Slideshow: Drive-By Truckers @ the Pageant

My review at A to Z suggests I had a less than awesome time at the Drive-By Truckers this Saturday; in truth, I enjoyed the set, especially the second half, but felt that the band was just on cruise control. If you saw them last year at the same Pageant, you’ll instantly recognize the difference I tried to articulate.

But here are some photos from the night. If you went, what was your take?

Spring Membership Drive is Live!

We kicked off the Spring 2009 drive this morning at 5:00 am CST and the response has been wonderful. We know this is an uncertain economic climate, but we also know how much KDHX radio, TV, film and online mean to the Saint Louis community and beyond. And with your support, we can weather the storm together.

In the past year, KDHX has expanded its interactive and digital media offerings, going HD with our 88.1 FM signal, starting up the Collective (a great blog aggregator for Saint Louis news and opinion), archiving all of our exclusive, in-studio live performances as on-demand streams, presenting more streaming video, revamping our Doc Challenge site with scores of high quality streaming films and getting this here blog rolling.

None of these ventures would be possible without the financial support of our community, virtual or otherwise. So don’t wait: Become a member of KDHX by calling 314-664-3688 or donating online today!

Oh, and if you hop on over to, you’ll see a tres-cool interactive membership map (courtesy of IT super-genius Steve Ley), featuring locations of new and renewing members. Represent for your zipcode now!

KDHX Musical Merry-Go-Round Live Performances

This Saturday (March 28) and next (April 4), in celebration of KDHX Spring Membership Drive,

Grandfather Stark & The Musical Merry-Go-Round will be presenting highlights some of the live musical performances served up every Saturday morning for the past thirty-two weeks on the show.

In the slightly more than six months that this new show has been on the air, MMGR has been introducing families to a variety of styles from performers from the St. Louis area and beyond.

Included in next two weeks are songs recorded in KDHX studio by

Dar Williams, Ellis Paul, Farmer Jason Ringenberg, Brave Combo, Trout Fishing in America, Asylum Street Spankers, Hot Club of Cowtown, Wack-A-Doo, Celia, Jesse Irwin, The Village Green Preservation Society, Bob Case, KDHX’s own Bob Reuter, & many more interesting people.

Tune in Saturday mornings from 8-10 am Central time and take a ride on 88.1 FM KDHX Musical Merry-Go-Round.

SXSW: Wed, Thursday and Friday Micro Blog

Little Steven, host at Antone's garage rock showcase

Little Steven, host at Antone's garage rock showcase

A  break in the Austin action for iced coffee and South By San Jose, where the Mother Hips are presently doing a very good impersonation of Crazy Horse (Mark Olson and Gary Louris are up next). Quick takes on the free day parties this afternoon: Bishop Allen was tighter and more musical than I guessed, Great Northern more shoe gaze and sexy than I dreamed, Living Things more inclined to light dollar bills on fire than I’d recommend, and Chesterfield Kings more rock than you or I combined.

If you want to catch my full takes on Wed and Thurs at SXSW, head over to the A to Z Blog for my recaps, here and here. See you at Jovita’s for the Twangfest / KDHX Day Parties on Saturday!

More photos from today after the jump….

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SXSW Tuesday Report: Day Zero in Austin

Minx Reaction at the Beauty Bar

Minx Reaction at the Beauty Bar

South By Southwest 2009 doesn’t begin until Wednesday, so I consider Tuesday as Day Zero, St. Patrick’s Day, something of a warm-up and acclimation to the coming onslaught of bands, beer and blogging. To start, the weather so far is sick, mid 70s by day, upper 50s by night. Fish tacos at Guero’s on South Congress and espresso and wifi at Jo’s further confirms that I really am at my tenth or eleventh South By, but I’ve stopped counting.

I’ve also stopped wondering why I come. To say that SXSW has become a corporate, industry clusterfrack is to say that capitalism still exists, despite even the capitalists’ efforts to the contrary. Truth be told, I’d rather be soul deep in industry weasels than the turgid green St. Paddy’s Day hordes at my first destination, the Dog and Duck, an “Irish” “pub” where the Reivers were playing an early evening free party.

But the band is no longer called the Reivers, just as they are no longer called Zeitgeist. Right or Happy is the new name for John Croslin, Kim Longacre, Cindy Toth and Garrett Williams, plus a newish keyboard player, who are trying to put some distance between themselves and their history as the Reivers, one of Austin’s darkest of dark horse alternative rock bands of the late ‘80s, focusing on new material and a new identity. But the band still sounds like the Reivers. Croth’s songwriting is melodic and shrewd, a little big jangly, but not for jangle’s sake. And Cindy Toth is still a purely beautiful rock singer. The Right or Now’s set on the parking lot of this “pub” was short and to the point, despite the utter disinterest of the 500 or so green collegiates and post-collegiates. But I was very glad to hear them again. A new album may appear this year.

The next move was towards the Beauty Bar, for the Art Disaster party, where I hoped to catch a set from the Pomegranates, a fuzzy and sweet indie band I have a soft spot for on record, but have missed every time they’ve played Saint Louis. It should be noted that many of the free day parties at SXSW are by invite only, though what that means in practice is open to interpretation. My attempts to RSVP by web failed, but in line for the party, I wasn’t about to let a white lie stand between me and free vodka tonics. “Did you RSVP?” the door dude asked? “Yeah.” He took my ID, shuffled through his list, nodded, and waved me in.

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Townes Birthday Party Recap

When KDHX started what will likely become a series of benefit tribute concerts, the station began with Gram Parsons, a country rock hero whose songwriting and devil-may-care attitude resonate still with a wide audience. In truth, the idea belonged largely to Scott Swartz, guitarist and pedal steel maestro for Saint Louis country band the Linemen. That night last year, featuring a dozen Saint Louis bands and songwriters, was a wild success.

This year, the subject was Townes Van Zandt, an artist with a more narrow but no less passionate a cult following. If the phrase “songwriter’s songwriter” has any meaning, it should be applied first and foremost to Townes, who somehow tapped into the the heart of American songwriting–that would be the blues–while individualizing those archetypes with a kind of Byronic poetry and simple but elegant melodies. Still, as the leader of the Texan school of country folk, his music isn’t for everyone, and I wasn’t alone in wondering how this benefit would turn out.

Photos by Sara Finke

As it happened, the 12 bands who performed the songs of Townes Van Zandt at Off Broadway last Saturday, were heard by at least 250 people, most of whom threatened to drain the bar of its resources, some of whom danced, and all of whom knew how to curb their enthusiasm when a performer, like Cassie Morgan say, would venture the most delicate of arrangements.

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STL Shows this Weekend

Photo of High Strung bassist Chad Stocker by Amy Haugesag

Photo of High Strung bassist Chad Stocker by Amy Haugesag

The river city is awash in good live music this weekend. Here are a few concerts on my radar:

Fri 3/13 The High Strung – Firebird
Fri 3/13 Dumpstaphunk – Old Rock House
Sat 3/14 The Whigs – Fubar
Sun 3/15 Andrew Bird and the Heartless Bastards – Pageant
Sun 3/15 Cut Off Your Hands, Headlights and Pomegranates – Firebird

Friday is a tough call, but I think I’m going for Detroit rockers the High Strung, who seem to be getting better with every record. Ode to the inverse of the dude is due out this April on Park the Van and judging from a few leaked tracks I’ve heard, it’s shaping up to be another strange and estranged power pop journey, with many cassettes of Village Green-era Kinks along for the ride.

Saturday I’ll be at the sold-out Eilen Jewell house concert and Sunday I’m hoping to have the energy for the Heartless Bastards and Andrew Bird at the Pageant. Where will you be this weekend?

Women’s History Month Celebration

Another theme show for Pop! The Beat Bubble Burst? Well, yeah, but this is a good one. Not that the other theme shows I’ve done weren’t, but this will be cool. March is Women’s History Month so I will be spinning nothing but music sung by and (mostly) performed by women. The next two Thursdays, March 12 and 19 from 5am-7am.

Sixties Mersey Beat from Liverpool will be represented. The ladies kind of got shut out in 1962 when The Beatles and others like the Swinging Blue Jeans, Gerry and The Pacemakers and Bill J. Kramer and The Dakotas were making all the noise. So get set to hear Jeannie and The Big Guys, The Breakaways and Pat Harris and The Blackjacks, as well as other sixties gems…Mamas & The Papas, Sandy Denny singing with The Strawbs, Fairport Convention and The Bunch.

There seems to be somewhat slim pickens when it comes to female power poppers, but you can expect to hear Sam Phillips, Nushu, The Bangles and Suzanne Vega – all of whom qualify in my book.

Don’t be surprised to hear the voices of Maria McKee, Kirsty MacColl, Chrissie Hynde or Martha Wainwright either as they will all take their turn during the extravaganza.

Hope you can tune in to hear the amazing variety of music performed by women that fits into this little slice of Rock ‘N’ Roll called Pop! The Beat Bubble Burst.

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