St. Louis Ranked in Top 50 U.S. Cities for Music Fans
Posted By Jaime Lees
Fri, Jul 15, 2016
According to a recent report from consumer spending website ValuePenguin.com, St. Louis is ranked as the 42nd best city in the United States for music fans.
I’d never heard of Value Penguin, so I knew not to trust the results. What is a Value Penguin, anyway? It sounds like a new mascot for Aldi discount supermarkets. Still, in the little preview photo that I saw, it showed my beautiful city as “high ranking” (with a bright blue dot) so I expected us to be #1. I clicked over to bask in the warm glow of rocketing civic pride.
I glanced at the very top of the list and didn’t see St. Louis. I scrolled on down to #5. Still no St. Louis. By the time I got to #10 and didn’t see the Lou I knew that this list was crap and that Value Penguin was populated by morons.
Ranked #1 on the list is Nashville, so-called “Music City.” Well, that’s convenient. That’s like saying Chicago is the windiest city in the U.S. just because that’s what people call it. No, you lazy jerks, the windiest city in the U.S. is actually Jackson, Mississippi. And just because you call yourself something doesn’t make it true.
The rest of the nation might concede that Nashville is country music city, but that’s about it. I knew a guy who was an audio engineer in Nashville for a decade and he said that 95% of the studio recordings that get done there are either country or Christian or both. He was so starved for any version of rock & roll that he almost cried tears of joy when he was hired to work on a Paramore record. Yes, Paramore, that “band” that consists of one marginally attractive Hot Topic employee and whoever they pay to stand behind her while she grunts and fluffs her hair. That’s what passes for rock in Tennessee. No thank you.
I skimmed farther down the list and finally saw our ranking. Ah, #42. They say that 42 is a special number and that it’s the “answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything.” I knew we were magical.
I also noticed that a city in Florida is a whole eighteen slots ahead of us. Florida? Florida is only good making the rest of the country feel smart. The only decent music that ever came out of Florida was from Tom Petty and he got the hell out of there as soon as possible. I feel so bad for music fans in that state. Its biggest stars are Marilyn Mason, Aaron Carter, Pitbull and Limp Bizkit. You poor, sad, floppy dick-shaped peninsula.
Value Penguin used fifteen categories to piece together this whack-ass list, each with their own weight and specifications. Cities were scored based on their performances in various arbitrary contests. Some of the categories made sense (how many record stores per 1,000 people) and some of them made use of wild card factors like the average amount of days with precipitation per year, average closing times at bars and the percentage of population using public transport to commute.
Yes, any of these things could influence the lives of music fans, but so could literally thousands of other factors. And as a statistics professor once taught me, correlation does not equal causation. You don’t have to be a numbers geek to see that this methodology is, at best, an elaborate game of pin the tail on the donkey.
So suck it, Value Penguin. We think that a good city for a band is also a good city for a fan. A good music city has multiple concert events to choose from each night. A good music city sees huge draws for local musicians. A good music city has volunteers and organizers and valued event planners. A good music city has cheap door prices. A good music city has affordable housing and a low cost of living. A good music city has musicians who support and celebrate each other. A good music city has dedicated and active fans. A good music city has small shows with big turnouts.
A good music city looks a lot like St. Louis, thank you very much.
– link: Riverfront Times
The World’s Biggest Michael Jackson Fan Lives Right Here in South St. Louis
Posted By Jaime Lees
Thu, Jul 7, 2016
A couple of weekends ago, one south city woman upheld her bi-annual tradition, despite the blazing sun and a heat index of 109 degrees. Demetria “Dee” Evans started her Saturday morning by dragging her stereo system out to her front porch and arranging her music memorabilia to be viewed by the people traveling down nearby Chippewa Street.
Evans is a Michael Jackson super fan. She’s celebrated his birthday every year since she was a kid, and she now also holds a memorial each year on the anniversary of his death. Evans’ fandom dates back to the first time she saw the Jackson 5 on the Ed Sullivan Show in May of 1970.
Back then, Michael Jackson was a bright-eyed kid with incalculable talent and charisma to burn. After that magical moment in front of her television, Evans was hooked. She began a life of obsessively following Michael Jackson. She used Jackson as her fashion muse (winning awards at school for her creative ensembles) and he also inspired her to dance and sing. She calls him “Mike” and speaks of him with a smile, explaining how she felt that he encouraged her to shine.
Since that first exposure at age seven, Evans has been collecting any Jackson items that she could find, including rare items that weren’t ever even offered for sale. (She laughs when she recalls weeks of hounding Pepsi corporate headquarters until they finally sent her a display case from when Jackson was a spokesperson.) Each year she gathers up all of her memorabilia and thoughtfully arranges it all on her front lawn. She blasts Jackson’s music all day from her porch and soaks up the cheers from passersby on Jackson’s behalf.
That Saturday afternoon I spent a couple of hours hanging out with her and her mom on her front porch. There, just a couple of blocks from the former site of Frederick’s Music Lounge, we kicked back and talked and watched all of south city roll by.
On that hot summer day, Evans told me that she’s visited every major Michael Jackson destination in the United States (except for Neverland) and that she knows of no other bigger Jackson fan than herself — with the possible exception of Corey Feldman, with whom she feels a strong kinship. She told me about how her mother spent months saving up to surprise her with tickets to see Jackson at the Checkerdome (the St. Louis Arena) on the Bad tour in 1988.
Evans also said that she can’t believe the child abuse allegations against Jackson and offers a list of Jackson’s many philanthropic acts as a counter-argument. I didn’t push her on this topic because I’d already been thoroughly charmed by her kind smile, decades-long devotion and the passionate way that she sang along with his songs.
In the past, Evans’ pop-up tribute museum has included balloons and life-size cutouts and rare Jackson vinyl, but this year the collection was a bit more subdued. Sadly, Evans’ husband died unexpectedly a couple of years ago and she had to quickly scrape together money for his cremation. During this time she sold many of her most precious possessions, including much of her Jackson memorabilia.
When Evans told me about her husband’s death she said that she wished I could’ve seen her collection before she sold the majority of it. I told her that I’d seen pictures of her spread from a couple of years ago that were taken by my friend. Evans asked to see the pictures, and when I showed her, she began crying.
I started apologizing profusely and she shushed me, saying that all of those items being gone now is just proof of how much she loved her husband. Still, I continued to apologize until her mom sweetly patted me on the knee and said, “Don’t worry, honey. She cries all the time.”
Evans asked me to send her the photos that my friend took a couple of years ago (and to include them in this story), and then told me that during the week that Jackson died she got his name tattooed on her arm, and about how friends and family showed up from miles around to console her as if she’d had a death in the family.
As if on cue, a car pulled up in front of Evans’ house. It was her brother and sister-in-law, arriving from two states away so they could all spend the day together. I talked to them for a while and then excused myself, not wanting to intrude on a private reunion.
As I was about to leave, Evans looked around and said, “I do it for the fans. And for Mike.” She said she thinks of Jackson as family and her brother nods in agreement. Which makes sense, really. Michael Jackson has been a part of their family for 46 years.
Photos below courtesy of Amanda Mueller:
– link: Riverfront Times
30 Ridiculous Things You Can Still Buy at Nagle’s Before Its Doors Close Forever
Posted By Jaime Lees
Thu, Jun 30, 2016
St. Louis is full of hidden treasures but Nagle’s Variety & Collectible Gift Store in Florissant is not one of them. The family-owned classic “five & dime” shop has been in business for 46 years and has been a North County institution for decades.
The news came this week that owners Mike and Jeannie Nagle were retiring and liquidating the store’s merchandise and fixtures. The shop was shut down for a few days to prepare for one giant, final sale.
Nagle’s really was one of the last of its kind. With new dollar stores (and $5 stores) popping up on every corner, it was nice to have a reliable destination in mind when trying to hunt down the perfect funny little birthday gift or anniversary present. No matter what ridiculous item you were seeking, Nagle’s could hook you up.
It’s always been the place to find greeting cards, jewelry, candy, garden items, housewares, art supplies, crafts, candles, figurines, fabric, knick-knacks and tchotchkes of every variety, but they also kept up with trending crap. From Beanie Babies to Troll dolls, the toy du jour could always be found in multitudes at Nagles.
Truthfully, Nagle’s has always been just full of crap, but in the best way. The mission of the store seemed to be to sell you crap that you didn’t need. (And crap that you didn’t even know existed, for that matter.)
The store opened up again yesterday to begin its final sale. The doors opened at 9 a.m.; at 6 p.m. the parking lot was still full. Inside the aisles were crowded and the cash registers were ringing nonstop. It would seem as though the entire county came out to snatch up the good deals.
The store was offering everything inside for 20 percent off and despite steady business all day, it didn’t yet look picked over in the least. To say that there is still an abundance of inventory in that space would be an understatement. The store will continue to sell off all items over the next four weeks or so, with the discount percentage increasing all the while.
We took some time to go up and down the overstimulating aisles and choose some of our favorite (and/or most ridiculous) items still available in the store. All of these treasures (and toilets) can be yours. There is still time. Take yourself to Nagle’s, get this crap and bid your old friend a fond farewell.
– link: Riverfront Times
Unsuspecting fans of Cardinals baseball were treated to quite the surprise this week. There, beamed through the air into their own home television sets, was legendary St. Louis concert attendee Beatle Bob.
During commercial breaks for televised games, Fox Sports Midwest is showing a new McDonald’s commercial that features Mr. Bob (real name: Robert E. Matonis) and songwriter/musician Javier Mendoza.
Beatle Bob earned a reputation in the local music community many years ago. He claims that he has attended a concert every night for more than 7,000 days in a row. His whole thing is to get into a show, get right next to the stage and dance. Aggressively. (He’ll also happily take over emceeing duties if permitted.)
His dancing mostly involves broadly swiping his arms in a merciless fashion as he ruthlessly clears space for his own purposes. His moves include twirling, pointing and “rolling the dice,” and he seems to follow a beat that only exists in his imagination. If you happen to get in his way, Bob is likely to “accidentally” hit you in the head, elbow you in the spine or smack you in the face. He will then offer no apology and just keep on dancing. (I speak from experience.) His refusal to show consideration for his fellow concert-goers has not earned him many friends on the dance floor.
Still, he has garnered for himself something of a national reputation. Touring bands — unaware of the years of slowly building animosity between Beatle Bob and, well, almost anyone trying to take in a local concert — seem to be charmed by the tall man in the polyester suit. Additionally, Bob can be found out of town, backstage at major festivals, up front in huge crowds and, recently, on the cover of The Reader in a story about Chicago’s Empty Bottle venue.
And now he’s found a way into our living rooms.
Javier Mendoza is also in the McDonald’s commercial, playing guitar while repeatedly wishing us all a good morning. Mendoza spent his formative musical years in St. Louis, though local boosters are quick to point out that he split to Nashville a couple of years ago and therefore might’ve lost his provel privileges.
So as it turns out, McDonald’s local marketing strategy is just as terrible as its food. They’re trying to woo us with oh-so-hip St. Louis flavor, but instead they gave us an ex-pat hiding behind sunglasses and a dude who would crack your skull if it meant that he could dance three inches closer to Tenacious D.
Better luck next time, McDonald’s.
Watch the commercial for yourself below:
– link: Riverfront Times
Family Arena to Serve Up Hilarious Buffet of Beach Boy Puns for Brian Wilson’s Pet Sounds Tour
Posted By Jaime Lees
Fri, Jun 24, 2016
Brian Wilson will perform at Family Arena on Thursday, July 21. Get your fill of food puns in advance of the show.
Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys is one of the greatest living songwriters and the undisputed emperor of pop music. He has no contemporaries. No other single person has contributed more to the landscape of modern Western music. His work was so impressive and revered that even the Beatles had to scramble to keep up.
As a composer, his gifts cannot be beaten. His talents are so vast and his songs are such a part of our collective history that he can get away with touring on material he released 50 years ago and his fans still rejoice. Not many performers could pull that off, but other performers didn’t write Pet Sounds.
Fans in St. Louis have been counting the days until Wilson arrives to perform on July 21 at the Family Arena. He’ll perform Pet Sounds along with “rare cuts and greatest hits.” With him will be his insanely talented band and fellow Beach Boy Al Jardine. (And, thankfully, not one minute of stage time for that friend-of-Trump human vampire tick, Mike Love.)
This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime event. It will probably be near-religious in its scope. Lightning will flash. Proposals will be made. Babies will be conceived. Socks will find their match. Followers will fall to their knees. The sky will rain rose petals on the believers.
Which makes it all the more hilarious that the Family Arena is offering a Brian Wilson-themed buffet before the show, with the food named as ridiculous Beach Boys-themed puns.
“Warmth of the Bun.” “Good Libations.” Though Wilson is regarded as Pop Jesus, he still loves a good joke, so he’d probably approve. We definitely approve. Check out the details on the $40/person meal below. You can have pun, pun, pun ’til the waiter takes the food troughs away. (Sorry.)
Brian Wilson will be performing on Thursday, July 21 at The Family Arena. We’d like to offer you a special opportunity to dine beforehand in The Arena Club (located on the fourth floor). That evening The Arena Club will feature a special Brian Wilson-themed buffet prepared by our own in-house chef. The menu will feature a full area of food including soup, salad, sides, two entrees to choose from plus a decadent dessert table.
Buffet ticket-holders will be granted early access to the venue. It’s a great way to avoid the rush of pre-show traffic and the uncertainty of trying to time your restaurant dining so as not to be late for the show. Instead of dealing with the hustle & bustle you’ll arrive before the crowd and dine leisurely during the 90-minutes before showtime. Soda and iced tea are complimentary. A cash bar will be available.
– link: Riverfront Times
St. Louis Earth Day Festival Digs Deep This Year for Impressive Local Music Lineup
By Jaime Lees
Tue, Apr 19, 2016
Concert season in St. Louis has arrived. Each year as the temperatures rise our fine city shakes off its deep winter sleep and blossoms into a major hub of quality musical entertainment. At the first hint of spring we start looking forward to months of free outdoor public concerts: the Whitaker Music Festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden, the Jungle Boogie concert series at the zoo, the major headliners at Fair St. Louis and all of the wonderfully crappy cover bands provided by smaller local festivals and carnivals.
This year the St. Louis Earth Day Festival is really getting in on the action. Taking place this Sunday, April 24 in Forest Park, the musical talent for the event is decidedly local, original and diverse. Instead of offering just the usual expected Americana, folk or jam bands, the schedule features DJs, punk rockers, general weirdos and representatives of many different styles and genres of the St. Louis music scene.
Scheduled to perform: Swear Beam, the Vanilla Beans, DJ Needles, CaveofswordS, Illphonics, Matt Wynn, Bruiser Queen, JOIA World Percussion Ensemble, the Griddle Kids, Steely James, Arson for Candy, Tortuga, Gary Schoenberger with Perfect Strangers and the Funs.
The most common reaction for local music fans reading this lineup has been delighted shock. How, we wondered, did the St. Louis Earth Day crew manage to seek out and book some of our city’s best musicians and bands? Clearly, somebody with extensive knowledge of the local music scene had some sort of influence there.
We didn’t have to dig long to find out that the little seed that grew this lineup was Jenn DeRose. In addition to being the program manager of the Green Dining Alliance, DeRose has played many roles over the years in St. Louis music culture: She’s done time at Vintage Vinyl, been a DJ at KDHX, worked with Big Muddy Records and is an avid concert-goer. (And — full disclosure — an occasional RFT Music contributer.)
DeRose says she simply suggested bands that she wanted to see and that she felt represented St. Louis as a whole.
“Most of the bands that we contacted were very stoked to do it,” DeRose says. “If we would’ve asked these same kinds of bands ten years ago, I don’t know that they would’ve been as enthusiastic, but I think that everybody is kind of on board now. Global warming is real; climate change is real. It’s an important issue. We’re losing species like crazy. Also, it’s a really fun festival. And 50,000 people showed up last year, so I think the entertainers were really excited to jump on board.”
Mike Leahy of Tortuga (and long-time St. Louis favorite 7 Shot Screamers) is one of those excited for a chance to perform. “I was shocked by how solid the lineup is for this festival,” Leahy explains. “Forest Park is such a beautiful place with such a great history — to be playing a well-organized festival there is an honor. Tortuga is stoked to play Earth Day Fest because it feels like a real homegrown event. It’s so much fun playing around St. Louis these days; so many great bands, organizers, venues and events like this. We’re a lucky town.”
Also using the word “solid” to describe the lineup, musician Sunyatta McDermott of CaveofswordS says that she’s excited to “get the chance to see so many great artists in one day” while also supporting the cause. McDermott has carried a passion for environmentalism since she was a teenager, and she jokes that she even sacrificed her Aqua Net Extra Super Hold for the ozone. In addition to performing at the festival, she and the rest of CaveofswordS express their commitment to a more livable world through simple everyday decisions like recycling, embracing a plant-based diet, driving used cars and finding their clothes in thrift shops.
Musicians as a group, in fact, are actually fairly green naturally. They buy used instruments, they carpool frequently, they share practice spaces, they lend each other equipment and they DJ with previously owned records. This sharing of resources is not only essential to growing a scene, it also helps to keep the planet clean. According to DeRose, so does supporting your local scene.
“I think promoting local music is an important part of sustainability,” DeRose says. “If a city is more dense, it is more sustainable. Which is maybe counter-intuitive, but with shared resources, our carbon footprint is lower. And the way to attract younger, active people to the city is through promoting local music and letting it thrive. That’s part of why we need to start including local bands — to really showcase what St. Louis can do.”
Find out more information about the St. Louis Earth Day Festival at stlouisearthday.org
– link: Riverfront Times
Douche Lord Axl Rose Dares to Return to St. Louis with Guns N’ Roses
Posted By Jaime Lees
Mon, Mar 28, 2016 at 11:04 am
It was 25 years ago this summer that Axl Rose sparked the infamous “Riverport Riot” and just a few days ago Guns N’ Roses announced that it will return to St. Louis for the first time since the incident. (Location and date of concert still unknown.)
The Riot story goes like this: On July 2, 1991, Guns N’ Roses came to St. Louis to play one of the first shows at a brand new outdoor shed venue called Riverport. (Now known as Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre.) During the show, Rose spotted a fan up front taking photos, he then flipped his shit and jumped into the crowd in an attempt to wail on the offender, a motorcycle enthusiast named Stump. After being caught on the big screen going berserk on his fans and lashing out at security, Rose was pulled out of the mayhem, said “Well, thanks for the lame-ass security, I’m going home” into the microphone, and then threw the mic down and exited the stage. The rest of the band followed.
The fans in attendance weren’t about to tolerate Rose’s antics (or the show being cut short) and they promptly rioted: ripping up the seats, lighting small fires, starting fights, tearing down signage and generally trashing the joint. The band fled the Riverport area and were driven across state lines into Illinois to avoid arrest.
Rose’s bratty behavior was already well-documented by this point. His fragile ego always came across as insecurity wrapped in peacocking machismo, but on this night he seemed extra volatile. Dude was wearing Mormon underwear and a hideous gorilla jacket that would make even Dian Fossey cover her eyes but he still decided that he was going to jump into the audience and try to be the alpha male.
Because his aggro, immature outbursts were commonplace, this particular tantrum couldn’t have been entirely unexpected, but the reaction of the crowd was immediately beyond the capabilities of Riverport security. The police called in every available officer and the rioting crowd was mercilessly escorted to the exits. The riot resulted in sixteen arrests, 60 injuries and a reported $200,000 in damage to the amphitheatre.
It took a year for Rose to finally be arrested on an outstanding warrant when he landed back in New York after a European tour. He was released on $100,000 bail but soon faced a St. Louis judge on multiple accusations of assault and a property damage charge. In the end Rose was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $50,000 to St. Louis-area charities.
But before he even went to trial in St. Louis, Rose had already declared his own personal war on the city. His vendetta was long-running, too. Guns N’ Roses’ Use Your Illusion I & Use Your Illusion II were released a few months after the incident and included “FUCK YOU, ST. LOUIS!” in the liner notes. Rose was also seen on stage wearing a “ST. LOUIS SUCKS” t-shirt and he trashed the city at every opportunity. (Riverport is technically located outside of St. Louis in Maryland Heights, but a shirt that reads “MARYLAND HEIGHTS, MO SUCKS” wouldn’t have been nearly as flashy.) He also wore a St. Louis Cardinals hat for approximately one second in the “Don’t Cry” video. (At the 1:11 mark.) He must’ve wanted us to know that he was thinking of us because it’s not like he wore hats and bandanas in an attempt to hide his thinning hairline or anything. Nope, not at all.
Maybe Rose has since softened his stance on St. Louis after working with our native son, wizard guitarist Richard Fortus. Fortus became a member of GNR in 2001 and has decades of high-level professional experience under his studded belt. (He founded Love Spit Love and played with Thin Lizzy, to say the least.) He’s smart and talented and any city would be proud to have him as its ambassador. Fortus recently gave an interview where he explained that he missed the 1991 riot entirely. On the night of the riot, he said, he was playing across town at Kennedy’s. (For local rock fans of a certain age, this statement will read as pure, undeniable St. Louis street cred.)
So where and when will this new Guns N’ Roses concert happen? We have no official information on that yet, but we’re guessing that they’re implying that the show will happen sometime this summer. But making plans is not GNR’s strongest trait— you know how it went down with Chinese Democracy. And assuming that “Riverport” still has a ban on Rose (and doesn’t want a reenactment of 1991 on its hands), GNR would have to find another large venue to play.
When discussing this dilemma with a friend, he offered what appears to be a very reasonable venue prediction for the upcoming event. Keep in mind this is entirely conjecture, but he pointed out that current Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt recently mentioned on a podcast that in addition to welcoming the much anticipated NHL Winter Classic hockey game, that he was also planning on hosting an upcoming concert at Busch Stadium downtown.
In the last few minutes of The Ryan Kelly Morning After podcast Episode 37 (titled “Segment 1 – Show Open 03/10/16”), DeWitt says, “We’ve had a couple of false starts on concerts, so I don’t want to jinx it, so I’ll leave it at that. But we’re trying to get one good one this summer and then one or two big ones next summer.”
Could it be Guns N’ Roses? Absolutely. Not many other major touring bands could hope to even partially fill a venue that holds more than 46,000 attendees. Furthermore, if this show is at Busch it would almost surely have to take place during the All Star break between July 8 and July 12. This location might also be good insurance against another riot— most St. Louisans would think twice before damaging the Cardinals’ nest.
What’s a St. Louis rock fan to do? We have ambivalent feelings about Guns N’ Roses. We remember what happened on that hot summer night long ago, but years of prolonged exposure to KSHE has weakened our resolve. We, as a city, have always liked to party, but we still have very little tolerance for ego trip bullshit.
So to Axl we say this: Remember what happened the last time you tried to act a fool here? We don’t play that mess so don’t even try it again. We’re primed and ready. If you try to step to us on our own territory we’ll turn on you even faster than last time. Behave yourself because we promise you that this, sir, is the jungle.
Missed the action? Check out a short two-part documentary on the Riverport Riot below. It includes an interview with Mr. Stump and a hilarious “only in St. Louis” story about Izzy Stradlin’s lost amplifier from witness Sebastian Bach of Skid Row.
link: Riverfront Times