Sworn to the Drum to perform on ASNB

This Sunday, November 30 Sworn to the Drum will perform on All Soul, No Borders between 10:30PM and Midnight on KDHX. The group bills themselves as a “musical salute to the drum.” They play improvisational jazz with a variety of world drumming infused. The group is led by Baba Mike Nelson. He plays trumpet, flügelhorn, conch shells, and assorted percussion including the bata drum. Sunday’s line-up will include Aaron Parker on alto sax and flute, Mondel on congas, Ariel on Bass, plus the poetry of K. Curtis Lyle and vocal/rhythmic accompaniment by David A.N. Jackson. They are promoting an upcoming concert at The Regional Arts Commission, 6128 Delmar next Sunday December 7 from 7-9PM.

I saw a version of this group at The Gramophone on Tuesday where I heard some greatness and a good deal of potential. I am glad that there is music being made like this in St. Louis. The sound was groove oriented, exploratory, and trance-inducing at times. Please help spread the word and I hope you can tune in.

A Tom Waits Thanksgiving

The All Soul, No Borders annual Tom Waits Thanksgiving program was a blast as usual.  Thanks to Double Mayhem for letting us use our old time slot.  My brother Ben and my other brother Ben both joined me as they do every year for the festivities after the festivities.  We took a whole mess of requests.  Some were open to interpretation.  One caller, not especially a Waits fan, had a dream the night before that he found a heap of autographed Waits memorabilia.  When he heard this all-Waits program on the radio it kind of freaked him out.  He felt he must call in.  Ben chose to play Alice…”It’s dreamy weather we’re on/You waved your crooked wand”… If you’d like to hear the show it is archived for a couple of weeks.

Discovery: Of Great and Mortal Men

Years ago, my friend Chris King and his arts collective/label Skuntry began a musical project called The Guide to Dead Presidents, the idea of which was to commission–sans monetary dead presidents–songs about the expired leaders of the not-always-so-free world. You can hear some of the results here, but as with many a noble endeavor, it succumbed to the Law of Scarcity of Resources and Unspooling Time.

This year, an Indiana indie label Standard Recording proved that King was ahead of the long tailing curve. The label’s excellent Of Great and Mortal Men: 43 Songs for 43 U.S. Presidencies is a Sufjanian shaggy dog of a triple album–and a surprisingly engaging listen. Marshaled together by J. Matthew Gerken, Christian Kiefer, and Jefferson Pitchet, the collection turns the minutiae of history into a kind of freak folk Ken Burns epic, in which myths are restored to a no-less mysterious present. Collaborators include Tom Brosseau, Bill Callahan, Mark Kozelek, Stephen Yerkey, Rosie Thomas and Saint Louis’s own Magnolia Summer paying tribute to William McKinley.

Here’s an especially lovely song about James Monroe, sung by Marla Hansen of My Brightest Diamond.

The Last Cocked Hat

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For STL’s Old-School Rockers: Two Days of Holiday Nostalgia

As noted in the previous blog posting, there’s a bit of nostalgia on the KDHX airwaves over the holiday break, as I, ol’ Thomas Crone, get to spin in two rock slots: as a fill-in host on Doug Morgan’s “The Record Sto’,” from 2-4 p.m. on Thursday; and with my new(-ish) “Silver Tray” on Friday, from noon-2 p.m. On tap will be a couple dozen cuts from St. Louis rock bands, both contemporary and defunct. If things go as planned, we’ll zoom through materials from the 1970s all the way up to unreleased recordings from still-active groups, with a big chunk of new wave found in between.

This is (luckily for me) the third T’day in a row I’ve gotten to cover for Doug Morgan on his popular Thursday show, and with each of those slots I’ve been joined by the endlessly entertaining Scott Randall, the frontman of Fragile Porcelain Mice. His band will continue a Thanksgiving Day tradition of its own that night, with a show at South City’s Lucas School House; they’ll be joined onstage by a just-reunited local band, Celery. FPM’s last show at the stately School House was one of the rowdiest in their recent career, with FPM’s members being forced to stop playing, in an attempt to calm the amped-up crowd.

Would imagine that the scene in the KDHX studio will be only a little more sedate on Thursday afternoon, as Scott and I play tracks by a host of STL groups, past and present, like: the Unconscious, the Urge, Uncle Tupelo, the Eyes, Stranded Lads, Corporate Humour, the Nukes, Judge Nothing, Aviation Club, the Barking Aardvarks, the Finns, Enormous Richard, Be-Vision, Somerville-Scorfina, et al. While Scott won’t be riding shotgun on Friday, the format will be repeated at noon, as I try to squeeze in as many of STL’s best as the 120-minutes of programming will allow.

If you remember catching shows at Kennedy’s, Cicero’s Basement, Mississippi Nights, the Bernard Pub, Furst Rock, Billy Goat Hill and countless other lamented venues in town, do consider dropping by 88.1 for a listen this week. If you do, the tape hiss you’ll be hearing will be… tape hiss, compliments of authentic, period-piece audio cassettes. Enjoy.

Thanksgiving Specials on KDHX

Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress

Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress

Here’s a quick heads up on a few Thanksgiving weekend specials on KDHX, 88.1 FM and streaming live at KDHX.org:

Scott Randall of Fragile Porcelain Mice will be sitting in with guest host Thomas Crone on The Record Sto from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm CST on Thanksgiving Day. The program will feature Saint Louis bands from the 1980s to the present, with a heavy emphasis on FPM and groups the band has played with over that time. Fragile Porcelain Mice will be headlining a show at Lucas School House later that evening.

Tune in Thanksgiving night, Thursday November 25 from 10:00 pm to Midnight CST for a special “Tom Waits Thanksgiving Show” with Joshua Weinstein, host of All Soul No Borders.

On Sunday, November 30, No Time to Tarry Here presents its annual Thanksgiving Kids Show from 3:00 – 4:30 pm CST. By the fourth day of Thanksgiving weekend, kids are turning into squirrel bait, and parents are climbing the walls. As a public service, Pablo Meshugi presents 90 minutes of respite: plop the kids down in front of the radio, and he’ll play music to keep them entertained and delighted. (Oh, there shouldn’t be anything to make adults cringe, either, so indulge your inner 8-year-old.)

And a little further down the road, but still coming up soon: Tune in to Radio Rio on Saturday, December 6 from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm CST for the 8th Annual All Brazilian Beatles cover show. Your host Andrea will be playing two hours of Brazilian artists performing Beatles tunes. You’ll hear from Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66, Ceatano Veloso, Os Mutantes, Joyce and many more.

Breaking: Doug Sahm Tribute Set For Spring ’09

I get umpteen press releases in my weary inbox every day. Most I delete with prejudice. This one, however, deserves those flashing light gifs at the top of Drudge Report:

“To celebrate his unique career and influential legacy, Vanguard Records will release Keep Your Soul: A Tribute to Doug Sahm on March 24, 2009. This stunning collection includes exciting new renditions of Doug’s most indelible songs, performed by an incredible line-up of artists. Keep Your Soul will mark the tenth anniversary of Sahm’s death in 1999.”

Full list of performers isn’t set yet, but the confirmations so far look great.

Levon Helm / She’s About a Mover
Los Lobos / And It Didn’t Even Bring Me Down
Jimmie Vaughan / Why, Why, Why
Alejandro Escovedo / Too Little Too Late
Greg Dulli / You Was For Real
Dave Alvin / Dynamite Woman
The Gourds / Nuevo Laredo
Terry Allen (with Joe Ely) / I’m Not That Kat Anymore
Freda & the Firedogs / Be Real
Shawn Sahm (with Augie Meyers) / Mendocino
Joe ‘King’ Carrasco & Texas Tornados / Adios Mexico
Charlie Sexton / Magic Illusion

Here’s a video of the Sir Douglas Quintet (with Alvin Crow) paying tribute to the Kinks on Austin City Limits.

William Elliott Whitmore’s “Old Devils”

It may seem a bit early to start looking towards 2009, but news keeps percolating down of forthcoming albums (can you say Marc Olson and Gary Louris reunited on New West?), and it’s hard to resist diving into the future.

I’ve always had an ambivalent relationship with young Lee County, Iowa songster William Elliott Whitmore. With a voice and visage straight out of a Walker Evans photograph, Whitmore straddles the line of soulful folk and southern minstrelsy, utterly obsessed with moonshine, murder and general doom. But it’s hard to deny the pure force of his scratchy basso profundo and harrowing imagery.

Due out February 17, 2009 on Anti- Records, Animals in the Dark could be a keeper, at least judging by the stomp and percussive strum and not-so-subtle political forboding of “Old Devils,” which Anti- is offering up for free download.

William Elliott Whitmore on Myspace

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Sneak Preview: Streaming Audio Archive

Photo by Sara Finke

Photo by Sara Finke

Over the years, the Magnolia Avenue Studios of KDHX have hosted hundreds of local and touring artists and 88.1 FM has aired those performances on a variety of programs. We’re now making that content available, on-demand and streaming through KDHX.org. We’ll have a full list of the available archives in the coming weeks, but here’s a sneak preview of some recent performances now on the site:

Carrie Rodriguez
Brighton MA
Magnolia Summer
Wayne Hancock
Jimmie Dale Gilmore
The Helium Tapes
Tift Merritt
Oxford Collapse
James Jackson Toth
Guy Forsyth
Erica Wheeler
Liam Finn

Happy streaming!

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