77 Things I’d Rather Do Than Listen to a 77-Song Wilco Rarities Box Set

Alpha Mike Foxtrot, the upcoming Wilco rarities collection.
Alpha Mike Foxtrot, the upcoming Wilco rarities collection.

77 Things I’d Rather Do Than Listen to a 77-Song Wilco Rarities Box Set
By Jaime Lees
Mon., Oct. 20 2014

I have an issue with Wilco. It’s a personal beef. My problem is this: Wilco is considered a Chicago band and the band members encourage this bullshit fallacy.
Wilco is from St. Louis, goddamnit.

Technically, Wilco is from Belleville, Illinois — an odd little town just on the other side of the state line. Belleville does have its own unique history and weirdo arts culture, but it is our next door neighbor. For those not familiar with the regional geography, here’s a little lesson: Belleville is about fifteen miles from St. Louis, but it is around 300 miles away from Chicago. So a Belleville band claiming allegiance to Chicago is about as ridiculous as a band from right outside Los Angeles repping Phoenix, Arizona.

That marker there right next to St. Louis? That's Belleville.
That marker there right next to St. Louis? That’s Belleville.

You could say that I suffer from a common case of St. Louis Inferiority Complex, but I prefer to think of it as a flaming, incurable infection of civic pride. And Windy City, you should know one thing: Wilco has been cheating on you with us. Wilco concerts up north are all “Via Chicago” and talking up some magical silver bean, but when the band plays here it’s all “Casino Queen” and “We used to play at Cicero’s!” and then that hobbit guy sings about the Landing in “Heavy Metal Drummer” and we cheer because, OMG, we’ve been to the Landing, too.

Now, I think Wilco is pretty okay musically. I saw Nels Cline play with Yoko Ono a couple of times and I thought he was freakin’ amazing when he was freed from the confines of dizzy alt-twangover tunes. Some might call Wilco lo-fi “dad rock” or whatever but I like dad rock. I like dads. And on occasion, dads have liked me. (Hey-o!) And I thought the sound diversity on Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, in particular, was interesting, but I was in college and on pills.

It’s hard to know how to feel about the songs sometimes because the lyrics are part beautiful poetry, part nonsense. These two extremes are frequently squished together into the same song, too. For example, take “Ashes of American Flags.” The line “All my lies are always wishes” is some deep intrapersonal shit, but the song begins by explaining the design and function of an ATM before it delivers us this: “I could spend three dollars / And sixty-three cents / On diet Coca Cola / And unlit cigarettes.” What? Where? First of all, did you have coupons? Because you got a good deal, homeboy. Also, why would anybody ever buy cigarettes that had already been lit? Nonsense.

Wilco live shows are long. Long and frequently awkward. Sometimes everything is rolling smoothly and we audience members are all happily singing along to cutesy pop tunes about alcoholism like “Passenger Side” and then, oh then, comes “Misunderstood.” The beginning of that song is so pretty and so sad, but halfway through you should excuse yourself to take that long-overdue potty break because Mr. Tweedy is about to scream “Nothing! Nothing! Nothing!” at you for the next twenty minutes. It’s the worst part of any Wilco show. I think it’s intended to be intense but it’s just obnoxious. Dude just keeps on barking like an annoying neighbor dog while the stage lights flash dramatically — I’m sure people have been murdered for less.

In any case, because Wilco dismisses my city, it’s my instinct to dismiss Wilco. #TeamSonVolt.

Just the other day I read that Wilco is going to release a 77-song rarities box set. Snore. That’s the kind of thing that hardcore fans can get into, but I read it and thought about how torturous it would be for me as a casual / reluctant fan to listen to that whole tedious thing. I mean, bloated box sets of demos and b-sides and half-finished songs are rarely worth it in general. Even the Beatles couldn’t pull it off. Remember those crappy anthologies with the collage covers? I feel sleepy just thinking about them.

So here’s a list of 77 mundane, slightly annoying and/or truly terrible situations and chores that I’d rather deal with than listen to than the upcoming Wilco rarities box set. There is only so much time in a day, you know? Have fun with that lake effect snow this winter, poser Chicagoans. And the sauce goes under the cheese. Learn it.

01. Pay my bills.
02. Dust my ceiling fans.
03. Apply sunscreen.
04. Go shopping on Black Friday.
05. Get a splinter.
06. Get a paper cut.
07. Have a pebble in my shoe.
08. Talk to my co-workers about their weekends.
09. Get my period.
10. Have a flat tire.
11. Forget to fill the ice cube tray.
12. Run out of toilet paper.
13. Eat Provel cheese.
14. Get pins and needles.
15. Find the end on a roll of packing tape.
16. Watch someone sneeze and then touch a door handle.
17. Not have change for the parking meter.
18. Miss my flight.
19. Go to the DMV.
20. Do my taxes.
21. Be hungover.
22. Get asked “Is Pepsi okay?”
23. Pick up dog poop.
24. Make a new spreadsheet.
25. Commute.
26. Go to church.
27. Get a mosquito bite.
28. Unload the dishwasher.
29. Get a flu shot.
30. Scrub the inside of my refrigerator.
31. Accidentally hit the FaceTime button.
32. Sit in a waiting room.
33. Drive through Kansas.
34. Have my stapler run out of staples.
35. Be on hold.
36. Drop Visine in my eyes.
37. Forget my pizza in the oven.
38. Go to the post office.
39. Mop the floor.
40. Get a pap smear.
41. Have a three-inch leech up my nose.
42. Be on house arrest.
43. Bite foil.
44. “Drink” bubble tea.
45. Hang out with spiders.
46. Receive an unsolicited dick pic.
47. Have jury duty.
48. Find a mailbox.
49. Water my plants.
50. Parallel park with an audience.
51. Get stuck at a train crossing.
52. Watch golf.
53. Get a tattoo removed.
54. Watch a full ad online without clicking “Skip This Ad.”
55. See a puppy that I can’t pet.
56. Use self check-out at the grocery store.
57. Get fitted for a bra.
58. Eat a cookie that I think is chocolate chip but is really raisin.
59. Fold a fitted sheet.
60. See a photograph of Oprah’s feet.
61. Forget my gift card at home.
62. Get a check that isn’t signed.
63. Go to Whole Foods on a Saturday afternoon.
64. Use a telephone with a twisted cord.
65. Hear someone say “for all intensive purposes.”
66. Read gratuitous hashtags.
67. Speak to an adult who reads teen vampire novels.
68. Go to City Hall.
69. Speak in public.
70. Forget someone’s name.
71. Hear the phone ring while I’m in the shower.
72. Watch Seinfeld.
73. Have a rubber band line in my hair.
74. Shave my legs.
75. Wait for my windshield defroster to work.
76. Take out the trash.
77. Listen to Wilco studio albums.

– link: Riverfront Times

Pixies guitarist Joey Santiago talks about touring and life after Kim Deal

Black Francis, David Lovering and Joey Santiago (L-R) by Michael Halsband
Black Francis, David Lovering and Joey Santiago (L-R) by Michael Halsband

Pixies guitarist Joey Santiago talks about touring and life after Kim Deal
By Jaime Lees
Thursday, Feb 6 2014

“Other than Kim not being around anymore, for me personally, really nothing has changed,” Pixies guitarist Joey Santiago explains from a hotel room somewhere in the northeastern United States. “I still appreciate it. I’m still enjoying it. I look forward to the first day of the tour, as always. I still count down. Like, ‘How many more days until I get back on the road?'”

Santiago is on tour now, on an off day between shows in Connecticut and Pennsylvania. A couple of minutes into our interview, he mentions that he’s going through a divorce. He is referring to his personal life, but his band has recently gone through a divorce, too. Fan favorite Kim Deal, Pixies bass player and vocalist, left the group last year, leaving fans and critics to wonder what would become of the seminal act. Will they be declared dead? Will there be some kind of Van Halen-like Pixies version 2.0? Will the Pixies ever knock it off with the drama?

The group initially imploded in 1993, just as the alternative-rock movement gained international momentum. It was no secret that its members struggled with constant friction, ego problems and personality differences. Santiago says he and the rest of the group are “very passive-aggressive” — an understatement, considering the band originally broke up via fax. But their popularity seemed to skyrocket shortly after that, leading most to conclude that the angsty crew peaked just a little too soon.

The members of the Pixies are seen as the godfathers (and godmother) of modern indie rock. Started in 1986 by Santiago and vocalist/guitarist Charles Thompson (a.k.a. Black Francis) as a college band, the foursome that soon included Deal and drummer David Lovering accidentally sparked a movement that would become the early ’90s alternative-music revolution. The band’s trademark “loud/quiet/loud” song structure was aped throughout the indie uprising, most notably — and blatantly — on Nirvana’s megahit, “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” At the head was Santiago, the shy, quietly talented figure who still holds the key to that Pixies sound in his fingertips. If Charles Thompson and Kim Deal were the Lennon and McCartney of the group, Santiago was proudly the George Harrison.

He tells RFT Music that his contributions are usually the last piece of the puzzle: Thompson writes the song and lyrics, and it’s Santiago’s job to add the finishing touches and not “barf all over it,” as he eloquently explains. “Let’s keep the story line,” he says. “Blend in when you have to, in a good sonic way that doesn’t get in the way. And when it’s time to divert; [the guitar] needs to start rubbing against the music. That way it kind of lives in its own world.”

After the breakup, each member spoke of unresolved issues and seemed to have little contact with one other as they moved on to other pursuits. Santiago found work as a Jonny Greenwood-type, scoring films and television shows. Lovering tried his hand at being a magician. Thompson plugged away at a notable solo career and formed a new band called Frank Black and the Catholics. And Deal took her talents elsewhere, starting up the Breeders — a band that became, arguably, more successful than the Pixies. So it came as a surprise when the Pixies announced a reunion tour more than ten years after its disbandment.

The very idea that a band who seemed to kind of hate each other would get back together was slammed by critics as a moneymaking maneuver, but most Pixies-starved fans didn’t seem to care. To the great joy of the many younger fans who missed the alternative heyday, the group reformed in 2004 and played worldwide to sold-out crowds. It was all of the original members playing their now-classic songs, making the tour feel less like a cash grab and more like a victory lap. Each show was celebratory, a deserving band finally getting its due.

But a decade has passed since that initial comeback, and there have been some major changes to the lineup. Since Deal left last year, her bassist/female singer slot has been replaced twice — first by Kim Shattuck of the Muffs, and now by Paz Lenchantin of A Perfect Circle and Zwan. Santiago sings Lenchantin’s praises, saying, “With Paz it’s a no-brainer for me. I just love it. She’s got a great reputation. We’re lucky to have her.”

This shuffling of the standard lineup brought the same old issues with fans and critics, making it even harder for naysayers to give the benefit of the doubt. Deal was an integral part of the Pixies sound, especially live. Fans wondered how they could go on without her — they also wondered if this was finally solid proof that the band members were just in it for the money.

“Yeah, you know, of course that’s part of the reason. But that’s not all of the reason. If that was the only reason, we wouldn’t be doing this at all,” Santiago bristles. “As long as people still wanna see it, that’s reason number one. And a close second? Yeah, it’s for the money, you know?”

“What do they want us to do?” he continues with a laugh. “What if I started digging a ditch? Would they be like, ‘You’re just doing that for the money!’ Fuck it, this is the only thing we know how to do. We enjoy it. We’re really good at this. Does it make money? Of course it does! Why? Because we’re good at it!”

Despite having to adjust to a new member, Santiago says, most of the songwriting process remains the same. “We’re one of those bands that, when we get together in the studio, it’s like we have this magic that just happens,” he explains. “We have a certain sound, you know? It’s because we have good quality control. Charles probably writes subconsciously to impress us. When he writes for the Pixies, he’s writing for me, for David, for Kim — but she’s gone now. But he’s writing for us. We’re very stylistic. We’re individuals.”

He’s right — those individual styles, when combined, still make magic. The Pixies recently released some singles and a pair of EPs that are almost too good to be true. The efforts don’t sound like a group of past-their-prime musicians trying to recapture a long-lost spark; the music is solid and, well, just sounds like the Pixies. So, what’s really changed for Santiago in the last decade? Not much, he says — his eagerness to explore new musical territory while still proving himself onstage as a Pixie remains strong.

“I’m a Renaissance man! This is what we do!” he says, laughing. “It’s just a matter of me keeping busy. It keeps me off the streets. And, you know, I like to flex my brain muscles. I like to challenge myself.”

The Pixies
8 p.m. Thursday, February 6.
Peabody Opera House, 1400 Market Street.
$39.50 to $59.50. 314-241-1888.

link: Riverfront Times

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

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

Forty Years into Her Career, Patti Smith is Still Bewitching: Review and Setlist 5/5/13

PattiSmithPower
Forty Years into Her Career, Patti Smith is Still Bewitching: Review and Setlist
Jaime Lees

Patti Smith
Contemporary Art Museum
May 5, 2013

It’s an emotional thing, seeing Patti Smith. I’ve seen her perform a bunch of times, and every time I’m shocked by my own intense reaction. I know that I usually get all sentimental and weepy when she starts singing, but this time I was blinking away tears as soon as I saw her face.

Why does this happen? It’s weird; I’m not usually so sappy. I think it was a combination of many factors: the small room was crowded but cozy, the audience was humming with excitement, I was flanked by great friends and, well, she was right there. As far as I’m concerned, this woman is nothing short of a goddess. I can think of no other person who has been so equally and immeasurably important to both rock music and the written word, and those are the two things that I love the most. And something about her touches me so deeply that I can barely even acknowledge it without feeling freaked out.

She’s nearly 40 years into her career, but Smith is still bewitching. She clearly knows about her singular power to enchant and she worked her little rocker-poet-goddess-shaman thing all night. She entered the room to great applause and flashed her famously sweet, yet mischievous smile. Her performance was a combination concert and poetry reading and Smith slides easily between the two formats. It is here that you can witness the interconnectedness of her work: she can read a poem, tell a story about it and then sing a song she’s written about the subject.

Smith was joined onstage by her long time bandmates and trusted collaborators, Tony Shanahan and Lenny Kaye. Kaye played guitar and Shanahan accompanied her on guitar, bass and piano. Both men stood quietly and respectfully as she read from a few of her books and also sang backup during songs as needed. The amount of talent on that stage was overwhelming when all three played and sang together — I consider myself lucky that I had a hand to hold as Shanahan pounded out the first dramatic notes of “Pissing in a River.”

It wasn’t all heavy stuff, though. Smith kept the mood light between songs with her funny stories and easygoing nature. At one point she stepped back from the microphone, made a funny face and then returned to ask, “You ever have one of those burps that won’t come out?”

Smith’s performance also included numerous compliments to St. Louis. She referenced our own William Burroughs multiple times, commented our buildings (“This city has beautiful architecture. It’s the kind of architecture that reoccurs in your dreams”) and she improvised a little STL love at the beginning of “My Blakean Year.” (“The tour bus pulled into St. Louie / Where I was thinkin’ of William / And the Courtesy Diner…”)

Smith ended the night with “People Have the Power” and dedicated the song to her “late and great husband, Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith” of the MC5. She said that they ended up working on the song together after he walked up her one day at home and said, “Patricia, people have the power. Write it.”

At some point during the show, my friend leaned into my ear and whispered this: “You know what’s great about her? She’s humble. And she doesn’t have to be.” Yes. Exactly. She doesn’t have to be humble at all. But it sure is nice. Smith stayed after the show to autograph books and records.

Setlist:

– “Wing”
– “My Blakean Year”
– “Peaceable Kingdom”
– “Pissing in a River”
– “It’s a Dream” (Neil Young cover)
– “Because the Night”
– “Ghost Dance”
– “People Have the Power”

Patti Smith – Critic’s Pick

Patti Smith

Patti Smith
7:00 p.m. May 5
Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis
3750 Washington Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63108

It’s fitting that Patti Smith’s first performance in St. Louis since 2004 is at the Contemporary Art Museum. Though she is best known as the reigning “Godmother of Punk,” Smith’s genre-defying career has no boundaries when it comes to art and expression. Smith’s groundbreaking debut album, Horses, came out in 1975 and it is still hailed as one of the greatest albums in music history. Ten albums and nearly 40 years later and her career is still going strong. But Smith is not only a rock heroine, she’s also a poet and an artist who explores and produces in many different kinds of media, including painting and photography.

— By Jaime Lees

link: Riverfront Times

Best Of The Ten Best Dive Bars in St. Louis

Selecting Riverfront Times’ Best of St. Louis 2012 wasn’t easy. Choosing the winner meant several worthy candidates would go unmentioned — until now. In this RFT Music series, we’re beeboping and scattin’ our way through notable runners up in a number of categories. This week: The best dive bars in St. Louis.

The Silverleaf Lounge
(3442 Hereford Street; 314-481-4080)
The bartenders here claim that the Silverleaf is the smallest bar in the city of St. Louis, and that’s a believable claim. The entire room holds just a few small tables and a row of stools along the bar, and what also must be the smallest bathrooms in the city of St. Louis. But the patrons are chatty and welcoming to non-regulars, and the tiny jukebox is stuffed with new country and old blues. Don’t expect many frills here, but the tiny draft-beer selection and limited cocktail options are more than made up for with the friendly spirit of the bar and the Etta James on the jukebox.

Red’s Eighth Inning
(6412 Michigan Avenue; 314-353-1084)
This rowdy little establishment is situated right in the middle of a neighborhood, near the corner of Michigan and Holly Hills avenues. The huge jukebox is constantly blaring, and the people there are always looking to see or be seen. It’s a great people-watching bar, not least of all because the modern rock music is usually playing so loud that neighboring tables can’t hear you shit-talking with your friends. The bartenders don’t take any crap and won’t hesitate to kick you out if they don’t like you, or hug you and offer you a free drink if you manage to get on their good side. Old school.

Highlights Bar and Grill
(7301 South Broadway; 314-351-2422)
There’s a little smattering of dive bars on South Broadway (just down the river from Bellerive Park) that welcome newcomers and make exploring new establishments easy with their fabulous prices. The corner space occupied by Highlights was formerly called Kathleen’s Steak House. The drinks are cheap here, but know what you want because there isn’t a drinks menu to be found. It’s the kind of bar where people are friendly, but they won’t really bother you. And though the bar stools may all be full, it’s still easy to get the attention of the bartender. This place does offer something extra that is lacking in many dive bars: food. The pizza selection is limited, but hey — dive-bar pizza!

Rosie’s Place
(4573 Laclede Avenue; 314-361-6423)
The Central West End is known as a bourgeois neighborhood with impressive houses, world-class restaurants, very expensive cocktails and impossible parking. Though located on the poppin’ south edge of the CWE, Rosie’s Place is kind of the opposite of all of that. The parking still blows goats, but the bar is more in step with the working-class parts of the city. The drinks are affordable and the rules are loose; patrons can light up a cigarette or stumble in with man’s best friend: Yep, you can even bring your dog inside. Rover loves Rosie’s, too.

Time Out
(3805 Meramec Street; 314-457-9112)
Many people know about the Time Out bar on Gravois Avenue near the corner at Chippewa Street, but this Time Out is its laid-back sister establishment. While the Gravois location offers multiple rooms, club lights and a near Landing-like experience after midnight, the Meramec location is just a classic, lazy dive bar. It’s quiet and low-lit, with many people drinking on their own or just enjoying a beer after work. There’s a pool table that seems constantly in use, and the clacking of the pool balls are frequently the only noise in the room. Patrons here tend to keep to themselves and it’s a great place to grab a cheap drink and dig into a good book.

Jimmy Mack’s
(5838 Southwest Avenue; 314-645-5777)
Located just around the corner from a sort-of classy dive, the Hideaway, Jimmy Mack’s is anything but classy. It’s rough in every aspect, from the bartenders to the patrons to the décor. But it’s also the place to go if you want to be amused by strangers and if you know how to keep your mouth shut. Daytime drunks will stumble into your table and it gets a little raucous at night, but it’s all in good fun. The bar offers a greater liquor variety than the average dive, but don’t ask for a fancy cocktail or you’ll be outed as an interloper.

Area IV
(5918 Hampton Avenue; 314-481-4122)
The square footage is slightly more impressive, but Area IV is considered the sister bar of the South side’s Silverleaf bar. And though the front door opens to the busy stretch of Hampton Avenue just south of Chippewa Street, this Princeton Heights bar feels like a hidden neighborhood watering hole. It’s decorated to honor firefighters, with pictures of firemen and firewomen who are friends of the bar featured prominently on the walls. There are a few televisions and a computerized jukebox, but that’s about it. Not that it matters, really. People don’t come here for the amenities. They come for the friendly vibe, the laid-back atmosphere and the cheaper-than-cheap beer.

Cat’s Meow
(2600 South Eleventh Street)
This Soulard bar isn’t quite like the others. Instead of drawing the young and drunk the average Cat’s Meow patron is old and drunk, instead. Though the bar is still welcoming to co-eds looking to get naughty (with Mardi Gras beads for sale behind the bar), people here are more likely to be sitting around and talking about sports and snacking on pretzels than flashing their goodies. Unlike some neighboring bars, the prices are cheap, and the bar is bright and memorable, offering affordable pitchers and shot specials.

Cards Soulard – Formerly Cuz
(1530 South Seventh Street; 314-241-2400)
The first thing patrons notice about Cards Soulard is the building. It is a bar that is housed in what was clearly a converted fast-food establishment. If the drive-through lane around the building didn’t give that away, the retired (but intact) soda-fountain station inside makes it obvious. Though it’s larger than most places that are considered dive bars, Cards offers the same smoky air and dive bar atmosphere. On the weekends, the bartenders are young ladies who don’t wear much, but it doesn’t matter. They are great hosts and the prices are right and if you ask them nicely enough, they might let you do a body shot. It’s a dive bar with extra sauce.

Sophie’s Place
(2815 Watson Road; 314-645-4033)
Sophie’s is a weird little dive directly on Watson Road in Clifton Heights. The two-room set up hosts the bar in one room, with a game room connected. In the game room there’s a pool table and some of the absolutely worst karaoke in town (in a good way). If karaoke isn’t your jam, you can retreat to the dark, frequently crowded bar room, where patrons are loud and seemingly always looking to make friends. It’s the kind of bar where people go to talk to strangers, so if you want to be left alone, this is not the place. But if you want to have some interesting conversations and drink a few free shots, Sophie’s might be your new favorite place.

— by Jaime Lees

link: Riverfront Times

Kevin Bacon’s Band to Play Beggin’ Strip Pet Parade, Dogs Everywhere Confused

Kevin Bacon is clearly an Afghan Hound
Kevin Bacon is clearly an Afghan Hound

Kevin Bacon’s Band to Play Beggin’ Strip Pet Parade, Dogs Everywhere Confused
By Jaime Lees
Mon., Jan. 28 2013 at 5:00 AM

Kevin Bacon’s band, the Bacon Brothers, is headlining the Beggin’ Strips-sponsored Soulard Pet Parade this year. As fans of music, fun word play and general hilariousness, we jumped at the chance to look deeper into this symbiotic event.

The pet parade is a Mardi Gras staple and a must-see for both animal lovers and city residents. All kinds of animals come ready to strut in their finest costumes. Dogs are usually the stars of this event, but this year the co-star is Kevin Bacon.

So we wondered, if Kevin Bacon was a dog, what kind of dog would he be? After exhaustive research on the personality traits and physical features of various canines, we came to one educated conclusion: Kevin Bacon is clearly an Afghan Hound.

Like his assigned breed, Bacon is angular, lean and noble. He’s also known to be shy, aloof and independent. The Afghan Hound is known as aristocratic and inexhaustible. It is one of the oldest, most-revered dog breeds, just like Bacon is one of our most classic modern actors.

Bacon, himself, has a deep doggie history. There are numerous paparazzi pictures of him out with his pups. And Bacon was also recently in the pup news for talking about getting his rescue dogs DNA tested. He even voiced the namesake of the animated film, Balto, a story about a half-Husky, half-wolf.

Seeking insider information about the event, we checked in with Alex Kahn, the assistant brand manager of the Beggin’ Brand, a product produced by St. Louis’ own Nestlé Purina PetCare Company. Kahn was nice enough to answer our (semi-ridiculous) questions and to pass on other important information about the event. (See Below.)

Jaime Lees: Who had the idea to bring Kevin Bacon to the Beggin’ Pet Parade and how did you make it happen?

Alex Kahn: We’ve always wanted to make the event more than just a parade so a post-parade concert has always been something that seemed like it could help add to the fun. Therefore, when I first heard the Bacon Bros. I thought, not only is their music appropriate for the event (family friendly / contemporary rock) but the band name itself couldn’t be a better match.

The Bacon Bros. are pet lovers and they’re very easy going so I felt that they were genuinely excited about not only playing at this event but also participating in the parade itself.

What qualities do you value the most in a dog?

I value my dog’s carefree excitement for life. I love watching a tennis ball (or a Beggin’ Strip) transform her from a dignified English Bulldog into a hilariously crazed puppy.

What qualities do you value the most in the Bacon Brothers?

Both brothers have had successful careers, so I get the feeling that they absolutely love playing in this band together. It’s refreshing to hear a band (or any musician) play for the love of music and not for fame. So I’d say I value the fact that they are humble and passionate.

What will happen if Kevin Bacon takes the joke too far and starts stripping during his set with the Bacon Brothers?

I’m sure there are some female Bacon Bros. fans that are secretly hoping this will happen. Although the 20th Annual Beggin’ Pet Parade is a Mardi Gras event, it’s family friendly, so I’m pretty sure that the only strips around will be the Beggin’ kind.

How will you possibly top yourselves next year?

We’re actually already talking about the ’14 Pet Parade. Therefore, I’m sure we’ll be able to come up with something and who knows, maybe we’ll make The Bacon Bros. an annual thing. Each year it’s bigger & better: Last year we had about 8,000 pets and 80,000 people and this year we’re expecting both of those numbers to increase (especially because it’s looking like it’ll be sunny and in the mid 40’s). Last year we also broke the Guinness World Record for “most dogs in costumed attire.”

Full Event Details:

The theme for the party this year is “Tail-Gate” because it occurs on the same day as the Superbowl. The event will be finished in time for the big game, but pets and owners are encouraged to dress up in tailgate attire.

Registration for the parade is open through Friday at http://www.begginpetparade.com or participants can register the day of the event. Registration costs are $10 per pet (not per person) and 100% of the proceeds go to Open Door Animal Sanctuary, the local non-profit animal rescue and adoption organization.

The parade begins at 1 p.m. and there will be a coronation of the winners of the costume contest (King, Queen and Most Loyal Subjects) immediately following at 1:30. The Bacon Brothers will be throwing out beads on the parade’s Beggin’ float and playing music at 2:30 p.m. at Coronation Plaza. (Roughly at 9th Street and Lafayette.)

link: Riverfront Times