Discovery: The Novaks

Times like these I think I should rename this series of posts “Stuff I Missed the First Time.” Just when I think I’ve discovered a new band, like Newfoundland’s the Novaks, turns out they’ve been around, they were at SXSW, and it’s not as if they haven’t been buzzed like honey in the comb. Or at least they were back in the Pleisticine Epoch of 2005, when the single “No One Quite Like You” was anointed “Coolest Song in the World” by Little Steven and their debut album had them heralded as the Next Big Great White North Thing.

And then things kinda fell apart. Whittled down to the trio of Mick Davis, Mark Neary and Elliot Dicks, the band has spent the last four years in some kind of wilderness. They’re just now ready for a second album, Things Fall Apart, due out May 26 on the Sonic Entertainment Group. Judging from the sound of it (which you may stream, in its entirety, here), the Novaks have made the kind of record Tom Petty can’t anymore, the kind of torpedo-damned rock & roll that’s as lethal and sweet as a Prestone slick in a gearhead’s garage. And Ian McLagan sits in on keys.

Here’s a preview track, courtesy of the fine folks at Pigeon Row.

Visit the Novaks on Myspace.

Under Those Wheels

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Screaming Headless Torsos (Minus the Screaming)

Jovol "Bam Bam" Bell, David Fiuczynski, Dan Kinney and Evan Merian

Left to right: Jovol "Bam Bam" Bell, David Fiuczynski, Dan Kinney and Evan Merian

On Saturday May 16, KDHX had the pleasure of welcoming to the Magnolia Studios a true guitar virtuoso: David Fiuczynski. Now David may not be a household name to most, but on the underground jazz punk scene he is a legend. The driving force behind the Screaming Headless Torsos, an experimental-free-jazz-punk ensemble from the mid ’90s, “Fuze” has paved the way for spoken-word heavy music. But a different faction (more like the Headless Torsos) visited us on this day.

David is touring behind his newest release, KiF Express, and brought in a trio consisting of Jovol “Bam Bam” Bell on drums and Evan Merian on bass. Both members of the rhythm section are recent grads of the Berklee School of Music in Boston, where David is a professor in the Guitar and Ensemble department. Expectations were very high. They did not disappoint! Jovol made the house kit from the station sound as if it were a custom-made Yamaha or the likes of some big name kit. Using an interesting array of modified cymbals on the heads to create a metallic sound, he caressed the skins in a blaze of fire and sensitivity that was amazing to behold. The crystal-clear, precision bass lines of Merian also made for a lively performance.

All three musicians are among the nicest people anyone could ask to meet. So humble, yet displaying all those monster chops, it’s amazing they even took the time to stop by. It took several hours after the session to finally get the tunes out of my head.

Unfortunately, I had to cover the Grateful Dead Hour, so I was only able to catch the last song of their Gramophone show on May 16. But given the sight of a nearly packed room of sweaty people, I imagine they rocked the house. Speaking with the band afterwards, I learned that they’ll be back later in the summer to bring their unique blend of heavy jazz to the masses. Many thanks to David for taking the time to stop by and share his amazing chops with us. I can’t wait for his return.

Check out the entire live performance late tonight (technically Wednesday morning, 3:45 am CST) on 88.1 FM KDHX’s The Smoking Lounge, listen to the show live on the web, or visit KDHX.org to stream the session after it airs.

And enjoy this sneak preview mp3 of tonight’s exclusive, in-studio performance. Let me know what you think!

“Shiraz” by Screaming Headless Torsos, Live at KDHX:

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Video: Midwest Mayhem 2009 @ the City Museum

Photo by Sara Finke.

Photo by Sara Finke.

Full disclosure: I’m a KDHX programmer and KDHX.org web editor, so when I say that Midwest Mayhem, our annual spring party at the City Museum, rocked, you’ll know where I’m coming from. Over 2000 people jammed into that bizzaro industrial art space to hear 12 local bands perform. Faces were painted, hoops were hula-ed, and lawn chairs were brigaded. DJs spun and burlesque dancers teased. The Fat Tire beer approached flood stage levels, yet no injuries were reported. I wish we could do this every weekend.

Now, no one goes to the City Museum for symphony hall-style acoustics, and the sound, as heard on the following videos, can be a bit kaboomy and screechy. So stay tuned to KDHX.org (and this blog) for more and higher quality videos from the event. And don’t miss Sara Finke’s epic photo collection over at her Flickr.

More videos after the jump!

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Community Kudos: Fox Associates Charitable Foundation

Photo courtesy of Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy

Photo courtesy of Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy

Each month I’ll be highlighting a local cultural organization that exists to serve the community. –Kim Vrooman

Once a year Fox Associates Charitable Foundation invites St. Louis metro area children to attend a one-of-a kind Broadway level performance at the Fabulous Fox Theatre, the second largest venue of its kind in the nation. This year Kids’ Night on Broadway (KNOB), took place on March 25, with the Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy, direct from Broadway, and described by its website as an “exotic encounter inspired by nature’s unpredictable creations that are brought to life by an international cast of 25 soaring aerialists, spine-bending contortionists, acrobats, jugglers and musicians.”

Kids’ Night on Broadway doesn’t just happen here in St. Louis. KNOB is a national group that is “designed to introduce young people to the magic of live theatre and make Broadway accessible to a new generation of theatergoers.” KNOB happens in theatres across the country and culminates in a Broadway celebration in February in New York.

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Part 4 of Coltrane Special this Sunday on ASNB

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, the amazing John Coltrane documentary Tell Me How Long Trane’s Been Gone continues as Joshua Weinstein and All Soul, No Borders present Part 4: “Searching For The One,” a one-hour segment beginning at 10:30 pm CST. Highlights this week include: Coltrane’s link with Malcolm X and the Black Liberation movement, Trane’s fascination with African drums, the John Gilmore/John Coltrane connection, and Trane telling of the gig one night in New Jersey when he pulled his band off the stage. Also, hear riveting interviews with Sun Ra, Archie Shepp, Pharoah Sanders, and many more.

Remember to tune in this Sunday, May 17 to 88.1FM, stream the show live, or catch the archives for the previous two episodes.

Midwest Mayhem: Bring Your Camera!

Midwest Mayhem 2009 Photo Contest

Midwest Mayhem is upon us, and we want to see it through your lens. Bring your camera and upload your photos to flickr. Tag them “kdhx” and “midwestmayhem.” The winner of the selected photo will receive two tickets to opening night at Twangfest on June 10, featuring Alejandro Escovedo and a KDHX t-shirt!

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Kicking Off Harvest Sessions 2009

Photo by Sara Finke

Photo by Sara Finke

I love the Tower Grove Farmers’ Market. I dig it so much in fact that I’ll forgive the Kuva stand’s monopoly on java (and hence perpetual running out of same) and say that I can’t think of a better way to start a Saturday in STL. And with the opening of the market this past weekend, KDHX and the Whitaker Foundation kicked off another season of Harvest Sessions, featuring local artists performing two sets for free at the West Pool Pavilion in Tower Grove Park. This year the sessions will be held the second and fourth Saturdays through the summer and early fall, and will also migrate over to the Old North market on the first Saturdays of the month.

Full Harvest Sessions lineup still to be confirmed, but more details here.

Caleb Travers started things off with his warm, maturing voice, and a bunch of progressively poppy sounding tunes that he hasn’t quite gotten around to recording. He’s a new dad; he’s been more than busy.

Sara Finke shot some excellent photos and I took a couple of videos, further test driving my Flip Mino HD pocket camcorder and even putting iMovie through the paces. Results below.

See you at the market!

Part 3 of Coltrane Special this Sunday on ASNB

The amazing John Coltrane documentary Tell Me How Long Trane’s Been Gone rolls on as Joshua Weinstein and All Soul, No Borders present Hour 3: “A Love Supreme” this Sunday, May 10 at 10:30PM.  Highlights from this week’s 1 hour episode include: interviews with Archie Shepp, Max Roach, and Rashied Ali, rare tape of Coltrane answering his critics, learning that Trane had a jolly laugh, and ear-chilling evidence that Trane based his anthem “Alabama” on the sound of Martin Luther King’s voice during his famous eulogy to the four girls killed in Birmingham.  Remember to tune in live this Sunday 10:30PM CST on 88.1FM in St. Louis, stream the show live, or catch the archives if you miss and episode.

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