Bob Reuter Memorial Show: A Review in Photos

photos by Jaime Lees
photos by Jaime Lees

Bob Reuter Memorial Show: A Review in Photos
By Jaime Lees
Mon., Sep. 9 2013

When legendary local musician, writer and photographer Bob Reuter died suddenly last month, friends and loved ones were grief-stricken. Reuter played in and documented the south city scene for decades, leaving behind a vast amount of artistic work and no shortage of fans and admirers. Last night his bandmates, collaborators and friends came together at the Casa Loma Ballroom to pay tribute to Reuter’s life and work.

The list of participating musicians was long and impressive, pulling from both Reuter’s deep past and current projects. Between performances of his songs, friends were on hand to read his poetry and discuss his various art projects.

The event also offered items up for auction, with proceeds to benefit the Cowboy Angel Foundation, a fund set up to continue and secure Reuter’s legacy and provide funds to disadvantaged musicians.

We documented the entire event in a photo diary. As a tribute to Reuter’s work in black and white photography, we did our best to present the photos in a manner as close to his signature style as possible and to capture the scenes that he would have wanted to witness.

It is our sincere hope that these photographs relay the love, energy and talent that was in the room. Reuter couldn’t have been given a better tribute than what we witnessed last night.

Photos below:

link: Riverfront Times

LouFest Expands, Keeps St. Louis Fans in Mind

Alabama Shakes (photo by Timothy Norris)

 

LouFest Expands, Keeps St. Louis Fans in Mind
By Jaime Lees
Thursday, Sep 5 2013

Now entering its fourth year, LouFest has outgrown its toddler phase and is ready to play with the big kids. What began as a relatively small affair has expanded into a respected event with national recognition; in years past it was somewhat of a boutique festival, far from the behemoth sonic sprawls created at Coachella or Bonnaroo. Occupying a plot of land in Forest Park, the LouFest organizers kept the concert cozy, ensuring a quality experience built around a small stage setup and local vendors.

Brian Cohen, founder of LouFest, first held the event in 2010 and set out to build an annual destination festival. Cohen’s recent partnership with C3 Presents is the latest step in that growth process. As the third-largest concert promotion company in the United States, C3 Presents organizes massive events — including President Obama’s inaugural celebration and other multiday music happenings like Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits. Whatever the company does, it does big, so regular LouFest attendees should expect something extra special this year — something that Charlie Jones, executive producer at C3, refers to as “an elevated experience.”

What’s New

The inclusion of such a massive promotion company (and the connections that come along with it) has opened up new options to the LouFest organizers. In LouFest’s past, the bands were staggered on two different stages, but this year there will be a third stage and some overlap of set times. Instead of being able to see every set all day, music fans will need to make some choices. This new factor might be viewed as a possible inconvenience by previously spoiled LouFest attendees, but it is a standard practice for larger music festivals, and Cohen sees it as a positive thing, providing fans with the opportunity to see more bands.

“This year there has to be some decision-making to determine what bands you want to see,” Cohen explains.”Maybe you stay for half a set and then run to another stage. So that’s all part of the dynamic that makes it more interesting and exciting.”

C3’s Jones agrees with Cohen’s movement theory. “The park is huge. If you’ve been there the past couple of years, they’ve only utilized a very small portion of it. This year is not going to be that much bigger in a sense that there’s that many more people, but we are utilizing more of the grounds so that there’s more room to spread out with your blankets and move from stage to stage. Part of the philosophy that we have with producing events is motivating people to move around and experience other things, whether it’s music or food or just their friends.”

The Lineup

It’s hard to imagine the festival topping the psychedelic dance-fest that occurred last year. And though rain threatened to ruin parts of the event and forced muddy audience members to scramble for shelter, the show went on, and went on spectacularly. Headliners the Flaming Lips and Girl Talk made sure that the energy went up after the sun went down, and daytime sets by Son Volt, Dinosaur Jr and Dr. Dog were of legendary quality.

This year the lineup is more visually and sonically subdued, but it’s no less powerful. Headliners include monster acts Wilco, the Killers and the National. Rounding out the bigger names on the list is Alabama Shakes, a band that has gone from playing the Old Rock House here less than two years ago to getting near-top billing at LouFest. Like any large and diverse music festival, the lineup features often-seen touring bands awaiting their dues (Ra Ra Riot), hippie favorites (Trampled By Turtles), newer buzz bands (Wild Cub) and the electro-dance flavor of the moment (Icona Pop).

Charlie Jones (C3 Presents) and Brian Cohen (LouFest)
Charlie Jones (C3 Presents) and Brian Cohen (LouFest)

LouFest and St. Louis

Historically, LouFest has been a local operation from top to bottom. Organized and run by Cohen’s St. Louis-based company, Listen Live Entertainment, there has been great care taken to make sure that the festival welcomes and includes native businesses.

Says Cohen, “The beer is represented by two local favorites, Anheuser-Busch and Schlafly. Anheuser-Busch sponsors our main stage, and Schlafly has their beer garden. Our food court is full of local favorites, and in our market square we have local fashion and local retailers that come out and provide great things for people to browse through. So all in all we are a St. Louis event, born and bred. We try to reflect that in everything we do. We’re all about the city. We’re all about being a place to showcase the best that St. Louis has to offer. Not only music, but food and fashion and everything else. Our event is about celebrating all of those things.”

If there has been any criticism of LouFest over the years, it’s the fact that it’s called “LouFest” and that the name might imply the inclusion of more local bands on the lineup. But the festival has included local bands every year, even if their performances have been relegated to the earliest possible time slots.

“What we have done from the beginning is make sure that local bands are represented in the lineup,” Cohen explains. “That’s very important to us, and that’s a tradition that we want to keep. Other festivals don’t really do that. They don’t have a commitment to their local scenes, at least in the public way that we do.”

Over the years LouFest has featured performances from locals Kim Massie, So Many Dynamos, the Bottle Rockets, Magnolia Summer, Sleepy Kitty, Jumbling Towers and Jeff Tweedy (arguably a St. Louis native via neighboring Belleville, Illinois). And that streak doesn’t end — Tef Poe and Kentucky Knife Fight are on the bill for 2013.

“It’s a balancing act to determine how many to include, because part of the appeal of festivals is bringing bands to St. Louis that don’t really come here that often,” Cohen says. “So while there’s plenty of local talent that we could put on the stage throughout the day, we need to strike a balance between bands that you can see often in St. Louis and those that are going to provide a unique experience that our fan base doesn’t get to experience very often.”

Jones echoes Cohen’s “bigger picture” sentiment: “Whenever we go to a new market, and specifically St. Louis, it’s not necessarily a goal just to make a big music festival, but it’s to try to create an event that’s going to become part of the community and hopefully be thought about as something to do in that community for many, many years to come — a true cultural event that represents the park, the city and the fans that would come to it.”

LouFest
12 p.m. Saturday, September 7 and Sunday, September 8.
$55 to $95. Forest Park, Highway 40 (I-64) & Hampton Avenue.

link: Riverfront Times

Remembering Bob Reuter: St. Louis Speaks

photo by Jaime Lees
photo by Jaime Lees

I got the call early, about an hour and a half before the news hit the Internet. My friend Jim was on the phone. The tone of his voice was calm and reassuring — gentle, even. Bob Reuter, he explained, was dead. Over the next few minutes we talked each other through the shock as best we could. Then Jim offered a short list of people who would be good for a quote or two on Bob’s life.

What follows here is a collection of uncensored stories from many of the people — musicians, writers, fellow KDHX deejays — whose lives were touched by Bob Reuter throughout the years. We’re working hard here at the Riverfront Times to gather your memories of Bob’s work and life. It’s something that we take very seriously, and we feel that his story is best told by his friends, colleagues and fans.

Many people have stories yet to share, so check back frequently. This page will updated as the contributions continue to roll in. And please, feel free to write your own story in the comments below.

Like many others, I have my own history with Bob. There are better stories to be told, so I’ll keep it brief.

I met Bob in the late ’90s when I was just a teenager. He circled me like a hungry wolf and asked me to come over to his house so he could take my photo. (I was his type: artistic with bleached hair, severe eyeliner, short skirts and photogenic breasts.) But I knew Stranger Danger when I saw it, and I told the old perv to get lost.

But he never disappeared and neither did I. We shared the same friends, the same venues and the same scene for years. And as time went by we came to know each other, and I (mostly) forgave him for being such a creeper back in the day.

Bob and I didn’t always get along, but it never went past the general head-butting of two people who both like to be in charge and don’t take any shit. It was never that serious, anyway. If anything, I think he was impressed by my frequently sassy attitude.

But at no time when I was annoyed with him did I belittle his work.

He couldn’t be considered an expert at most things he did, but that wasn’t the point. The point was that he did it anyway. His photos, while frequently blurry and and technically imperfect, captured the vibrancy of St. Louis and its inhabitants. In my opinion, his radio show (Bob’s Scratchy Records) was the best on KDHX (88.1 FM). And his music was always great, but it became absolutely stellar when he hooked up with the geniuses at Big Muddy Records.

In one of my last private e-mail exchanges with Bob, I praised Big Muddy founder Chris Baricevic as the “biggest badass in St. Louis.” He concurred, writing, “He’s believed in me from the start and worked selflessly on my behalf. I owe him for a life turn-around.” I spoke with Baricevic on the evening that Bob died and was relieved to learn that Bob’s family, his bandmates, were all mourning together that night.

It’s this kind of stuff about Bob that I choose to remember. He said lots of nice things when nobody else was listening. He often sent encouraging words out of nowhere. He inspired the younger generation, and he made connections with scores of unlikely folks. He was difficult, but he was worth it. And his music, art and tireless documentation of the city and its people will be his legacy.

— to see tributes from others, including Randall Roberts of the Los Angeles Times, click here

link: Riverfront Times

R.I.P. Bob Reuter, St. Louis Music Legend

photo by Jon Scorfina
photo by Jon Scorfina

The man who today fell to his death down an elevator shaft has been identified by numerous sources close to RFT Music as Bob Reuter, 61, a legendary St. Louis music elder and beloved photographer who spent the majority of his life documenting and creating in the ever-blooming south-city scene.

Reuter was strong supporter of St. Louis arts, a DJ at KDHX (88.1 FM) and host of its Bob’s Scratchy Records, and a mentor to many young local musicians. His bands the Dinosaurs, Kamikaze Cowboy and, most recently, Alley Ghost, were among the most revered acts in town.

Reuter was moving into a downtown loft when he fell to his death down an elevator shaft.

“I was his drummer, he was my best friend, we traveled the country together, played rock & roll,” bandmate Bass Amp, who was on the scene when the tragedy occurred, told KSDK. “I lost it. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t believe it.”

Much more information on his big, loud life and lasting influence coming soon, including tributes from Reuter’s many friends and collaborators. Keep checking back at RFTMusic.com for updates.

link: Riverfront Times

Jimmy Griffin Talks Free Master Class at New Ballwin School of Rock

JimmyGriffinSchoolOfRock-thumb-500x333
Jimmy Griffin Talks Free Master Class at New Ballwin School of Rock
By Jaime Lees
Wed., Jul. 31 2013

One of St. Louis’ preeminent rock guitarists, Jimmy Griffin, is hosting an event this weekend to celebrate the opening of the brand new School of Rock in Ballwin, a rock band themed music school for seven to eighteen year olds.

Griffin is probably best known as the charismatic front man of local favorites The Incurables, but his many “side projects” keep him plenty busy during off hours. He’s a main figure in El Monstero, the impressive world-renowned spare-no-expense Pink Floyd cover band that just lasered through Verizon Wireless Amphitheater a couple of weekends ago. His other high-profile projects include Celebration Day (September 14 at Jefferson Barracks Park), Street Fighting Band (August 16 at Alton Amphitheater) and PettyCash Junction (August 2 at Kirkwood Station Brewing Company).

The seemingly inexhaustible Griffin spends his remaining time teaching private music lessons. His teaching skills will be on display at this two hour this School of Rock “master class” where he’ll be both playing guitar and speaking about his experiences in the music business. It would be difficult to find a more experienced or worthy man for the job. If you want your kids to learn from the best, this is a great place to start.

We spoke with Griffin on a rare day off about what to expect at his master class this weekend.

Jaime Lees: Tell me about your event on Saturday and what you’re going to do there.

Jimmy Griffin: It’s for the School of Rock, which has just opened up a campus here in St. Louis. My buddy Jordan Heimburger is a director there, and it’s a kid’s rock and roll camp. And, basically, they bring in artists to play for the kids and talk to them about their experiences in music. And I’ve done some events like that at Camp Jam, too, where people will come in and play a few songs, and then just talk to the kids because kids have tons of questions about things like that and how you’ve gotten where you’ve gotten. And you just kind of talk about life philosophies and musical philosophies and stuff that you can kind of pass along to the next generation.

You know, I’ve been doing this [music] since I was seventeen. And there’s been various ups and downs and, just any kind of knowledge I can impart to the kids is good stuff. It’s open to the public, so anybody can come. And I think it’s basically an event just to raise awareness of the fact that there is a School of Rock in St. Louis now. And the audience will be just anybody that’s interested in what I might have to say or who wants to listen to me play the guitar. And it’s to help them find out that there’s a place for their kid that might be interested in playing rock music for his life, or just for fun. I think that’s what it’s all about.

So the kids come with their parents and you’re there and you have the guitar, but what’s the scene like? Are you mostly answering questions or are you playing? Have you done one of these before, specifically?

I, personally, haven’t done one, I’ve watched a bunch of them and at the majority of them, the kids have a bunch of questions. And I’ll play a little bit and just show them– the main thing with kids, because of their level of honesty, is that you have to kind of show them something first. You have to kind-of prove something to them, that you’re worthy of them asking you a question in the first place. So, you get out there and you kick it for a little while and it’s basically a lot of question and answer. You know, just so they can ask questions about how you do what you do, and why you do what you do and how you got to where you do it.

What are some of the most common questions they ask at these kind of things?

The most common ones are: When did you start playing? What was your first band? What’s your favorite band? How is music different now from when you were a kid? Because they all know that I’m old, you know? [laughs] Now being that it’s a rock and roll camp, they don’t have to listen to me and most of them won’t. Which is fine because that’s what’s rock and roll about it! But for someone who has been doing it as long as myself, I think there’s things that I can tell them. I might be able to tell them some things that they might not get right out of the gate, and save them some time. Whether it’s figuring out people that they want to play in the band with or music they’re pursuing or things like that. Because there are so many avenues in music. It might just be something that you do in your room that brings you a whole bunch of joy. Or you’re a live performer or you’re a composer or you’re a studio musician or you play jazz or whatever it is, anything that you do with music can be really beneficial and can enrich your life in a bunch of different ways.

So what is something that you tell all the kids? What’s your best advice to them?

The best advice is that if you’re a good person you’re gonna end up playing good music with good people. And that’s the whole thing. You can be the greatest at whatever you are; you can be the best drummer, you can be the greatest guitar player. But if you’re a jerk, you will be sitting at home being the greatest guitar player in the world. And I know people like that. I know people that have never had the personal side of it together, and because of that, the guys that were more equipped to deal with the ups and downs of what music is are more successful.

One of the first things we always tell them is that nothing ever goes right in rock and roll. And it’s the guy that you don’t want to kill at a truck stop in the middle of Oklahoma at two in the morning that stays in your band, you know? A lot of things about music involve bending and being able to go with the flow and figure out your place in a group. If you look at a band like, let’s say the Rolling Stones. You have Mick Jagger in your band, he’s the Mick Jagger. And you might be the Bill Wyman, but Bill Wyman gets to do pretty much all the stuff that Mick Jagger does because he lets Mick Jagger be Mick Jagger. If Bill Wyman tries to be Mick Jagger, it doesn’t work, and then Bill Wyman gets kicked out of the band. And that’s part of it, too.

I also talk to them a lot about their first real band. Which is that band like, U2 or Aerosmith or those bands that got together when they were in high school or shortly thereafter. Those are very special things. And once that first band is over– I had one of those bands– once that first band is over, it’s never like that ever again. It can be really good, but it’s never like that first real band that you have. After that it’s always a little more professional, everybody gets a little more grown up. But those first bands are the ones where you can stay young forever.

Call the School of Rock at 636-220-8930 to reserve your space at this free event.

link: Riverfront Times

Watch Pokey LaFarge’s Performance on Letterman Last Night: “We’re gonna take you back to St. Louis now.”

Pokey Lafarge on David Letterman in the courtyard of The Royale (adjacent to the Royale's "STL POWER" sign)
Pokey Lafarge on David Letterman in the courtyard of The Royale (adjacent to the Royale’s “STL POWER” sign)

Watch Pokey LaFarge’s Performance on Letterman Last Night: “We’re gonna take you back to St. Louis now.”
By Jaime Lees
Wed., Jul. 17 2013

The whole of south city was watching the Late Show with David Letterman last night. We all wanted to witness Pokey LaFarge’s network television debut. Viewing parties were held in countless living rooms around town, but the big watch party was hosted at the Royale.

It seems that our hometown star is no longer our little secret. Well, he hasn’t really been our little secret for a while, actually. We all knew this was coming. Years of hard work and constant touring has paid off with increasing recognition for LaFarge and his crew of talented locals including Ryan Koenig, Joey Glynn and Adam Hoskins. We’ve watched LaFarge go from playing basements to playing the legendary Ryman Auditorium in the span of just a few years. In 2011, Jack White (of the White Stripes) figured out what was up and released a LaFarge single on his Third Man Records, followed by LaFarge’s self-titled album. There was also a high-profile NPR performance and then there was the appearance on Jools Holland’s New Year’s Eve show. And now? David freakin’ Letterman.

Steven Fitzpatrick Smith, friend of LaFarge and owner of the Royale on South Kingshighway, is always happy to support and celebrate the south city community that incubated LaFarge when he began his career here years go. (Yeah, technically, Pokey isn’t from St. Louis by birth. But he’s from here by heart, and that’s what counts.)

Smith explains, “We went to the ball game about a week and a half ago and Pokey told me he was going to be on Letterman and that’s kind of a big deal for everybody — even for big stars, that’s a big deal. I knew that a lot of people would want to watch it around their friends down on the south side, too, so I borrowed Bill Streeter‘s projector and hooked it up to the system so we could all watch it here. Pokey has a fine appreciation for history, people, our town and the way things work around here. Things are getting hammered around a lot. There’s a certain level of cooperation that you have to get to in this town to get to an understanding. He’s got it. He understands it. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s very hard-working and talented as well. It’s a musicians’ kind of city here. Despite the fact that we don’t really recognize that it is, that’s how we are recognized around the country and around the world. So, he gets it. And he’s been able to take it to the next level. And it’s kind of fun watching when a local boy does good.”

Smith’s hunch about the community wanting to come together for the viewing was spot on, and the Royale’s courtyard was full by show time. It was a crowd of friendly faces last night, and they all came out to the event because they also wanted to watch a local boy do good. Together.

The courtyard was full of chatter during Letterman’s other guests and interviews, but when it was Pokey time, the crowd went quiet and we all stared at the screen, excited and silent. This silence lasted about six seconds. At the very beginning of the performance, LaFarge leaned into the microphone and said “We’re gonna take you back to St. Louis now.” Cheers all around from the Royale crowd.

LaFarge and crew performed “Central Time,” a song about living in the Midwest and loving it. The soundtrack couldn’t have been more appropriate for the mood of the bar. We all swayed and sang along when LaFarge said “Sing with us now.” Letterman’s studio audience clapped for Hoskins’ guitar solo, but it was barely audible over the sound of our own clapping.

David Letterman closed out his show by shaking hands with the band and saying, “That was wonderful. Fantastic. Great. I enjoyed that a great deal… Very nice… Phenomenal.” He then offered to tour with the band. (Biggest cheer of the night from the bar viewers.)

After the performance, there were high-fives and lots of smiles among the crowd. LaFarge fan Anne Williamson said, “I’ve been a huge fan of Pokey for years now. He’s amazing. He just really connects with music and what it’s all about. He just puts his own spin on it and he’s so genuine. And just a super talented musician. And a nice guy!”

Fellow fan Kelly Wells also praised LaFarge’s friendliness and relationship with the city. When asked why she went out to the viewing party last night, Wells said, “I came because Pokey’s a friend of mine and also because he represents St. Louis so well to everywhere– to really everywhere in the world. Like tonight, the first thing he does on Letterman is he gives a shout-out to St. Louis. It’s huge for our city and he does a very good job of representing what this city is all about. And, yeah, he’s a nice guy! Oh! And I also came here because the Royale makes a really good Sazerac.”

So, just a little note to the world: Pokey is on loan. You can borrow him for a while but we want him back. He’s ours. And we all do fine on Central Time.

Video of the performance below:

link: Riverfront Times

Cementland: Future Music Venue?

Cementland

Cementland: Future Music Venue?
By Jaime Lees
Mon., Jul. 15 2013

I have a proposal: Let’s turn Cementland into a music venue, St. Louis.

Because it would be fitting. And perfect. And because, well, I want everywhere to be a music venue.

Maybe it’s a symptom of Midwest ingenuity, but we like alternative performance spaces. Many of my favorite concert memories involve inventive and/or illegal locations, and this summer it seems like more and more events are taking place outside of the regular music venues. Stag Nite in the Woods is coming up this weekend. Local punks are hosting BYOB generator-powered shows on the riverbank. Just last weekend there was a huge house show off of Cherokee Street. And a few weeks ago I was lucky to catch a performance in a modern plaza outside the Old Post Office downtown.

My raver friends have been doing this for decades now, hosting parties in vacated warehouses, abandoned railroad stations and other places that are otherwise unoccupied. And though there’s an occasional rave in a cave or a park or a barn or a skate rink, historically these parties have been hosted in the industrial area of north city, not far from the Cementland location.

Illegal parties thrive here partially because it’s kind of a lawless land. With little or inefficient police presence, sometimes there is no one around for miles to either protect or harass these party pirates. But north city is experiencing a resurgence of sorts, led by urban pioneers seeking cheap land, organizations interested in preserving the beautiful old buildings and people looking to open businesses in cool locations. These groups are hellbent on resurrecting the once-thriving neighborhoods, now crumbling because of crime, neglect and brick theft.

I can appreciate that, but I don’t roll much to the north side, preferring, instead, to let others fix ‘er up before I partake. A pioneer, I am not. While I’ll admit to a vague passing curiosity for what lies in the darkness on the edge of town, I’m a cautious person. I see the beauty in decay, but I also see the danger that could result from this particular style of voyeurism. Most of the architecture up there is beyond beautiful, but the places that look like they’ve been bombed and then rained on with syringes are not for me.

But I have curiosity and a sturdy pair of boots and a deep interest in all things Bob Cassilly-related, so I found myself at Cementland over the weekend, checking for any changes at the location and thinking, again, that this place could be the coolest music venue ever.

Cassilly’s work is well-documented, and so was his recent death on location at Cementland and the issues with his estate. The loss of his life was not just a loss for his family and friends, but also to the local arts community and to people interested in a better (and greener) St. Louis. As the designer, visionary and proprietor of the City Museum, Cassilly’s memory looms large. In a city that is notoriously adverse to change, Cassilly was a badass who pushed boundaries with a combination of childlike hopefulness and adult stubbornness.

He was prolific, especially in town, and he’s left his mark all over the city. Those turtles at Turtle Park? The apple chairs in Webster Groves? The sea-lion sculptures at the zoo? That giant butterfly outside the Butterfly House in Chesterfield? All Cassilly’s. Though his time was cut short, it he still accomplished a nearly inconceivable amount of work during his life.

Cassilly’s unique artistic marriage of architecture, sculpture, industry and business caused a cross-pollination effect, encouraging all sides in a parallel way. He remains one of the main figures in the revitalization of Washington Avenue and, in effect, all of downtown St. Louis. And it’s hard to imagine newer free public art projects like the Citygarden being welcomed or completed in a pre-Cassilly downtown. His work sparked a renaissance.

I have a bit of a bias here because I have a special interest in Cassilly’s life and work.

Some years back, I was almost his personal assistant. We had friends in common, and I was recommended to his family as someone who was artistically minded, patient and bullshit allergic. After passing some sort of prescreening, we started digging into what my daily duties would include. I’d have to keep his life organized, schedule meetings, endure his moods, indulge his whims and be able to politely tell people to fuck off. None of that was any problem. But when it became clear that the job also entailed a fair amount of nannying for his two young children (including driving them to soccer practice), I declined the position. I can tell people to fuck off all day, but I don’t do juice boxes.

Anyway, I’d always held a fondness for the man’s work in my heart, but after an insider glimpse into his busy, crazy life including constantly trying to keep up with family, projects, lawyers, red tape and city officials, I had a new respect for Bob, personally.

And his vision was always strong, even at the incomplete Cementland. I’m sure his plan for the area was greater and grander than any of us suspect, but the site already contains some of Cassilly’s signature style. Brightly painted concrete bits and bent iron sculptures stand proudly near what would’ve been the entrance, poking out through fields of overgrown weeds.

My Cementland exploring partner and I were in awe the sheer scale of the project. When Bob did anything, he did it big. And there is plenty of space to work with here, especially when you think of it as a potential performance venue.

The already-present bowl shape of the land is all set up to be an outdoor amphitheater. The numerous buildings, trailers, sheds and shacks on site could be easily converted into mini-venues, bars, concessions, lounges, backstage areas and storage space. In addition, the on-site silos could serve as natural echo chambers and sound enhancers. The area has very few neighbors (therefore very few potentials for sound complaints), and the parking options are endless.

The inside of the property had minimal graffiti damage, and it didn’t appear as vandalized as I’d feared, but maybe it was Cassilly, himself, who did some of the spray paint jobs. Who knows? And while there are piles of metal and concrete everywhere (which were probably intended for use as building materials), it all seemed to be in decent shape. It wouldn’t take much effort to clean out the debris and change the property into something else. In fact, doing this would be keeping with Cassilly’s legacy of using spaces that were set up for one thing and presenting them in a new, entirely different context. After all, this is the same guy who turned the mostly abandoned International Shoe building into a world-class tourist destination in fewer than three years.

If he’d been able to finish the project, the potential for the surrounding area would’ve been endless. Would people have tried to build lofts near the confluence? Would there be food trucks on Chain of Rocks Bridge? Could I finally rent one of those mini-mansions built on the water pumps in the river?

Cassilly was magic, and it would be shame to see his vision to go waste. Somebody needs continue on in his honor. Assuming that the property eventually goes up for sale, I hope the proper entrepreneur steps up. Let’s do what we do best and drop some music on it.

— pictures here

link: Riverfront Times

Pale Divine – Critic’s Pick

Pale Divine - jaimeville.com

Pale Divine
8:00 p.m. June 29 @ The Pageant

w/ The Finns – Before he became the guitarist for a little-known band called Guns N’ Roses, hometown rock god Richard Fortus had a series of other bands and gigs. He’s done it all, from playing in Thin Lizzy and the Psychedelic Furs to founding Love Spit Love, but Fortus first found success with St. Louis rockers Pale Divine (née the Eyes). Pale Divine was well-loved in town and there have long been tales of mini-skirt mamas chasing after the band members like some kind of late ’80s version of A Hard Day’s Night. Opening up for Pale Divine is the Finns, another beloved local band of yesteryear, whose delicious power-pop jams haven’t been played live since the band called it quits in the mid ’90s.

— By Jaime Lees

link: Riverfront Times

Midwest Mayhem – Critic’s Pick

KDHX logo
Midwest Mayhem
by Jaime Lees

Aside from knowing that you’ve contributed to the greatest radio station on Earth, one of the other perks of donating to KDHX is access to this – consistently one of the best parties of the year. The station hosts the Midwest Mayhem as a thank-you to listeners, who will pack every of the City Museum for this celebration of independent radio. At this event, music is quite literally around every corner, with bands and performers jammed into every delightful little nook in the building. Expect performances from musicians that are as diverse as the programming on KDHX, ranging from blues to pop to rap.

Worth it: You can also buy tickets at the door for $20, which is a small price to pay for so many local favorites including Tef Poe, the Union Electric, So Many Dynamos, Funky Butt Brass Band and Middle Class Fashion.