Video: The Dock Ellis Band Twangs Up the Old Post Office

Full disclosure: There was a time when I didn’t take the Dock Ellis Band seriously. That time has passed.

That’s not to say they’ve stopped being fun, refrained from Stag Beer, changed their loose and limber sound, and/or put a muzzle on Jesse Irwin. Not hardly. But the band has tightened up considerably over the years, and has started writing songs that sound like minor country classics. They’re clearly having a blast playing country music, but they’re also playing it pretty darn well.

Witness below the Jesse Irwin tune “Drinking For Tune,” from the band’s appearance today at Lunchtime at the Old Post Office. It was a gorgeous day, and good to see so many folks hanging out, digging the free concert. See you next week for Samba Bom.

Coffee + Music in ONSTL

Old North St. Louis has been a “buzz” area for a few years now, largely through the efforts of the energetic residents, who’ve kept the area in news for various redevelopment efforts. But even as ONSTL was being lauded by media outlets, local and national, the area was working hard to attract the day-round, year-round businesses that make an area a true “neighborhood.” And in the America of 2009, little says progress more than the arrival of a cool, independent coffeeshop.

The Urban Studio Cafe had been talked about for a while, its storefront located just a couple dozen steps from the front door of the iconic Crown Candy Kitchen. This month, though, the neighborhood’s long wait for a coffeeshop finally ended, as the Urban Studio Cafe opened its doors for limited hours: 8 a.m.-2 p.m. daily. The cafe’s new website details all the essentials, including hours and menu, etc.

For us, the most apt component to this comes compliments of a local resident, who notes that the cafe is actively seeking local music to play at the shop. Musicians interested in having their work played in the shop can simply drop off, or mail, a CD to the shop for consideration.

Video: Richard Buckner @ KDHX 9/22/09

Richard Buckner is in town for a solo show at the Billiken Club at St. Louis University, and he came down to the Magnolia Avenue Studios today to tape a few songs and chat with Grace of Nomadic Reverie. You can hear the whole performance and interview tonight at 9 p.m. Central on 88.1 FM or streaming live @ KDHX.org.

Check out a video from the session, a lovely song called “Put Up.”

Video: A Swinging Summer Lunch

The summer is coming to a close. It was bound to happen.

Along with (and really inseparable from) the almost San Diego-like weather Saint Louis has had, the KDHX events I’ve attended, from Harvest Sessions to Lunchtime at the Old Post Office Plaza, have been a blast. Low-key, friendly, entertaining and often free, these musical happenings always remind me why I love this town.

This afternoon’s set by Swing DeVille at Lunchtime at the Old Post Office Plaza, was a summer event highlight for me. A lot of bands claim to swing; these distinguished veterans — with just two guitars, a violin and an up-right bass — arc and sway and swing definitively, sounding like a full-bodied, old time orchestra, blown in from some gypsy valley, at once far off and very close to home.

They’ve got a new Western Swing CD out called Salt up the Dance Floor. Highly recommended. And check out a Flickr slideshow from the afternoon.

If you haven’t made it down to the Old Post Office Plaza for lunch this summer, there are still two more free concerts: Dock Ellis Band on September 25 and Samba Bom on October 2.

Video by KDHX volunteer Nic Larrabure.

Podcast: Joe Schwartz Rides the Mystery Train

In his new book of short stories, Joe’s Black T-Shirt, St. Louis native Joe Schwartz casts a wry, realist eye on life in the Gateway to the West.

He explains: “St. Louis is an amazing city where elitists, idealists, and pacifists co-exist with the disenfranchised, the amoral, and the secretly racist. Ignored, except by the brave who decide to live here or the damned with no other choice…”

On September 14, Schwartz joined Mystery Train host Tim Rakel to discuss and read from his new collection. If you missed it, listen below or download the podcast.

Joe Schwartz on KDHX’s Mystery Train 9/14/09

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Devil at the Confluence: Podcast on the Pre-War Blues in St. Louis

Art by Kevin Belford

Art by Kevin Belford

On September 10, Fred Friction (host of 88.1 FM’s Fishing With Dynamite) and author and artist Kevin Belford discussed Belford’s book, Devil at the Confluence: The Pre-War Blues Music of St. Louis, Missouri, recently published by Virginia Publishing. The wide-ranging and entertaining conversation covers the role of the river city in the blues, myths and legends of the music, and the many transformations of murder ballads, as well as featuring music by Pops Farrar and the Rum Drum Ramblers.

Download a shorter, edited-for-podcast version of the program below, or stream the whole two-hour episode for the next two weeks at KDHX.org.

Devil at the Confluence: Fred Friction and Kevin Belford on the Pre-War Blues in St. Louis

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The Eternal Sonic Youth: An Interview With Steve Shelley

Photo by Steve Ley

Photo by Steve Ley

Remember that beautiful day in July when a little band called Sonic Youth played under the Arch?

Who could forget. It seems like yesterday.

I missed it — I chose to see Chris Isaak instead, and am happy I did — but KDHX programmer Annie (of International Pop Overthrow, every Monday evening) was there (read her review at the mighty A to Z Blog) and snagged an exclusive interview with the Youth’s drummer, Steve Shelley, for airing on 88.1 KDHX.

If you’re a fan of this groundbreaking rock band, download or stream the revealing conversation below, and check out KDHX IT maestro Steve Ley‘s slideshow as well.

Annie Interviews Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth

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Festival of Nations: Backpacking the World Without Leaving Town

This past weekend, I backpacked across Europe, Africa, and all over the world, all in the beautiful space of Tower Grove Park. This year’s Festival of Nations, presented by the International Institute, was perfectly laid out for easy browsing and conversational flow. It was a gorgeous sunny day, with great food, crafts like “henna hands,” cool music, and tons of friendly people. I’m sure there were more people this year than ever before. The International Institute is known for welcoming the people of the world to St. Louis, and the people of the world always welcome us back.

I was lucky to be a greeter this year, and had a great experience. I had time before my shift to watch Scottish log tossing, which was fun and very impressive to see, and then talked to the folks in the crafts tent. They had just finished a Latin American dance, followed by Mr. and Mrs. Hickman demonstrating German lacemaking. Mr. Hickman even let me try. I admired the delicate examples: flowers, wedding scenes, and such on display. He said proudly that his wife, a widely recognized lace master artist, was his teacher. She was a pleasure to meet!

Then it was on to African tie-dye, and I spoke with an expert in the art from Sierra Leone. We talked about the languages of Africa and how they compare to ebonics, and he displayed the pieces he had brought with him. Other highlights of the afternoon included vases and soft, bright sherbet-colored clothes from India. It was all so beautiful, but much of it was too expensive for me to purchase this year.

I wound up the afternoon with a bit of Somalian food — missed the Argentinean food, which some people said was a stand out — and even tasted Scottish liquor for the first time! They added water to it in a little cup for me, which I guess is how you drink it. Strong stuff! The Scottish booth also had tons of books to look at and wool weavings in tartan patterns.

All in all, it was a wonderful experience. Thank you to the people of the International Institute for throwing such a unique event.