Echo & the Bunnymen’s Ian McCulloch Is an International Treasure
By Jaime Lees
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?”
Prince, Was That U in St. Charles This Past Weekend?
By Jaime Lees
Wed, May 17, 2017
Hey, Prince. We miss U, your Purpleness. U wouldn’t believe what’s been happening since U returned to your home planet. We’ve all been praying 4 U 2 return and 2 bring us all back un2 the joy fantastic.
But just between U and I, did U drop in 4 a visit recently? Because my friend saw your regal ride the other day. I’m not sure why U felt the need to make a pilgrimage to the Longhorn Steakhouse in St. Charles, but U work in mysterious ways. Did U drop in for some Midwestern chain restaurant realness on your way 2 cosmic bowling? (That’s how I imagine that U usually spend your Saturday nights — rolling consecutive strikes under a blacklight in high heeled bowling shoes.)
Or maybe it wasn’t U? Maybe it was one of your representatives. U know, like how the real Santa sends surrogate Santas out 2 malls during the holidays 2 report back 2 him in the North Pole?
If so, please provide us with an introduction 2 your deputy. We are determined 2 find out their identity and 2 ask them all about their Princemobile and their passion for purple.
Readers, have U spied this magic carpet? It appears 2 be a Polaris Slingshot. If U know the owner, drop a line 2 us at Prince4RFT@gmail.com.
link: Riverfront Times
Chuck Berry Gets a Loving Goodbye from the City He Always Called Home
By Jaime Lees
Mon, Apr 10, 2017
It is impossible to overstate the significance of Chuck Edward Anderson Berry. He’s been frequently credited with inventing the entire genre of rock & roll music, but his influence reached much further than the radio. His existence changed the world.
Berry was the ultimate cultural icon. No other figure in the history of modern music has had such a lasting, measurable impact. And as a native and proud St. Louisan, Berry has always held an extra-special place in the heart of locals. Chuck Berry, you see, belonged to us. He was the embodiment of all that is magical and special about St. Louis culture, and when he died last month, a huge part of our history died along with him.
It took a few weeks to put together, but Berry’s family planned a wonderful series of events to celebrate his life. Chuck loved an audience, and this entire past weekend was set up so that fans could participate in saying goodbye. There was a toast held outside on Delmar Boulevard on Saturday night, followed by a viewing of Berry’s body on Sunday morning at the Pageant that was open to the public.
The private service for the family was scheduled to commence immediately after the public viewing, and the Berry family gave out passes to the private service to three hundred members of the public who queued up excitedly in the hopes of witnessing this historic event. It was a generous offering to many of Chuck’s biggest longtime fans.
Some of those fans had been waiting outside the Pageant since 5 a.m., when the line for the viewing started. There was a steady stream of mourners all morning, but most just popped in for a minute or two, paid their respects and then left. There was never a long, intolerable line to get into the viewing. In fact, for most of the day visitors could pretty much just walk right in.
Many fans who expected the process to take longer spent the rest of their day hanging around outside the venue, enjoying the breezy weather while trading their favorite Berry stories. The majority of these fans had managed to see Berry play live, something that all agreed was a special event.
In a live music setting, Chuck Berry could not be beat. He played a monthly show at Blueberry Hill’s tiny basement venue, the Duck Room, well into his ’80s. Though those shows got progressively looser over the years, Berry made up for his slipping technical abilities by piling on the charisma. He stood there and smiled and the entire crowd smiled back, overjoyed just to be in the same room as him.
And though he was always untouchable on stage, Berry’s behavior off stage was more than troublesome. To put it simply: Chuck Berry was not always a hero. He had a long and documented history of assaulting women and this fact did not go unaddressed on the day of his service. A small group of protesters held up signs outside of the entrance to the Pageant to remind visitors of the darker side of his history.
But inside the venue, it was all love. Berry’s body was laid out tastefully and the room was beautifully decorated and lit. A parade of speakers took the stage to sing Berry’s praises. Many of them took the time to mention that Berry was a civil rights icon: What Berry did with music helped people to cross racial divides out in the streets. White audiences who might not have otherwise embraced a black musician were helpless to resist the power of Berry’s guitar.
Gene Simmons of KISS was a surprise speaker at the service. He was hiding out in the back and looked properly devastated before being asked to say a few words. His impromptu speech was one of the best of the entire event; he told the audience about his own past as a young immigrant to the United States and about how Berry and his music helped to bring people together.
“It’s a sad day, but I think it’s a happy time. Look at the legacy,” Simmons said. “He broke down the barriers and made all kinds of people’s hearts and minds open up to the idea that we all belong to the same people.”
Another crowd favorite was Marshall Chess, son of Leonard Chess of Chess Records. He’s an engaging, delightful storyteller and his charm was on full display. But the speech of the day, appropriately, came from Charles Berry Jr. He was funny, sincere and remarkably composed, given the circumstances. He explained that his father was his hero and that he felt honored to be able to learn from the master. He said that many people taught him how to be a musician, but that his father taught him how to be a man.
Charles Berry Jr. thanked his many friends and family members in attendance and then, in a remarkable display of midwestern hospitality, he took a moment to address the public, who had been seated in the balcony area. He looked up and said, “You’re my friends now, too, because you’re here with me.”
During this moment, and when Berry’s clearly heartbroken grandchildren performed (“We are doing this in remembrance of our grandfather, and for the joy of our grandmother”), the crowd always acted respectfully, seeming to realize that though it looked like a state funeral and the deceased was a world-renowned celebrity, this was absolutely a personal family event.
The entire service was overwhelmingly and impressively touching. There were musical performances from Marlissa Hudson, Dwayne Buggs, Johnny Rivers and Billy Peek. Outside after the service, the Funky Butt Brass Band played a devastating rendition of “St. Louis Blues” as the coffin was loaded into the hearse. (Little Richard had also been scheduled to attend and sing a gospel song, but he had fallen ill and couldn’t make it.) Near the end of the service, condolence letters from Bill Clinton, Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones and St. Louis mayor Francis Slay were read to the crowd. Slay’s proclamation was read by new mayor-elect Lyda Krewson, and it praised Berry for always sticking close to home.
Legendary local bluesman Mat Wilson is a huge fan of Berry and attended every event this weekend that honored his hero, including the public toast and moment of silence held at Berry’s Walk of Fame star outside Blueberry Hill on Saturday night. A scholar of American music with a special interest in regional history, Wilson praises Berry easily and enthusiastically.
“My band, the Loot Rock Gang, got to open for Chuck, and I also had a chance to open for Chuck playing guitar for my wife, Little Rachel,” Wilson says. “It was quite the honor. Chuck is the grandfather of rock & roll and I think it was really special to have him here in our neighborhood. He’s the originator. It’s not to be taken lightly that the originator of rock & roll came from our own town.”
Echoing this sentiment, St. Louis native and real life guitar hero Richard Fortus (Guns ‘N’ Roses, Love Spit Love, Thin Lizzy, Pale Divine) also stopped into Berry’s viewing on Sunday afternoon to pay his respects.
Fortus said, “For me, this was a big part of my growing up, being from St. Louis. Not only his music, but his persona. The early videos for me were huge: seeing Chuck Berry on TV and what an enigmatic performer he was. I remember playing down on the Landing when I was a kid and him coming in and grabbing a guitar and yelling at people if they didn’t know his songs. It was awesome.
“It was special, growing up in St. Louis and knowing that he was part of the lineage,” he added. “He’s one of the biggest parts in the history of rock & roll.”
The Funky Butt Brass Band plays Chuck out:
link: Riverfront Times