interviews: the walkmen, the bottle rockets, !!! reviews: beastie boys, julia sets, blood brothers previews: lucinda wililams, curiosa
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August 2004 music + politics
Coral Court Lives On
I can’t tell you how many times we changed cover stories this month. Actually, I can; it was a especially painful month, and we were on cover story idea number four when this idea came to me. Music and politics. There’s a long history of artists—be they musicians, playwrights, novelists, comedians, painters, poets, or filmmakers—speaking their political mind through their art.
Hello there (and thank you to Emily Spreng Lowery): My documentary partner Bill Boll and I would like to thank you for your nice article in the July issue. Your kind words—“wonderful documentary tells the story of the famed motor court off Route 66”—were lovely to read and music to our ears. So we appreciate your piece on the Filmmakers Showcase very much. Also thought you’d like to know that besides being the documentary’s producer, I am the author/photographer of the book Tales From the Coral Court: Photos and Stories From a Lost Route 66 Landmark, published in 2000 by Virginia Publishing, St. Louis. After seeing a friend’s documentary on Gaslight Square, I was inspired to make my own. If they could make a film about a place that no longer existed, maybe I could, too. It was 2002 when I applied for a CALOP grant and went looking for a filmmaker. That’s when I met Bill and he got involved. He deserves a lot of credit as he is both the director and writer of our film, Built for Speed. Thank you for using my photograph of the Coral Court Motel (also the centerspread in my book). It’s shows the original Coral Court buildings—which began with only 10 cottages surrounding the office. Construction began in 1941. In December, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor—so they had delays and opened in 1942. If you utilize another image of mine, will you please credit me with the photo? Thank you; tiny type is fine. Best regards, Shellee Graham, Producer, Built for Speed
There’s also a long history of art for art’s sake. Let’s face it: most of the music we listen to isn’t at all political. It’s about love gone wrong, personal insecurities, missed connections. And there’s nothing wrong with that; in fact, that’s what most of us expect from our music: simple entertainment, nothing more. Which is why it came as a surprise to me when I realized more and more artists are suddenly standing up for their political beliefs, even at the risk of alienating part of their fan base. Why were they putting themselves on the line like that? Did it have anything to do with their self-imposed obligation to their audience, that they tell their whole truth and nothing but? As artists, were they ethically obligated to speak up when they felt it necessary? Though it was conceived at the absolute last minute, this month’s cover story was extremely fun to research and write. I got to interview countless people, from local musicians and business owners, to national and international musicians, to publishers and filmmakers. It was a thrill getting to talk with people so passionate about their causes, be they political or primarily musical. Mostly I wanted to find out why they were speaking up: why now, why ever. What did they hope to accomplish? Extra special thanks to cover model Dave AlanS, who really made the concept come alive in pictures. I hope you enjoy the issue!
Playback St. Louis: Get used to it.
In Defense of The Realm I was somewhat surprised to see a review of Guardian of the Realm online at playbackstl.com. The reason is the finished
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version of this movie has never been shown yet! I can only assume that someone associated with the St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase, showed you the rough-cut screener that was submitted to them. That version has temp sound and music, temp effects, and was transferred to VHS from a lower-resolution consumer-grade DVD source. It was only intended to be used for entry into the showcase, and is not the finished version that the public will see. The completed version will be much more polished, with professionally mixed sound (including music and sound effects), color-corrected, and presented in full DV resolution. I believe that once you see this version, you will see the lighting looks much better, the sound is vastly improved, and that the higher, full-resolution image looks very good for digital video. We invite you to come a see the finished version, and review the movie we intended to present, not the rough version you saw that the audiences won’t see. Then you can make a fair review of this movie. Scott M. Baker Producer, Guardian of the Realm
Drizzit Calls It Like They See It To John Kujawski: Thanks a ton for the great article. Your prose and style is refreshing to see in this age where every kid with a sixth-grade education thinks they can write music reviews. I will admit that the particular show you went to was especially loud, because we were trying out a new sound guy (which it why it took forever to set up, and everyone agrees that it was the worst we’ve played in a long time). In lieu of that, your article was the best review we have ever gotten. Steve and Tony say you f*cking rule. Eben Shantz Drizzit
Playback St. Louis Pop Culture Come Out and Play...... 17 You Are Here ............... 20
Great Rivers Biennial
On the Cover ............... 22 Music + Politics: Artists Tune In
Cinema: Lost Boys of Sudan, Cowards Bend the Knee, Catwoman........ 24 Profile: Srikant Chellappa....................... 26
The Walkmen ..........................................3 Bottle Rockets..........................................4 !!! ...........................................................5
Play by Play .................. 7
Miles of Wire, Beastie Boys, Robert Fripp and Brian Eno, Funeral for a Friend, Julia Sets, Tommy Keene, Tommy Stinson, The Streets, Glenn Tilbrook, The Tragically Hip, Velvet Crush, The Red River Tribute
Quick Hits.................... 12
Blend Crafters, Felix da Housecat, The Killers, Lord Baltimore, Minus the Bear, Matthew Sweet, The Race
Concerts............................................... 14 They Might Be Giants, The Blood Brothers, Cougars Festival: Siren Music Festival ................. 31
Three to See ................ 15
From the Corner ......... 27 Curmudgeon ................ 32 Elliot Goes.................. 32 Take Five ...................... 34 Pedro the Lion
Local Scenery ............. 35 Page by Page................ 36 Greg Kot, Stacey D’Erasmo, Robert Rosenberg
Delirious Nomad ......... 39 What’s Going on Here?....................... 40
Lucinda Williams, Curiosa Festival, The Waxwings, Communique, Van Hunt, Robbie Fulks, Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, Heart, Moonlight Ramble
Tributary ..................... 44 Squeeze: Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti
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By Sean Moeller
all The Walkmen the squires of gamesmanship if it’s a suitable sobriquet you’re looking for. They are the fair and the noble, displaying all of the buckling airs of virtue that follow along behind the footfalls of the regal. They are the aristocratic sportsmen with puffy chests, classy active-suits, and musky pipe smoke as their walking fragrances, who spend their afternoons with the foxes and their purebred troupe of scaring hounds. Their sporting is just and an equal opportunity is offered to the hunted. No hand is given and none is taken. It is one against the other on a level surface, with the advantage going to each who is witness to such a display of utter fair play. So much can be sifted—like golden flakes picked out of a pan-full of pre-colonial California riverbed—from the choice of title for a record. In this case, it’s the New York band’s sophomore handiwork of Bows and Arrows that triggers the ontological corruption of identity. These greasy, high-order chemists of pulsating new rock ruptures no more have tailor-made smoking jackets and riding boots for every day of the week as they are active participants of a 19th-century hunting society. But they do seem like the types of old friends who, were you ever to cross them, would give you a running start. They would track you in a gentlemanly fashion, lifting the strap of their half-filled quiver slowly over one shoulder—counting to 20-Mississippi before drawing back with the first arrow. The record makes it sound as if The Walkmen have been handicapping a shitload of pursuits. It’s an assembly-line chronicle of betrayals and letdowns perpetrated by friends and associates. When enough’s enough, they fill the air with carefully directed attacks. There’s a specific ring to singer
Hamilton Leithauser’s husky vocals—such as a tea kettle’s alarming howl—that gives a pretty convincing indication of when his nipples have been twisted too far in the wrong direction. Bassist Pete Bauer said that the character comparison and their generally dumpy luck with finding and keeping loyal friends wasn’t explored all that deeply when the album was actually christened. But it works. “I do have a lot of friends like that, but I’ve never really thought about it before,” he said on the afternoon the band was set to meet up with the suddenly meaningful Modest Mouse for a summer replacement tour. “That’s a good idea. It was just a vague title Walt [Martin, organist] came up with. That was sort of the idea, though. And we needed something.” The group of D.C.-boys-gone-Apple came out of the Lollapalooza meltdown with the most-prized indie rock tour of the tide, locking up with the Isaac Brock outfit that somehow finally got through to the numbskulls of bigbusiness music. The Walkmen were already going to play off-dates with Modest Mouse to fill in the holes, so when the bottom dropped free from the Perry Farrell brainchild, there wasn’t much scrambling or panic to be had. This tour—through the rest of the summer—will be the final leg supporting Bows and Arrows, after which they call it quits and let the van engine cool to record a follow-up record. “We were a little bit worried, but we figured we’d be all right,” Bauer said of the cancellation of the entire 16-city Lollapalooza tour. “Our booking agent had to deal with a lot of crap and he didn’t sleep for a couple nights. It’s too bad it had to happen; it would have been a fun experience. But it’s okay, because
PBSTL PROFILE THE WALKMEN
our fans aren’t big field people. “I think the shows [with Modest Mouse] are going to be great. We played a college with them a long time ago. I don’t really remember much from that show; I do remember they were nice guys.” Together since their old bands, the barely remembered but memorably swirling almostrans Jonathan Fire*Easter and Leithauser and Bauer’s group The Recoys, disintegrated in late 1998, the five members (also including drummer Matt Barrick and guitarist Paul Maroon) have known each other much longer. All but Bauer went to the same high school together in the nation’s capital. The strength of brothers— Leithauser and Martin are actually cousins—is with them and never comes out in bickering or deconstructive ways. If a tiff arises, it’s of no serious consequence and it ends as quickly as it starts with the return to shitty homemade movies, chess grudges, and Scrabble competitions. “We like to have an activity when we’re on tour. We have a video camera with us, and the other night we had a fake-crying contest. We also had a fake-laughing contest. We also make movies, but they come out a little boring. I think we’re a little hesitant,” Bauer said. “I’m a Scrabble fan. Somehow, just by chance, three people brought travel Scrabble on tour. We played the other day. They think that words they don’t know are out of the spirit of the game. They’re very close-minded. They complain.” Even the sportsmen of the year can have a limited patience. When it comes to wooden letter tiles, a man and his temper are quickly parted. The Walkmen play Blueberry Hill’s Duck Room August 2.
THE BOTTLE ROCKETS
ROCKETS’ RED GLARE By Wade Paschall
n August 19, The Bottle Rockets will be playing River Splash, followed the next night by their make-up date at the Pageant, opening for Lucinda Williams. The original date was back in April, but Williams’ mother passed away a few days prior to the show and the remaining dates on the tour were canceled. Since that time, the band—Brian Henneman, Mark Ortmann, Robert Kearns, and John Horton—have played SXSW, changed booking agents, and spent much of the spring and summer playing a handful of other dates, working on new songs, and dabbling in ’70sera country covers with a side project called Diesel Island. Still, Henneman and Ortmann found some time to fill me in on what the last year’s been like for the band. Even though it’s the first time we’ve ever spoken to one another, talking with Henneman is like catching up with a long-lost high school buddy or running into a guy you used to work with. His voice on the other end of the phone has an inviting “crack open a beer and sit a spell” tone to it. He is both disarming and accessible and has a way of making you feel immediately comfortable. It’s the same kind of feel-good vibe that comes through in the band’s music. Because of the cancellation of dates in support of Williams, these will be the band’s first shows in St. Louis since Halloween of last year, when they played Blueberry Hill’s Duck Room in support of their then-newly released album Blue Sky. It was the band’s first album of new material in four years. Henneman lost both his parents in 1999 and, after having toured regularly for seven straight years, the band decided to take an indefinite hiatus. “You can’t be on the road and trying to deal with lawyers and insurance people,” says Henneman. The band had fulfilled their contractual obligations with their label and the break seemed to come at the right time. But even though they were walking away from the music business, they were not walking away from each other. The Bottle Rockets were still very much a band and were
YOU CAN’T BE ON THE ROAD AND TRYING TO DEAL WITH LAWYERS AND INSURANCE PEOPLE still writing songs during that time. “It’s one of those totally weird family connection stories,” says Henneman of how Blue Sky came to be produced by Warren Haynes, guitarist for the Allman Brothers Band and leader of his own group, Gov’t Mule. It seems that Haynes’ brother saw the band in Asheville, North Carolina, a few years back and raved about them to Warren. A couple of years later when Haynes’ wife (and Gov’t Mule manager), Stephanie Scamardo was looking to take on another band, Haynes suggested the Bottle Rockets. After completing some demos of songs written during the band’s break, Henneman sent them to Scamardo, who played them for Haynes, who liked them enough to want to make them into an album. And thus, Blue Sky was born. Haynes enlisted the help of legendary engineer Michael Barbiero, and before the band knew it, they were in the studio. To hear Henneman tell it, it was exciting, but also a bit scary. Although the band had label interest, they were technically going into the studio without one. And the band wasn’t sure
how they were going to pay for the record. But Haynes’ confidence in both the songs and the band ran deep. He and Barbiero were willing to invest their own time and money to get Blue Sky made. It may have seemed like a gamble at the time, but after shopping the completed tracks, six different labels came knocking on The Bottle Rockets’ door. After reviewing their options, Blue Sky was released on Sanctuary Records, who offered the band enough to more than cover reimbursing Haynes and Barbiero, as well as a deal for future albums. The Bottle Rockets’ music is routinely labeled “Americana” or “alternative country.” And while they are veterans of the rock/country genre, they can also be purely either one at any given time. Once called “AC/DC meets Hank Williams,” Henneman feels that John Prine and Crazy Horse, two of his biggest influences, would be a more accurate description of The Bottle Rockets. Of Prine, he says, “It’s a comparison I wish came up more often.” The longer The Bottle Rockets are around, the more likely it will. Their songwriting is emerging as another strength in an already strong band. But that fact is, it’s often overshadowed by the just plain good-time enjoyment of listening to their music. They are so associated with, and loved for, being a great live band, people tend to overlook the content of the songs themselves. There is another point to be made about The Bottle Rockets, which is that they are very much a band’s band: still somewhat undiscovered by the masses, yet known and respected by other musicians (as evidenced by the fact that a guitar monster like Haynes is a big enough fan to take Blue Sky and run with it). I ask Henneman about this and he agrees. “It’s true. But unfortunately, those guys in other bands always find a way to get the CDs for free.” The Bottle Rockets play River Splash August 19 with Tinhorn. You can also find them on an upcoming Chuck Berry tribute album to be released on Undertow Records, with a return to the Pageant in September.
DOING IT, DOING IT, DOING IT: !!!
PBSTL PROFILE !!!
By Rachel McCalla
f you like to move your body, then you need record, Louden Up Now. Just as funky and raw this CD. This is what the sign read above the as their first (self-titled) album, Louden Up Now first !!! CD I bought. Part funky, part punky, is more focused and slightly more mature. Not !!!’s music will get your body movin’. The only is the production better, they are experipremise behind the name is that you fill in the menting with sound, using some electronic !!! with whatever you want. It can be any word beats as well as instruments. Signed to both Warp out of England and or sound you choose, as long as it’s said three times in a row. Pow, pow, pow. Rub, rub, rub. Touch and Go out of Chicago, !!! seem to be Dance, dance, dance. Though almost everyone the “it” indie band at the moment, and their calls them “chk, chk, chk.” With seven mem- momentum continues to build. Lead guitarist Mario Andreoni took time bers in the band, !!! are completely outrageous live and particularly mind-blowing on a small from finding a hotel with high-speed Internet stage. There are two drummers (sometimes to chat with me over a Busch at Dapper Dan’s before their show. they use two kits), two guitar players, I saw you at Coachella. How was a horn section, a keyboard/equalizer that? Any stories? and, of course, a lead singer. Some of Everyday, we talk to people in every Nic Offer is not only the perfect frontman, he is also the hardest work- my favorite place we’ve played that said they saw ing. He butters up the crowd, but more shows us at Coachella and it’s just crazy. It’s a importantly, he doesn’t stop moving for have been bigger concert than I thought it was. In terms of overall concerts, it is the closthe entire show. He is known for telling on tiny est to a European festival the United a crowd to dance a little harder. That’s valid, because the more energized the stages, States has. It has such a diverse lineup, so many different things to do. It’s crowd, the better the show. And it where we and been so long since I’ve been to a big seems the whole band puts everything cannot rock show. I know if I was younger, I into it when they play. When John Pugh switches to singing, Allan Wilson even move. would be so incredibly stoked to go to that thing. There were just so many beats the bass drum while playing the people to see. sax and Offer holds the mic to the The band seems to be really taking off. horn. Oh yes, this is a team effort. Even while I just feel like that it’s being at the right place playing mostly new songs in 105-degree heat at the Coachella Festival, neither the band nor the at the right time. We’re still every bit as serious and bust our asses as we’ve always done, but crowd stopped moving. Their recent show at the Creepy Crawl was somehow we’ve gotten these opportunities and not to be believed. In lieu of the no-show open- people have gotten to see us, and the ball has ing band, !!! members took turns spinning their started to roll. We just kept doing it and doing it and doing it. We always thought we had the favorite records and got the crowd moving. During their actual performance, !!! were on potential. We started out playing to just five fire. I didn’t know a St. Louis crowd could move people in a basement, but it goes on from there. How many members were there at the as much as we did that night. We danced so hard that, at one point, Offer said, “Damn, St. band’s inception in 1996, and how many are there now? Louis! You guys really know how to shake it!” Seven; still the same number. All original. After selling well abroad, !!! are making their way around the U.S. to promote their new When we first got together, we knew right
PHOTO: DOUGLAS GARFIELD
away. We wrote something like two songs and we knew we could do it. It took us a little while, and it still takes a while to find our space within the music. I think, back then, we were fighting more for space. Speaking of space, I think you’re better on a smaller stage. It’s going to be hilarious watching you all fit on the Creepy Crawl’s stage. Some of my favorite shows have been on tiny stages, where we cannot even move. I feel like sometimes the tighter we’re all together, the better because the sound just rushes over you. Feeling music like that is the most exciting thing. So I think we excel in situations like tonight. How long is this tour, and what’s in the future? This tour is a month and a half, then we’re off to Europe to do festivals for a couple of weeks and then we’re off to Japan to play the Mount Fuji Festival. I guess the record has been doing amazing over there. It’s just crazy. How does the American market differ from European and Japanese markets? The U.S. is just so spread out, it’s just harder to reach people. You really have to bust your ass. We’re going to [headline] our biggest show in Los Angeles in a few weeks and that’s going to be a real test to see how we’re doing in America. Are you working on anything new? Oh, yeah. We’ve already started and we’re putting out another 12-inch in October. There’s never really a shortage of ideas for us. Well, there are seven of you. [Laughs.] No, we just want to keep it going. We always feel like the thing we’re working on the moment is always our favorite thing to work on, and we’ll keep working like that until it doesn’t [work]. We’re just never really happy staying still with what we have. I feel like we’re always looking for something that will make us stick out even more.
PLAY BY PLAY
MILES OF WIRE: ALL THERE IS (
We first saw Miles of Wire near the end of last year. They had just become the band they are now (Raphael “Ray” Maurice, vocals/guitar; Shawn T. Bell, bass; Adam Anglin, wild man drummer), and from the moment they took the stage at the Way Out, they commanded our attention with the sheer force of Maurice’s lyrics and their subtle, but powerful stage presence. The immediate question was this: where was the CD with all these amazing songs? It turned out to be a burnt offering from Bell’s computer and the standard-issue answer was that that Ray was in L.A., “trying to make things happen.” That CD was copied a dozen times and sent across the country to friends, family, and anybody we knew who loved music (sorry, boys; we’ll buy you a beer or two to make up for lost income). The magic of this self-financed disc is that the production (kudos to Bell) is simple enough that the power of the words and the music are not lost; as a storyteller, Maurice keeps us in rapt attention. His lyrics speak the tragedy of the Faulkner South and the hilarity (perhaps with hindsight) of youth’s mistakes. (One listen to “Oh! Pa” and you will laugh, just like when you figured out what the Kinks’ song “Lola” was all about.) The songs range from balls-out rockers to the sweetest ballads, drawing pictures of confusion and hope. “Angels” treats the subject of sexual confusion (not an uncommon subject on this album) with beautiful words that haven’t been heard since David Bowie and Rod Stewart chimed in on the subject in the early ’70s: “Well it’s a 7-11 breakfast in the morning I guess/and you think about putting on your Mama’s dress/ so tired of living this way, look at you/21, strung out and gay/may angels, may angels lead you
home.” Simple and unrushed, Maurice sings a song that offers the facts and leaves the story’s direction open…much like life. All he looks for—what we all look for—are the peace and acceptance that comes from within. “The Birds,” a mid-tempo sing-along with the unlikely and damn catchy refrain “I’ve got too many God-damn friends,” is an ideal setting for Maurice’s voice. The start/stop trajectory allows him to dance around phrases and leaves him shouting near the end of the song, only to end softly. A happier song than “Novocain” could never be found, though it is basically Maurice’s odd little drug travelogue ditty. Once again, this points out the strength of his writing. He knows how to get the most out of both the music and the words and his delivery is hyperactive and sweet, changing, as the case needs, on a dime. This CD is easily one of the best locally produced CDs I have heard over the last two years; it also gives many national releases a run for their money. I won’t tumble over myself trying to find the correct word to describe it. I will echo what Rene Spencer Saller calls it in her excellent liner notes on the CD: passion. This CD speaks volumes for itself, and you should hear it and let it fill your life. Let’s hope “things” do happen in L.A. for this immensely talented band. Available from www.garageband.com/artist/milesofwire. —Jim Dunn THE BEASTIE BOYS: TO THE 5 BOROUGHS (Capitol) The Beastie Boys have always taken their time between releases, but the six-year layoff following 1998’s Hello Nasty offered the possibility that the groundbreaking trio had lost
some effectiveness. Their lengthy career has offered numerous surprises, however, and the pure fun of this latest release should be almost expected by this point. While less ambitious than its predecessors, To the 5 Boroughs provides an entertaining ride through 15 quick tunes that continually showcase the New York act’s rhyming talents. Mike D, Ad-Rock, and MCA all are approaching their fortieth birthdays, but this record features more originality than many younger contemporaries. They drop the instruments this time and focus on rapping, which leads to some of their strongest rhymes in years. The beats are fairly straightforward in an old-school way, but they remain consistent throughout the disc and rarely lead to any skipped tracks. This album blazes from the start with “Ch-Check It Out,” a clever, upbeat dance party that immediately signifies the enjoyable atmosphere. Highlights include the back-andforth verses of “Rhyme the Rhyme Well,” the Jurassic 5–style refrains of “Time to Build,” and the positive slice of home of “An Open Letter to NYC.” The New York track relates directly to the album title and cover artwork, which presents the Beasties’ strong bond with their city. This connection also comes out in the stripped-down hip-hop approach that brings their roots to the forefront. Another significant difference on To the 5 Boroughs is the more blatant political and continued on next page
PLAYBACK ST. LOUIS Play by Play socially conscious lyrics, which appeared only sporadically on past records. Such lines as “I’m getting kinda tired of this situation/the U.S. attacking other nations” and “I think it’s time that we impeach Tex” are very obvious statements, but they work surprisingly well among the energetic beats. It’s probable that their commentary won’t affect the macho, preppie guys who inhabit a good portion of The Beastie Boys’ fanbase, but the attempt is laudatory. If even a few conservative listeners decide to reconsider their opinions, perhaps November will be a much happier month this year. —Dan Heaton
FRIPP & ENO: THE EQUATORIAL STARS (Opal Ltd.) Once upon a time, many years ago—before ambient music was a Style Essay in the All Music Guide to Electronica, before Internet listserv members argued over the boundaries between ambient and new age, before something called eBay found impossibly rare Brian Eno collectibles like Music for White Cube and Textures fetching upwards of hundreds of dollars from frenzied completists— there was Fripp & Eno. Their first collaboration, No Pussyfooting, was released when Eno was fresh from Roxy Music, and it was considered a radical experiment at the time: two sides of spacey instrumental droning fed through Prof. Eno’s recently developed tape-loop system. Record label folks scratched their heads; after all, Eno had gotten pretty good reviews for his solo debut Here Come the Warm Jets, and Robert Fripp was a prog-rock pioneer in King Crimson. What were these eggheads up to? By 1975, when their sophomore collaboration Evening Star came out, Eno had become a critical darling via Another Green World and a series of increasingly brilliant interviews. Though not contextualized as “ambient” yet, the notion of a modern form of expressive electronic music was well-established. Evening Star was actually somewhat underrated, its minimalist cover painting and evocative titles like “Wind on Water” and “Evensong” pointing the way as much as AGW had to an interesting new music influenced both by nature and the compulsion to break down sonic barriers (embracing a little mystery in the process).
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Many years, many musical phases, and many lost hairs later, Brian Eno and Robert Fripp, gods in their respective genres, have reteamed for The Equatorial Stars. It’s a surprisingly soothing, low-key affair that belies the nearly two decades that have passed since its predecessor. Consisting of seven moderate-length tracks, the CD largely follows the framework of Eno laying down soft, lush synth drones and Fripp soloing on top. On “Meissa,” Eno creates a looping major fifth interval that reverberates at the lower pitch while Fripp plays fluid, minimal guitar that complements it nicely. Fripp displays admiral restraint throughout, respecting the “less is more” axiom for these sessions. “Lyra” is a spacious, twinkling soundscape that calls to mind a spacecraft gliding above some weirdly hued interstellar landscape looking for a safe place to set down. Fripp elicits gorgeous harmonics from his instrument, and Eno demonstrates conclusively why he’s still the master of ethereal drones. “Lupus” utilizes some faint background percussion over which thick washes of rich synth rise and fall, revealing surprising textural variety. The most immediately impressive piece is “Altair,” on which a real rhythm track, several overlapping Eno sounds, and a particularly bright keyboard combine to mesmerizing effect. On “Terebellum,” an ominous low-frequency rumble throughout combined with alien keyboard and guitar floating eerily along in tandem puts Fripp & Eno in Gyorgio Ligeti territory. They were obviously in harmony throughout this project, a fact also affirmed by Fripp’s Web diary. You could subtitle this album 2004: A Spaced Odyssey. Or you could just marvel that two old sonic masters found time in their busy schedules to put together this little gift for long-time fans. It may not break much new ground, but The Equatorial Stars is strangely reassuring, with the wizards of ambient Oz reminding us after all these years that “there’s no place like drone…” Available through www.enoshop.co.uk or www.disciplineglobalmobile.com —Kevin Renick FUNERAL FOR A FRIEND: CASUALLY DRESSED AND DEEP IN CONVERSATION (Ferret Music) It seems that every month brings 20 or so new screamo- or emo-core bands releasing their debuts and hoping to win the masses by being heavier and/or whinier than the current genre norm. This month’s contender, Funeral for a Friend, initially sets itself apart by having formed in, of all places, South Wales (that’s in Europe, folks).
Yes! Amazing, isn’t it? Screamo from yet another nothing town in a nothing area much like our own screamo support-groupcum-musical-acts on this side of the ocean. There must be something in the air in sleepy suburban towns that makes kids listen to Slayer and then wonder, “But what if they felt like I do?” (You hear that, Jefferson County? You can fit guitars and amplifiers in those vans instead of mobile laboratories!) Having been in existence for a mere two years, FFF have been sharing Euro bills with heavyweights like Finch, Boy Sets Fire, The Juliana Theory, and Lostprophets in anticipation of their big splash in the U.S. (Incidentally, the name of the band comes not from the Elton John song, but from Denver-based hardcore heavies Planes Mistaken by Stars.) How do they sound? Well, if you locked Thursday or Thrice in a cell for a few months with all of their equipment and only the first three Iron Maiden albums for listening material, you’d be in the ballpark. Consisting of Matt Davies on vocals, Kris Roberts and Darran Smith on guitars, Gareth Davies on bass, and Ryan Richards on drums, these guys are surprisingly smooth listening considering their metal influences. Gone is the disturbing trend toward slightly detuned guitars and other lo-fi tactics normally used to protect a band’s indie cred. Matt Davies’ vocals sit squarely atop a heap of guitar-and-drums bombast that would satisfy any metalhead. Far from being a one-tear pony, Davies’ vocals range from outright larynxshredding death howls to crooning reminiscent of Dashboard Confessional or Promise Ring. The band itself is dead-on solid, nailing hints of nü-metal, old-school arena rock, and pure pop into their tight, if somewhat pummeling, arrangements. The guitar team of Roberts and Smith shines on “Escape Artists Never Die,” with its howling harmonized guitar leads (who does this now? It’s a truly neglected art.) and the delicate fingerpicking of the ballad “Your Revolution Is a Joke.” Kudos must go to this band for their song titles; one of the more clever I’ve heard in a while is “She Drove Me to Daytime Television.” Casually Dressed and Deep in Conversation is a surprisingly diverse yet thematically cohesive statement from a worthy entrant into the
August 2004 screamo scene; one comes away not so much depressed and angry as satisfied. You will hear more from these guys. Funeral for a Friend is currently touring the States through early September. Unfortunately, the closest they play to St. Louis is Tinley, Illinois on August 7. Figures… —Chris Clark JULIA SETS: YES-WAVE (self-released) Okay, let it out. Go ahead and breathe that sigh of relief. Julia Sets, one of the best bands in St. Louis—whose previous recorded output doesn’t always serve as tangible evidence —have finally made a terrific CD. They got Mario Viele to record it and Dan Freund to mix and master professionally. Everything’s presented like a real CD, like something meant to be listened to by more than just friends and family members. This wouldn’t matter if the songs and performances didn’t merit it. But Yes-Wave finds Julia Sets—James Weber Jr. (guitar and vocals), Kris Boettigheimer (drums), and newest member Kate Eddens (bass)—playing their hearts out, having a great time, and paying close attention to the sound. That sound throughout is a bracing, surging rush of focused energy that washes away the angst and insular aura somewhat characteristic of the band before, replacing it with newfound confidence and accessibility. The Sets aren’t begging for your ear; they’ve got more pride than that. But they’re definitely giving you a wave, beckoning you to come on in if you want, to check out these potent new songs. “Sign up! Sign up!” shouts Weber at the start of “Disco Flowers,” signaling some apparent new level of assertiveness. The song ends with a merry little whistle before the healthy crunch of “w/Drum Major Instinct” kicks in, one of numerous songs demonstrating what an accomplished drummer Boettigheimer has grown into. He was always good, but his crisply recorded kit work on the R.E.M.–meets–The-Replacements– styled rocker “Knox College Natural History Collection,” the fiercely aggressive “Seven Golden Sisters,” and the beautiful Neil Young and Crazy Horse–evoking “Map/Mtn.” is something several notches above good. Eddens sings harmonies on several songs, adding a new and interesting flavor to the Sets’ sound. We’ll have to wait until next time to hear her bass work, since most of the bass duties on the record are handled by guest musicians.
The best news on Yes-Wave, besides palpable excitement in the band’s work in general, is hearing Weber’s guitar and vocals captured cleanly for the first time. Weber is a hell of a guitarist (which anyone who’s seen the Sets on a good night knows), and he’s learned all the right lessons from musical idols like Neil Young, Paul Westerberg, and Mark Kozelek. It’s hard to explain what’s different about Weber on highlights like “Of Milk and Strings”; clearly he’s had some sort of epiphany in the past year. But it’s a fuckin’ great rock ’n’ roll song, and it breaks down the limiting “local band” barrier with mighty force. The title track—another vigorous blazing guitar shootout—clearly aims for the heavens with its searingly intense mix. And forget about ballads; “Ardmore Airpark” and “God’s Love Poured Out in Texas” may have some gently sung lines, but fuzz-laden churning guitar, kickass drums, and clean bass are the main course here. The Sets display even more ambition on “Fundus Auflagen,” which dares to be over 13 minutes long, in the manner of their colleagues Grandpa’s Ghost. Special commendations for Chris Schaeffer’s lovely piano playing, Viele’s turn on sax, and some of Weber’s own nuanced fret fondling, before the piece goes all freaky and self-indulgent in its final moments. But that’s okay; it’s absolutely great to see Julia Sets taking so many chances with this record. “We survived depression/We survived suspicion/We’ve earned the right to dance,” sings Weber in the fascinating closer. You sure have, guys. Shake it any which way you want, and welcome to the majors… Julia Sets will perform at Lemmons with Maxtone Four on August 6. —Kevin Renick TOMMY KEENE: DROWNING (Not Lame) Along a typical rock ’n’ roll career path, a band does not usually resort to releasing a compilation of rarities, B-sides, and soundtrack cuts unless they are trying to extract themselves from the financial stranglehold known as their first major-label record company contract. That’s a battle Tommy Keene fought and lost almost 20 years ago. He emerged determined to carve his own path as a solo artist, and his dedication to continued on next page
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this lack of formula makes his new release, Drowning, a surprisingly compelling mish-mash of previously unreleased tracks. That is not to say that the album suffers no missteps. Keene himself is smart enough to label it a “miscellany,” and there are enough misses among the 20 tracks to justify the ultimate opinion that previously kept all but a handful of them from seeing the light of day. However, the album’s standouts contain some of the most innovative melodies and guitar playing of Keene’s journeyman career. Keene’s self-penned liner notes explain away “There’s No One in This City”—a song that dates from Keene’s mid-’80s move to Los Angeles—as a paean to California’s notorious standoffishness, but its melancholy flavor could easily be a response to his years-long struggle with executives from Geffen Records. His cover of the Hollies’ “Carrie Anne,” with assistance from Jesse Valenzuela and Phil Rhodes of the Gin Blossoms, rocks with guitar work crisp enough that it would have sounded right at home on late ’60s AM radio. Perhaps that is symbolic of the no man’s land Keene finds himself in today. It would be easy to make the argument that the influence of oft-maligned media conglomerates has homogenized American radio to the point where it squeezes out the competent craftsmen of rock, songwriters like Keene or Paul Westerberg. A more cogent argument is that without the pressure of a label and a name-brand producer, too
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many of Keene’s songs are in desperate need of someone to just tell him, “No.” This affliction was particularly apparent on his last studio album, the bloated The Merry-go-Round Broke Down (Spin Art), in the horn sections, the 12minute rock opera, and Jay Bennett’s cloying and omnipresent Hammond organ. And it’s apparent here on Drowning, especially among Keene’s lyrics, sometimes sophomoric rhymes that wouldn’t pass muster in a high-schooler’s basement band. Still, Drowning manages to be more than the sum of its curious parts. Perhaps the most interesting quality of the record is the number of ideas that eventually found their way onto a formal Keene release. “When You Make Up Your Mind” begins with a guitar riff that later anchored the 1989 standout track “Hanging On to Yesterday,” from Keene’s ill-fated Geffen release Based on Happy Times. “Where Have All Your Friends Gone,” a track from the same sessions, shows up here in demo form and reminds us just how incendiary Keene’s guitar playing can be when friendly production allows some breathing room. But if the recordings themselves could have benefited from some quality control, so could the packaging of this Not Lame release. The label’s relatively hands-off policy, a boon to the artists, lately has resulted in releases with unusually high numbers of mistakes—mislabeled tracks and typographical errors—all of which undermine Keene’s well-regarded craftsmanship. And sadly, none of this helps Drowning’s few standout tracks from rising above their inauspicious beginnings as curiosities and/or throwaways. —Steve Kistulentz TOMMY STINSON: VILLAGE GORILLA HEAD (Sanctuary Records) If The Replacements were the great, unsung heroes of the post-punk era, Tommy Stinson was the great, unsung Replacement. Lead singer and songwriter Paul Westerberg emerged as the empathetic voice of a disaffected generation, while the other members seemed to quietly fade into the background. Drummer Chris Mars went on to make a couple of solo records and pursue fine art as a painter. Tommy’s older brother, Bob Stinson (who was
kicked out of the band in 1986), always the life of the perpetual Replacements party, died in 1995 from the toll taken by earning such a title. Tommy Stinson, the ’Mats bass player who joined the band at the age of 13 was, quite literally, the band’s kid brother and always seemed happy just to be along for the ride; in some ways, he was as in awe of The Replacements as the their most loyal fans. When the band broke up in 1991, all eyes were on Westerberg’s next move and most either assumed Stinson would stick with him as a sideman, or blindly follow the downward spiral taken by his brother. Almost no one figured he had the smarts, guts, or chops to strike out on his own. But that’s exactly what he did. In 1993, he formed Bash & Pop and released Friday Night Is Killing Me (Warner Bros.), a great record reminiscent of Hootenanny (Twintone) and fitting of the band’s name. Then there was his next band Perfect, which he shelved along with an unreleased album after getting the call to play bass for the train wreck that is the new Guns N’ Roses. On July 27, Stinson released his first solo record, Village Gorilla Head, and shows that while few of us may have been paying attention to what he was doing with and since The Replacements, he was. Stinson wrote all the songs, plays no fewer than five instruments, sings, and co-produced the album. It’s hard, if not impossible, to review this album without some comparisons to Westerberg. While Westerberg’s influence is evident in Stinson’s songs, they are all very much Tommy’s own in style and substance. The fact is, there are a lot of bands out there who didn’t spend 12-plus years in a band with Paul Westerberg whose songs sound a hell of a lot more like him then those found on VGH. I would encourage anyone who buys this record (and I encourage everyone to do that) to spend some time with the lyric sheet. There is some great stuff in there, especially the lyrics on my favorite track, “Hey You.” It’s one of many great songs on VGH, but by itself, is enough for anyone to see that Tommy Stinson is in no one’s shadow. —Wade Paschall THE STREETS: A GRAND DON’T COME FOR FREE (Vice/Atlantic) Mike Skinner is not an artist. He is a shaman, a genius who would rather wear a baggy pair of sweat pants than pressed slacks and can glamorize the marginal to the point of it being more imperative than a Bible passage.
August 2004 A trip to the video store to return an almost overdue copy of—oh, let’s say Snatch—becomes so epic that it legitimately rivals a good, old-fashioned parting of the seas. And, on the closing track of A Grand Don’t Come for Free, when Skinner finds the thousand quid he’s been missing since the first song, slid into a back panel of his broken television set, it’s beyond miraculous. It’s as if he’s taken a bottle of Dasani and turned it into 20 ounces of Merlot right before our very eyes. Who cares about this Englishman with the abominably rotten teeth and soccer head? Why do we bother to listen when his cumbersome thoughts—the decisions and retractions, the self-talk that goes funneling into self-doubt and right back into assertion—never get straightened out, even by the very end of the album? It’s because, at the moment, no one tells it more honestly than Skinner. Sure, there’s Sam Beam of Iron and Wine and David Bazan of Pedro the Lion, who appear to be trenching their lives open, when in actuality, 90 percent of what they sing is the work of a simple playwright teasing the gullibility of the majority. They use poetry and thesauri to better express themselves, while Skinner uses unscripted curse words and everyday linguistics to resonate with more truth and guile. This, Skinner’s second full-length after 2002’s Original Pirate Material—which went apeshit everywhere but here—marks a dramatic improvement in his ability to address his station in life with startling competence. It is, it seems, one full of trite pratfalls and surreal ironies that are only bought because of their authenticity. All of the troubles and worries he faces throughout this record—which fairly well runs the course of a relationship that goes bust—are garden variety. He approaches them with repetitious backing tracks, showing that intriguing lyrical substance is the only drawing card when it comes to letting your heart build itself around a certain musician or band. Without Skinner’s awesomely pert, but meaningful way of looking at routine matters—like what exactly a girl means when she touches her hair exorbitantly as she looks in his direction—these 11 songs would be nothing. Sweetness can make a song memorable, but this English bloke does without, in favor of the pointed realities that make some of our lives
worth listening to and others worth forgetting. You’ll forget all about your own uninteresting life once Skinner gets going. —Sean Moeller GLENN TILBROOK: TRANSATLANTIC PING PONG (Compass) The unspoken fear among longtime Squeeze fans disappointed with the band’s recent efforts—1993’s brilliant Some Fantastic Place was their last record worth remembering—was that revered songwriting team Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook had finally run out of steam, which was what made Tilbrook’s masterpiece solo debut, 2001’s The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook (What Are Records?), such a welcome surprise. Whether he’d been hoarding Incomplete’s sparkling songs over the years (if so, then shame on you, Glenn Tilbrook) or experienced an incredibly prolific burst of time-to-prove-himself inspiration, the result was an album every bit as good—and often better—than any Squeeze album that preceded it. It also raised expectations precariously high for his follow-up, the recently released Transatlantic Ping Pong. One of Incomplete’s many revelations was that Tilbrook can write a blisteringly acerbic or heartbreakingly you-are-there lyric without the help of Chris Difford, thank you very much. Unfortunately, these new songs—with lyrics not as tart and melodies not nearly as sticky—pale in comparison. The relaxed pop of opening track “Untouchable”’s hackneyed line “I was outside, looking in” sets a pattern of not-so-clever lyrics that more often than not fail to connect. The first glimpse of Tilbrook’s genius finally comes three tracks in, with what should have been the album’s opener, the gorgeous, flittering pop of “Neptune.” But as great as this song is, it suffers from an anticlimactic organ jam that ends the tune a full minute later than it should have. Many tracks on TPP overstay their welcome, tacking on instrumental codas and turning what could have been tight threeminute songs into four-minute patience testers. The melodies are slighter than we’ve come to expect from Tilbrook, and the untrimmed fat at the ends, without any sticky hooks to keep you chewing, may inspire a quick skip-button mercy killing. That’s the great thing about CDs—you
can call “cut” where the producer forgot to. The irreverent “Taxman”-riffed disco-boogie of “Hot Shaved Asian Teens”—written with Jewel’s “You Were Meant for Me” co-writer and regular Tilbrook opening act Steve Poltz—is an exuberant blast of nonsense lyrics (when was Mitchell Froom last name-checked in a song?) and a sleazy, shouted chorus. This is the same hyper-cheekiness that’s infused some of Squeeze’s best songs, and if it had better lyrics it would sound like one of that band’s great lost tracks. The pretty but completely pointless cover of Cornell Hurd Band’s steel guitar ballad “Genitalia of a Fool”—featuring a country-girl down-home harmony by (who the hell is) Kim Davis—probably goes over great in a live setting (audiences do love “dirty” songs), but going for such an easy, dumb laugh is below a gifted songwriter like Tilbrook, and it cheapens the record. Coming from Tilbrook, TPP is underwhelming—as an LP, anyway. I suggest buying (or relistening to) the irresistible Incomplete instead, and only picking up this one if you can convince yourself that’s it’s really an EP in disguise, then edit your own version down to five or six tracks. Then add the Incomplete B-side “By the Light of the Cash Machine” as your mix’s opening track, because it’s better than all of these songs combined. —Brian McClelland THE TRAGICALLY HIP: IN BETWEEN EVOLUTION (Zoe/Rounder) As a band who has created a highly popular and legendary status in their Canadian homeland, The Tragically Hip still remain somewhat of an obscurity here in the U.S., due mainly to an unjust lack of commercial airplay and the resultant infrequent American tour dates. It seems that the band may be on a mission to change that, however, with the recent release of their tenth CD, In Between Evolution, which already has a single on American radio. And this fall, we will be fortunate enough to see the most extensive U.S. tour the band has booked in several years. Gordon Downie, the Hip’s uniquely eccentric lead vocalist and principal songwriter, states in the CD’s press release information continued on page 28
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BLEND CRAFTERS: VOLUME ONE (Up Above Records) Often lost amid the positive messages and classic style of Jurassic 5 are the skills of their two DJs, Cut Chemist and Nu-Mark. These talented craftsmen truly drive the group, and the instrumental sections generally stand as the pinnacle of each concert. DJ Nu-Mark released Hands On this past April and showcased numerous unknown hip-hop artists. For this Blend Crafters’ release, he joins production partner Pomo to present 11 clever instrumental tunes. The record begins with the catchy, sample-driven “Melody” and rolls nicely into the horn-driven funk number “Lola.” Nu-Mark and Pomo cram an impressive amount of enjoyable tracks into a quick 30 minutes and leave you wanting more. This album also includes an interesting cover of John Lennon’s “Imagine” supported by a catchy sax melody. The result does sound a bit like elevator music, but is still bound to inspire some foot tapping while cruising around town. (DH)
FELIX DA HOUSECAT: DEVIN DAZZLE & THE NEON FEVER (Emperor Norton) Felix Da Housecat’s 2002 full-length Kittinz & Thee Glitz was the pioneer effort after his perfection of the style. After remixing nearly every major musical act since the late ’90s, Felix accomplishes a great deal with Devin Dazzle, but Dazzle fails to connect. Felix knows he’s the cat’s ass, but this record sounds as if it’s more about his notability and prestige, lacking anything remotely close to what he set out to do in the first place: stun. Dazzle feels thrown together in the sense of not letting each track build itself up to its own measure. Tracks like “Ready 2 Wear,” “Let Your Mind Be Your Bed,” and “Nina” aren’t shoddy by any means, but an uplifting upsurge into the core of the song would be more welcome than a standard 16-beat introduction. While Kittinz’ “Walk With Me” made you feel like you were walking down a catwalk, Dazzle’s compromising impersonation “She’s So D*mn Cool” has you walking down the same catwalk, but without any lights. Anyone expecting revolutionary material here will be slightly disappointed unless they have no qualms with a little bit of kitsch. (CH) THE KILLERS: HOT FUSS (Island) Having never been a fan of bands like The
Strokes, The Hives, or Hot Hot Heat, I was not very excited about the new album from The Killers, but first single “Somebody Told Me” put me in love with the album. The Killers manage to pull off what none of the other bands influenced by ’80s new wave have been able to: create an album with flash and a smash hit. The first track, “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine,” sounds like something from a Cure album. It’s just one of many brilliant tracks on the very produced and stylish album from the Las Vegas quartet. There are hints of many predecessors on the album. The synthesizer-loaded “On Top” is an imitation of Duran Duran, while “All These Things That I’ve Done” is reminiscent of early U2. The album is not without faults. Some of the tracks are too over-produced and sound lame and tacky. However, in an age of endless one-hit wonders, an album with five or six excellent tracks is a winner in my book. (JH) LORD BALTIMORE: FAT UGLY AMERICAN (self-released) Dave AlanS’ new band, Lord Baltimore, is a stripped-down return to rock; Fat Ugly American, the trio’s debut offering, is deficient only in the fact that it’s just five songs long. Opening track “Superstar” is a fun cover of a Carpenters song; AlanS’ slightly nasally voice remains clear and focused as he croons, “Baby, baby, baby, oh baby, oh baby.” The music’s so good, the lyrics won’t be the first thing to grab you—but once you listen closely, you’ll find these sophisticated rockers to be lyrical gems, as well. The tongue-in-cheek cross-dressing song, “Your Clothes,” tells the tale of a footballwatching man seduced by his woman’s closet. “Plastic” is a pointed reflection on society’s materialistic obsessions, always needing more. “Louie’s Backyard” begins with AlanS carefully plucking his guitar and singing softly about Steven, who “wanted to be a female/spent up all his money chasing down that fairytale,” and goes on to relate the tales other disillusioned men. On the title track, AlanS’ voice is grittier against a backdrop of arena guitar rock. One listen will leave you wanting more—which is precisely what a good EP should do. And now, LB, for that full-length… (LH) MINUS THE BEAR: THEY MAKE BEER COMMERCIALS LIKE THIS (Arena Rock Recording Co.)
This band is pure genius, and this, the longawaited follow-up to Highly Refined Pirates (Suicide Squeeze), is perfect but for two regards: one, it’s too short, and two, the band continues its inane tradition of giving nonsense names to its beautiful and otherwise poetic songs. Hidden beneath the misnomers are songs that explore the connection between two people; on two of the tracks, they’ve brought back familiar images of water, fast cars, and night. Musically, the guitars, bass, synthesizer, and drums work together to form a glorious blend of sounds both intriguing and touching. The riff of “Fine + 2 pts” will echo in your head as singer Jake Snider relates, “She stood biting her lip/eyes upturned and then she said/’I know we’ve met before.’” In “Lets Play Clowns!,” they’re both dressed up, home alone, wanting to keep the moment for themselves and not go where they’re expected to be. “Dog Park” is a longing tale of finding paradise and wanting to hold on to it; lurking behind the rushing refrain—“Make this home/we never we never had one”—is a whisper: “We’re just here for two nights.” Snider injects poetry into such lines as “And the bay’s still/she’s wearing the night’s expression.” “Hey! Is That a Ninja up There?” blends familiar MTB symbolism: drinking, driving fast at night, running into an open ocean. The bass line echoes like a heartbeat to still the onrushing end. The disc’s final track, “Pony Up!,” is in and of itself a poem of love, an offering in this uncertain world: “You raise your eyes to mine like the sunrise/Your eyes move me like the nightfall/How can we claim that we know ourselves?/But you can know me.” The song ends abruptly; like the disc, it’s over far too soon, and I am left wanting. (LH) THE R ACE: IF YOU CAN (Flameshovel) The idea of a slowed-down Radiohead with a less emotive singer might not excite most listeners right away; tell ’em that The Race evoke a pervasive mood of ennui and sound like they record when they’re half asleep, and the yawns should be audible. However, this is quite a stirring record. Vocalist Craig Klein occasionally channels the haunted spirit of Jeff Buckley, and though his enunciation certainly does remind one of Thom Yorke periodically, he doesn’t seem overwhelmed or angry; he just sounds like a nice guy who feels things deeply. This is shoegazer music, although that term is outmoded now…but it’s definitely slow, contemplative, and moody.
Lord Baltimore’s Dave AlanS tries on all her clothes...well, at least her undergarments. Photo by Jennifer Carr. The Race have higher aims than to simply rock out and lay down the grooves. “Can Get Home” is a hypnotically repetitive composition that sparkles with clarity despite its casual tempo; the band is absolutely intent on maintaining their focus, and you can hear it. “Ark Again” is similar, and calls to mind the Minnesota trio Low except for the very male vocals. “Sinking Feeling” is just gorgeous, and actually sounds like St. Louis’s The Potomac Accord with its beautiful piano chords and steady drumming (and a higher-pitched than usual vocal by Klein). It’s one of the album’s strongest tracks. Guitar is mostly employed for simple strummed textures, although on “Rose,” the band does hit the rock button a few times. Klein has probably endured some painful losses: on the funereal “The Hours Eat the Flowers,” he cries “There is violence in this silence/This apartment’s a heart of darkness/Nothing’s cooking in the kitchen/It all starts in the garden,” adding an extra jigger of musical output for the recitation of the title. It’s not feel-good music, to be sure, but there’s something quite gripping about The Race that soul-searching types everywhere may well want to investigate. (KR) MATTHEW SWEET: KIMI GA SUKI (Superdeformed) Have you ever known a couple that enjoys each other’s company so unselfconsciously
and sincerely that you can’t help but be happy for them, but also feel a little bit like an outsider? That’s how you’ll feel listening to Matthew Sweet’s latest album, Kimi Ga Suki. Released exclusively in Japan as a tribute to his fans there (but now available in the U.S. through independent music outlets), the songs crackle with an unabashed joy and optimism missing from Sweet’s last few recordings. Although written in a week, Sweet obviously labored over the album’s sharp production. Snappy gems like “The Ocean In-Between” and “I Don’t Want to Know” could easily stand next to anything from his now decade-old power-pop bench-
mark, Girlfriend (Volcano). His recent work as a member of the Thorns is also evident in the slower, harmony-focused “Love Is Gone.” The handwritten liner notes (featuring the charming artwork of Yoshitomo Nora) are so refreshingly unironic in their thanks and gushy admiration that it’s hard not to be a little envious. American fans will have to settle for sneaking a peek at love letters. (KF)
Contributors: Kimberly Faulhaber, Laura Hamlett, Dan Heaton, Cory Hoehn, Jeremy Housewright, Kevin Renick.
BACKSTAGE PASS CONCERT REVIEWS
Somnia held a release par ty on July 16 for their new EP, Love and Other Problem See more pictures from the s, where we caught drumm show at www.playbackstl.c er Mike Lowder working har om in our Photo Gallery. d as usual.
They Might Be Giants
Mississippi Nights, July 14 After a rollicking opening medley of a clever St. Louis–ized version of the title track from their new album, The Spine, and the always entertaining pop-stomp “Dr. Worm,” They Might Be Giants’ frontmen—keyboardist and accordionist John Linnell and guitarist John Flansburgh—seemed genuinely nonplussed by the hysteria that followed. “It’s been a while since we’ve had screaming at our shows,” Flansburgh beamed at the capacity Mississippi Nights crowd. “I think it was our last appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.” He’s making a joke, sure, but he’s also making a sly reference to their more than 20 years performing as TMBG. As an old-school TMBG fanatic (and yes, it is very uncool to say “old-school”), I was interested in seeing how well their unique shtick held up—for the band and for the fans—all these years later. Most TMBG fans I grew up with lost interest around 1996’s Factory Showroom. Whether that had to do with the limited shelf life of novelty-ish songs or a deterioration in song quality (I vote for both), the band seemed less vital and interesting with every album. And as the band eschewed its two-guys-playing-with-atape-player roots for a real-live-rock-band format, the shows may have become more exciting (duo shows hadn’t been known for mosh pits or fits of pass-the-dude), but the essential heart of the band—weird, fractured, pop gems delivered with absurd earnestness, framed in unique, ambitious drum machine-based lo-fi productions—was sacrificed in order make college kids sweaty from jumping up and down. (Before you pull out your TMBG pen and TMBG stationary to argue this, listen to the pre-band and post-band versions of “James K. Polk.” That warm feeling is your cheeks reddening.) It helped build their live reputation, sure, but the songs—most notably, TOP: SOMNIA photos by JIM DUNN
Flansburg’s—began sounding more and more like stylistic exercises that aimed less for your head than somewhere below the waist, and merely echoed the singular quality of their previous efforts. The audience this night, made of recycled third-wave college kids with a sprinkling of old people (myself included) thrown in to fill out the back of the room, confirmed my suspicions. The band seemed energized by the young crowd, blasting through a tight set heavy with new material and selections from 2002’s justfor-kids-record No!, along with a few oldies sprinkled in to keep the over-30s awake. After coaching the audience on how to properly do the wave—from front to back to front—Linnell led the band into an unusual high point: the sparse, absurdly haunted “Violin” from No!. Consisting mostly of quiet, single word repetition (“Violin, lin, lin...”), the song should be one-joke-boring, but it’s exactly the opposite—Linnell’s dry, then suddenly spastic delivery smacked of TMBG’s older, quirkier songs. Always a fan favorite, and the most creative of their recordings, the 21-part Apollo 18 medley “Fingertips” sounded like a rote exercise on this night, no more than a congratulatory in-joke for fans who know the song’s every twist and turn. The charm of the recording lies in every snippet’s production and instrumentation sounding completely different from the last. It’d be fun to see them attempt to recreate that live. Note to band: you never have to play “The Guitar” live ever again. Ever, ever. —Brian McClelland
The Blood Brothers Creepy Crawl, July 17 The gig was sold out. Still, a line of fans snaked around Creepy Crawl into the parking
lot like the Mississippi River. Outside strode a clearly rushed and irritated Creepy employee. “If you do not have tickets that you purchased online, I’m sorry, but this show is sold out!” Grumbles were heard en masse, the Internet was cursed, and people headed back to their cars. A sold-out summer show at the Creepy was upon us. I could tell that this was going to be an interesting night. Following the Chromatics’ brief set of shoegazing dance punk, Kill Me Tomorrow took flight. Hailing from San Diego, percussionist Zack Wentz’s kit was an electrified get-up with a digital console that looked like a futuristic heart monitor. Accompanied by bassist K8 Wince and guitarist Dan Wise, KMT were a perfect match on this bill. Noisy no-wave, artrock smoked out of the PA with all three members sharing vocal duties. Their set was by no means easy and their sound uncompromising, which came as no surprise from a band that’s signed to Gold Standard Laboratories: Where Convention is a Four-Letter Word. When the Daughters took stage, the mercury had risen to a level that would make a high-school wrestler cutting weight giggle with glee. Applying the death metal theory of drumming, a double kicker ruled the entire set. So did screaming and songs that rarely exceeded a minute in length. The Daughters have clearly been raised on a large diet of the Locust. I can’t say that I’m going to rush out and buy their entire catalog, but I can’t stop myself from loving the very fact that they exist. This might not make a lick of sense, but unless you’ve tricked an unsuspecting friend into attending a Skin Graft Records fest or owned more than one Melt Banana record, you just wouldn’t get it. Art can be that way. Mirages were popping up everywhere around Creepy when the Blood Brothers started
August 2004 playing. Playing a set that was largely a testing ground for their new LP Crimes (out October 5 on V2 Records), Brothers vocalists Jordan Blilie and Johnny Whitney shook, screamed, and flailed through the wall of heat that enveloped the crowd and the band. The new material they played showed no evidence that the Brothers are going to churn out a record that will soften their legacy in the slightest. Those up front went absolutely apeshit as the Brothers closed out their set with “Cecilia and the Silhouette Saloon” from Burn, Piano Island, Burn. Afterwards, as the crowd filed out of the under-21 section, faces and bodies drenched in sweat, they looked as if the night had been a marathon held in a sauna. No matter, for this was a sauna worth every penny. The Blood Brothers were magnificent. —David Lichius
Cougars Rocket Bar, July 14 Sometime between graduation from college and now, my frequency of attending shows on pure spec dropped off to all but nothing. Age and having a full-time day job limited my capacity and, frankly, the motivation to drag my ass to a venue two blocks away from my apartment, let alone to the Rocket Bar on a
Three to See Here are just three of the great original St. Louis bands that play around town on a regular basis. Check them out as soon as you get a chance. Gunrunner: Gunrunner is a great threepiece band from Illinois. With just guitar, bass, and drums, the band has a largerthan-life sound that is sure to catch people’s attention right from the start. The band starts their sets on a strong note; it’s the same effect as a shotgun being fired in the club. Along with the unique guitar sound mixed with a tortured-sounding vocal style, the band’s live show is nothing short of impressive. The three members manage to bring a tremendous amount of energy to the stage while still connecting with the audience. As a result, it’s easy to get the feeling that you’re attending a private party, because the group is so personable with the audience and doesn’t mind taking requests from fans. While fans of indie
Wednesday night. On this evening, I can say with certainty that a short night’s rest was well worth what I witnessed. Eight men: two guitar players, a bassist, drummer, trumpet player, saxaphonist, keyboardist, and vocalist with a bombastic voice and mile-wide grin. Not since Rocket From the Crypt have I heard this many musicians make rock ’n’ roll this infectious. There are better rock bands out there, but Cougars possess a crossover, party-band quality that even the most jaded music fan can enjoy. Barring a premature break-up—or me being declared legally insane—these guys are going to be huge. Yes. They were that much fun. Seeing eight men squeeze themselves onto the Rocket Bar’s small, elevated stage was quite amusing. Especially when saxophonist Jeff Vidmont and trumpet player Mark Beening walked out to see the stage packed already. Both had looks of how in the hell are we gonna fit? Well, obviously, they made it up there, along with vocalist Matthew Irie, who was dressed like a regular t-shirt/shorts/ball-cap kind of man. No country club, thrift store textiles for this guy; just a regular ham-and-egger. Mostly comprised of former members of the Chicago ska outfit Hot Stove Jimmy and the magnificent Big’n, Cougars played the rock.
Rock that fell somewhere in between the Jesus Lizard and any number of AC/DC revivalists that are roaming the continent. Vocally, Irie fell right between the universe of Brian Johnston and David Yow, but far raspier. Throughout their set, Irie held court with a flim-flam-man grin and hands extended in various arrogant/ satirical poses. However, what made the set were the horns. Vidmont and Beening not only rounded out Cougars’ sound, but also were the key ingredient in what made this band so memorable. Subtract the horns and Cougars are just another noisy rock band; with the horns, they are a blast, which doesn’t work very often in the straight-up rock realm. Horns too often are a distraction from music that would be fine, if not for Mr. Saxophone. I don’t want to oversell this band. If you listen to their first LP Nice, Nice, you will probably wonder what the big deal is. I’m not dissuading you from buying that LP or their new EP Manhandler, but go see this band the next chance you get. I saw them with around 20 people within spit-shot of the stage. My hunch is that, in a short time, you’ll have a little competition for a spot down front. —David Lichius
rock may be pleased to know that this band exists, the group is well worth checking out for anyone who enjoys great guitar playing and satisfying live shows. Bunnygrunt: Bunnygrunt is a three-piece pop band that has recently hopped back into the local music scene after being away for a while. If you missed them the first time around when they played in St. Louis throughout the ’90s, they are well worth seeing today. Drummer Karen Stephens and guitarist Matt Harnish do a great job of trading off on lead vocals as they play through a set of short, simple, yet catchy songs that have great melodies and solid drum parts. The band’s smooth and melodic sound is painfully addictive and it’s easy to be hooked after watching them for even a half-hour. All three of the band members are fun to watch; they come across like they really enjoy what they’re doing. My first experience seeing this band was when I was working on the set of a Double Helix program back in 1994 and the band did a live performance on The Show, which featured bad technical problems and the vocals could
not be heard. The frustrated band walked off the set during their interview following the performance. I was actually impressed; even without the vocals, they sounded great. Modern Day Zero: Modern Day Zero used to perform under the name Mesh STL. This summer was the band’s fifth performance at Pointfest, but it was only my first time seeing MDZ; it’s fair to say they were quite impressive. The band brought a tremendous amount of energy and volume to the outdoor stage during the hottest part of the summer day as kids stood sweating and cheering the band on. The group has a solid sound with great electric guitar hooks that are sure to hold anyone’s attention. The 35-minute show was lively the entire time, and despite being animated on stage, the group members made sure the music remained solid and tight. Modern Day Zero easily proved that they are worthy of having back for a sixth performance at Pointfest, but in the meantime, they’re also worth seeing at any local club. —John Kujawski
PLAYBACK ST. LOUIS
COME OUT AND
The Muny Presents Guys and Dolls
Starting with this issue of Playback St. Louis, the magazine will be featuring a new theater section to fill the void left by other publications. Here you will find monthly audition notices, previews of shows coming up in the month, and general theater news that relates to the St. Louis theater community. To have your event listed, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org no later than the 15th of the month. SHOWS OPENING St. Louis Shakespeare will be presenting two shows in August. Amadeus by Peter Shaffer and directed by Milt Zoth will run August 6 through 15; Richard III by William Shakespeare and directed by Robin Weatherall will run from August 27 through September 5. Tickets can be purchased through MetroTix at 314-5311111 or www.metrotix.com. Performances will be at the Grandel Theatre at 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays, 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. on Sundays. Ticket prices are $20 for adults and $18 for students and seniors on Thursdays and Sundays, and $22 for adults and $20 for seniors on Fridays and Saturdays. Visit www.stlshakespeare.org for more information. Stages St. Louis continues its production of The Sound of Music through August 15. Ticket prices and showtimes can be found at www.stagesstlouis.com or by calling 314821-2407. All performances are at the Robert G. Reim Theatre in Kirkwood, located at 111 South Geyer Road. First Run Theatre will present Ain’t Got Time to Die by Gregory S. Carr. The story is about Reverend Trueblood, a widowed Baptist minister in Cairo, Illinois, in 1936 who is being pressured to resign by the church leadership because he has married a much younger woman. His teenaged son, dreaming of becoming a great actor, joins the W.P.A.’s cultural program to play Othello, the black general who kills his white wife in Shakespeare’s play. He returns to Cairo to demonstrate the play, which produces dire consequences for the boy and
nd pride. 26, and 28 at 8 p.m., and August 22 and 29 at 2 p.m. in De Smet Junior High School’s Theatre in Creve Coeur. Ticket prices are $10 in advance, $12 at the door; students and seniors are $8. www.firstruntheatre.com Hawthorne Players present High Society, a new musical based on the songs of Cole Porter, on August 19 through 21 and 26 through 28 at the Florissant Civic Center, located at 1 Civic Center Drive in Florissant. Ticket prices are $18 for adults ($16 in advance), and $16 for students and seniors ($14 in advance). www.hawthorneplayers.com Clayton Community Theatre continues its production of The Wizard of Oz on August 1 and 5 through 8 at main auditorium of Clayton High School, 1 Mark Twain Circle. Thursday through Saturday performances are at 8 p.m., and the Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 for all performances and are available at MetroTix. Tickets are also available at The Center of Clayton, Spicer’s 5 & 10, and the box office. For additional information, call 314-854-6646. The Muny closes its summer season with two productions in August. Guys & Dolls, the classic musical set against a 1940s backdrop, will make its debut on August 2 and run through August 8. The last show produced this summer is 42nd Street; set in New York and Philadelphia in the 1930s, the production will run from August 9 through 15. Tickets range from $8 to $56, and can be purchased at the Muny box office or by going to www.muny.com. Washington Avenue Players Project and New Line Theatre team up to bring the second production in St. Louis of John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask’s masterpiece Hedwig and The Angry Inch. Performances run August 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, and 21. W.A.P.P. and New Line bring the production on the heels of Vanity Theatre’s premiere of the production in July. The story is about an East German transsexual who achieves punk-rock notoriety while searching for her other half. All continued on page 19
Looking Glass Playhouse holds open auditions for Kiss Me Kate on August 14 at The Looking Glass Playhouse, located at 301 West St. Louis Street in Lebanon, IL. Call 618-537-4962 for more information. www.lookingglassplayhouse.com The New Jewish Theatre holds auditions by appointment only for their 2004-2005 season that includes Hearts, Unexpected Tenderness, and Driving Miss Daisy. Actors are asked to prepare two contrasting contemporary monologues and supply a resume and headshot. Audition dates will be Saturday, August 7, from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m., and Monday, August 9, from 7 to 10 p.m. at Wolfson Studio Theatre, Jewish Community Center, 2 Millstone Campus Drive (off Schuetz at Lindbergh). Positions are available for both Equity and non-Equity actors, and all positions are paid. To make an appointment or for more information on cast requirements and show dates, call 314-4423175 or go to www.newjewishtheatre.org. Perusal scripts can be obtained at the JCC or the University City Library. New Line Theatre holds auditions for She’s Hideous on August 1 at 6 pm at The ArtLoft Theatre, 1529 Washington Avenue in St. Louis. Performance dates are October 12 and 13. New Line is looking for one tenor and one soprano over the age of 17 who have had formal voice training and who are strong actors. New Line Theatre is a professional non-Equity company. No appointment is necessary, but actors are encouraged to arrive before 6 p.m. Go to www.newlinetheater.com/auditions.html for more information on the playwright and director. New Line Theatre will also hold auditions for Man of La Mancha on two successive Monday evenings, August 9 and 16, at 7 p.m. at the ArtLoft Theatre, 1529 Washington Avenue. Performers need to come to only one of the dates. Man of La Mancha will be produced at the Art Loft Theatre for 12 performances over four weeks, September 30 through October 23. New Line is looking for a multi-racial cast of 10 to 14 men and women over the age of 17 who are strong singers and actors. No appointment is necessary. New Line Theatre is a professional non-Equity company. Call 314-773-6526 or go to www.newlinetheatre.com/lamanchapage.html for more information. St. Louis Shakespeare is searching for volunteer ushers for its summer season. Contact is Vicki Herrman at 314-7520414; leave a message stating the production, and date that you are interested in ushering, with a callback number so that she can confirm with you in person. Amadeus will be performed August 6, 7, 8, 12, 13, 14, and 15. Richard III will be performed August 27, 28, and 29 and September 2, 3, 4, and 5. Friday and Saturday performances are at 8 p.m., Thursdays at 7:30 pm, and Sundays at 2 p.m. Ushers need to be at the Grandel Theatre 45 minutes before the show starts. The first Saturday of the second and third shows has a pre-show discussion, so ushers need to be there by 6:45 p.m. Ushers tear tickets and hand out programs. Muddy Waters Theatre Company is accepting resumes for a director for its May 2005 production of Jack and Jill by Jane Martin. Please e-mail resumes to muddywaterstheatre@sb cglobal.net or call 314-540-7831 for mailing information.
August 2004 Come Out and Play
from page 17
performances are at the ArtLoft Theatre, locat- two companies have a strong presence in the ed at 1529 Washington Avenue in St. Louis, at St. Louis area, and the merger promises to yield 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults, and $10 for several positive outcomes, such as longer runs, students and seniors. Tickets can be purchased more money allocated to productions, and the ability to open education and senior outreach through MetroTix. The NonProphet Theatre Company con- programs. The four principals behind the mergtinues its run of the signature sketch-comedy er were HotHouse’s Donna M. Parrone and show The Militant Propaganda Bingo Machine Marty Stanberry, and City Theatre’s Margeau every Thursday night at 9 p.m. at the Hi Pointe Baue Steinau and Ted Gregory. Gregory and Café, located at 1001 McCausland. The show Stanberry will be the company’s Co-Artistic consists of 24 original sketches performed in Directors, Parrone will act as Managing Director, and Steinau as Associate a random order chosen Artistic Director. New staff will by the audience, corinclude Christopher Mannelli as responding to a bingo Education and Outreach Director. game that takes place The new company will maintain during the course of the relationships with their current show. Ticket prices are venues, The ArtLoft Theatre and random, determined by The Theatre at St. John’s, but will the drawing of a poker card, between $5 and $8. It’s a Wonderful Life. Live! from the also look for other venues approThis show is for audi- Smoking Monkey Theatre...George will priate for the diverse offerings they plan on bringing to St. Louis ences over the age of 21. wish he’d never been born. theater audiences. www.nonprophets.com Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre has announced that it will be staging a production THEATER NEWS The date has been set for New Line of It’s a Wonderful Life, LIVE! in November. Theatre’s fourth annual Holiday Dinner at Shows will be at the Regional Arts Commission Wild Flower in the West End, and everyone in the University City Loop, across the street is welcome! The party will be on Wednesday, from the Pageant. Audition dates will be December 1, at 7 p.m. and though the price announced soon. —Tyson Blanquart is not set yet, they anticipate it will be about the same as last year’s at $26. There’s more information at www.newlinetheatre.com/ newlinedinner.html Spotlight Theatre has announced its 20042005 season. Pamela Reckamp’s company will produce Romance in D by James Sherman PROFESSIONAL PET November 12 through 28; Broken Rainbows & HOUSE SITTING by Mary Hall Surface February 12 and 19, Taking a month-long vacation? Getting away for with a touring performances throughout a weekend? Need someone to let the dog out while you’re at work? February; and Frankie and Johnny in the Clair LEAVE YOUR HOME & PETS IN THE CARE de Lune by Terence McNally April 1 through OF A FULL-TIME PET SITTER. 10. All shows will be at the Soulard Theatre, We love dogs, cats, fish, rabbits, macaws, parrots, 1921 South 9th Street in Soulard. Go to ferrets, iguanas, geckos, chinchillas, guinea pigs, www.spotlighttheatreonline.org for more inforhamsters, snakes, turtles, spiders, anteaters, condors & three-toed sloths mation. • OVERNIGHT STAYS OR VISITS The Black Rep’s 2nd Annual Caribbean • COMPLIMENTARY DOG-WALKING Cruise will take place in November with a tour • PROTECT YOUR HOME & PROPERTY • EXPERIENCED; REFERENCES of the Caribbean on Costa-Mediterranea Cruise • BONDED & INSURED Lines. Stops will be in St. Thomas/St. John, Catalina Islands, and Nassau. Prices range from $800 to $2,300. For more information, call Larry’s Travel at 314-862-5211 HotHouse Theatre and City Theatre have officially merged as of June 1, and the new entity will be named HotCity Theatre. The
RELEASE THE HOUNDS!
YOU ARE HERE GREAT RIVERS BIENNIAL
Stuck halfway between New York and the West Coast, St. Louis has struggled for years to shed its reputation as an artistic backwater. Though northern neighbor Chicago has a luster of brawny star power, STL is known for a mighty, muddy river and little else. It has a wealth of native talent, but few beyond its narrow borders are prescient of the town’s treasures. The currents, though, are changing, and the Great Rivers Biennial just might help. In collaboration with the Gateway Foundation, the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis has awarded three local artists $15,000 and a show of their works. The jurors for the Biennial represent America minus St. Louis: Lisa Corrin (Seattle Art Museum), Debra Singer (Whitney Museum of American Art), and Hamza Walker (University of Chicago). It’s difficult to imagine the magnitude of narrowing down the field from 244 submissions. That the jurors were able to agree upon three artists at all is remarkable; that the chosen artists create from such disparate viewpoints makes for a satisfying exhibition.
20 Jill Downen: The Posture of Place If you’re lucky enough to see this exhibit on a slow day, your split-second reaction might be, “Where’s the show?” Then the eyes and the brain make a connection and the realization settles in like… well, a building settling into place. Downen has taken what was there (three white walls, one glass wall of windows, a concrete floor) and subtly added just enough to make the presence of the building known. Hairline cracks in the floor widen and develop blisters. Wall tendons meet at the corner and flex like an elbow bending or a torso stretching. Sheets of drywall sag, piling up over a tumor on the floor, as the crack disappears under the distended flab of flesh, only to appear again in another location, as if a seismic shift has occurred just under the skin. By using the same materials as in the initial construction process, Downen’s alterations ring true. These are not garish cosmetic exaggerations a lá Cindy Sherman, which highlight the gap between subject and costume. These additions are so painstakingly applied, they simply reinforce an awareness of the building as an entity unto itself. By using polystyrene insulation, concrete, and drywall joint compound, Downen has brought the building to life. One may identify with the creaks, wrinkles, and sagging as it ages and settles into its place. Along the same
JILL DOWNEN’S THE POSTURE OF PLACE lines, the walls stretch and bend, encompassing those inside and inviting in those who are not. Downen hopes to connect humans with the energies of architectural space. The Posture of Place is a site-specific piece that draws forth an awareness of the similarities and relationships held between human bodies and a museum of art. The installation evokes comparisons with humans, the buildings that hold them, and the landscapes in which they are placed. When light coming through the glass wall hits the ribs of the northwest corner in the gallery, memories of Bryce Canyon are inevitable. The blisters on the floor become burial mounds or mesas, vastly increasing the scale of space. Processes of aging, sickness, and renewal affect bodies animate and inanimate. When an artist is able to bring forth correlations that go beyond what she had planned, we are lucky to have her in our midst.
Adam Frelin: Spotlight/White Heat/Airborne Adam Frelin addresses certain characteristics found in light, heat, and wind. The associations he presents are neither overly generalized nor preciously obscure. Succinctly, the artist manipulates materials to isolate and suspend moments of change. White Heat (maintained) captures a car on film as it is consumed by fire. Nearby sits White Heat (expired), which shows both fire and auto extinguished. The residue, a layer of burnt dust, coats the immediate area around the car, eliciting a contrived sadness for the car that is now literally a shell of its former self. Taken together, the pieces might be a fable about all-consuming passion or addiction: though the glow may be captivating, the results are dire. Moving Spotlight is a 12-minute film shot from a car as it follows a portable light tower down a highway at night. Consistent with the other pieces, the color white is set in a much larger, darkened setting. In the artist’s statement, the film serves as a metaphor for life’s journey—as with life, the light becomes isolated and out of focus as the film draws closer to its end.
Things Airborne consists of a set of photos, taken from a single photo of a tornado that devastated the town of Manchester, North Dakota. Frelin has enlarged the details 4000x, and still the white items seem like bits of floating paper, though they are doors, shed siding, refrigerators. These once-stable items, freed from the moorings of gravity and household utility, dance in the air. Frelin’s theme is at its strongest: inanimate objects shine brightly against the forces that cause their own disintegration.
Kim Humphries: Collection Taken at face value, Collection looks like an overblown memory of your childhood friend’s basement. The amount of “stuff” that Humphries has managed to inject into an eightby-eight space makes the senses reel. With Humphries, everything is fair game for play: scale, purpose, function, high/low art, consumerism, nostalgia… Whether it’s a wall piece that arranges 40 ottomans in a grid pattern on the wall, or custom-made seating that resembles a kidney-shaped swimming pool, the artist’s works invite questions. The environment literally has to be experienced. It cannot merely be seen and heard; it must be handled. Humphries clearly was thinking of audience when he devised the Collection room for the Biennial show. Most of the viewers will be comfortable enough with art to accept the high/low question with arched eyebrow and tongue-incheek. Taken outside of a museum setting, the installation would become just a rec room with way too much crap. Fun stuff, to be sure—who wouldn’t want to play with floaty pens, the video collection, and old picture puzzles? If the conglomeration overloads the senses, you can’t be sure that it wasn’t the intent. Humphries gleefully admits that impulses spur action, and impulsivity can become a kind of mania. Though his collections of stuff offer a smorgasbord of food for thought, several small meals are suggested. Trying to take in all of it at one sitting might give a guest indigestion. —Rudy Zapf
KDHX 88.1 Benefit Presented by: Team Tomato, Magees & St. Louis Style Friday, Aug. 20, 6 p.m. til close Saturday, Aug. 21, noon til close (BBQ on the Patio) $6 for Friday, $10 for both days
FRIDAY—August 20 Celia’s Big Rock Band • Plum Tucker Dr. Rob SATURDAY—August 21 Ali & Emily • The Moonglades • The Uninvited Guests • Saddleblister • The Unmutuals Dive Bar (Chicago) • Team Tomato Drink Specials Every Night—Free Beer Yesterday
Please Call for Schedule Updates 314.535.8061 See our calendar on page 42
PLAYBACK ST. LOUIS
ON THE COVER MUSIC + POLITICS
he idea for this story began with an unlikely e-mail: a newsks eaking nec letter for the pop-rock Is the U.S. gonna keep brimpeach Tex at we flex band OK Go. Usually full of witty Maybe it’s time thmuscle that he wants to y left ar it be l il il m w e at banter about the band’s happenings, And th is done wh ue discotheq time Bush this one was different. This was a let- By the votes like E-pills at thed the national debt g an in ll n ter from Damian Kulash, lead singer, Se vironmental destructio in the fat war chest En s left with two basic messages: one, vote, But plenty of dollar hy you can’t connect w al met de al re you never and two, vote for Kerry. It wasn’t the What the spect? ople that ow some re hating pe sh u to yo u hy yo h ac sway that struck me so much as the W te a am n’t your m r a sec? fact that OK Go, not a political band Did not open your mind fo s Time to Build” ke Why Ta t “I in any sense, was sticking its neck out, —The Beastie Boys, pitol) s, Ca urging people to take an active role in (To the 5 Borough It’s everywhere these days: the democratic process. Perhaps the finest point was this, Kulash’s clos- i n g musicians getting involved with politics. The point: “I find it difficult to support Mr. Kerry. week I was researching this article, Linda Ronstadt He’s not the charismatic, principled guy I’d vote was ejected from the Aladdin casino in Las Vegas for in a perfect world. I do, however, feel strong- for dedicating a song to Michael Moore and his ly that we should all be involved in the process film, Fahrenheit 9/11. P. Diddy launched Citizen of choosing our leaders, even if it is on a lesser- Change, a nonpartisan (but Democratically of-two-evils basis. If we extract ourselves from backed) campaign designed to “educate and the system, due to apathy or dissatisfaction, we empower” young and minority voters. Black Sabbath kicked off its Ozzfest reunion with “War give our consent to the status quo.” That line really struck me. There isn’t a per- Pigs,” backed by video footage of George W. son walking around, Democratic, Republican, Bush juxtaposed with Adolf Hitler; 10 days later, or other, who doesn’t have dissatisfaction with the footage was removed after complaints from the status quo. I’d bet that, this week alone, Sabbath drummer Bill Ward. Around the time of the Vietnam War, it was you’ve had a handful of conversations (or bitch sessions, as it were) with friends and acquain- common to use music to communicate political tances about the state of the nation. But what beliefs. Somewhere since then, that tendency has fallen off, perhaps due to complacency, have you done about it, beyond complain? That premise led me to want to investigate stability, or fear, or a combination of the three. what others in the music and entertainment Following 9/11, there was a slew of musicians industry felt about their role in politics: did they communicating pro-U.S. and government feel ethically obligated to share their views with messages (think: mainstream country acts). their audience? What are some of the issues And now, suddenly, it seems political stateimportant to them? What can be done to get ments are coming from those who just last more Americans involved in the political pro- year were giving us their emotional scars and cess? And perhaps, most importantly, what are tales of love. In August, Barsuk Records—in some resources for unbiased, fact-based infor- collaboration with MoveOn.org, Music for mation? Of course, I couldn’t talk to everyone America, and McSweeney’s, and conceived in the business, but I did my very best under a and spearheaded by They Might Be Giants’ John Flansburgh—will release Soundtrack for a very tight deadline. Read on… Future America, a 21-song fundraising compilation to raise money for nonprofit progressive organizations. (McSweeney’s is also releasing
a book, The Future Dictionary of America, with similar fundraising goals; with contributions from almost 200 writers, the book will also include a copy of the CD.) Later this month, Steve Earle will release The Revolution Starts…Now, his attempt to influence the November election. In September, Ani DiFranco kicks off her “Vote, Dammit!” tour of the swing states, joining forces with the Feminist Majority Foundation’s “Get Out Her Vote” campaign. Also next month, Mother Jones magazine, AEG, Madison House, and Spire Artists will host The State of the Union, a comedy benefit for independent media; Janeane Garofalo, Eugene Mirman, Lizz Winstead, and others will perform at Town Hall in New York City the weekend following the Republican convention. “I certainly see the nation as being at an historical crossroads,” says Riddles owner Andy Ayers, “where we either figure out a way to join with the rest of the planet to begin dealing with our really pressing mutual concerns, or else we continue to militarize, becoming more and more a Fortress America—more isolated, more jumpy, more fearful, and more inclined to lash out.” Jay Harris, publisher of Mother Jones, agrees. “The stakes seem very high, and the public seems more engaged…in issues than they were even four years ago. ” “We’re in such dire straits right now,” says Kulash. “You can’t feel like a decent human being or a decent citizen of America and shut up. Things are too fucked up.” For him, the inspiration came from watching a friend create mobile voting registration. “He’s sitting in his cubicle in Seattle and hatching plans to save the world, whereas I’m in all these places every day as a traveling rock band, and I haven’t been doing shit.” The problem? OK Go is in the studio this summer, not on tour. “So I decided the idea was so great,” he continues, “it really should be brought to bands who are on tour. The average band is not a bunch of super-political people, and they’re not likely to know how to go about organizing voter registration or know how to
A G w H j S l H
A H a — (
August 2004 Resources:
The following resources were provided by those interviewed for this article. Their inclusion does not necessarily reflect the views of Playback St. Louis.
WEB SITES www.counterpunch.org www.drivingvotes.org www.indymedia.org www.juancole.com www.salon.com www.talkingpointsmemo.com www.tompaine.com
BOOKS Eric Hobsbawm: The Age of Extremes Howard Zinn: A People’s History of the United States PERIODICALS Confluence • Green Anarchy • The Guardian Harpers • The Los Angeles Times • Mother Jones • The Los Angeles Times • The Nation • The New York Times • St. Louis Post-Dispatch • USA Today • Washington Post
Our photo shoot at the Creepy Crawl included members of Dead Celebrities and Reigning Heir, as well as friends, models, and our intern Carey Kirk—a true cross-section of America.
TV/RADIO BBC • Link-TV • NPR
ALL PHOTOS: MOLLY HAYDEN
speak to their fans about things.” Hence, Kulash’s instructional booklet, “How Your Band Can Fire Bush,” was born. And, of course, when Flansburgh called, the band jumped at the chance to contribute to SFA. Flansburgh is, admittedly, a reluctant activist. “I don’t really jump on a soapbox and express these things more than anybody else. Basically, I just shake my fist at the TV; that’s my usual response. But as a citizen, I felt like it had gotten so dire that I had to do something, or I would just be angry with myself. So I thought of the things I could do, things that were available to me, and this project seemed like something that I had the skill set for.” Ali was the second son of the second son Grew up in Gaza throwing bottles and rocks when the tanks would come Hey ain’t nothing else to do round here, just a game children play Something about living in fear all your life makes you hard that way He answered when he got the call Wrapped himself in death and he praised Allah A family in a new Mercedes drove him to the door He’s just another poor boy off to fight a rich man’s war —Steve Earle, “Rich Man’s War” (The Revolution Starts…Now)
But back to the beginning—how do you get people to the polls in the first place? Some bands are working with voter registration organizations to sign up young people at their shows. One of the best known efforts was this spring’s Plea for Peace tour, orchestrated by Mike Park and assisted by Cursive’s Matt Maginn. Working with Music for America, the drive was a nonpartisan “tour that encourages people to exercise their right to vote.” Continues Maginn, “Some people assumed we would be preaching to the choir, but I don’t believe that was always the case. If the audience was anything like us, they have been through their bouts of apathy. It was more like we were encouraging ourselves as much as the audience.”
Other indie rock bands, such as Pedro the Lion, work with Music for America at their shows. “What I would like to have happen,” said Pedro’s David Bazan, “is for people who come to see Pedro the Lion to be challenged to think for themselves about politics, to be analytical and to commit to reading about politics.” Bazan also admitted to a political rant or two. “I don’t think I could call it anything else but shooting my mouth off from stage,” he demurred. Locally, Vintage Vinyl has also joined the voter registration game. Working with America Coming Together (a partisan-led group playing by Vintage’s strict non-partisan rules), the Delmar location is providing voter registration Saturdays through October 16 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. To turn the activity into more of an event, local bands and DJs will be giving instore performances each Saturday at 4 p.m. Says store operations manager Steve Scariano, “We started thinking of ways to further promote this beyond the usual—signs in the store, notices on our Web site, and e-mails—and since we always have lots of in-store performances by bands all the time, I thought it would be pretty cool and give a lot of local musicians the chance to perform in the store.” (For a complete schedule, visit www.vintagevinyl.com.) Local musicians are feeling the pull toward activism, too, even if in small ways. “I’ve just registered [to vote],” says Dave AlanS, Lord Baltimore singer/songwriter. “It’s the first time that I’ve been motivated to do so because I want somebody out of office that badly.” To spread the word, AlanS has invited Rock the Vote to set up a table at all upcoming LB shows. “It takes so little time to vote, that one should do it whether it effects change or is merely a symbolic gesture,” offers Sunyatta Marshall of Fred’s Variety Group. “People fight
nd die for the right to vote. We take our right to vote for granted here.” Says Steve Earle in his introduction to The Revolution Starts…Now, “Democracy is hard work. American democracy requires constant vigilance to survive and nothing short of total engagement to flourish. Voting is vital, but in times like these, voting alone simply isn’t enough.” For his part, Matthew Gassen, St. Louis RTV street team coordinator, is concerned about the apathy of today’s youth. “We as young people need to be more concerned about what is going on with our government, our culture, and we should be more vocal about the issues that impact us and our fellow citizens.” He continues, “I personally think that most people, young and old, are often distracted by what we think is important, not necessarily by what really is important. And this translates into a democratic process that does not function nearly as well as it could. Without an educated and mobilized voting public, we “the people” aren’t going to be taken care of; we’re going to be overrun by a minority of self-serving interests.” Educating people on the issues is a necessity, to be sure—but is it the musician’s job? “I’m not sure,” admits Pedro’s Bazan. “I do think that we have a responsibility, not as musicians but as citizens of a democracy, or Put out your lights You’re taken over Sit on your hands for the new national anthem It sounds like shit but it goes on and on —Matthew Good, “Put Out Your Lights,” White Light Rock and Roll Review
a democratic republic…a practical responsibil ty to engage with one another about political issues. It makes a lot of practical sense to use that voice that people have from stage to encourage dialogue.” continued on page 30
PLAYBACK ST. LOUIS
NOW PLAYING CINEMA
LOST BOYS OF SUDAN (Actual Films/Principe Productions, Unrated)
For more than 20 years, civil war has raged in Sudan, killing an estimated two million and uprooting millions more. The Islamic fundamentalist government in the north is fighting the Christian and Animist Sudanese separatists in the south. In the late ’80s, the cattle-herding Dinka tribe was hit the hardest. Men and children were killed and women and girls were taken into slavery. Thousands of young boys who spent time away from their villages in cattle-herding camps were orphaned but managed to escape to refugee camps. Lost Boys of Sudan is a documentary that follows two of these young refugees, Peter Dut and Santino Chuor, who become part of a program that places them in the U.S. It is easy to imagine a film on such a subject spending a lot of time on the details of the civil war, but the filmmakers, Megan Mylan and Jon Shenk, have thankfully avoided a Sally Struthers treatment. Instead, they rely on a short introduction and the natural and abundant charisma of the young subjects, who exude an innocence and openness that is impossible to ignore. As the film begins, the young men are so obviously innocent—they compare America to “going to heaven” and study a 1950s basketball textbook—that it is understandable for the viewer to have a mild anxiety attack. How will these young men, orphaned by war and living in a refugee camp for nine years, survive and succeed in the American jungle? Don’t worry; these boys are resilient. Peter and Santino are part of a group that is sent to Houston. They face all of the challenges one would expect: they struggle to find an education, jobs, and friends in a strange land. As the difficulties mount, it is easy to hope that, through some magnificent show of strength and solidarity, the group of refugees will pull off a Hollywood miracle, succeed in their educational and financial mission, go back to Sudan, restore order, and be reunited with their community.
But in reality, the journey is not so easy. It can be excruciating and, at times, surreal. In a bittersweet moment, Santino goes out to lunch for the first time with his work-mates and explains that he thought he would never be able to make friends. In a disappointing moment, Peter moves to Kansas City without telling Santino. And in a truly surreal moment, Peter is invited by a group of teenagers to a Christian pizza and sing-a-long party. Toward the end of the film, we get the sense that there is still hope despite the disappointments; Santino is taking a correspondence course to become an electrician and Peter has completed high school and will apply for college. It is progress and it is gratifying, even if we know that there is a long way to go for these affable but awkward new citizens. —Marc Syp
“COWARDS BEND THE KNEE” (Zeitgeist Films, Unrated) Canadian Guy Madden’s film “Cowards Bend the Knee” centers around a philandering hockey player—go figure, eh?—who embarks on a murderous rampage when he thinks he has been given the hands of a murdered man. Ironically, this description does not fully impart the bizarre nature of the piece. In “Cowards,” Madden recreates the look and feel of early silent films. There is no
dialogue, but there are sound effects and an ever-present musical accompaniment. It is not just the absence of dialogue, but the entire look of the film that creates the ancient feel. The costumes and acting predate the sound era, and the film is not so much black and white as it is sepia-toned. The camera work is erratic. Focus and framing are arts still in their infancy. Madden employs ancient techniques such as masking the frame, story cards, and entire frame colorization. Madden’s filmmaking style recalls both early German Expressionism and Eisenstein-era Russian filmmaking. The film is a pastiche of classics as varied as “Phantom of the Opera,” “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,” and “Battleship Potempken.” Madden uses all of these techniques to tell a voyeuristic love story that alludes to or explicitly shows every sexual taboo of modern society. Madden’s main character floats from one esoteric situation to the next, played out on a series of baroque sets, including a beauty shop/brothel/abortion clinic and a forgotten wax museum of hockey legends. The hero, through a fantastic set of circumstances, finds himself in love with the ghost of the woman he abandoned while she was aborting his baby. The ghost ends up spurning him for his father, who is also the announcer for the hockey team for which his son stars, even after his hands have been amputated. Obviously, the plot is less important than the imagery of each individual scene. The images examine society and relationships. Each character represents something and the story is an allegory, but exactly what everything represents and the final lesson are fuzzy. I am not entirely sure if Madden has actual representations in mind, or if he is commenting on the allegorical use of certain character types throughout cinema history. “Cowards Bend the Knee” is nothing like a standard Hollywood film, it is nothing like a customary independent movie, and it hardly resembles what most people would think of as
August 2004 experimental. It is much more an art experi- cream, she is mysteriously reborn as the feroment than a movie. It challenges in the way cious, self-confident Catwoman, determined to avant-garde art challenges, but whether the seek revenge on her murderer and uncover the truth about Hedare. viewer finds a point or not, it is But just as Patience is coming to worth seeing to be challenged. The terms with her powerful feline senses, film is also interesting from a technieverything else about this movie cal aspect. The aged look is perfect, starts to go wrong. The first problem and the styles Madden is imitating are well-recreated; it is briskly paced, Win Tickets to the is detective Tom Lone (Benjamin Webster Film Series and even contains a healthy dose of showing of Kumbh Bratt), caught between his strong Mehla: Shortcut feelings for Patience and his search nudity. to Nirvana. Go to “Cowards Bend the Knee” will the Events Page on for the dangerous Catwoman. This be shown with two shorts, the bor- www.playbackstl.com predicament could have translated into some serious conflict, if it wasn’t ing “The Phantom Museum” and Madden’s own parody of silent Soviet propa- so painfully obvious that Patience no longer has use for Tom, a darling “man sandwich” ganda, “The Heart of the World.” —Bobby Kirk who wants nothing more than to keep the world safe. As a stunning superhero, Catwoman doesn’t CATWOMAN (Warner Bros., Rated PG-13) They say if you’ve got it, flaunt it—and need a boyfriend to keep her safe. There is a Halle Berry does just that in the summer block- wonderful message trying to emerge, about an buster Catwoman, kicking some serious tail in empowered woman who doesn’t require useher souped-up leather catsuit. The story begins less beauty products or a man to make her feel with a mild-mannered graphic designer named worthwhile, but it’s lost somewhere in a movie Patience Philips (Berry), wasting her artistic trying to please everyone from teenaged boys talents working for the powerful cosmetics to middle-aged women. Even worse, there is corporation Hedare Beauty. When Patience is not much at stake for Catwoman; she is comkilled after overhearing a conversation revealing pletely self-sufficient and has nothing to lose. the risky side effects of an addictive anti-aging Her real triumph occurred in the first half-hour.
A potentially more interesting character is Laurel Hedare (Sharon Stone), the stone-faced killer/model trying to frame Catwoman for a string of recent crimes. Laurel is married to womanizer George Hedare (Lambert Wilson), and when he forces her to step down as the face of his company, there is something unnerving about watching Laurel replaced by a supposedly more beautiful 20-something. Instead of dealing with this issue, however, the movie sets her up as Catwoman’s evil nemesis, with no insight on how Laurel could have alternatively dealt with being cast aside—both professionally and personally—in a manner all too familiar for many women in today’s society. Visually, the movie is also disappointing. The fight scenes offer nothing new, and the movie relies on the same old computer-generated imagery for its action sequences. The majority of the scenes rely on the familiar look and sound of a hip-hop video, which doesn’t quite work long term. (There’s a mighty good reason why music videos only last a few minutes.) It’s true that this film may satisfy moviegoers who want some feel-good girl power, but those searching for this summer’s must-see comic-book-turned-blockbuster should stick with Spider-Man 2. —Emily Spreng Lowery
PLAYBACK ST. LOUIS
RUNNING WITH SRIKANT by Bobby Kirk ocal filmmaker Srikant Chellappa’s film Running Against Dick screened to soldout crowds at the Flint Film Festival in Flint, Michigan the first week of June. The film chronicles the 2002 Missouri Third District Congressional race, following several candidates as they try to unseat longtime Congressman Dick Gephardt. Chellappa’s road to Flint has been long, both physically and metaphorically. Chellappa lives and works in St. Louis, but he was born and raised in New Delhi, India. After studying engineering in his homeland, he immigrated to the U.S. to pursue a master’s degree in business at the University of Memphis. Chellappa’s proverbial day job as a consulting manager in information technology brought him to the St. Louis area. After traveling around the globe and studying engineering and business, he has ironically become a fixture in the thriving local film scene. Chellappa, a well-educated, well-spoken artist who understands not only the art of filmmaking but the commerce of the business, left India for the “opportunities accessible across all layers of society in America.” Along the way, he developed an interest in film and filmmaking. “Often more interested in who made the films than the films themselves,” Chellappa took a few courses at New York University’s film school after completing his MBA. With limited experience, Chellappa jumped right in and shot a politically charged short, “The Players.” A simple five-minute piece combining narrative and documentary footage in sharp contrast, “The Players” introduced Chellappa to the local film scene and future partner Dan Byington. Byington, a local radio personality and filmmaker in his own right, planned to mount a campaign against Gephardt and he wanted someone to chronicle the crusade. Byington met Chellappa through St. Louis Filmwire, an Internet bulletin board for local filmmakers. The two collaborated on “The Players” to get their feet wet, and then Chellappa accepted the challenge of documenting Byington’s foray into third-party politics. What started as a basic chronicle soon turned into an examination of the American political process. Chellappa not only followed
Byington, but also interviewed and recorded other candidates running against Gephardt. Chellappa tracked both third-party candidates and members of the Republican and Democratic parties through the primaries and general elections. After 80 hours of shooting and over 200 interviews, Chellappa decided to lend his voice to the work. He narrates the struggle of political outsiders to garner basic recognition in the American political landscape, adding information, insight, and perspective to the piece. Chellappa acknowledges his outsider status informs his work. “I didn’t expect it to, but it did,” he admits. But after nearly a decade spent living in the U.S., he sees the American viewpoint also. These dual influences form the foundation of his artistic attitude. He cites both American and Indian filmmaking influences: Kubrick, Soderbergh, and Lynch stand alongside Bengali classic filmmaker Satyajit Ray. It is the mix of influences that engender Chellappa’s work, but it is his tireless work ethic that has landed him on the St. Louis filmmaking map. Byington calls his collaborator “hard-working, persistent, and ambitious.” Essentially starting his local work just over three years ago, Chellappa has completed the previously mentioned projects, and recently screened his second short, ”Murder if Real,” at the fourth annual St. Louis Filmmaker’s Showcase. He is also producing a feature for local director Thomas Smagala, scheduled to begin shooting later this year. He continues to help other filmmakers and relentlessly markets his completed works.
Even his vacation turned into work. While visiting relatives in India, he shot preliminary footage on a documentary focusing on the outsourcing of high-tech jobs overseas. Chellappa sees not only his industry dwindling in his chosen home, but the impact in the land of his birth. With the growth comes American influence; as companies move operations overseas, a subtle economic colonization has replaced the British flag. With so many irons in the fire, Chellappa still finds time to attend screenings and events, networking the film community. An interest to do something beyond make companies bigger and more successful drew Chellappa to filmmaking. He sees it “as a way to impact society in a greater way.” With two politically themed projects under his belt and spouting such rhetoric, the temptation is to pigeonhole him as a political filmmaker, but he sees himself dealing with “more than politics. It’s about an awareness of the human condition.” “Murder if Real” is a straight narrative without political overtones. Building on his recent success, Chellappa continues working and developing as a filmmaker, coupling his diverse background and vast experiences with drive and determination. As his filmmaking skills improve, his ability to start—and more importantly, finish—projects coupled with his positive attitude and excellent interpersonal skills should keep Chellappa in the local spotlight for some time. Read reviews of Running Against Dick and “The Player” online at www.playbackstl.com.
FROM THE CORNER
BY JEREMY SEGEL-MOSS
St. Louis summers and music. Sitting outside under the stars, drinking ice-cold beer and whiskey on the rocks, patios, festivals, and—oh yeah, the freaking heat that makes sweat creep from every pore, drenching clothes and repelling any chance of acting suave with the opposite sex. Luckily, heat suits some music better than others. I think it suits blues just fine. This column started as a way to give some personality to St. Louis blues, but we’re going to depart from there a little this issue. Instead, we’re going to supply you with some blues you can use.
Blues Cruises on the Becky Thatcher The Becky Thatcher has become a sort of blues tradition over the 20 years it’s been cruisin’ the Mississippi. While much of St. Louis’s river-life has been forgotten, you can still go down to the cobblestone under the Arch and hop onto American history. Musicians who have already performed on this year’s two-hour cruise include Big George and the Houserockers, The Bottoms Up Blues Gang, Rondo’s Blues Deluxe, and Bluesdaddy. Coming up this month: August 5, Patti and The Hitmen; August 12, Rondo’s Blues Deluxe; and August 19, Soulard Blues Band. September will bring music from the Rich McDonough Band, Keith Doder, Alvin Jett, and the Oliver Sain Revue. For more info, go to www.gateway archriverboats.com or call 314-621-4040. Note: Thursday blues cruises clash with River Splash, so give some extra time for parking.
Blues on the Mississippi The St. Louis County Department of Parks and Recreation has created a unique summer blues experience with the Blues on the Mississippi Concert Series at JB Park Amphitheater. This year, Charlie Musselwhite, Michael Burks, Baker-McClaren Band, and Alvin Jett and the Phat Noiz Band have already performed to good-sized crowds. Upcoming August dates include: August 6, The Soulard Blues Band and August 13, Big Jack Johnson (from Clarksdale, Mississippi). The park offers an amazing natural amphitheater setting for your listening pleasure. Bring a blanket, a cooler, and some Off for the bugs. For more info, go to www.stlblues.net.
River Splash River Splash is the newest addition to St. Louis’s plethora of summer concert series, brought to you by Celebrate 2004. River Splash features all genres of music, but they top off the summer on August 21 with blues legends B.B. King and Dr. John. There is seating on the Arch steps and a “stunning multimedia display of fireworks, lasers, images, and sound” on a 150-by-75-foot water screen. Best part of River Splash, besides the music? It’s free.
Big Muddy Blues Festival Labor Day Weekend is the one weekend a year blues gets to take over the Landing. (In recent years, blues has been sent running from the Landing by thumping bass and Britney Spears.) It’s a real treat to be able to walk from stage to stage all day long, listening to some of the world’s most accomplished blues musicians—not surprisingly, many of them reside here in St. Louis. This year’s headliners will include Alvin Youngblood Hart, The Holmes Brothers, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Fontella Bass, Mavis Staples, John Mooney, and Bennie Smith and The Urban Blues Express, not to mention the many local blues musicians performing throughout the weekend. For updates and the complete schedule, go to www.bigmuddyblues.com.
PLAYBACK ST. LOUIS Play by Play
that very little overdubbing or “fine-tuning” of any kind went into the recording of In Between Evolution. “It’s basically the sound of five guys in a room playing together,” he reveals. After about 20 years of doing exactly that, it’s not surprising how effortless making music probably feels for the band. Clocking in at barely 44 minutes long, this disc is a relatively short yet thorough peek inside the always-intriguing creativity of Downie’s mind. His trademark surreal and cryptic lyrics are delivered with a voice that falls somewhere between R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe and Live’s Ed Kowalczyk—a voice compelling enough to prevent the listener from caring too much about what his lyrics actually mean. As with most CDs, In Between Evolution contains a good percentage of memorable gems, as well as material that is best considered filler. The stronger tracks include the humorously titled “Gus the Polar Bear From Central Park,” with its hypnotic groove and Neil Young–like guitar work, the latter of which is also present on the slightly psychedelic “Mean Streak.” In addition to fellow Canadian Young, the Hip’s guitarist Rob Baker is apparently also a big fan of Keith Richards, and that influence is easily heard on several of the disc’s songs, especially “Vaccination Scar” and “If New Orleans Is Beat.” “Are We Family” is the CD’s official ballad, and the true down-and-dirty, straight-ahead rocker is “Heart of the Melt,” my personal favorite. For the serious fans of the band, In Between Evolution, which I would grade a B- effort, is at least deserving of a place in their collection. For everyone else, however, a better investment would be 1992’s Fully Completely (Sire) 2000’s Music at Work (Phantom), or the band’s only live release, 1997’s The Live Between Us (MCA), which wonderfully exemplifies the Hip’s powerful and mesmerizing performance ability. —Michele Ulsohn VELVET CRUSH: STEREO BLUES (Action Musik/Parasol) We’ve had a good run of Velvets in the rock world, from Underground to Revolver, and the Crushes are too many to count. So we begin our review with the sad realization that the least interesting thing about Velvet
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Crush is the name. Such a productive, prolific, veteran band, such a banal name. But they’ve invested in that name. Dozens of releases, from singles to EPs to LPs, so you can’t blame them for sticking with a familiar moniker. For those just tuning in to the Velvet Crush story, the group’s had an ever-changing guard of personnel, with the current lineup a mildly augmented duo of Paul Chastain (vox, guitar, bass, pedal steel, and keys) and Ric Menck (drums and guitar). The augmentation on their latest record comes, in large part, from famed pop producer Adam Schmitt, who’s credited with “guitars, keyboards and harmony vocals all over the record.” Knowing his handson style, that’s undoubtedly true. Stereo Blues certainly benefits from the clean production sound that is Schmitt’s calling card. Crisp, clear tones and sharp arrangements are the rule here, with the tracks fitting well into the larger Velvet Crush catalog. Thus, you get a healthy selection of power-pop cuts, slotted alongside some that are pure, honeyed Americana. The opener, “Rusted Star,” points out the group’s strength in the former category, with a lovely, soaring chorus and the requisite growling guitars. “Do What You Want” and “Want You Know” are similarly poppy offerings, indicating that the band keep a few Badfinger and Raspberries records around their turntables. After “Want You Know,” the group pulls off an interesting trick, with two cuts, “B-Side Blues” and “Great to Be Fine,” that sound like outtakes from a Wilco session, combining textured guitars, Chastain’s uniquely appealing voice, and a fun blend of lightly infused country. Toss in the production qualities, which tend to have a warm, analog vibe. It might not set your world afire, but Stereo Blues is one of those records that shows heart, consistency, and cohesion. Press play and don’t worry about your mood for the next 36 minutes. —Thomas Crone VARIOUS ARTISTS: THE RED RIVER TRIBUTE (Underground Sound) By themselves, good intentions scarcely guarantee memorable music, as exemplified, alas, by The Red River Tribute. Recorded on two consecutive days last September in New Braunfels, Texas—midway between Austin and San Antonio—and released by Underground Sound at the end of June, the multiple-artist live double disc derives from only the best of intentions. More specifically,
the recording salutes the late, great Waylon Jennings, who died on February 13, 2002, from complications related to diabetes; moreover, all proceeds from its sale support Camp Sweeney, a north-central Texas educational facility operated since 1950 by the nonprofit Southwestern Diabetic Foundation for children between 6 and 18 who suffer from that disease. By and large, though, The Red River Tribute founders on its own reverence, sad to say. Few of the 25 tracks here inspire anything beyond ennui; of more than two dozen acts that participated—including Jennings’ widow, Jessi Colter, and their son—far too many seem to have confused covering songs written or popularized by the deceased country outlaw with conducting themselves like a Waylon Jennings cover band. As a result, despite a handful of modest highlights—Cross Canadian Ragweed, the Oklahoma quartet that organized the tribute, passably interprets “Only Daddy That’ll Walk the Line,” for example—the double disc sounds like not just one long salaam but one overlong salaam. As a salute to a musician whose work so resonated in more than one way, in short, The Red River Tribute woefully lacks resonance. In a telling omission, at least based on the recording’s track listing, none of the musicians who contributed their time to The Red River Tribute essayed “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way.” As a wake-up call, perhaps someone should have. —Bryan A. Hollerbach VARIOUS ARTISTS: THE UNBROKEN CIRCLE (Dualtone Records) In a supremely sweet irony, A.P., Maybelle, and Sara Carter, whose modest mien few if any performers of the past century would or could rival, founded what constitutes the only dynasty in modern music, and The Unbroken Circle, a new release from Dualtone, salutes in style the trio that came to be called the Carter Family. Maybelle begat June, of course, and June, by Johnny, begat John Carter Cash, who produced the disc in question. In doing so, he enlisted an astonishing roster of blood relatives and others: his mother and father (on separate tracks), Norman and Nancy Blake, Janette and
August 2004 its original form and in the interpretations on The Unbroken Circle, indeed, the work of the trio from Virginia maintains a purity verging on the transcendent: it’s a hosanna still resounding from Ralph Peer’s storied visit to Bristol, Tennessee, in 1927. “All of what the Carter Family created and inspired,” writes John Carter Cash in the liner
notes to The Unbroken Circle, “what they sang about, and how they played their instruments are major factors in the formation of music as we know it today.” Amen to that, brother—amen. —Bryan A. Hollerbach
Jimmie Rodgers (left) with the Carter Family in 1931 Joe Carter, Rosanne Cash, Marty Stuart. Also enlisted were colorful “uncles” like George Jones and Willie Nelson, breathtaking Aunt Emmylou (Harris, that is), and even such neighborhood kids as that sweet Crow girl, Sheryl. In concept, in short, The Unbroken Circle functions as the sonic cognate of a home movie shot at the annual reunion of the first family of country music. As demonstrated by Jones on “Worried Man Blues,” by Harris and the sublime Peasall Sisters (Sarah, Hannah, and Leah) on “On the Sea of Galilee,” by June Carter Cash on “Hold Fast to the Right,” and by other artists on the dozen remaining tracks, the Carters’ music retains a revelatory power and, in this age of overarching deracination, remains a powerful revelation of the importance of roots. Both in
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Flansburgh isn’t so sure. “I do feel musicians have any greater in average CNN-watcher,” he admits culture gives them far too much of a their un-thought-out political points Luna’s Dean Wareham says in political activism, but not as a music. “Myself, I have pretty stron opinions,” he confesses, “but I so the music separate from that, becaus why I started a band. I guess in my l been inspired by musicians who are political, but ultimately, I don’t think musicians have the power to change the world.” Matthew Good, a politically outspoken singer/songwriter from Canada, is outraged at violations of human rights and civil liberties— too many of which, lately, seem to originate from the U.S. He keeps a near-daily blog on his Web site in which he reports world politics and news and gives his views. “I know that a lot of people don’t like to listen to ‘entertainers’ talk about these kinds of things,” he says. “We’re supposed to just—what’s the title of the book?—shut up and sing. And I think that’s really unfortunate. I think it’s really unfortunate that we live in a society that proclaims its great belief in liberty, but then tells everyone to shut the hell up and learn their place. “I’m a self-contained songwriter,” he continues. “I do other things besides [music], so to me, it would be betraying myself and lying to myself were I to divorce the [music from the politics]; one is the other. That’s why I try to reflect it in my work and, given what’s been going on, my last two records are probably far more blatant than anything I’ve done in the past.” Sunyatta Marshall explains, “I consider myself a person who is both musical and engaged with the world around me. I do believe that music should be used as an escape from…and a fertile ground for (sometimes pushy) ideas.” Local filmmaker Srikant Chellappa (Running Against Dick) has done some political pieces, but that’s because our political process interests him, not because he felt he needed to convey a message. “I do feel an ethical obligation that I could never misrepresent the facts,” he says. “As an artist, I do have the obligation to myself to present my point of view, which people may or may not agree with.” Mother Jones’ Harris points out how nonnews media is often a forum for news. “If you look at music, if you look at documentary film, and if you look at comedy, I think those
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thful cesple, On Wolf zer he ns q over. Says rt is asking questions that any self-respecting reporter should be asking but mostly doesn’t. I think, on the one hand, it’s an incredible indictment of the news business. On the other hand, it means that these kinds of things are going to come out in other forums. I think comedy’s a place where…the politeness factor, the deference factor that seems to be so much a part of the official news culture these days—if it’s comedy, you don’t have to play by those rules.” own people Saddam killed his Pinochet al ner Ge e lik t Jus l men time both these evi And once upon a USA the by ed ort pp su Were Laden Whisper it, even Bin America’s cup m fro nk dra ce On a on down in Florid Just like that electi add up all ’t esn do it sh This he Price of Oil” —Billy Bragg, “T tion) ali Co r Wa the op (St
Educating people on the issues is an entirely new problem, one not easily remedied by the perceived lack of information in your average newscast. So where, then, can you find unbiased sources of information? Good luck. “Other than Mother Jones?” Harris cracks. “I don’t think there’s a single source. I certainly recommend to everybody who can afford it that they subscribe to and read a major international newspaper, and if they can’t afford it, then get it free online. Just so there’s a common baseline of what the assumptions in the culture are. And there I think the independent press and the international press have been running circles around a lot of the U.S. press.” “Publishing is the last place that you can really get radical and alternative news,” says Digger, one of four editorial confluistas of local activist newspaper Confluence. Beyond that, he continues, “I think our primary resource is people themselves.” Fellow confluista Mark Quercus concurs, “Everybody’s got a perspective, everybody’s got a story to tell.”
RTV’s Gassen offers the following: “In addition to news outlets, I think the best way to get factual information on the candidates is to visit their Web sites. Check the candidatees’ voting records and visit the Web sites of organizations and groups that you respect. Somewhere in the middle of all of that spin, you’ll be able to find the truth.” Matthew Good, a self-professed “student of U.S. foreign policy for the better part of 20 years,” says, “I would suggest everyone read Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States; scare the shit right out of you.” Pedro’s Bazan thinks it’s not just what you know, but also implementing what you’ve learned, and being able to admit when you’ve made a mistake. “There’s no way that we’re going to know, really, what’s going on; we just have to try to be as educated as we can and go with our gut and talk to people about it. And when we’re wrong, we can just admit it. That’s what this thing is. When you voted already, and you voted for the wrong guy, that’s OK.” ge of real truth “I live in knowled are great!” And all my gods of a bigot The doleful cant d hate Blinded by fear an ge of real truth? You live in knowled rd The biggest lie I hea l mind and your sou How sick in your words my d an ce voi To be scared of my Them” (Geffen) —The Cure, “Us or
So it’s a sticky mess, music and politics, to be sure. But it’s an essential one, too, a voice for the people, by the people. Open discussion should be encouraged in all ways and all forms; after all, that’s the root of a democracy. Cursive’s Maginn offers kudos and a warning. “As for political bands, I think it can be a great way to express views and help bring important topics out for others to ponder,” he says. “I think musicians need to be very careful and be sure they are fully informing themselves so that they do not inadvertently mislead their listeners. Being a ‘political band’ can unfortunately be used as a marketing tool, which can lead to greater problems. It is a dangerous situation once you are tailoring your political views in order to fit a market and sell records. Then you might as well be a politician.” As for his parting words on the marriage of music and politics, Riddles’ Ayers says simply, “Buy local tomatoes. Hire local bands.” Additional reporting provided by Jim Dunn.
The Village Voice 4th Annual Siren Music Festival Coney Island, New York, July 17 Basking and baking in the first full day of sunshine for nearly a week in NYC, thousands of music fans were drawn to Coney Island over the weekend. It wasn’t the beach. Or the corn dogs. Or even the “Shoot the Human Freak With Paintballs” booth, although I’m pleased someone has that job. In what could have easily been billed “Monsters of Indie Rock,” The Village Voice hosted the 4th Annual Siren Music Festival on two stages at the heart of the amusement park, amid roller coasters and funnel cakes. As with any festival with multiple stages, scheduling made it impossible to catch all the bands, and unfortunately, I missed sets from The Ponys, Your Enemies Friends, The Thermals, Constantines, and The Fever. The Fiery Furnaces are a new personal favorite, centered around a sibling duo that features Eleanor Friedberger on rather frantic lead vocals and brother Matt playing pysche guitar and keyboards. Whether you enjoy the records or not, definitely check them out if you have a chance to see them live. Vue, who seem to be perpetually stuck in the “next big thing” category, performed their Bay Area version of garage blues, and energetic lead singer Rex Shelverton had the ladies swooning as he searched for a date to ride the park’s famous Cyclone rollercoaster (though it may have just been the heat).
PHOTOS BY DANIELLE GIESSMAN
BLONDE REDHEAD’S KAZU MAKINO
In the case of Har Mar Superstar, it wasn’t the heat. Men and women alike were scrambling at the chance to touch his greasy, balding body in all its glory as he gyrated on the stage barrier. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s quality showmanship. NYC favorites TV on the Radio played a sweltering set that lived up to the hype surrounding their latest effort. After pounding out an incredible version of “Staring at the Sun,” singer Tunde Adebimpe dedicated “Bomb Yourself” to his “favorite asshole, George W. Bush. Just get rid of him.” If they make an indie rock version of Kidz Bop this year, they need to hire Tyler Spencer of Electric Six to choreograph the videos. I haven’t seen such skilled dancing since my pre-school dance-off. Similar to the performance by Air at this year’s Coachella Festival, Blonde Redhead’s enchanted compositions had the crowd mesmerized and quiet, aside from a few random audience snickers about Von Dutch hats wandering the boardwalk: “I mean, they’re so over that they’re back again, just not in an ironic or retro way. And only the Iowa department store knock-offs. Which are totally more expensive. Totally.” Maybe that was just me. Mission of Burma (can I throw a “seminal” in here somewhere?) appeared genuinely thrilled to be back in action after so many years. Excited enough, in fact, that they snapped several photos of the crowd from the stage between songs, proclaiming, “We’re such tourists. We’re the most naïve and oldest people here.” (NO NEW MCCARTHY signs were up on stage, and Roger THE FIERY FURNACES’ ELEANOR FRIEDBERGER
SIREN MUSIC FESTIVAL Miller sported a MoveOn.org t-shirt. Catching the day’s theme?) I still don’t understand why they played the second stage, but the band didn’t miss a beat after two decades apart. After a few songs by Death Cab For Cutie, I had to run again to the other stage for …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead. Death Cab is a great live band who seem to be everywhere this year, but lately when I hear them I find myself concerned about whether or not Ryan and Marissa’s relationship will survive another turbulent year in The O.C. Not that I’ve ever seen it. (Ahem.) Plus, I’d seen a few members of Trail of Dead swigging rum backstage in the afternoon heat, so I knew we were in for a show that night. And we were—not a coherent show, but a show nonetheless. They immediately apologized for being drunk, and kept the ball rolling by spewing some hate for fellow Texan George W. The band played an admittedly rough set that included some new songs, highlighted by their typical smashed equipment, flying leaps, crowd projectiles, and general destruction and mayhem. Even sauced out of their minds, these guys still put on a better show than most bands on a good night. As a public service announcement, eating three hot dogs on a sunny day at Coney Island does not prevent sunburn. Remember that, in case you make it there next year. —Joel Lapp
DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE’S BEN GIBBARD
BY ROB LEVY
Leonard Cohen once said, “The summer’s almost gone. The winter’s tuning up.” With that in mind, we should look back at this July with happiness and civic pride. It was a great month for music in River City. Hopefully, the dog days of summer and early autumn will be just as grand. July was truly special. Besides having great free shows from Isaac Hayes, Alex Chilton, and the B-52s, we all learned that Al Green just can’t stop. The heat, hoosiers, and humidity of St. Louis in July barely fazed him as he ruled Fair St. Louis; he is, indeed, a hard man to keep down. Green, who was once scalded by burning grits, prayed and grooved through an hour-plus set of faith and funk that was simply mesmerizing. This was great for St. Louis because people from all walks of life forgot their differences, barriers, and problems and simply enjoyed the music. It was a spectacle of beauty. Meanwhile, the rerelease of the Reverend’s back catalog continues with two of his recordings from the early ’70s. 1973’s Call Me and 1974’s Al Green Blows Your Mind. Also in July, !!! played a modest but great set at the Creepy Crawl. By now, everyone knows about the Magnetic Fields’ stellar set at the Pageant in which Stephen Merritt proved even quiet people could be pretentious with dignity. In early August, we have great shows from Boyracer and The Walkmen. Tom Waits is releasing Real Gone on October 4. Dave Grohl has drummed for every band in the world; now he is drumming for Garbage as well as the latest incarnation of Nine Inch
Nails. The next Foo Fighters album should sary Live Aid show for 2005. be ready by the winter. It will be a two-sided Ready to Die, the rap masterpiece from affair: one disc acoustic and one rock. Notorious B.I.G., is being remastered with Sigur Ros are finishing up their new album two new tracks. for a spring 2005 release. The reformed New York Dolls made quite Bootsy Collins and Damon Albarn are a splash with a series of recent U.K. festival just two of the guests on Palookaville, the new dates. Their Meltdown gigs garnered high album from big beatist Fatboy Slim. praise and put the band in demand for tour The Vines have withdrawn from touring for dates all over the world. Sadly, all of this came the foreseeable future, citing exhaustion. The to an end on July 13 with the passing of bassist band recently cancelled two Arthur Kane. U.K. festival appearances The Scissor Sisters as well as their opening gigs will be working on a sinon the Incubus tour. gle with Kylie Minogue Congratulations to the in 2005. folks at River Splash for Madness recently putting together a solid reformed at the More lineup this year. They Festival in Manchester, could have copped out and England. booked crappy classic rock Hilary Duff is gracing LIVE AID AT RFK STADIUM IN PHILADELPHIA bands, but opted instead to our fair city this month. I book fun veterans and up-and-coming hipsters can’t tell you how evil and despotic this event that people wanted to see. truly is. People are paying almost 50 bucks to It took over ten years, but the Wu Tang Clan see her live. All this mediocrity and force-fed has finally reformed. It happened last month at hype is ruining it for the real musicians who San Bernardino’s Rock the Bells festival. have had slow ascending careers and are ready All five studio albums from the Virgin to rock in larger venues. Prunes are being remastered and rereleased. Auteur Neil Jordan (The Crying Game) is From a Basement on a Hill, the final album writing a musical based on Spider-Man for from the late Elliott Smith, is coming out on the Broadway stage. To make things scarier, he October 8. is recruiting U2 to write compositions for the November 10 sees the long-awaited DVD production. In an almost karmic occurrence, release of the entire Live Aid concert. Live Aid the band recently “misplaced” a CD containwas held in Philadelphia and London in 1985 ing rough recordings of their new album during to benefit Ethiopian famine relief. The concert a photo shoot in Nice. featured amazing performances from Queen, Luna is releasing a new album, Rendezvous, Madonna, and U2 along with weird sets by this October. In the meantime, the Pet Shop Boys the likes of the Hooters and Paul Young. Sir have agreed to score a free screening of The Bob Geldof is ruminating a twentieth anniver-
by Bosco (with illustration help from Jessica Gluckman)
C O L O R 2
PLAYBACK ST. LOUIS
With the power out, there was nothing to do but play make-believe.
Elliot and I were Lewis and Clark; we made Henry be Sacajawea.
We sailed our canoe all the way to Eats Bridge. Yum!
August 2004 Battleship Potempkin next month in London’s Trafalgar Square. Their revamped score for this silent film classic will include two new songs and an orchestral accompaniment. Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan are touring together this summer and early fall. Although they could make a mint in giant arenas, the duo has opted for a short tour, booked entirely in minor league ballparks. They will be in Peoria on August 25. Despite having a really good gig on TV, Little Steven has not forgotten his roots. Once again, he is hosting a day of live music, the Garage International Festival. This year’s gig features the old and the new, as Iggy and the Stooges play alongside The Strokes. Electronic chanteuses Client have released a new EP, In It for the Money. The Libertines’ Pete Doherty lends a hand on “Down to the Undeground.” The pre-major label recordings of Dinosaur Jr. are getting remastered and fixed up. Dinosaur, You’re Living all Over Me, and Bug are slated for the shops by the end of the year. Austria’s Sofa Surfers has recorded a smooth cover of “Can I Get a Witness?” It’s on their new album, See the Light. Congratulations to Gojira (Godzilla) on his fiftieth birthday. He still rocks harder than anyone else on the planet. Guided by Voices’ farewell tour starts next month and runs through December; no St. Louis date has been set. This autumn sees the highly anticipated, yet unnamed, new album from Beck, followed by a short tour. Death Cab for Cutie’s Chris Walla will handle production duties for new material for The Decemberists’ next album. No matter how they wrap, slice, or serve it, the BMG/Sony Music merger is a very bad thing. Besides further completing the corporate stranglehold of popular music and culture, it makes it even harder for an artist to get a deal to his/her advantage. It also pinches music distribution, accessibility, and booking. Deals like this make grassroots music promotion and distribution even more vital…plus a lot of record label leeches are now on the streets looking for jobs. The release of a new Prodigy album ensures we are going to spend at least six months in overexposure hell. The same can be said about the reformed Duran Duran, whose new album will teach us all that mediocrity can last several decades and be commercially successful. Weightlifting is the new album from the Trashcan Sinatras; they are touring the States this fall. Mum has composed the soundtrack to The Raftsman’s Razor. Dark techno freaks will be jumping with glee to know that Hanzel und Gretyl is in the studio prepping new material. Mark E. Smith is at it again. Despite having such a great go of it last time, he is again touring the States in support of both 50,000 Fall Fans Can’t Be Wrong, a new two-disc compilation, and his latest, The Real New Fall LP. It is only fitting that we close with news on Leonard Cohen. America’s favorite and most relevant senior citizen is turning 70 this fall. To celebrate, he is releasing a new album entitled Dear Heather. As we enter a season of crap political ads, debates, issues, and spurious banter, please go vote. No matter where you are on the political fence, you need to vote and know the world around you! Once again, if you have not yet registered to vote, please do so. It is simple, easy, and painless. You can even stop by Vintage Vinyl on a Saturday and do it in person. You can’t bitch and complain if you don’t participate!
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PEDRO THE LION By Laura Hamlett David Bazan is the heart, soul, and voice behind indie rock band Pedro the Lion. Through five albums and two EPs, Bazan has let his strong Christian faith guide his songwriting, creating images and landscapes that are more storytelling than preaching. He’s also a strident believer in espousing his political views from stage and in interviews—and they’re not what you might think. Bazan is one of the more openminded, honest individuals with whom you will ever speak. In light of our cover story on music and politics, Playback St. Louis spoke to Bazan by telephone about his faith, and how it intersects with and affects his political beliefs.
There seems to be a bit of a disconnect between your being a strong Christian and also a liberal political voice. I was born at a time when it was more natural for me to question things that my parents just socially weren’t as ready to question. People are a lot less willing to accept something on the basis of a person’s authority and they want to get down to the bottom of it themselves. I think that has defined my interaction with faith and politics. My analysis of Christianity has been extremely disconcerting because I think that Christianity, in most cases, the way that it’s practiced today, is the antithesis of Christ’s teaching and the virtues that he stood for or championed. You’re about to go on tour. On the road, do you speak your mind from the stage, hand out literature, register voters? This last tour, we registered voters with Music for America. Basically, I had a bit of a
political awakening in the midst of being in this band; I think it was in about 2000. I still don’t know so much, but I was very unaware then. When Bush took office, I was a little more antagonistic. Then after 9/11, I was just so dismayed by America’s perception of that event and our response to it that I think just out of frustration I started—I don’t think I could call it anything else but shooting my mouth off from stage. It’s really easy to get up on stage and spew a bunch of anti-Bush rhetoric; there’s just so much, and it’s so valid. But what I would like to have happen is for people who come to see Pedro the Lion to be challenged to think for themselves about politics, to be analytical and to commit to reading about politics, and just trying to discover as much as they can. I just wasn’t sure if those anti-Bush statements were the best way to do that, or if it would just be a big rah-rah George W. sort of moment. Are you a Kerry supporter? The more I’ve been hearing about John Kerry, the more I’m pissed that people feel like they have to vote for that guy because he’s barely the lesser of two evils. I think we’re over a barrel, as we often are, in the two-party system. It’s just that it’s a unique one this time. Are any of the songs on Achilles Heel, your new album, political? I think, on the face of it, they’re more ethical and storytelling. I decided a long time ago that I thought dealing directly with religion and making direct statements about it was a bad idea, and I kind of realized the same
thing about politics, to a certain degree. The art role is just a little bit more complex in making statements about those things. The last record had a lot more statements about it; this record has some implications but not a lot of really direct statements. Do you think musicians have an ethical obligation to speak up on political issues? I’m not sure. I do think that we have a responsibility, not as musicians but as citizens of a democracy, or a democratic republic. The majority of what a democratic republic consists of is that public dialogue, and so because we musicians are [speaking out], it doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that we are musicians or that we are standing in front of people, but that we are members of a democratic republic and that we all should be doing this all the time. The fact that it has become so—not that it’s rare, but it’s just less common to engage with each other. It makes a lot of practical sense to use that voice that people have from stage to encourage dialogue. Which, I think, is the real goal. I do want George W. Bush out of office, very badly. But the more long-term goal is we just need to create a more open dialogue, and for people to be more open to information and not be so freaked out. We have a lot of preconceived ideas about the messages people are trying to give us. Talking from stage, that’s our responsibility as citizens: to engage with people, and to challenge people to engage with one another.
August 2004 Playback St. Louis contributing writer John Kujawski received a nod and a printed retraction from The Riverfront Times last month after they borrowed but failed to credit his illuminating description of local band Killjoy4Fun. Semidivine will be tracking all-new material at New York’s famed Loho Studios with Grammy-nominated producer Glen Robinson (Probot, Voivod, Queensryche, GWAR). www.semidivinemusic.com. In July, Bagheera’s Heather Dallape was busy composing new songs while her compeer, Theodore Moll, was on tour in Europe with MU330 (www.mu330.com). New dates for Bagheera are slated for St. Louis and the Midwest; see www.bagheeramusic.com. Panic Attack has finished mixing a new EP with J. Christopher Hughes at Red Pill Studios; expect a release date in August. On August 8, you can hear the band as 101.1 The River Home Grown Show’s featured artist. First Flight Records artist The Potomac Accord has contributed a song to For Jonathan, a compilation CD benefiting current and future cancer patients of the Children’s Inn. The double CD release features 18 tracks. You can find out more about the For Jonathan benefit CD by visiting www.thegreatvitaminmystery.com. First Flight is accepting inquiries for an unpaid internship. Interested parties can find contact info at www.firstflightrecordlabel.com. Grandpa’s Ghost is ready to perform new material with a lineup consisting of driving force Ben Hanna, his longtime collaborator Bill Emerson, The Conformists’ guitarist Chris Dee, and electronic sound-artist Eric Hall. Check the show out at a new spot, Neshui, at 2838 Cherokee Street (between Nebraska and Oregon), on Saturday August 7. Doors 8 p.m., show at 9 p.m., five bucks. Also on the bill will be Eric Glick Rieman, a Bay Area composer and improviser on his first Midwestern tour with his “self-designed and one-of-a-kind prepared and extended Rhodes electric piano.” www.grandpasghost.com On August 13, Eric Ketzer Experiment will be performing once again on KSDK’s Show Me St. Louis. Eke will be promoting the Verizonsponsored American Cancer Society Benefit that takes place in O’Fallon Civic Park, O’Fallon, Missouri, on August 21. The free show (donations are accepted) will begin at noon and go until 10:30 p.m. Other acts include Top Shelf, Adam’s Off Ox, Se, Madahoochi, and Dionysia. On September 11, the TOCO Music and Peace Festival benefiting Lydia’s House and Violence Prevention will be on the East side in
Greenville, Illinois. Visit www.tocofestival.com for more info. Keep your eyes out for a TOCO Festival Pre-Party at Club Three-1-Three in Belleville on August 7. The STL Board of Education recently acknowledged their intent to donate their entire 16mm film collection to the Ciné 16 St. Louis branch of AFANA. The story has appeared in several dozen mediums around the country, including CNN.com. Mad Art Gallery, located at 2727 S. 12th Street in Soulard, will be producing Protecting Growth, an exhibition of large-scale ceramic and glass sculpture and installation by artists Jay Cummings and Mandy Gerth, who are both current MFA students at Southern Illinois University – Carbondale. A free opening reception will be held on Friday, August 6 from 7 to 11 p.m. with a cash bar available. The exhibit runs through August 29. Artica 2004’s Vessel Awards deadline was July 31, but you may still submit proposals, which will be considered on a case-by-case basis, until September 8. The Vessel Awards are $100 honorariums awarded to individuals and collaborative teams selected by jury. Proposals must meet the specific guidelines. Visit www.artica.org or e-mail email@example.com for more information. SALTWATER
The International Theatre Collective will be leading workshops in Viewpoints, a technique of improvisation which grew out of the post-modern dance world, at Fontbonne University’s aerobics studio August 16 through 19 from 7 to 10 p.m. Advance reservations are required and class size is limited. For ticket and workshop reservations, call 314-7910050 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. In related news, Jeremy Sher, co-founder of Ardeo Theatre Project and collaborator with several local companies, including The New Jewish Theatre, HotHouse Theatre (now HotCity), and The St. Louis Rep, is promoting performances of Saltwater
EDITED BY J. CHURCH (www.jeremysher.com/saltwater). Says Sher, “As part of our ensemble-based approach, we train in two very rigorous physical disciplines everyday: Suzuki and Viewpoints. Nobody else in town works this way, and we’re interested in infusing a sense of intensity and physical craft in the community.” Performances are August 13 and 14 at 8 p.m. in the Black Box Theatre at Fontbonne University’s Fine Arts Building, 6800 Wydown Boulevard. Tickets are $15 general and $12 for students. Music Folk (8015 Big Bend) is bringing yet another accomplished guitarist to St. Louis for a workshop. On Sunday, September 26 at 1 p.m., Al Petteway, who is a contributor to Acoustic Guitar magazine and whose music has been published in five books by Mel Bay Publications, will be demonstrating how to explore the various techniques used in Petteway’s own approach to celtic, blues, appalachian, and contemporary folk styles. A basic knowledge of fingerstyle guitar is helpful and capos are required for this workshop. Tickets are $30. For information, contact Rich Simmons at email@example.com or 314-961-2838. Every Saturday through October 16, Vintage Vinyl in the U. City Loop, in conjunction with America Coming Together (ACT), will be providing eligible parties with the opportunity to register to vote. Vintage Vinyl will present live performances by the area’s best bands and DJs during these events. The free live performances start at 4 p.m., but the voter registration will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. In mid-June, at age 37, Mike Blake, who once held The Riverfront Times People’s Poll award for Best Rock ’n’ Roll Bartender in St. Louis, committed suicide by hanging in Austin, Texas. Mike had worked in the old Cicero’s basement, now occupied by Blueberry Hill’s Duck Room. When he left St. Louis eight years ago, he moved to Austin where he worked at one of their most famous clubs, Stubbs Bar-B-Q. After five years, Just Add Water are calling it quits. Bid them farewell August 21 at Mississippi Nights; also on the bill are Seven Star and Bottle of Justus. Interested in seeing your name in print? Please send news items to firstname.lastname@example.org.
PLAYBACK ST. LOUIS
PAGE BY PAGE BOOKS
I Am Trying to Be an Artist
GREG KOT: WILCO: LEARNING HOW TO DIE (Broadway Books, 247 pages, $14) Did you hear the story about P. Diddy— though at that point still Puff Daddy—strolling the aisles at the Grammys and mistaking our beloved Jeff Tweedy for an usher? (Tweedy was holding extra programs for his bandmates, with whom he’d been nominated for Mermaid Avenue.) Or how about the time a young Tweedy interviewed Soul Asylum for the St. Louis fanzine Jet Lag and the rockers drank the writer’s beer, then hit on his girlfriend? There’s also the tale of the first Farrar-Tweedy collaboration, which, in ninth grade, may have started their relationship off on the wrong foot. Farrar’s peach-fuzz band the Plebes rocked house at a junior-high dance. Tweedy’s role? He hauled in Farrar’s amp. Perhaps the best thing about these stories is that the book they’re in has even better, more substantial things going for it. Far from a string of anecdotes, Wilco: Learning How to Die is a comprehensive look at the evolution of Jeff Tweedy, songwriter; both humorous and serious, it’s a portrait of an artist becoming a man. Kot, music critic for the Chicago Tribune, does two things especially well here: he offers rich background and smart commentary on Tweedy’s creations (“…there are nights when ‘Misunderstood’ sounds like a back-alley mugging”) and then he gets out of the way to let the characters tell the story themselves. It helps everyone’s cause that those he interviewed—Gary Louris, Tony Margherita, Wade and Jay Farrar, Brian Henneman, Peter Buck, Wilco past and present, even Tweedy’s wife and mother—are articulate, clearheaded, funny, and willing to admit the shakiness of particular judgments. Kot chronicles the early years that led to Uncle Tupelo and the recording of each album. Of their debut, No Depression, Tweedy now laughs a bit at how the band “romanticized” the songs’ subjects. “I wrote a song about being drafted,” he jokes, “when there was no draft.” After an east coast recording of Still Feel Gone—Tweedy’s
songs now carrying more weight—UT headed to Peter Buck’s house in Athens to make the March album, an acoustic gem Tweedy calls “the loudest record we ever made.” Kot speculates on the lyrics of the final album, Anodyne (“‘Chickamauga’ could be the first draft of a breakup letter to Tweedy and the rest of the band”), setting the scene for Farrar’s quitting and the duo’s face-off in their Belleville apartment. Farrar: “You don’t know what it’s like to stand onstage with somebody every night who loves themselves as much as you do!” “You’re right,” Tweedy replied, “I don’t have any idea.” Not a zinger of a comeback line, true, but Tweedy was stunned and stung. By their final show—May 1, 1994, at Mississippi Nights—the two were “splitting the lead vocals so evenly it was as if a lawyer had brokered the set list.” Kot spends the book’s remaining two-thirds on the band Tweedy formed very soon after. We learn about Wilco’s first record, A.M., which was artistically leapfrogged by Farrar’s far richer and more substantial Trace. (Brian Henneman: “The first Son Volt record was pretty fucking good. It was like watching a prize fight at that point. Wow! He slammed him there! Ouch! What a counterpunch!”). We follow Tweedy’s invitation to form the supergroup Golden Smog. We’re there for the introduction of the “mad professor” Jay Bennett, the ambitious and redefining Being There, Tweedy’s severe pre-show anxiety attacks, and his fruitful, bristly collaboration with Billy Bragg. Perhaps most interestingly, the reader is able to follow the sharpening of Tweedy’s songwriting skills. “I definitely wanted to get better at writing, and those things happened simultaneously with trying to read better,” Tweedy says, noting a shift in his commitment to the craft that occurred around the time Summerteeth’s songs were coming in. “By writing things down, and putting more words into my head, it put more words into my mouth when I turned on the tape recorder to sing. I didn’t have to resort to the first thought: ‘I’m sitting on the couch, and you
hurt my feelings.’ I worked harder at laying the groundwork to generate inspiration.” But, as Summerteeth’s lyrics can attest, inspiration can sound awfully dreary. Tweedy’s response, guided by studio whiz Bennett, was to “bury those lyrics safely under glass.” In hindsight, however, Tweedy admits, “I wish now that I left those lyrics naked, that we hadn’t spent so much time trying to cover them up. I wasn’t as brave as I could have been.” Maybe he was saving his bravery for sacking Bennett, which he did in August 2001, after Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was written. “A circle,” Tweedy told him, “can only have one center.” (Bennett says he wishes he would’ve replied, “Ah, but an ellipse has two focal points.”) Bravery would remain key for Tweedy as he continued to stretch himself as an artist, forming the more experimental side projects The Minus 5 and Loose Fur. There’s a story involving the last of these that holds a moment telling of Tweedy’s continuing, growth-seeking relationship with his art. While he had a record of fan-friendly decisions (Being There’s single-disc price, the free streaming of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot), the songwriter was treated, during a Loose Fur show in Chicago, to a new three-word cheer from a certain fan: “You suck, Tweedy!” His night was made, his identity as an artist even more defined. “It had been a long time since I’d played in front of something other than a cultish environment, where people don’t feel as free to voice dissent,” Tweedy says near the book’s end. “I took more abuse in that one night than I have in a long time. It makes me feel like I’m on the right track.” —Stephen Schenkenberg STACEY D’ERASMO: A SEAHORSE YEAR (Houghton Mifflin, 368 pages, $24) Coping with a crisis brings out the real nature of a family and its members. In A Seahorse Year, Stacey D’Erasmo paints, in loving and elegant detail, a picture of an unconventional family coping with their 16-year-old son’s schizophrenia. It’s a situation whose stress only highlights the cracks already present in the family’s
JEFF TWEEDY with current and former members of Wilco
foundation. Nan, Christopher’s mother, is in a relationship with Marina, an artist who is seeing someone else. Christopher’s father, Hal, a gay former glam-rock band member turned accountant, is shouldering burdens he’d never planned for—and wondering if his new lover will fly away just as surely as his son has. D’Erasmo shifts often, and sometimes jarringly, between these characters’ points of view. What could be off-putting instead becomes a reflection of the fragmented nature of Christopher’s thoughts and the family itself. It’s deftly rendered by D’Erasmo, who exhibits an uncanny gift for choosing just the right word, the right image. She writes with a quiet grace that belies an undercurrent of tension from the book’s very beginning. Each character is like a wire stretched taut, waiting for something to break the tension and unravel everything. That happens when Christopher returns home, his strange and unpredictable moods leaving disarray and anger as his three parents try to cope with a young man who is not the son they remember. In a way, the manner in which each parent copes is evidence of his/her own little bit of insanity. Nan tries to hold on so tightly that she begins to lose her grip and appears, as the novel progresses, to be as ill as her son. Meanwhile, Marina retreats to her young artist-lover, Shiloh, as she comes to realize that she’s the outsider in the family, the one not tied to Christopher by virtue of biology. Yet that seems to give her the most accurate perspective, such as when she’s painting his room in anticipation of his return: “It occurs to her, as she brushes a streak of tender blue along his ceiling, that her role in all this would seem small only to someone who didn’t understand the importance of the intimate outsider: the interesting aunt, the traveling uncle, the parent’s lover…. Isn’t voluntary love as important as involuntary love? Doesn’t it paint the walls just as well? Better, maybe.” And Hal, once the outrageous artistic type who dressed up like a giant orchid on stage, is the voice and mind of reason, the one who, from the very beginning, both understands and dreads that it will fall to him to carry his son in the end. That this is only D’Erasmo’s second novel makes it all the more impressive how skillfully
she’s structured the plot and how confidently she renders Christopher’s disjointed thoughts with tenderness and beauty. It’s a gentle touch that extends even to the secondary characters: Christopher’s girlfriend, Tamara; and Marina’s lover, Shiloh, who, as an outsider of another kind, also understands more than she lets on. —Jeffrey Ricker ROBERT ROSENBERG: THIS IS NOT CIVILIZATION (Houghton Mifflin, 312 pages, $24) Robert Rosenberg’s debut novel follows a Peace Corps volunteer struggling to help the poor, stubborn folk of the Central Asian Republic of Kyrgyzstan. Jeff, the energetic do-gooder, also winds up teaching students on a Native American reservation in Arizona and desperately trying to aid survivors of a tremendous earthquake in Istanbul. Rosenberg has apparently taken the adage “write what you know” to its limit. He himself volunteered for the Peace Corps in post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan, where he acquired his descriptions of all-male klatches in the community sauna and nightly floods of vodka down the gullet. He also taught students on an Arizona reservation and survived the decimating Istanbul earthquake of 1999. This makes you wonder: is the author cobbling together episodes from his life because that’s the only yarn he can come up with, or is he presenting us with a passionate epic spiced with episodes from his own exotic adventures? Regrettably, it turns out to be the former. The book begins with the promise of sick humor: “The idea of using porn films to encourage the dairy cows to breed was a poor one.” When a bumbling Kyrgyzstani farmer is unable to get his cows to breed, he orders his assistants to film copulating sheep. Screening the “sheep porn” on the barn walls has no effect on the bulls. The dark humor of culture clash continues. Naïve Peace Corps volunteer Jeff falls into an open manhole; it seems the manhole covers are being stolen for use in weightlifting. We
meet a man named after a sturdy farm machine, Traktorbek. After Jeff is violently mugged, a concerned passerby offers him a ride home. As Jeff reels from his beating, he passes out to the strains of the Michael Jackson song “Thriller” blaring from the car stereo. The surreal moments pile up for our man in Kyrgyzstan, and I began to think I was in for my own surreal, hilarious, exotic ride, a lá V.S. Naipaul’s The Mystic Masseur. The first big problem arises with the perils of parallel storytelling. Rosenberg goes back and forth from Jeff-among-thosecrazy-Kyrgyz to the tale of Adam, a confused Apache teen living on an Arizona reservation with his abusive father. We know that somehow the two storylines will eventually converge, but until they do, the drama on the reservation simply isn’t as entertaining—or breezy—as those tales of Central Asian meshuggahs. When Rosenberg finally manages to gather the bumbling farmer, his lovelorn daughter, the tender Apache boy, and a beleaguered Jeff in the same small Istanbul apartment (I know, it sounds like a terrible sitcom), the action is sparse. The farmer looks for a business scheme to save his Kyrgyz village (and when it arrives it is unremarkable). As Jeff goes back and forth with his Turkish squeeze, it’s hard to care about their romance one way or the other. Soon it becomes hard to put a stamp on the book—am I reading a travelogue? A romance? A comedy? A roman a clef? A devastating earthquake in Istanbul is the deus ex machina that’s supposed to provide profundity for all characters concerned; I didn’t buy it. What’s more, the ending was melancholy, a far cry from that promising Naipaul– style humor at the tale’s beginning. Turning a tragedy into a comedy is a glorious feat, but the other way around, as in This Is Not Civilization, just leaves the reader empty and unsatisfied. —Byron Kerman
C O 37
MONDAYS — Sessions Jazz Big Band WEDNESDAYS — Cryin Shame Blues Band THURSDAYS — Marcel Strong B.B.’s Jazz, Blues & Soups has been the home of St. Louis blues for over 25 years. We currently offer lunch starting at 11:00 a.m. (Mon–Fri) featuring St. Louis–style home-cooked and health-conscious cuisine. Music nightly by St. Louis legends and national acts until 3 a.m. B.B.’s—for the best in blues.
MONDAYS — Soulard Blues Band TUESDAYS — Big Bamou WEDNESDAYS — Brian Curran (5–7 p.m.) THURSDAYS — Bennie Smith & the Urban Blues Express SATURDAYS — Brian Curran (6–9 p.m.) The Broadway Oyster Bar, a local favorite for over 25 years, offers the best Cajun-Creole food in the Midwest while offering live music seven nights a week. A great party spot, the Oyster Bar is “a great local dive that never changes — thank goodness.”
Be Sure To Check Out Nick Curran & the Nightlites from Austin, TX: August 21. Live Blues Nightly— see Web site for listings. Beale on Broadway is home to live blues, soul, and R&B seven nights a week. Catch St. Louis diva Kim Massie and the Solid Senders every Tuesday and Thursday at 9:00 p.m. 14 craft beers on draft. 35 Bottles. Full-service dinner menu everyday ’til midnight.
THE KEY TO YOUR FUTURE Andrew Cohen Prudential Alliance Realtors • 314-276-9966 email@example.com
Fair Trade & organically grown coffee air-roasted on site Live acoustic music Saturday nights
Free wireless internet
Mainline Alliance Mortgage • 314-614-7994 firstname.lastname@example.org
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
1000 Schnucks Woodsmill Plaza Town and Country, MO 63017
Iced coffee, frozen frappes and fruit smoothies
3974 Hartford Avenue • St. Louis, MO 63116 (314)771-JAVA www.hartfordcoffeecompany.com
DELIRIOUS NOMAD RUPERT MURDOCH AND HIS MEDIA EMPIRE WANT YOU, ACCORDING TO OUTFOXED— showing free at the Webster Film Series August 26
Weekly: Heroclix tournaments at Comic City in Shrewsbury, The Collector Store in St. Charles, Animagination at St. Louis Mills, Underground Games and Hobbies in Fenton, and Clicks at Crestwood Plaza and South County Mall (www.wizkidsgames.com) Mondays: Live flamenco music and dance at Modesto (314-772-8272, www.modestotapas.com) Tuesdays: Trailnet Tuesday Night Trail Bicycle Rides along the Riverfront Trail, 7–27 miles (www.lacledeslanding.org) Wednesdays: The Black-Eyed Susies play oldtime string-band music at City Museum’s Cabin Inn (www.heyblackeyedsusies.com) August 1: Astronaut Mike Mullane at the St. Louis Science Center (314-289-4424, www.slsc.org) August 1: Fox Theatre Diamond Jubilee with screening of Street Angel accompanied by organist Stan Kann, costume parade, opera, dance, and period entertainments (314-534-1111, www.metrotix.com) August 3–8: National Poetry Slam Finals (314443-4357, www.poetryslam.net) August 4: Frank Noelker discusses and signs Captive Beauty: Zoo Portraits at Left Bank Books (314-367-6731, www.left-bank.com) August 6: First Friday Gallery Walk, Washington Avenue (314-406-5778) August 7: Exploring Ando’s Space opens at the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts (314-754-1850, www.pulitzerarts.org) August 13: Public Telescope Viewing at the St. Louis Science Center (314-289-4453, www.slsc.org) August 13–15: Greater St. Louis Hispanic Festival at Soldier’s Memorial (314-837-6100, www.hispanicfestivalstl.com) August 13–19: Uncut, darker version of original Japanese Godzilla at the Tivoli (314-995-6270, www.landmarktheatres.com) August 14: International Home Movie Day at the Missouri History Museum (314-454-3150, www.mohistory.org) August 14: Ice-Grass Sledding at Sioux Passage Park (314-615-4FUN, www.stlouisco.com/parks) August 15: All-Breed Rescue Day at the AKC Museum of the Dog (314-821-3647, www.akc.org)
August 15–22: Used Book Sale, Jewish Community Center (314-432-5700, www.jccstl.com) August 16: Great Stone Hill Grape Stomp at Stone Hill Winery, Hermann (800-909-9463, www.stonehillwinery.com) August 19: Ciné 16 16 mm academic films screened at Mad Art (www.afana.org/cine16stlouis.htm) August 19: Steel Lounge at Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, club night with live music and cash bar (314-535-4660, www.contemporarystl.org); plus Kim Humphries sell-off of The Collection August 20: Monthly Open House glassblowing party with demos, live music, Art Dimensions exhibit, and BYOB at Third Degree Glass Factory (314-367-4527, www.stlglass.com) August 20–28: Union Avenue Opera Theatre presents Turandot (314-361-2881, www.unionavenue.org/uaot.html) August 21: Mondo Matinee featuring Classic Toon Cavalcade with trailers, cartoons, and short subjects at Webster Films (314-968-7487, www.webster.edu/ filmseries.html) August 21: Parking Lot Flea Market at Jefferson Barracks (314-615-4FUN, www.stlouisco.com/parks) August 21: Weird Al Yankovic at Six Flags (314534-1111, www.metrotix.com) August 22: Belleville Area Bicycling and Eating Society (BABES) Ice Cream Social Ride (618-406-6650, www.gatewayhiayh.org) August 26: Owl Walk at Lone Elk Park with late-night visits with deer, elk, buffalo, owls and more (314-615-4FUN) August 27–28: Desert Moon Dance Academy Medina Belly Dance Conference and Performance (314534-1111, www.desertmoondance.com) August 28: Chuck-a-Burger Car Cruise Night (314-428-5009, www.chuck-a-burger.com) August 29: Kirkwood Farmers’ Market Homegrown Tomato Contest (314-822-0084) August 29: Shine screened at Holocaust Museum and Learning Center film series (314-442-3711) August 31: Otaku Night with screening of Zatoichi #5: On the Road, free sushi, and DVD giveaways at the Tivoli Theatre (314-725-9110, www.starclipper.org) More listings online at www.playbackstl.com
COMPILED BY BYRON KERMAN
If a red-tailed hawk has never descended from the skies to steal your hamburger and flap away, stop by the World Bird Sanctuary’s Birds in Concert for a predator-bird flight demo with a surprise ending. The fascinating wildlife research facility offers live music, food sales, and programs each Thursday in August (636-861-3225, www.worldbirdsa nctuary.org). There’s at least a little of the obsessive in each of us; come see the collections of some folks who’ve indulged their bizarre fetishes at The Wondrous, the Whimsical, and the Weird: Objects from Private Collections at the St. Louis Artists’ Guild (August 1–September 18, 314-7279599, www.stlouisartistsguild.org). If there’s a living heir to Raymond Chandler, it’s probably Walter Mosley, creator of down-and-out L.A. detective Easy Rawlins, his psychotic best friend “Mouse,” and noble can-collector Socrates Fortlow. Mosley holds forth at the St. Louis City Library, Schlafly Branch (August 3, 314-3674120, www.slpl.lib.mo.us). The inaugural Biennial at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis has yielded the magically inventive set pieces of Kim Humphries. The artist hosts game nights involving poker, Victorian parlor games, and improv fun within his postmodern “living room” exhibit (Thursdays, August 5–19; 314-535-4660; www.contemporarystl.org). Filmmaker Reginald “House Party” Hudlin, along with comic-strip artists Aaron “Boondocks” McGruder and Kyle Baker, has scripted a caustic graphic novel about the secession of East St. Louis from the U.S. Hudlin signs Birth of a Nation: A Comic Novel at Left Bank Books (August 6, 314-367-6731, www.left-bank.com). What could be cooler than floating on a raft in a swimming pool and getting wrinkly while Steven Spielberg scares the bejesus out of you as you watch Jaws, projected outdoors at poolside? Act your age and sneak into Teen Movie Night at Shaw Park Pool in Clayton (August 12, 314-290-8501). The finer things are the focus of Beer Belly Night and the Hot-Dog-Eating Contest at the River City Rascals Frontier League baseball game in O’Fallon, Missouri (August 12, 636-240-BATS, www.rivercityrascals.com). Hey, it works for David Wells. On each day of the St. Louis Blooms: Leapin’ Lilies festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden, a child will be invited to stand on one of those surprisingly strong floating water lily pads. Bring a camera (August 14–15, 314-5779400, www.mobot.org). Finally, the good people of Webster Films are so keen on bringing you in to see Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism that there’s no admission charge. Fight the power (August 26, 314-968-7487, www.webster.edu/ filmseries.html).
1860s HARDSHELL CAFE
1860 9th St. • St. Louis, Mo. 63104 314-231-1860
LUCINDA WILLIAMS at THE PAGEANT August 20, 8:00 p.m. • all ages TICKETS: $20 • CALL: 314-726-6161 In order to construct a truly great song, you can’t be afraid to hold your breath and dig down into the darker areas of yourself. You’ve got to dredge the river of your soul and unearth demons you didn’t know were down there and come out a better person, a wiser artist. At least, that’s what works for Lucinda Williams. As a daring, genre-hopping songstress, the cowboy hat, boots, ragged jeans, and tattoobrandishing Williams has mined 25 years’ worth of treasures in forging a musical career replete with critical acclaim, Grammy nominations and victories, and a succession of universally heralded albums. Her latest, World Without Tears, a country-folk-blues-rock tour de force on Lost Highway Records, continues to place the hardedged balladeer at the forefront of Americana music. Her songs are a roadmap of emotion, with planned stops at heartache, longing, 40 and full-leaded elation. Following the release of her sensual Essence in 2001, Time magazine lauded Williams as “America’s Best Songwriter.” The oldest child of renowned poet Miller Williams, her intensely autobiographical songwriting often conjures images of her Louisiana swampland heritage, as witnessed throughout her awardwinning Car Wheels on a Gravel Road from 1998, the personal favorite of many fans and critics, and proudly serving as the apogee of southern balladry. Lucinda Williams is the complete anti-diva, a flagrant rule-breaker without regard for convention. While her voice is not melodious in the traditional sense, it explodes with raw and directed emotion, from the country-pop unrequited desires of “Passionate Kisses” to the dripping honeysuckle drawl of World Without Tears’ eloquent title track. Oh, and she can rock, too. Reference “Real Bleeding Fingers and Broken Guitar Strings” for that. Having recently contributed to the late Gram Parsons tribute concert in L.A., Williams continues to tour in support of her latest album and readies her next release, a new live double CD slated to drop in mid-September. Lucinda Williams has dredged the river of her soul and come out a better person, a wiser artist, and a songwriter beyond compare. So damn the rules. —Larry O’Neal
BAHA ROCK CLUB
305 N. Main St. • St. Charles, Mo. 63301 636-949-0466 • www.baharockclub.com Original bands every Tuesday
BB’S JAZZ, BLUES & SOUPS
700 S. Broadway • St. Louis, Mo. 63102 314-436-5222 • www.bbsjazzbluessoups.com 8/1: Leroy Pierson, DJ Ranx & Dubronix Reggae Band 8/2: Sessions Jazz Big Band 8/3: Pennsylvania Slim Blues band 8/4: Cryin’ Shame Blues Band 8/5: Marcel Strong & The Apostles 8/6: Leroy Pierson, Alvin Jett & The Phat Noiz Band 8/7: Tom Hall, Bennie Smith & The Urban Blues Express 8/8: Leroy Pierson, DJ Ranx & Dubronix Reggae Band 8/9: Sessions Jazz Big Band 8/10: Alvin Jett & The Phat Noiz Blues Band 8/11: Baker-McClaren Blues Band 8/12: Marcel Strong & The Apostles 8/13: Leroy Pierson, Babe Martin & Chump Change Blues Band 8/14: Margaret Bianchetta & Eric McSpadden, The Bel Airs w/Johnnie Johnson 8/15: Leroy Pierson, DJ Ranx & Dubronix Reggae Band 8/16: Sessions Jazz Big Band 8/17: Jason Ricci & New Blood Blues Band 8/18: Arthur Williams Blues Masters 8/19: Marcel Strong & The Apostles 8/20: Alvin Jett & The Phat Noiz Band, Mark Hummel & The Blues Survivors 8/21: Tom Hall, Soulard Blues Band 8/22: Leroy Pierson, DJ Ranx & Dubronix Reggae Band 8/23: Sessions Jazz Big Band 8/24: Alvin Jett & The Phat Noiz Band 8/25: Cryin’ Shame Blues Band 8/26: Marcel Strong & The Apostles 8/27: Leroy Pierson, Chris Beard Blues Band 8/28: Fab Foehners, Bennie Smith & Urban Blues Express 8/29: Leroy Pierson, DJ Ranx & Dubronix Reggae Band 8/30: Sessions Jazz Big Band 8/31: Rich McDonough Blues Band
BEALE ON BROADWAY
17 N. 9th St. • Columbia, Mo. 65201 573-874-1944 • www.thebluenote.com 8/4: Sevendust, Nonpoint, Skindred, Travesty Theory 8/7: Morning After CD Release 8/19: Moog Center for the Deaf Fundraiser 8/21: W.A.S.P, Slugtrail, Transponder
6504 Delmar Blvd. • University City, Mo. 63130 314-727-0880 • www.blueberryhill.com 8/2: The Walkmen 8/12: Van Hunt 8/14: Steve Davis & The TCB Band 8/18: Chuck Berry w/The Bottoms Up Blues Gang 8/25: HIM
BLUES CRUISES on the Becky Thatcher under the Arch 314-621-4040 8/5: Patti & The Hitmen 8/12: Rondo’s Blues Band
THE WAXWINGS at the ROCKET BAR August 6, 9 p.m. • 18+ CALL: 314-588-0088 Detroit’s power pop quartet The Waxwings— fronted by a former member of Reigndance, Andre’s band from Real World 1 (try living that down)—took their name from a Vladimir Nabakov poem, but don’t mistake them for bookish navel-gazers. Their songs are pop songs, you bet, all harmonies and tambourines, but when they blast out their hooky pop with T-Rex–y guitars, tambourines, and organ beds, The Waxwings’ rock Nuggets-for-now style stomps with a sweetened Chuck Berry swagger.
Their third and best LP, the just-released Let’s Make Our Descent, recorded with newly crowned Detroit pop royalty Brendan Benson, is less power pop and more in line with their ’60s British garage heroes: The Kinks, The Pretty Things, and The Who. —Brian McClelland
THE BILLY GOAT 1449 S. Vandeventer • St. Louis, Mo. 63110 314-371-4628 • www.billygoatstl.com
BOTTLENECK BLUES BAR Ameristar Casino – St. Charles 1260 Main St. • St. Charles, Mo. 63301 636-940-4966 • www.ameristarcasinos.com
6525 Delmar Blvd. • University City, Mo. 63130 314-727-3663 • http://brandtscafe.com
BROADWAY OYSTER BAR
736 S. Broadway • St. Louis, Mo. 63102 314-621-8811 • www.broadwayoysterbar.com Mondays: Soulard Blues band Tuesdays: Big Bamou Wednesdays: Brian Curran 5-7pm Thursdays: Bennie Smith & The Urban Blues Express Saturdays: Brian Curran 6-9p 8/1: Tiny Cows 8/4: Hip Grease 8/6: Hudson & the Hoodoo Cats 8/7: Jake’s Leg 8/8: Johnny Fox 8/11: Mojo Syndrome 8/13: Dangerous Kitchen 8/14: Impala Deluxe 8/15: Not Quite Nashville 8/18: Shakey Ground 8/20: Soulard Blues Band 8/21: Gumbohead 8/22: TOCO pre-party w/Bottoms Up Blues Gang, Earthsol, & more 8/25: John Lisi & Delta Funk 8/27: Cumberland Gap 8/28: Jake’s Leg 8/29: Theresa James & the Rhythm Tramps
CABIN INN at the City Museum
701 S. Broadway • St. Louis, Mo. 63102 314-621-7880 • www.bealeonbroadway.com Every Sunday: The MoonGlades Every Monday: Shakey Ground Blues Band Every Tuesday: Kim Massie & The Solid Senders Every Wednesday: Rich McDonough Blues Band Every Thursday: Kim Massie & The Solid Senders 8/6: Melissa Neels Band 8/7: Urban Music Coalition 8/13: Rich McDonough Band 8/14: Sean Kellerman Trio 8/20: Rich McDonough Band 8/21: Nick Curran and the Nitelifes 8/27: Rich McDonough Band 8/28: Scott Kay and the Continentals 1000 Sidney St. • St. Louis, Mo. 63104 314-771-3066
8/19: Soulard Blues Band 8/26: Bluesdaddy
16th & Delmar • St. Louis, Mo. 314-231-2489 Every Monday: Traditional Irish jam Every Tuesday: Acoustic jam w/Dave Landreth & friends Every Wednesday: The Blackeyed Susies Every Thursday: The Sawmill Band
6691 Delmar Blvd. • University City, Mo. 63130 314-862-0009 • www.ciceros-stl.com Every Monday: Madahoochi & Friends Every Tuesday: The Schwag Every Wednesday: Open Mic 8/1: Afternoon Show: Instant Iguana & Gothic Blues Quartet 8/2: Stout 8/5: Spookie Daly Pride w/Super Session 8/6: Jake’s Leg 8/7: Backyard Tire Fire & The Benevolent Mushrooms 8/8: Afternoon Show: Somnia 8/12: The Jeremiah Bridge w/TBA 8/13: Jake’s Leg 8/14: TBA 8/15: Afternoon Show: The Contradictions 8/19: EarthSol & Escape w/Kevin Lucas Orchestra 8/20: Jake’s Leg 8/21: Naked Goove w/Funktifyno 8/22: Afternoon Show: Brooklyn Deadwood w/TBA 8/26: Hazel Music Syndicate
CJ MUGGS 101 W. Lockwood • Webster Groves, Mo. 63119 314-963-1976 • www.cjmuggs.com
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4 3 8 C 8 8 8 8 8 8
8/13: Long Since Forgotten, Casey Reid Hazelwould 8/14: Kill Allen Wrench, Torg, The Supermen, The Scared, The Fucking Americans, The Pubes 8/17: High On Fire, Tummler, Bongzilla, Lofreq 8/19: Authority Zero, New Blood Revival, ASG Signature 8/24: On Broken Wings, Shattered Realm, The Warriors, Black My Heart, The Judas, Cradle 8/29: Between the Buried and Me, Burnt by the Sun, Premonitions of War
2144 Market St. • St. Louis, Mo. 63103 314-421-6969
w/THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES, PARIS, TEXAS, SINCE BY MAN at the CREEPY CRAWL August 1, 7 p.m. • all ages TICKETS: $8/10 • CALL: 314-851-0919
The most damaging thing that a person can have stolen from them prematurely is the inborn innocence, a belief that the world is only negligently hurtful and all people have hearts encased in solid gold, filled with good deeds just waiting to be spread like pollen. San Francisco’s Communique placed an immaculately blooming red flower on the cover of their Lookout! Records debut, but it’s a red herring as the songs on the album staple more pain to their glittered-up, modishly synthadelic sing-a-long choruses than do most. There is a staunch duality between the sad and the gentle that effectively brings the midnight darkness of Interpol face-to-face with the more sunny than not pleats of Hot Hot Heat. Every song explores the shattering of secrets and the forking of the universal human spirit. Singer Rory Henderson is convincing—because of untiring fieldwork or other means—as a guide to the underbelly of heartbreak, deconstructing the matrix of it and boiling it down to a line as perfectly believable as, “All the best lies are sealed with a kiss.” —Sean Moeller COLUMBIA CITY SALOON 1101 Valmeyer Rd • Columbia, Il. 62236 618-281-6410 • www.columbiacitysaloon.com
CORNER BAR & GRILL 571 First Capitol Dr. • St. Charles, Mo. 63301 636-724-9608
412 N. Tucker • St. Louis, Mo. 63101 314-851-0919 • www.creepycrawl.com 8/1: These Arms Are Snakes Paris, Texas, Since by Man, Communique 8/2: Go Betty Go, Avoid One Thing, The Signature Sibylline 8/4: June, The Citation, Haze Would Bastian 8/5: Kill Hannah 8/6: Texas Terri, The Pubes, The Electric, The Hail, Mary’s 8/11: Blindside Me Without You, The Kick 8/12: Finch Recover Counterfit, 5 Speed
419 N. Euclid • St. Louis, Mo. 63108 314-361-1060 2002 Arena Pkwy. • St. Charles, Mo. 63303 636-896-4200 • www.familyarena.com 8/3: Hilary Duff 8/19: Heart
FAMOUS BAR 5213 Chippewa • St. Louis, Mo. 63109 314-832-2211
2720 Sutton • Maplewood, Mo. 63143 314-781-4200 • www.thefocalpoint.org
HAMMERSTONE’S 2028 S. 9th St. • St. Louis, Mo. 63104 314-773-5565 Every Sunday: Voodoo Blues w/Bennie Smith
LIndbergh & Watson Rds. • St. Louis, Mo. 63127 636-256-8522 • www.eliteconcerts.com
GRAHAM’S BAYOU BAR & GRILL 612 W. Woodbine • Kirkwood, Mo. 63122 314-371-4628
TWEETER CENTER, TINSLEY, ILLINOIS August 12, 5 p.m. • all ages TICKETS: $15–66 • CALL: 708-614-1616
15415 Clayton Rd. • St. Louis, Mo. 63139 636-256-0221
HARTFORD COFFEE 3974 Hartford Ave. • St. Louis, Mo. 63116 314-771-JAVA
Road trip to Chicago! True, St. Louis isn’t getting this incredible festival lineup, but really, Chicago’s not all that far. And you’ve been meaning to head north for a long weekend anyway, so now’s your chance.
HELEN FITZGERALD’S 3650 S. Lindbergh • St. Louis, Mo. 63127 314-984-0026
1001 McCausland Ave. • St. Louis, MO 63105 314-781-4716 • www.hi-pointe.com
1403 Washington Ave. • St. Louis, MO 314-588-8900
FREDERICK’S MUSIC LOUNGE
THE CURE, INTERPOL, THE RAPTURE, MOGWAI; SECOND STAGE: MUSE, AUF DER MAUR, THE COOPER TEMPLE CLAUSE, HEAD AUTOMATICA MAIN STAGE:
527 N. Grand Blvd. • St. Louis, Mo. 63103 314-534-1111 • www.fabulousfox.com 4454 Chippewa • St. Louis, Mo. 63116 314-351-5711 • www.fredericksmusiclounge.com 8/2: Free Monday Movies 8/3: The Good Looks & Bibowats 8/4: Micah Schnabel of Two Cow Garage & Fred Friction 8/5: Free noiseday Hootenanny Open Mic & Jam Session hosted by Tommy Halloran 8/6: Mary Alice Wood & The Dreadful Yawns 8/7: Moonshine Sway & The Randy Cliffs 8/9: Free Monday Movies 8/11: Moviehouse Arcade & Ten High 8/12: Free Noiseday Hootenanny Open Mic & Jam Session hosted by Bob Reuter 8/16: Free Monday Movies 8/17: Annie Quicken 8/18: The Brides & Spot 8/19: Free Noiseday Hootenanny Open Mic & Jam Session hosted by Brian Marek 8/20: Mr. Opporknockit & Arthur Dodge 8/21: The Splinters and Tommy & The Sharks 8/23: Free Monday Movies 8/24: Michael Kelsey 8/26: Free Noiseday Hootenanny Open Mic & Jam Session hosted by Jonathan Baer 8/28: The Patsys and The Ponocaptors 8/30: Free Monday Movies 8/31: Mystery Girls & BBQ
THE CURIOSA FESTIVAL
PHOTO: NEAL CASAL
6235 Delmar Blvd. • University City, Mo. 63130 314-725-6565 • www.delmarrestaurant.com
728 Lafayette St. • St. Louis, Mo. 63104 314-436-7705
VAN HUNT at BLUEBERRY HILL’S DUCK ROOM August 12, 9 p.m. • 21+ TICKETS: $10 • CALL: 314-727-0880 In his self-penned and extremely self-serious bio, the golden-age-of-soul revivalist Van Hunt tells of a childhood spent soaking up his pimp father’s seedy lifestyle—drinking, cursing, and playing cards while drugs and whores were bought and sold in the very same room—which, like the movie-of-the-week it sounds like, came with a soundtrack of classic soul and R&B. These early experiences inform the songs on his self-titled debut, a near-perfect mix of vintage soul and rap-free grooves. Like Prince or Lenny Kravitz, Hunt is a multitalented force-of-one in the recording studio, writing his songs and recording nearly all of the instruments himself. He explains, “It is the inner-turmoil and the struggle to remain sane that stimulates me,” with a straight face and I’m like, whatever. —Brian McClelland
Since the dissolution of Lollapalooza, The Cure’s Curiosa Festival is the best thing going. Check out the lineup (above). Aside from the mopey greats, you’ve got two fistfuls of contemporary bands who follow in The Cure’s footsteps, all hand-picked by Robert Smith. With the release of their self-titled thirteenth album, The Cure are just as relevant and exciting now as they ever were. They’ve 41 inspired countless bands, many of whom recall the sounds of classic ’80s wave. Smith himself is an admitted fan of The Rapture and Interpol; for their part, the progeny can’t say enough good things about their mentor. “We’re really excited about it,” confirmed Vito Roccoforte, drummer for The Rapture. “We all like The Cure; they’re a really good group. I think they’re seeing another kind of renaissance, if you will. And actually, the lineup’s great. Mogwai’s playing; I like them a lot. Interpol, too.” Asked how the band felt when they learned Robert Smith was a fan, Roccoforte effused, “It was cool. What was it, like a Spin article or something? He said he had our album in the car.” As for The Cooper Temple Clause, Cure countrymen playing the second stage, they just enjoy America. “It’s like having 100 different countries in one,” said bassist/guitarist Dan Fisher. “Over here, each place has its own characteristics. You go the length and breadth of Britain and you’ve pretty much seen the whole country.” “We’re going to get a barbecue and a ping pong table, tailgate after every show...make it fun,” promises Roccoforte. Face it...you ain’t seen this kind of fun in years. Toss the sun block and the dancing shoes in the car and let’s go. —Laura Hamlett
PLAYBACK ST. LOUIS
Mon: KDHX 88.1 Night Tues: Music Industry Night Wed: Crazy movie night
8/12: Bug 8/13: Dave Stone Trio 8/14: Pat Sajak Assassins & The Brakemen 8/15: Reggae-dub Spin 8/16: Open Mic with Keiren Malloy 8/18: eighty-four Glyde 8/19: Gasoline Alley 8/20: Dave Stone Trio 8/21: The Good Griefs 8/22: Reggae-dub Spin 8/23: Open Mic with Keiren Malloy 8/25: eighty-four Glyde 8/26: Cherry Octopi 8/27: Dave Stone Trio 8/28: The Civil Tones 8/29: Reggae-dub Spin 8/30: Open Mic with Keiren Malloy
JAQUES SPORTS BAR 400 South 14th St. • St. Louis, Mo. 63103 314-619-6490
JAZZ AT THE BISTRO 3536 Washington Ave. • St. Louis, Mo. 63103 314-531-1012 • www.jazzatthebistro.com
JIMMY’S ON THE PARK 706 DeMun • Clayton, Mo. 63105 314-725-8585
5800 Gravois • St. Louis, MO 63116 314-481-4812
LEMP NEIGHBORHOOD ARTS CTR.
3301 Lemp Ave. • St. Louis, MO 63118 314-771-1096 • www.lemp-arts.org 8/1: Frankenixon, SirReal, Cummichung 8/2: Growing 8/4: The Skeletons, Anna Oxygen w/Leg and Pants Danstheathre, An Emergency 8/5: Bullet Train To Vegas, Theives and Assassins, Jet Black, So Many Dynamos 8/6: Lord of Yum Yum, Corbeta Cobata, Mat Watson 8/7: Struction 8/8: Voter Registration Show: V9R9D, Full of It 8/9: Under the Helocopter, The Breakdown, Modern Day Urban Barbarians 8/11: Eric Reiman 8/13: Emperor X, The Happening 8/14: Bob Rainey, Jon Mueller, Jim Schoenecke, Epicycle 8/15: Piglet, Fuiguirnet, Building Press, Mister Metaphor, Dancing Feet March to War 8/16: Casioton for the Painfully Alone, Shark Mountain 8/17: Step On It, Sidexwalk 8/20: Crime In Sterio, The Reform, Burning Bridges 8/21: INSHI 8/22: Another Dead Juliet, With Childlike Eyes, Jet Black 8/26: Modern Life is War 8/27: In The Sockett 8/28: Dye Mofo’s Benefit for Having Worst Luck 8/29: Voter Registration Show: Racetrack, Target Market, So Many Dynamos
1551 S. 7th St. • St. Louis, Mo. 63104 314-621-2181 Tuesdays: Toxic Tuesdays Wednesdays: Humpday Hootenanny Thursdays: FM 101.1 The River Home Grown Show 8/7: eKE 8/13: eero, Supercrush, Dave AlanS Band Reunion 8/14: Lost Parade 8/20: Hip Grease, Madahoochi 8/21: Fuglees, Maxtone 8/27: Side of Fives 8/28: Lord Baltimore
LLYWELYN’S PUB 4747 McPherson • St. Louis, Mo. 63108 314-361-3003
4500 Clayton Ave. • St. Louis, MO 314-535-8061 Every Monday: Open Mic w/Heather Barth Every Thursday: Jake’s Leg 8/7: Flop House Kings 8/10: Tim Fahy and Randy Furrer and Ali & Emily 8/13: Shakey Deal w/guest 8/14: Naked Groove
MARYLAND YARDS at the Waterworks
ROBBIE FULKS at the HI-POINTE August 13, 9 p.m. CALL: 314-781-4716
MALLE’S 3506 Hampton Ave • St. Louis, Mo. 63139 314-352-5566
3145 S. Grand Ave. • St. Louis, MO 314-664-8585 • www.dineatmangia.com 8/1: Reggae-dub Spin 8/2: Open Mic with Keiren Malloy 8/4: eighty-four Glyde 8/5: Hicks & Kreher 8/6: Dave Stone Trio 8/7: Brian Sullivan Quartet 8/8: Reggae-dub Spin 8/9: Open Mic with Keiren Malloy 8/11: eighty-four Glyde
PHOENIX 3924 Lemay Ferry Rd. • St. Louis, Mo. 63125 314-416-4266
1403 Mississippi • Sauget, Il. 62201 618-274-6720 • www.popsrocks.com 8/5: Finger Eleven 8/6: Bad Boys of Metal w/Jani Lane and Kevin Dubrow 8/7: Mr. Brownstone: A Tribute to Guns N’ Roses 8/14: The System: A Tribute to Bob Seger 8/28: Soulfly
1200 S. Main St. • St. Charles, Mo. 63301 636-757-9273
914 N. First St. • St. Louis, Mo. 63102 314-421-3853 • www.mississippinights.com 8/1: Static X & Soil 8/3: Lost Prophets w/Midtown & 18 Visions 8/4: Ludo 8/5: National Poetry Slam 8/6: Crescent Moon Connection w/Liquid Groove Theory & Drooklyn Deadwood 8/13: Ultra Blue CD Release 8/14: Seventeen & 7, One Down, and TBA 8/16: Umphrey’s McGee 8/20: Garaj Mahal & Anchondo 8/21: Just Add Water w/Bottle of Justus and Sevenstar
Friday the Thirteenth. The Hi-Pointe. Robbie Fulks. Talk about a prescription for pandemonium! With at least one Grand Ole Opry gig freshly added to his résumé and a new CD reportedly in the works at last, the long, lean roots rebel behind such low-key, sensitive offerings as “She Took a Lot of Pills (and Died)” and “The Scrapple Song” (to choose two tracks at random from his 1996 Country MOJO’S 1013 Park Ave. • Columbia, MO Love Songs, also chosen more or less at 573-875-0588 • www.mojoscolumbia.com random from among his five original CDs) 8/4: Spookie Daly Pride, Soulstace most recently visited St. Louis two months 8/12: Emperor X, Corbeta Corbata 8/13: Happy Hour with the Bate Shop Boys ago for Twangfest 8, at which he didn’t so 8/14: Shady Deal, Barney’s Jive Band much treat attendees to a killer performance 8/18: Head of Femur, Early Day Miners as treat them to a Killer performance: Fulks 8/19: Garaj Mahal brought to the stage a level of lunatic energy 8/20: Bobby Bare Jr. worthy of Jerry Lee Lewis in his prime. In all likelihood, in that regard, Fulks won’t just play MOLLY’S Geyer Ave. • St. Louis, Mo. 63104 the Hi-Pointe—he’ll rip the joint. —Bryan A. 816 314-241-6200 Hollerbach THE MUSIC CAFÉ 8/17: Confluence Benefit 8/18: Hail Mary’s and the Unmutuals 8/20-21: KDHX benefit 8/27: Mini Van Blues Band 8/28: TOCO pre-party 8/31: Western Soul
8/7: National Poetry Slam Team Finals 8/20: Lucinda Williams 8/21: Benoit Freeman Project w/David Pack 8/22: Guitars & Saxes 2004 w/Mark Antoine, Jeff Golub, Warren Hill, Euge Groove 8/26: Musiq
120 S. 9th St. • Columbia, MO 573-815-9995 • www.themusiccafecolumbia.com
3509 Lemp Ave. • St. Louis, MO 314-773-3363 • www.offbraodwaystl.com 8/4: Jupiter Jazz w/Interphase 8/5: Cornmeal 8/6: The Wilders, The Lodge Brothers & The Greers 8/7: Scott Kay & The Continentals w/The Melroys 8/13: Fred’s Variety Group 8/14: The Homewreckers w/Panic Attack 8/21: Peter Salett, Don Piper & Silent Page CD Release 8/25: NASI Songwriters in the Round 8/27: Bugs Henderson & The Shuffle Kings
6161 Delmar Blvd. • St. Louis, MO 314-726-6161 • www.thepageant.com 8/1: Spyro Gyro 8/3: Cowboy Junkies 8/5: Sevendust w/Nonpoint, Skindred, Travisty Theory 8/6: Mint Condition
CASIOTONE FOR THE PAINFULLY ALONE w/SHARK MOUNTAIN, MUSTARDFISH ROB, and GOOGOLPLEXIA at LEMP NEIGHBORHOOD ARTS CENTER August 16, 8 p.m. • all ages TICKETS: $5 • CALL: 314-771-1096 To enjoy things in a much fuller degree, college-age or post-graduate types of people often invent clever games in which they imbibe alcohol whenever a certain word is said or action is performed on a television show or movie. It immediately brings the audience and the artist closer while putting a hurtin’ on a bottle of Jack or case of Miller Lite. A quick suggestion to an adaptation of the fad would be a competitive crush game, where winsome and winnable co-eds approach keyboard nut/Painfully Alone star Owen Ashworth to try to win a song on the next album. Those with the best chance would be girls with whom the lovelorn Ashworth, a literary softie who sounds like Ben Lee and seems to favor impossible cases, could carry on an all-night conversation. And a good, sweet name like Jeane, Eleanor, or Edith Wong is a must. There’s room on the next album for you. Winners will just have to drink it all at once. Besides the game, the sensitive and achy songs of despair promise to hold your attention. —Sean Moeller
WANT TO BE SEEN BY THOUSANDS OF MUSIC AND ART LOVERS EVERY MONTH? JOIN PLAYBACK AS AN ADVERTISER OR EVEN SPONSOR A WHOLE SECTION. PLAYBACK IS EXPANDING AND WE WANT YOU TO BE PART OF IT! CALL JIM AT 314-630-6404 OR E-MAIL AT JIM@PLAYBACKSTL.COM.
POP’S BLUE MOON
5249 Pattison • St. Louis, Mo. 63110 314-776-4200 • www.popsbluemoon.com Every Tuesday: World’s Most Dangerous Open Jam 8/2: Irene Allen Acoustic 8/4: Rhythm Changes, Tim Moody & Wayne Kimler 8/5: Tango Loco 8/6: Dave Black & Marr Kimmick 8/7: Joe Mack, Naked Groove 8/9: Josh’s Birthday 8/11: Brian Curran 8/12: Wayne Kimler Jazz 8/13: World Jazz Quartet 8/14: Deuce 8/16: Johnny Fox 8/19: Tim Moody Solo 8/20: 710 Tribute to the Dead 8/21: Madahoochi Acoustic 8/23: Open Mic Acoustic w/Shane Maue 8/25: The Bottoms Up Blues Gang 8/26: Full Circle Jazz 8/27: Naked Groove 8/28: Cherri Octopi
2001 Locust St. • St. Louis, Mo. 63103 314-588-0088 • http://rocketbar.net 8/4: Overstep, The Timer, Caporetto 8/6: Wax Wings, Brain Regiment 8/11: Old Canes, The Race
RUSTY’S 1201 N. Main St. • Edwardsville, IL. 62025 618-656-1113
6 Main St. • St. Peters, Mo. 63376 636-397-5383 • www.sallyts.com 8/3: Open Mic 8/4: Sigma and Outbound 8/5: Corn Meal and Stendek 8/6: Pike Station w/Eric Wilson & the Filth McNasties 8/7: Soma 8/11: Matt Cavanaugh w/The Long Road Ahead & See The Sky
3227 Cherokee St. • St. Louis, Mo. 63118 www.radiocherokee.net 8/1: Corndowg and Bad Folk 8/3: Martha Dump Truck Massacre w/The Floating City 8/5: Taranism, The bran (…) Pos, Blango, Lord of the Yum Yum 8/9: Athletic Automation, Yowlie, Bellweather 8/14: Red Pony Clock, Shed Shot
REMY’S KITCHEN & WINE BAR 222 S. Bemiston • Clayton, Mo. 63105 314-726-5757
RHYTHM & BREWS 541 N. Grand • St. Louis, Mo. 63103 314-531-JAVA Every Monday: Acoustic Blues Jam w/Bootigrabbers Delight 8/5: Molly Irene & Friends 8/12: Black Eyed Susies 8/19: Irene Allen (from The Round Ups) 8/26: Kimmy V (from EarthSol)
RIDDLE’S PENULTIMATE 6307 Delmar • University City, Mo. 63130 314-725-6985 8/1: John Norment Quartet 8/3: Jeff Lash Trio 8/4: Ptah Williams Trio 8/5: Uncle Albert 8/6: Boney Goat Band 8/7: Swirl 8/8: John Norment Quartet 8/10: Jeff Lash Trio 8/11: Ptah Williams Trio 8/12: The Bottoms Up Blues Gang 8/13: Zydecco Crawdaddys 8/14: Mojo Syndrome 8/15: John Norment Quartet 8/17: Jeff Lash Trio 8/18: Ptah Williams Trio 8/19: Uncle Albert 8/20: The Bottoms Up Blues Gang 8/21: Swirl 8/22: John Norment Quartet 8/24: Jeff Lash Trio 8/25: Ptah Williams Trio 8/26: The Bottoms Up Blues Gang 8/27: The Flying Mules 8/28: Cumberland Gap 8/29: John Norment Quartet 8/31: Jeff Lash Trio
8/12: Manifest, Wat, Hogwash and DJ Odessy 8/13: Bryan Curran and Spooge 8/18: Fance, Group Think & Shall We Dance 8/19: Kapital and Fufanus 8/20: The Saw is Family and Holy Frog 8/21: Benefit for Deni’ Indian Tribe 8/26: Rex 84 8/27: Break Beat Mechanic, Adams Off Ox, Brew, Village Idiot 8/28: Jenifer Damere, B. Koolman, The Lot Lizards & Buttonhook
7260 Southwest Ave. • Maplewood, Mo. 63143 314-241-BEER • www.schlafly.com
SCHLAFLY TAP ROOM
2100 Locust St. • St. Louis, Mo. 63103 314-241-BEER • www.schlafly.com
THE SHANTI 825 Allen Ave. • St. Louis, Mo. 63104 314-241-4772 Every Tuesday: Open Mic w/Kimmy V 8/5: Paul Fryer 8/6: Scotty Stings 8/7: High Maintence, Digglers Lounge 8/12: Bob Case 8/13: Alley Mutts 8/14: Pickin’ Lickin’, Steve Bise 8/18: Tom Hall 8/19: Rum Runners 8/20: Mark Gorden 8/21: TOCO Pre-Party 8/26: Paul Jarvis 8/27: Kevin Lucas 8/28: Pickin’ Lickin’, Vitamen A
SHELDON CONCERT HALL
at the FAMILY ARENA 3648 Washington Blvd. • St. Louis, Mo. 63108 314-533-9900 • www.sheldonconcerthall.com August 19, 7 p.m. • all ages TICKETS: $22-35 • CALL: 636-896-4200 SQWIRE’S About 15 years before Seattle became known 1415 S. 18th St. • St. Louis, Mo. 63104 314-865-3522 as the home of the grunge movement, two talented Seattle sisters named Anne and Nancy ST. LOUIS CASA LOMA BALLROOM Wilson formed a band that created their own 3354 Iowa • St. Louis, Mo. 63118 314-664-8000 rock revolution of sorts: one fueled by estrogen, which at the time was still somewhat of STUDIO CAFÉ a rarity. Often referred to as the female Led 1309 Washington Ave. • St. Louis, Mo. 63103 314-621-8667 Zeppelin, Heart thoroughly rocked the airwaves and arenas of the late ’70s through the 8/6: Rockhouse Ramblers 8/7: Tory Starbuck and Friends late ’80s, with monster-sized hits like “Crazy 8/14: The Unmutuals on You,” “Magic Man,” and “Barracuda.” The 8/20: Balseen Timer w/Bricklayer 8/21: Falling Martins positively combustible combination of Anne’s 8/27: Dizzy Atmosphere multi-octave vocals and Nancy’s masterful 8/28: LTD guitar wizardry made Heart a musical force to be reckoned with. SYBERG’S 2430 Old Dorsett Rd. • St. Louis, Mo. 63043 Then in the early ’90s, Nancy took some 314-785-0481 time off to marry rock journalist/filmmaker THREE-1-THREE Cameron Crowe, while Anne took time off to 313 E. Main St. • Belleville, Il. 62220 consume large quantities of food (although 618-239-6885 • www.three-1-three.com recent pictures show her to be back down to a Every Monday: Park Avenue Trio much more normal weight). After a brief side- Every Tuesday: DJ Rob Gray Every Thursday: DJ Kelly Dell, Just J, Andreas Ardesco project stint as The Love Mongers in the late 8/6:The Randy Cliffs & Sin City Injectors ’90s, Heart has made its comeback with the 8/8: 12 Summers Old, Bi-Level, Richard Cory June 22 release of Jupiter’s Darling (Sony), their first album in over a decade. —Michele TOUHILL PERFORMING ARTS CTR. University of MO – St. Louis • St. Louis, MO Ulsohn 314-516-4949 • www.touhill.org
MOONLIGHT RAMBLE DOWNTOWN ST. LOUIS August 28, 10 p.m. • all ages TICKETS: $20-25 • www.moonlightramble.com Presented by the Gateway Council of Hostelling International USA, the Moonlight Ramble attracts 10,000 riders annually; since 1964, it has been held downtown during the August full moon. The event comprises pre-ride activities, including entertainment and a vendor village, a leisurely 12 to 20 mile bike ride through the streets of St. Louis, and an after-party at the City Museum. Registration forms are available at Westfield ShoppingTown service desks, local bicycle shops, City Museum, Gateway Council office, and online at www.moonlightramble.com. Registration price ($20 advance, $25 day of ride) also includes a commemorative t-shirt, SAG support and rest stop during the ride, and after-party. Check-in and registration begins 10:00 p.m. at Poelker Plaza (13th and Chestnut), with the ride commencing at 12:01 a.m.—rain or (moon) shine. —Jim Dunn TRAINWRECK ON THE LANDING 720 N. 1st St. • St. Louis, Mo. 63102 314-436-1006
TRAINWRECK SALOON – WEST PORT 314 West Port Plaza • St. Louis, Mo. 63146 314-434-7222
VENICE CAFÉ 1906 Pestalozzi • St. Louis, Mo. 63118 314-772-5994
WAY OUT CLUB
2525 S. Jefferson Ave. • St. Louis, MO 314-664-7638 • www.wayoutclub.com 8/3: Pat Sajak Assassins 8/4: The Moonglades, Red Ass Jones, Gold Bondsmen 8/5: Meh 8/6: Highway Matrons, Bang!Bang! 8/7: Mirror Image 8/11: The Moviehouse Arcade 8/12: The Bureau 8/13: Bunnygrunt, Iron Dove, The Maybellines 8/14: Head Shop, Reigning Heir 8/18: Entropy 8/19: Sisterloveshovel 8/20: The Fuglees 8/21: Trip Daddys & Sex Robots 8/25: The Zim Zam Show 8/26: Berkband 8/27: Gentleman Callers & M.O.T.O. 8/28: Aintry, Mug Shots, Trailer Park Travoltas 8/31: Brant Bjork & The Bros, Lo Freq
GET YOUR CLUB LISTED IN WHAT’S GOING ON HERE? FREE! E-mail listings to email@example.com or fax to 877-204-2067. Deadline for the September issue is August 15.
PLAYBACK ST. LOUIS
BY STEVE KISTULENTZ
Squeeze: Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti (A&M)
As in the old police shows, the name has been changed to protect the innocent. I’ll call him Tom. He’s old enough to know better, having just turned 30. He’s got a pretty impressive archive of solid state 1970s cheese on CD, and he’s been known to psyche himself up for a night out at the Foxhead (our small, pungent Iowa City writers’ bar) by singing along, in his best Peter Cetera falsetto, with Chicago’s Greatest Hits. But like too many fans, when it comes to Squeeze, the extent of his knowledge is “Tempted,” the band’s best-selling single. So I started to make Tom a compilation CD, some of the best of Squeeze. I left off the familiar college-era tunes that dominate Singles—45s and Under, their perennially best-selling greatest hits collection. As I loaded tracks, I found I kept piling on songs from 1985’s Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti, an unvarnished peak into the rollercoaster Squeeze experience. The band’s narrative history reads like the plot of a made-for-television movie: brotherly dustups, musical divorces and remarriages, and, most especially, battles with the bottle. In 1982, despite sold out shows at Madison Square Garden, the band fell apart after an acrimonious U.S. tour in support of the crazily uneven Sweets From a Stranger. The demise of Squeeze was announced via press release, proving that the band’s trademark humor had at least survived the ordeal: “Squeeze has decided that the band as a horse has run its course, and the jockeys are considering new mounts.” But after a nearly three-year hiatus, frontmen and songwriters Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook agreed to reform the band for a benefit show. The one-off led to the return of prodigal founding member, keyboardist Jools Holland, which brought about a new deal with their longtime American label, A&M Records. A&M brought in hot producer-of-the-moment Laurie Latham, just off the number-one smash, Paul Young’s The Secret of Association. The band convened in London to record the new album. As an album, Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti (the title mangles Mozart with Little Richard) can be easy to overlook. It doesn’t truly sound like a Squeeze album, if only because previous Squeeze efforts wandered all over the musical landscape; an album like East Side Story brought together tracks that ran the gamut from coun-
affair, shared the theatrical scope of “Vanity Fair”; as a single though, it proved a difficult sell to radio and the newly assertive programmers at MTV. Despite Latham’s production, which made the album sound similar to Young’s number one smash “Every Time You Go Away,” “Last Time Forever” failed to crack the American charts. In fact, none of Cosi’s three singles charted in America, and on the pair of greatest-hits compilations that have surfaced since, the album is often represented by “By Your Side,” a song never released as a featured track. It should have rrative, na t or sh been; its minor key musings a e unds lik ...each song so a beginning, middle about an adulterous affair, one a story told with of Difford’s favorite themes, and end. ring true to life. Surrounded by one of Tilbrook’s typically try (“Labelled complex melodies, “By Your Side” strikes the With Love”) to their traditionally literate same type of blend of nostalgia, melancholy, brand of pub rock (“Is That Love?”) to “Vanity Fair,” a song that wouldn’t have sounded out and happiness that marked “Tempted,” the of place in a Broadway musical. Cosi shares Paul Carrack–sung single from East Side Story one strategy with its predecessors: each song that would remain Squeeze’s best known sounds like a short narrative, a story told with American hit. The next few years were typically unkind to a beginning, middle and end. “King George Squeeze. Despite a massive international hit, Street” tells the story of an alcoholic father “Hourglass” from Babylon and On, Holland left who gets kicked out of the house, then stands the band again to resume his career as a televiin the rain, peering at a domestic scene through his own window. “I Learnt How to Pray” tackles sion host. Lavis, after years of sobriety, hit the the issue of what happens when friends get too bottle again, eventually drinking his way out of close, and “I Won’t Ever Go Drinking Again” the band’s lineup. His drums sat in a London pawn shop window, but fortunately, the shop’s wittily recounts a hungover morning. Cosi fulfilled the band’s ambitions to fat- owner was a fan and refused to sell. Wilkinson ten its sound, the adventuresome approach got his walking papers in the mid-’90s. Difford favored on the Difford and Tilbrook album the refused to tour following Domino, and the band two songwriters produced during Squeeze’s finally called it a day. At a distance of almost 20 years, Cosi’s then hiatus. Latham’s production brought Holland’s state-of-the-art production, with its emphasis synthesizers to the forefront. New bassist Keith on synthesizers and electronic drums, stands Wilkinson finally provided an anchor, contribas a reminder of how sterile 1985 could sound. uting melodic, meandering bass lines that hung in lockstep with drummer Gilson Lavis, one of But that is probably the album’s only significant weakness. One last problem with Cosi Fan rock’s most underrated percussionists. But, as always with Squeeze, the story Tutti Frutti: it’s only available as part of the U.K. was the songs. “Last Time Forever,” another box set, Six of One, which collects Squeeze’s Difford story of the end of a doomed love essential first six albums. Other than that, it’s out of print.
Lunch Monday — Friday, 11:30 – 5 Dinner (nightly specials) 5 – 10 Daily Lunch Buffet ($5.95) Monday — Friday, 11:30 – 2:30
Open Till 3 a.m. Nightly Reggae Every Sunday Night Dave Stone Jazz Trio Every Friday at 10:30 p.m.
COME FOR THE FOOD, but stay for the eclectic atmosphere featuring beautiful artwork, live music most nights, and the charm that only tradition can offer.
3145 South Grand Ave. 314-664-8585
Serving the Finest Fresh Pasta in St. Louis for 20 Years