and saturates it with their trademark surrealist vocals awash in basslines, layers of organs and saxophones, and then sprinkles it with a spastic sense of urgency. Coddled in a blanket of selfconfidence, singer Ade Blackburn and his henchmen add some tenderness to their

mantras, and an overarching love of trance and hip-hop. Intended for listeners to experience as singular pieces (two sides of a tape), mirAcle jumps across a breadth of genres, often within the same song. Wrought with haunting samples, raw field recordings, and a healthy dose of delay, McDaniel shows no aversion to noise, but rather a full embrace of all sonic spectres. At her most accessible (“Mourning Dove,” “Stirrin Her Brew”), she hints at the warped pop of acts like Grimes, allowing the more esoteric moments (“Dust”) to breathe in the ethnic electronica of Muslimgauze and the dejected rhythm of Suicide. With brief appearances of banjo and layers of digital bewilderment, McDaniel’s strongest weapon may well be her inimitable voice. From ghoulish croak to seductive coo, her voice cuts through midnight air, driving each song like Stevie Nicks on better drugs. Though the mood of the record is buoyant, Black James manages to tether themes of melancholy throughout, be it her cover of Xeno and Oaklanders’ “4th Wall” or the overtly solemn “Adagio Slime”—a treatment of Samuel Barber’s “Adagio For Strings.” By bringing a little darkness into the light, Black James remains the answer to the age-old question: what happens when the teen witch grows up? JOSH LEVI visceral atmospherics enabling them to fill the spaciousness of their territory. Free Reign comes out strong with “Misty,” a skittish beat melded to a forlorn ambiance. The energetic “See Saw” is the standout track with its steady mix of overwrought vocals, nervous guitars and driving percussion. “King Kong” and “You” feature an eardrum buzz of kinetic energy. The lead single, “Miss You” they are still shuffling their feet to a pop sound which gives way to more textured experimentation with “Cosmic Radiation” and “Sun and the Moon.” On Free Reign, Clinic channels their affinity for post-punk, psychedelic rock, garage and indie pop into a disorientingly dizzy record, which finds them, climbing out of the muck to explore the spaciousness of their sound. The result is a visceral and valiant effort tinged with gentleness and energy. ROB LEVY

Spelling Bee Caterwaul

Pancake Productions

Spelling Bee is here to conquer your eardrums. The dynamic duo of Joseph Hess and Mabel Suen unleash every bit of bite-sized hell with their appropriately titled second full-length

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Album Reviews album, Caterwaul. With most songs lasting just shy of the two-minute mark, it is apparent that Spelling Bee have become masters of their craft. In the vein of noise rock forerunners Lightning Bolt and Deerhoof, Spelling Bee sculpts digestible songs from a propulsive volley of syncopated rhythm and guitar squall. Rife with explosive bouts of monster guitar riffage, dueling male/female vocals, and hyperactive percussion, the 17-minute album plays like music for the ADD generation. Informed by post-punk and no wave labels like Touch & Go, Skin Graft, and Cuneiform, the band has carved its own niche into the 21st century underground by flipping the formula on its head. To the average ear, Caterwaul may sound like more of the same hyperactive style found on their 2010 release, Sweet Dreams, Strange Animal, but repeat listens unveil a new subtle dynamism and a well-weathered range in the new material. The album finds Spelling Bee approaching something like restraint, allowing room for nuances like the reverb ring-out in “Ageist Waves,” and the creeping sax on “Cat or Wall.” On “New Machines” Suen’s nimble playing weaves in and out of complex guitar phrases with ease, pushing Hess’ frenetic percussion from brain-scrambling bliss to harsh noise wall. Counting Yowie and Female Demand as contemporaries, Spelling Bee continue to move forward with enthusiasm and brute force in the strange world they help keep alive. JOSH LEVI

Jack Grelle and the Johnson Family

Jack Grelle and the Johnson Family Big Muddy Records

As with all the best country ballads, there’s no telling if this album was recorded in 1969 or just this year. Jack Grelle and the Johnson Family’s self-titled debut plays like a lesson in American folk music appreciation. It’s clear that this group of musicians loves Americana right down to its roots. Opener “Blind Dog” directs a question toward the rest of the album: “Broken guitar and a blind dog—what’s a man to do?” The answer, it seems, is to sing songs of comfort and lament, letting mandolin, pedal steel, harmonica, and fiddle gleam through the grain to ease, or at least express, the ever-present heartache. “I love honest songs,” Grelle said in a recent interview with Eleven. “Songs that anyone can relate to. The thing that inspires me to play, and to continue playing, folk and country music is that people of all ages and backgrounds can enjoy it. It’s straightforward, people’s music.” Grelle assembled the band in the eight months leading up to recording, and

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recorded live with Wil Reeves over one weekend in Reeves’ Columbia’s Centro Cellar Studios. Grelle’s voice is so clear he might well be in the room with you, and each washboard zip and piano run has its chance to shine, with a country kick recalling Dylan’s Nashville Skyline or Van Zandt’s Delta Momma Blues. “Where did you go when you left me? I’m only wondering,” Grelle inquires gently in “Red Roses,” with a romantic sincerity reminiscent of Tom Waits’ Closing Time. “Darlin’” stays catchy without losing any of the grit in the details—“So I grabbed me a bottle of Ten High,” Grelle says, “it was sour mash, you know it wasn’t rye.” Electric guitar and harmonica trade licks as the drums rumble like a big rig in “Turnpike Boogie,” and “Tired Hands” is an anthem for growing up: “It’s time for me to get up off the floor and on my feet.” NELDA KERR Jack Grelle and the Johnson Family plays Dec 2 at Off Broadway with the Doc Ellis Band and Doormat & Little Rachel.

Picture Day

Every Day Is Picture Day Self release

When I moved to St. Louis six years ago, the first band I was invited to and went to see was Team Tomato. As an instant groupie, I was seriously

The Rebellious Jukebox

bummed when their last show came and went. Luckily for Tomato fans, former Tomatoes Brian Weigert, Jordan Ross, and Luis Actis added bassman Steve Sesti and molded together a new project with a similar sound, and called the result Picture Day. This December 15, they’ll be releasing their second EP, at STL Style House on Cherokee. Compared to their first EP, At the Crowded Wheel, the band delivers a brighter, poppier sound. Opening track “Madoline” gets the juices flowing by the end of the cheerful chorus, til you feel like a revved-up Nintendo character dancing to celebrate clearing a level. The tunes continue to evolve, evoking memories of great late-‘90s pop cracklers like Queens of the Stone Age, Sponge, and Cracker. The entire package has a light, easygoing feel to it that I am certain will be worth seeing live...maybe while wearing a Hawaiian shirt? AMANDA KREBEL

The Incurables

The Fine Art of Distilling Self release

If you’ve never heard The Incurables or their 2007 debut, Songs For A Blackout, well, here’s the long backstory short: after years as STL reigning go-to guitar shredder for other people’s projects, Jimmy Griffin finally got fed up and found himself a microphone and some similarly talented friends to back him up. No one knew the guy could sing, let alone write lyrics that stick in your head the way your grandma’s cooking sticks to your ribs. The Incurables don’t play out much, but when they do, the night plays out like a lesson in pro-grade showmanship and technical ability. Griffin’s lifelong ease with

Life at 45 RPM by Matt Harnish

WITH LESS GROOVE than the Jesus Lizard & less scientific precision than the DAZZLING KILLMEN, mid ‘90s St Louis pig-fuckers Man Igno were a formidable force of angry artsy ugliness. Their 1994 3-song 45 is a mess of jarring changes & indecipherable howling. You have to practice hard to sound this discordant. I once saw them play a show out in St Charles or somewhere & they allowed almost John Cage-ian amounts of silence between notes, further proving that there was a lot of forethought behind this madness. If you boiled post-everything octet BUG CHASER down to just a couple of their infinite influences, you might find yourself in similar territory to Man Igno, although you could follow a different path & end up with that weird kraut-rock disco crossover thing that was epitomized by Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love.” Or you could end up in Go-Go land or Afro-Beat or 1990 Seattle or 2001 Rhode Island. You can dance to Bug Chaser’s 2-song 45, “Billy Saw A Pear/She’s Ninety” or you can headbang to it or you can calmly analyze it & parse its hidden meanings, & these would all be acceptable options. Bug Chaser isn’t a synthesis of all that’s come before it, it’s all that’s come before it & all that’s yet to come played ALL AT ONCE.


Album Reviews his instrument encompasses an ease with a rotating cast of some of the city’s sharpest rockers. The Fine Art of Distilling neatly picks up the narrative five years later, and on first listen, the songs felt so in the comfort zone that I felt like I’d heard them or knew these songs somehow already. That Griffin: he knows a thing or two about song composition. His affinity for vocal layers and harmonies come through on “Famous Last Words” (is that Paige Brubeck of Sleepy Kitty oohing and ahhing back there?), a break-up song so catchy it’s easy to miss the sadness in the lyrics. A couple songs later, “Wish” starts sweet and poppy (if perhaps a little overly sentimental by the hook), then flows into a rockin’ instrumental organ/guitar exchange that crests with a group chorus demanding, “Tell me, what would you die for?” “I Will Burn”’s sassy blues piano and deliciously dirty trumpet frame Griffin’s sharply efficient song structure. “Say It Loud” brings more of those tasty horns, but mixes a Springsteen feel with a Dinosaur Jr-ish ‘90s riff and distortion-laced vocals (think early Nine Inch Nails). “Pockets full of gold only weigh you

down, down, down,” Griffin warns darkly in “Ain’t No Heaven For Billionaires,” a seven-plus-minute minor-key rocker that could well have been the album’s epic closer. Instead, he leaves on a surprisingly sincere note: the adorably sweet stomp-and-clapper “A Proposal,” featuring a toy piano and ace percussionist Kevin Bowers clanking on— yes!—a literal kitchen sink. There seems to be nothing about the band that isn’t, in one way or another, totally epic. Striking a delicate and clever balance between classic rock and the modern moment, there’s one thing that The Incurables definitely left in the 20th century: that infamous sophomore slump. SUZIE GILB The Incurables celebrate their album release with The Phonocaptors Dec 7 at Off Broadway.

Mt. Thelonious

Mt. Thelonious EP Self release

Composed of Webster U jazz students, it’s not surprising that half of the songs on Mt. Thelonius’ debut are standards. What is surprising is what they make of ‘em. With Ian Lubar on guitar, Mark Wallace on upright bass, Alyssa Avery on violin, and Chloe Feoranzo on an especially expressive clarinet, and shared vocal duties, the instrumentation of Mt. Thelonius defines the content. “In the Pines” (aka “Where

Did You Sleep Last Night?” See either Leadbelly or Nirvana, depending on your tastes) is a dark tune with a paranoiac lyric, and Avery’s tense violin complements the bowed upright to support the building intensity of Lubar’s vocals. On “St. James Infirmary,” Feoranzo’s clarinet dances over plucked violin and a tangoflavored guitar, while the vocals move tastefully and seamlessly between thick whole notes and staccato, sassy melody enhancers. “Moon Song,” one of Lubar’s compositions, is a classic ramblin’ man song, and it’s remarkable how well the female harmony blends with his strong, solid vocal delivery. It’s an intriguing sound. It’s neither jazz—though Feoranzo will fool you more than once with her dextrous clarinet solos— nor bluegrass nor folk, despite a fine fiddle feel from Avery at times. And it’s not jam music, even with a couple of really wicked solos from both Avery and Feoranzo— though Lubar’s other composition, “Monotonous Stare,” does verge on it. Instead, Mt. Thelonius turns out to be an unconventional, exciting take on Americana—a form as native to our shores as the jazz these kids are picking up in class. SUZIE GILB

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Ephemera

THE WAY BACK PAGE

JANUARY 24, 1968 st. louis symphony orchestra at powell symphony hall robert rauschenberg

Paper Time Machine Curated by Paige Brubeck

I HARDLY KNOW WHERE to begin this month. This poster is a true gem. I found myself stuck on a design project a few months ago and began looking at a book of poster images for inspiration, clues, and answers. This one really caught my eye, and I found I kept coming back to it. I was stuck on the hot pink “O,” and how it lays on the gouache with the map peeking through.

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How many layers went into this poster? How were the letters made to look that way? Were they rub on? Screenprinted? I didn’t notice at first, in my close study, that the “O” was part of the word ST. LOUIS! And that this was a poster for the the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra! Then Busch Stadium revealed itself in the bottom right corner, as well as the Powell Hall marquee. This poster only gets better the longer you look at it. It’s such an exciting palette and collection of textures—an arrangement of

little pieces that don’t make sense on their own but come together to make a beautifully coherent piece. Just like listening to a symphony! And it’s by ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG! ROBERT. RAUSCHENBERG. It looks like you can still get your hands on one of these, starting at around $2,800. Now I have new questions: were these for sale on the opening night of the Symphony? Who commissioned this piece and made it happen? Well done, to whoever that was.


NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH THE MUD HOUSE

STL STYLEHOUSE

Breakfast? Lunch? Dinner? Why not spend all day here! Warm coffee and sweet brownies are always appreeciated when winter begins!

St. Louis-inspired wearables, custom screen printing and graphic design. You can’t spell STYLE without STL!

Cherokee Street 2101 cherokee st (63118) 776-6599 | themudhousestl.com

Cherokee Street 3159 cherokke st (63118) 494-7763 | stl-style.com

ST. LOUIS CURIO SHOPPE

FLOWERS TO THE PEOPLE

Everything is 100% St. Louis! We offer goods from local entrepreneurs, authors, musicians, & artists within a 50-mile radius. Shop for locally made books, music, films, fine art, jewelry, and curiosities.

Full-service floral & gift boutique, specializing in locally & sustainably grown flowers. All retail gifts made by local STL artists. Delivery available in the metro area.

Cherokee Street 2301 cherokee st (63118) 771-6353 | stlcurioshoppe.com

Cherokee Street 2317 cherokee st. (63118) 762-0422 | flowerstothepeople.biz

FOAM COFFEE & BEER

STRANDS

Off-beat decor, snack plates, free WiFi and weekly events and live shows. The definitive place to work by day or hang out by night.

A relaxing boutique salon in the historic DeMun area, Strands draws inspiration from the world of fashion and art to stay on top of current trends. They create designs to showcase your individual beauty!

Cherokee Street 3359 s. Jefferson (63118) 772-2100 | foamstl.com

Demun 730 demun ave. (63105) 725-1717 | strands-hair.com

SASHA’S ON SHAW Great wines, the best cheeses, always served late! The Shaw neighborhood’s best bar, in the shadow of the garden.

Shaw 4069 shaw blvd 771-7274 | sashaswinebar.com

NORA’S Located in the heart of Dogtown, Nora’s is not your typical sandwich shop. From in-house smoked meats to quirky and creative sandwiches, salads and sounds, you will leave statisfied! Dogtown 1136 tamm ave (63139 645-2706 | norasindogtown.com

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