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Morrissey Is a Boring Old Jackass
By Jaime Lees
Wed, Nov 22, 2017
Morrissey used to stand for something revolutionary. He was the bespectacled leader of the sensitive ones. He was the non-threatening — yet still acid-tongued — boy with the thorn in his side. He was a hero to the kids who were too smart for their own good. He was a shining beacon for lost souls who were searching for a light that never went out.
Non-fans couldn’t understood. They thought that he was a weak, wounded douchebag. And he was, but that gave him power in a “you can’t hurt me, I’m already dead” kind of way. His shy slouch and fresh sense of style attracted both boys and girls. The well-worn jeans, the Clark Kent glasses, the flowers in the back pocket. Oh, he was a pretty one.
As the frontman of the Smiths, he was also morbid, sometimes brazenly so. And he was rude in his interviews and in his lyrics. But it all seemed like a studied reaction to a cruel world, a defense mechanism easily recognizable by any teenager with a bit of a dark side. Morrissey was like a frightened kitten taking swipes at an uncatchable shadow.
But now it’s all different. In his old age, the king of the outcasts has become just like your weird racist Fox News-loving uncle. The pope of mope seems to have lost his damn mind. Morrissey has recently entered levels of shut-the-fuck-up heretofore only reached by Lena Dunham.
The conservative views that Morrissey possesses these days are beyond confounding because the dude practically invented the concept of “snowflake.” As a feelings-first animal rights activist of undefined sexual identity, young vegetarian Morrissey was basically the prototype for the kind of man that conservative groups would eventually rally against. Once he even said that he makes a point to leave gender out of his lyrics so that he can “write for everybody.” This is the kind of statement that usually makes the right panic that the world is sliding into an inclusive, nonbinary, androgynous future in which they’ll no longer have ownership of women.
Over the past seven or eight years, Morrissey has released statements and given quotes in interviews that repeatedly show him to be anti-Muslim, pro-Brexit, horribly racist and — just in the past few days — a raging misogynist who makes a point to defend Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey. He even said that “rape is disgusting… but we have to see it in relative terms.” Basically, every single time that Morrissey has opened his dumb mouth lately it has been a complete disaster. (Sound familiar?)
Morrissey was probably trying to be controversial, but these views really just make him a crashing bore. So many other moronic men in the music business already talk like this. You can hear this kind of jabber from Kid Rock. Or Ted Nugent. Or Gene Simmons. Or Dave Mustaine. Or Mike Love. Or Billy freakin’ Corgan. But just in case you’re somehow running low on opinions from clueless crusty old has-been white guys, you can now also hear this nonsense from your pal Morrissey, too.
It’s all so predictable. Modern Morrissey is a blob of trash-talking idiocy with a weak hairline and a lumpy paunch, just like all the rest of them.
Interestingly, he’s remained a favorite of many otherwise tender-hearted liberals across the globe. Maybe it’s because he got his hooks in them when they were young. Or maybe they are unaware of the depth of his disgustingness. Or maybe they just don’t care. To be a fan of the music is often different than being a fan of the artist, after all. But it is kind of shocking that there aren’t protests outside every single Morrissey show. I think the only reason this doesn’t happen is because many of the activists who would normally be protesting him are fans that have paid to go inside and see him perform. It’s a weird situation: those who have been drawn to him in the past for his counterculture views are the exact same group of people who might be repulsed by his current conservative views. (Social justice warriors of the world: unite and take over.)
I love the Smiths but I wouldn’t pay $6 to see Morrissey now. I know this for sure because that’s how much tickets for the show tonight at the Peabody are going for on StubHub. There are also tons of paid advertisements for the show popping up on social media feeds, making me think that the show is way undersold. Maybe his former fans are over him. Or maybe current fans are afraid he’ll cancel or postpone. He does that a lot. In fact, he cancels so much that many fans wonder if he has some kind of serious illness or mental disorder that would explain his erratic behavior.
When he does manage to make it to the stage, he does it grandly. He’s barely even there to perform, more to be a sponge for a huge amount of adoration thrown at him. This is an event where straight white men openly weep and fling themselves at him. It’s like a little oasis from heteronormative culture where they can let their guard down. Here, men aren’t shamed for expressing their emotions or acting “feminine.” It is the ultimate safe space. I wonder what Morrissey’s conservative friends think about that. I wonder what Morrissey thinks of that.
I saw one of his concerts ten years ago at the Pageant with a mega-fan friend who was visiting from out of town. It was Morrissey’s birthday and he was extra over-the-top. On stage he seemed to be aiming for Elvis but he always lands at greasy Tom Jones, all preening and Vegas cheese. He took off his shirt and threw it into the crowd and fans attacked it like hungry dogs. I got a glimpse of it and if memory serves, it was lavender and Gucci. I’ll give him that, at least.
But I won’t go to his shows anymore. My brain won’t fully allow me to disconnect his sickening quotes from the music. It’s like how some men don’t want to know too much about a stripper’s real life because it ruins the fantasy and they can’t get turned on by her anymore. Well, I know too much about Morrissey and I wouldn’t be able to get it up for him anymore, either. Not even a semi.
So if he doesn’t want to lose even more fans to their consciences, he’ll do what he should’ve done many years ago: Shut his stupid face. Lord knows it would be the first time.
Does the New Taylor Swift Album Suck a Bag of Ding Dongs?
By Jaime Lees
Fri, Nov 10, 2017
I think I’m breaking up with Taylor Swift and she hasn’t even written a song about me yet. We’ve been together for a long, long time. Everybody said it would never work between us but that’s the beginning of every great love story, right?
We were first introduced when I heard “Teardrops on My Guitar.” Dang. It was so well-executed that I felt like I’d heard it before. Everything about it was just perfect. I stalked her online for a bit before taking the next step and admitting that I wanted us to be together. The very next song of hers that I heard was “Our Song” and wow. Just wow. I hadn’t had so many feelings about a screen door slamming since “Thunder Road.”
I was way into her. I thought about her constantly. I introduced her to my friends and family right away. Most of them didn’t understand our love. They said that she was too young for me but we still made plans for the future. We moved quickly, but she always does. We spent the holidays together. We traveled together. We logged countless hours of driving and singing in unison. With her talent and my support, there was no bridge that we couldn’t cross. Each new album was a new chapter in our book.
Our entanglement wasn’t without complications, however. In many aspects it was an open relationship. I knew that she was seeing other people but I figured that it all just helped her art. It was her songwriting that most impressed me, anyway, so anything that fed that was okay with me. And as Taylor once sang, “This love is difficult, but it’s for real.”
But she started doing odd things. First, her sound got a little weird. Then she seemed to pick fights with everyone out of nowhere and she would rarely admit that she was wrong. It appeared that she wanted the spotlight at any cost and some aspects of her personality started feeling very fake. This was not the woman that I fell in love with… or was it?
Her issues had always been there, but in the beginning they came across more as charming quirks or precocious sassiness. Playing with the press is just fine — even cute sometimes — but constant manufactured drama is another thing entirely.
The thing is, I didn’t want her to be a drama-chasing celebrity. I thought she should leave that for the people with no talent. I wanted her to be the powerhouse baby-genius that she is. She was better than pointing fingers and playing gossip games. But maybe she’d always been like this and I was too blinded by my love for her. After all, wasn’t it all the way back in “Teardrops On My Guitar” that she used a specific dude’s name in the song? The drama began early.
And somewhere along the way, she just turned into the queen of petty. It was totally unnecessary. Why would she do that when she could just write songs that rule the world? I wanted her to just slay so hard that others have no choice but to kneel before her. I mean, Katy Perry vs. Taylor Swift was no contest. Katy’s voice sounds like a yawning elderly bullfrog, but Taylor’s voice is wonderfully expressive. She knows just when to pause a bit or how to let her words drop at the end of a sad line. She has a natural talent for presentation along with songwriting. She has the full package. Everybody loves a partner with a full package.
Because of all of this, I was willing to stick it out. I was willing to do my part to work on our relationship. I’d already figured out that she might be a psychopath, but I almost respected her for it. And to be honest, I didn’t really care much what she did out in the streets as long as she brought the hits back home to me. But after hearing all four of the singles on her new album, Reputation, I figured there was no hope for our future and I began untangling our lives. These songs make me feel like we’ve already grown too far apart.
First came “Look What You Made Me Do.” I was so excited about it being released but then I played it and… meh. I think parts of it are supposed to be an attempt at a sexy club song but it comes across as just a sad attempt at making a statement. Even her layered vocals make me feel nothing.
“Gorgeous” is just repetitive, and not in the good pop song way. The verses are okay but the chorus is weak as hell. It had a couple of good old-school Taylor lines (“You should take it as a compliment that I’m talking to everyone here but you”) and the elevator ding noise was a nice touch, but the weird reggae singing pattern plus some terrible lyric choices didn’t do it for me.
And “…Ready For It?” is mostly a mess. It starts off with, like, super heavy, apocalyptic weirdness and then it’s almost saved by the chorus, which is the one chorus from these four songs that is most likely to get stuck in my head. And then the last 40 seconds of the song, it all just lifts into a really beautiful, dreamy bit. Why couldn’t it be like that all the way through?
And “Call It What You Want” was such a snoozer. It seems to be all about her trying to convince us that when she completely lost control of her image and went into hiding that she was fine with it because she was loved-up with some dude. Barf. It was immature and just uninteresting. Given the choice, I’d never listen to it on purpose again.
Reputation is out today, but it’s being held from streaming services for a week. I feel like she’s just trying to delay our inevitable break-up. I’ll for sure get it next week on Apple Music but until then I’ll be damned if I put $9.99 more into this failing relationship. I’ve already given her plenty but lately she keeps letting me down. I just don’t know how to have any kind of faith in our future, so my bags are packed. Give me something grand, Taylor, and I’ll give us one more try.
But if the singles are representative of the album then, well, I don’t give a damn about your bad Reputation.
Brutal Heat Halts Echo & the Bunnymen Concert in St. Louis Saturday
By Jaime Lees
Mon, Jul 24, 2017
St. Louis’ brutal weekend heat was so bad, it took down a rockstar.
At the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre on Saturday night, the lead singer of Echo & the Bunnymen (and the subject of our music feature this week) was overcome by the heat and had to leave the stage.
Ian McCulloch gave it his best shot. Wearing his signature jacket despite the day’s record-setting 108-degree temperature, he pushed through at first — and even took sustenance from an oxygen mask. But finally the heat cut things short.
The day had been brutally, dangerously hot. Still, the Violent Femmes went on as scheduled, with the Bunnymen following closely behind after the sun went down.
Despite every bit of their human instincts telling them to avoid the outdoors, a shocking percentage of the audience still managed to show up for the outdoor concert, with the seated area appearing to be about half full. And though the crowd loved the Violent Femmes’ set, it’s likely that most of the audience was there primarily to see Echo & the Bunnymen — the band hasn’t played St. Louis in twenty years. (Their last gig here was a slot at Pointfest 1997 on another stupid-hot day at the same venue.)
The venue did everything it could to make sure that it didn’t have mass casualties on its hands. The amphitheatre was well-staffed, cooling stations were easy to find, misting fans were circulating and, most importantly, administration smartly waved the usual policy that limits guests to bringing in just one bottle of water. From the front gate to the stage barricades, every staff member we encountered was kind and helpful. (Not much could be done to improve the restrooms, however, which are always and forever people-baking cinderblock kilns.)
The Violent Femmes started right on time and seemed to tolerate the heat fairly well. At that point in the night it was overwhelmingly hot down in the closely packed front bowl of the audience. About halfway through their set my friend and I decamped for the slightly breezier air that was available near the outer edges available away from the crowd.
We returned to our seats in time for the Bunnymen. Their set started normally enough, with the entire amphitheatre going dark and then the stage glowing in their traditional style: plenty of smoke machines and dramatically backlit like the film version of an alien abduction.
The band took the stage, and all seemed well — stellar, even — until it suddenly wasn’t. McCulloch’s voice was strong and beautiful for the first half of their set but then it became clear that he was slipping. He abruptly stopped singing and said he had to exit for five minutes “to breathe,” but he came back sooner than that and resumed his duties.
Try as he might, McCulloch kept fading. His breathing between songs had become labored and shaky. A worried stagehand who had previously been busy throwing bottles of water out to the audience followed his movements closely after that, placing an IV bag of fluid just behind him on the drum riser.
The band had to pause two more times (once with McCulloch just stepping to the back corner of the stage to get aid from an oxygen mask) but try as he might, he couldn’t quite swing it under these awful conditions. We felt like we were about to witness a truly scary incident if McCulloch pushed himself any harder. It was time to stop.
A few attendees didn’t feel the same way, taking their complaints to Twitter to say that they were let down, wanted a refund, etc. But I think that if McCulloch hadn’t needed to leave the stage, nobody would’ve even known that the band’s set was shortened. They still managed to play for just about an hour and skipped over lesser-known songs on their planned setlist in favor of the radio hits that most of the audience had come to witness. And in the end, they only cut four songs total.
Many of the complaints I saw said that McCulloch should’ve removed his jacket and that would’ve helped him with tolerating the heat. Meh. Maybe. But I think it was his full-body singing style that did him in. That kind of dazzling vocal ability must require a shitload of breathing tricks and the humid air was thick and miserable to simply exist in, much less sing. Add to that the heat from the stage lights and it’s a miracle that the dude didn’t collapse immediately.
There were ambulances leaving from the back area of the venue as the show ended, but if one of those was for McCulloch, he did a good job of bouncing back, because he played Chicago last night as scheduled.
As I described the after-concert scene to a friend the next day: “The very reasonable Midwesterners filing past us after the show were all saying that McCulloch should’ve taken off his jacket if he was hot, but that would be like Gene Simmons performing in flip-flops. Completely unacceptable.”
This show seemed to indicate that the legendary Ian McCulloch would rather drop dead than dim his personal style. And I, for one, have nothing but respect for that. Shine on, Mac. See you next time. (Hopefully indoors.)
link: Riverfront Times
Echo & the Bunnymen’s Ian McCulloch Is an International Treasure
By Jaime Lees
Ian McCulloch does not disappoint. Known for being highly quotable and wickedly mouthy, the lead singer and songwriter of Echo & the Bunnymen is as humorous as he is brilliant. He’s a natural charmer and, strangely, harder to find than Jimmy Hoffa. But after weeks of running into dead ends while trying to track him down, the man known as “Mac” is on the other end of the line, full of hilarious insight.
Far from the moody, brooding demeanor that you might expect from someone who rarely removes his heavily tinted sunglasses, McCulloch is delightfully warm and buoyant. His conversation is sprinkled with dead-accurate vocal impressions of David Bowie (his long-time hero), Iggy Pop, Gary Oldman and Lemmy Kilmister. (Mac says with reverence: “I can’t do Lou [Reed]. I just don’t have the spite.”)
McCulloch has every reason to be upbeat. Echo & the Bunnymen is well into a second stretch in the spotlight. Formed in 1978, the group released five albums before McCulloch walked away in the late 1980s. McCulloch and legendary original Bunnyman guitarist Will Sergeant joined up again for a short-lived side band called Electrafixion in 1994 before finally reclaiming the Bunnymen name in 1997. Since then the group has released another six albums, with a new one due out next year. The band also signed to major label BMG in June and is co-headlining a summer tour — coming to Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre on July 22 — with the Violent Femmes.
While many of the other bands that found success during the era of ’80s new-wave were dorky or avuncular, the Bunnymen were perceived as sultry sex shamans who had come to steal your girlfriend away for a mystical magic carpet ride. The Bunnymen expanded on the sounds that were expected for their genre, and released pointy post-punk songs including “The Cutter” and “Rescue,” but also sweeping, cinematic masterpieces like “The Killing Moon” and “Ocean Rain.” Their sheer grandness was unrivaled in magnitude.
McCulloch agrees with that assessment. In fact, he is known for asserting that his band is the greatest in the world and cheekily insisting that the Bunnymen did everything first and did everything best. His old habit of constant self-aggrandizing in the press has been famously adopted by Liam Gallagher of Oasis, a similarity that hasn’t gone unnoticed by McCulloch himself. He laughs at the comparison.
“I like Liam. I think he’s good. He always has been good. I like his thing. Someone showed me his tweets, and to have that front, I think it’s fantastic,” McCulloch says. “But on stage he’s never smiled. I used to do that, too. You come on stage and no one understands why you have a bit of an attitude. And maybe I didn’t understand. It’s just easier, probably, than being nice. He’s funny, you know, but maybe Liam could also say that [funny stuff] on stage. As a joke.” (One can readily imagine the twinkle in McCulloch’s eye as he delivers this expertly restrained condescension.)
But McCulloch will always have more than a couple of things to hang over Gallagher’s head. First of all, he had already perfected the outerwear-as-fashion-statement thing before young Gallagher even grew into his unibrow. But most importantly: that voice.
McCulloch’s expressive, shockingly clear singing voice is his greatest asset. Over the years, his lush purr has deepened, giving him the ability to sing with a velvety, panty-dropping richness.
“I don’t hear a lot of voices that stop you in your tracks, like mine,” McCulloch rightfully brags. “And it’s gonna get better. I’m still holding it together. But I find it hard to listen to the old stuff ’cause it’s like, that’s not me there. Now when I sing I just want to sound as real as possible.
“Sometimes when you’re younger, you kind of use your voice as a disguise — when you’re an eighteen-year-old trying to sound deep and poetic,” he continues. “Most of the songs that I can’t do, it’s because of that. That’s not to take away from all of the people — there are fans who like songs that I like the least.”
Though audiences might hold tightly to older songs, McCulloch’s newer music is easily among his best — more modern tracks such as “Nothing Lasts Forever,” “Rust” and “History Chimes” are well on their way to becoming future classics.
For as much as he boasts about his skills, though, McCulloch still ducks compliments. When presented with a list of his accomplishments, he quickly attempts to dilute their importance by interrupting with, “And I’m good at table tennis! But only one game and it depends on how many serves. I play meself and I’m still ahead.”
And when the long interview is coming to a close, McCulloch stays true to his off-stage hobby: cracking up anyone who will listen.
“Any doubts about content, make it up,” he says. “I don’t mind, as long as you don’t misquote you.”
link: Riverfront Times
Dumb Dude from the Dickies Ruins Last Few Minutes of Lackluster Career
By Jaime Lees
Thu, Jul 6, 2017
The short version of the story is this: Ancient punks the Dickies were on the Warped tour as some sort of senior outreach program and a couple of women who were a part of the touring party made signs to protest their set, which had been full of sexist statements, predatory remarks about children and general assholery.
The women moved to the barricade at the front of the audience (apparently an easy thing to do since the Dickies have so few fans) and threw their signs at singer/antagonist Leonard Graves Phillips. He then unleashed a fully predictable rant against the women, calling them cunts, attacking their looks and urging the audience to shout them down. (You must watch the video clip to witness the full vitriol.)
This is happening all over the place these days, it seems. Old white dudes say bullshit, then get caught saying bullshit and get even more testy, and then other men step up and defend them in the name of free speech. And in this case, other men also defended them because they’re known for being “punks” and punks don’t follow “rules.”
Okay, fine. But let’s not pretend that an old white dude ranting and acting like a sexist idiot is in any way revolutionary or anti-establishment. In fact, it’s totally status quo and boring, just like the music of the Dickies.
It seems as though any woman who disagrees with a man is automatically accused of being a fat, ugly, cunt, bitch, slut, whore. These men drop every standard played-out insult to women and then wrap themselves in an American flag and claim to be untouchable. But our free speech laws exist to attempt to protect those of us with bigger mouths from legal prosecution, not from public opinion. And it seems that those most likely to call others “snowflakes” are actually the ones who can’t handle the heat.
And what about the women’s right to free speech? Do protesters not have free speech, too? It must go both ways. Phillips spotted the protesters, then encouraged a mob of his fans to help him verbally attack them, totally proving their entire point while suppressing their free speech. Let’s be serious, these were a couple of young women at a venue containing thousands of drunken men amped up on booze and misogyny — they didn’t have microphones and a crowd to back them up. They weren’t going to win the argument in the moment, at least.
But if Phillips wanted them to be powerless, he should’ve ignored them. Instead his little baby tantrum gave their message more reach than they would’ve found otherwise and made him look like an ass in the process. Then other men of questionable pedigree just couldn’t stop themselves from jumping in to defend their bro because a couple of woman with protest signs is an affront to all of worldwide male dominance, apparently.
Former Queens of the Stone age bassist and full-time turd Nick Oliveri posted to Facebook what is presumed to be a defense of the Dickies because he says that he celebrates that rock and roll is “criminal” and “dangerous.” But the last I checked it was that dude who was criminal and dangerous. Or, at least that’s what a swat team thought during an hours-long standoff at his house where he was holding his abused girlfriend hostage. (He was apparently kicked out of QOTSA a decade before this incident for the same type of behavior.) If violent dumbasses like Nick Oliveri are sticking up for you, you’re on the wrong side of history.
Eagles of Death Metal singer Jesse Hughes also got in on the action in a post on Instagram saying, in part, “rock ‘n’ roll is about saying whatever the fuck you want!!!!!! Especially if it’s offensive to people Who are weak cowardly and can’t stand for anyone else to be free !!!!sticks and stones, my friends,sticks and stones!!!….., and PS a safe zone is a place that exists in your home not at the place you voluntarily drive to and walk into and sit in an audience of that exists in a public place…..”
It seems as though Mr. Mustache would actually welcome “safe zones” of any variety in public places since a large chunk of his audience was slaughtered in Paris a couple of years back. Still, it’s hard to take any exclamation-point-rich rant that Hughes posts at face value because he’s clearly a traumatized victim of terror. (Remember when he suggested that the venue’s own security was in on the attack and then had to check his own statement? Prayers for this lost little guy.)
And some moron with Guy Fieri hair named “Noodles” from the Offspring also piped up on Instagram, saying that the Dickies have long been one of his favorite bands (that explains so much) and that “I honestly don’t see how anyone could seriously take offense from anything they do or say.” I mean, ol’ Gnudz has a really good point there. Who knew that anybody was even listening to what the Dickies had to say?
Anyway, I’m no enemy of free speech, so I say please, please pass this fool the microphone always. It’s best to know where we all stand when it comes to idiocy and knee jerk sexism. But if you want to hear a bumbling geriatric crackpot talk nonsense, you’ll have to watch some news about our “President” because the Dickies aren’t booked for any future Warped Tour dates and their other tour dates abroad are being canceled by promoters over their “misogyny and bullying.” Sad!
link: Riverfront Times
Oh Snap, Corey Feldman’s Band Is Coming to the Lake of the Ozarks
By Jaime Lees
Jun 5, 2017
The Beatles on Ed Sullivan. Prince on the Superbowl halftime show. The Live Aid broadcasts. Some televised musical performances seem to capture the attention of the public in a special way. And when viewers are moved by the same act at the same time, they often feel a sort of universal connection to others through their television screens.
This was also true of Corey Feldman’s legendary 2016 performance on the Today show. Not everyone saw his performance of the ’80s movie star’s song “Go 4 It” live, but a huge amount of Americans with an internet connection saw clips of his performance within 24 hours. It united viewers with one big, “Wow, Corey. WTF?”
While being introduced by a then-yet-to-be-disgraced Billy Bush, the Today host seems to know what’s about to happen. The hosts had clearly been tipped off that something abnormal is about to go down. Feldman then takes the stage and gives what is surely one of the most interesting morning show performances in recent memory.
Viewers were quick to make fun of what they felt was Feldman’s amateurish, art school presentation. But for those who had been following Feldman’s musical development over the years, this performance was completely in line with his past appearances. He is entirely sincere about his musical output and was apparently devastated when audiences received him as a joke.
Feldman had been trying to find money to release the album he was promoting, Angelic 2 the Core, for ten years. It was his fifth album and had 22 tracks, all with a Feldman writing credit except for the last song, a cover of John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero.”
He seemed to treat this album as his baby and would do anything to get it released. Last summer he even organized an Indiegogo campaign with the goal of raising $105,000 for these purposes. He raised not quite $15,000, but still managed to get the album out to the public. Personally, I donated at the $10 level so he’d post an Instagram photo for my bestie Kelly, who has had an unwavering crush on him since she was a kid. True to his promise, Feldman delivered for me and for hundreds of other donors just as asked (early, even) and he made Kelly’s life complete.
Feldman is touring this summer and though there is no St. Louis show announced yet (cross fingers), there is going to be a tour stop on July 6th at Shady Gators at the Lake of the Ozarks. This seems like the perfect fit, right? An audience of leftover Fourth of July binge drinkers and Feldman’s unique show mingling together in a cajun restaurant / venue?
Maybe Corey’s angels will visit Party Cove and everything. See you there.
link: Riverfront Times
You Can See Jon Hamm Right Here in St. Louis for $25
By Jaime Lees
Wed, May 31, 2017
For us locals, the coolest thing about Jon Hamm is that you might just see him anywhere around St. Louis. He’s a frequent visitor to his hometown, one who’s been spotted all over the city, from the Central West End to Tower Grove Park.
He also lovingly reps us when out of state, forever rocking a tattered Cardinals hat or t-shirt in paparazzi photos. Jon Hamm loves St. Louis, and St. Louis loves Jon Hamm even more than it loves the St. Lunatic. (Maybe.)
It’s entirely possible to catch ol’ Hammy at the library, too, and that’s one sighting you can be sure to enjoy soon … if you’re willing to ante up, that is. Hamm is coming to the St. Louis County Library’s Lindbergh location on Saturday, July 22, for an event where he will “discuss his local roots and storytelling through film and television performance with Curtis Sittenfeld, bestselling author of Prep, soon to be a new comedy series from HBO.”
The event page makes sure to note that there will be no meet-and-greet with Mr. Hamm, so you’ll just have to flirt with your eyes from the audience. But get to the event early; maybe your imaginary boyfriend will be roaming around and you might drool upon him.
And the worst that can happen is that you get to take in the majesty that is the St. Louis public library system. Did you know that they have books there and that they let you borrow them for free? Crazy. You can research anything from anacondas to zippers.
link: Riverfront Times
Ann Wilson Fights Back Family Heartache to Press On with Her Solo Career
By Jaime Lees
8 p.m. Sunday, May 28. River City Casino & Hotel, 777 River City Casino Boulevard. $49.50 to $89.50.
Ann Wilson is wrong. There is no way around it. Just minutes into a recent conversation over the phone in advance of her performance in St. Louis, the long-time lead singer of Heart makes a statement that is just totally and completely inaccurate.
In response to a compliment of her singing abilities, she modestly demurs and says, “You know, I think that sometimes I’m better than others. But I really don’t feel comfortable going around saying ‘I am the greatest!’ when I’m not the Muhammad Ali of singers, for sure.”
The thing is, Wilson is the Muhammad Ali of singers. She’s the Serena Williams of singers. She’s the Wayne Gretzky of singers. In fact, her voice is so universally revered, so deeply treasured and historically important, that it would be fully appropriate to say that Muhammad Ali was the Ann Wilson of boxing.
Wilson carries within her the standard to which all strong female singers are held. She is it; her voice is the ultimate. It’s the kind of voice that can’t be taught or even imitated without great effort. But for her, it seems at once powerful and effortless. A gift.
After much prodding, the voice behind legendary mega-hits such as “Barracuda,” “Alone” and “What About Love” finally concedes some innate skill. After all, she must be aware that her voice is irrefutably the greatest, because she has heard others sing and she is objectively better.
At the suggestion, Wilson laughs.
“Yeah, when I hear a lot of people sing, the complaint I have — and something that I take really seriously for my own self — is just not trying to be any way,” she explains. “Not trying to copy anything. Just being authentic, you know? Whatever it is that I sound like that day, hopefully it’s great and I can light it up with my spirit.”
Her spirit is something that she has had to rely on lately. Wilson is currently in a time of turmoil and adjustment. Heart, the groundbreaking band she has co-piloted with her sister Nancy Wilson since 1974, is on indefinite hiatus after a family dust-up. The story goes that Ann’s husband of two years, Dean Wetter, physically assaulted Nancy’s then-sixteen-year-old sons while Heart was on stage last August. Wetter was charged and pled guilty to two counts of assault.
His plea deal was strict: 364 days in jail suspended in favor of probation, with restitution to be paid, no contact with drugs or alcohol, zero contact with his nephews and required counseling.While the accusations were serious, Wilson has downplayed the assault in the press, insisting that the incident was “overblown” and something that could’ve been worked through in a family meeting without getting the police involved. (The tour did continue for twenty more gigs after the incident, with the sisters keeping separate dressing rooms and interaction at a minimum.)
Wilson’s public defensiveness on behalf of her husband, though, set off alarm bells amongst long-time Heart fans. Wilson said that her husband was “complex” and a misunderstood “zen warrior” who was “provoked” into violence against the children. Many Heart followers thought that she seemed to apologize for Wetter just a bit too much, and were dismayed that she appeared to side with her husband over her sister and nephews.
We didn’t ask Wilson about her husband during our interview, but she brought him up multiple times. She spoke of their relationship frequently, describing their time together as an innocently blissful and fruitful adventure. Wetter has been touring with Wilson, and when they’re on the road they live together on her bus. The pair stays at campgrounds instead of sleeping in hotels.
‘”The pressures of traveling are really offset by being out under the trees at night, and sitting outside and looking at the stars and the moon and everything after a show out in the woods,” Wilson says. “We can have ultimate freedom and we can look in each other’s eyes and just be all lovey-dovey and look at the moon. It’s blessed, you know, terribly.”And when they’re at home, home is now in Florida. They’ve moved away from Seattle, the physical and spiritual home of Heart.
“My husband is from Seattle, too, and he convinced me that it’s cold and wet and lonely up there, and it really is!” she says. “We wanted to go someplace warm with great weather, big water and, you know, make it happen. I don’t think people in Seattle think it’s true yet. I think they’re still thinking that I’ve taken leave of my senses and I’ll be back. But…”
She trails off, implying that her near future is not to be based in the soggy Pacific northwest.This, more than anything, makes fans think that Heart is well and truly over. For her part, Wilson is moving full steam ahead and has given no indication that she’s counting on a business reconciliation with her sister. Wilson is touring on her own, finishing songs for an upcoming EP, and has booked a series of show dates where she sings not only Heart songs but also cover songs (which are all greatly improved by her voice, no doubt).
And though it appears as though Wilson is in the middle of a struggle between her marriage unit and her family unit, she is still driven and productive. Sometime soon she might have to do the unthinkable: choose between Heart and her heart. But for now, she is resilient and always eager to perform, even under stress.
“When you have hard things happen in your personal life and then you go up on stage, you know, you get through it,” she says. “Sometimes that can bring really amazing, soulful things, and sometimes it’s just living hell. Because you really want to be in the moment on stage, and you don’t want to be fretting about something else — you have to be present. So thank goodness those times don’t happen often, but when they do, there’s almost nothing harder.”
And maybe these hard times will serve to inspire something even bigger for Wilson. As she said in her Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction speech in 2013, “Aren’t the sweetest parts of music sometimes about what’s wrong?”