Big reggae shows coming to StL

When it rains, it pours. Lots of crucial reggae shows coming to town starting this Wednesday, March 2nd, all at 2720 Cherokee.

That’s when the Meditations play as part of the club’s “Reggae Wednesdays.”

March 9th is Zion and the Lion Roots Band. 16th is the Itals. 23rd is local band Aaron Kamm and the One Drops. 30th is Sister Carol. Then on April 20th, the return of Ossie Dellimore and the Soldiers Of Justice.

Some great shows coming through town. Be there.

88.1 KDHX DJ Spotlight: Tim and Matt of Super Fun Happy Hour

Tim and Matt of Super Fun Happy Hour

Photo courtesy of Tim and Matt

The Super Fun Happy Hour, hosted by Tim Mize and Matt Meyers, has been on the air for over 14 years on 88.1 KDHX. This Monday night, February 28, will mark the end of a punk rock era, as the native St. Louisians will be leaving the airwaves – at least for now – to attend to their off-air lives and work. Like all DJs on KDHX, Tim and Matt are volunteers, and doing late night radio is demanding.

A blend of pure punk rock and innovative comic montages, mixed by friendly, knowledgeable and enthusiastic hosts, SFHH has been a significant part of the underground music scene in St. Louis and a big part of what makes KDHX special. Everyone at the station will miss Tim and Matt; we wish them all the best in their future journeys.

Roy Kasten: Tell me about the first Super Fun Happy Hour.

Tim: Well, the first Super Fun Happy Hour started in late ’96, I’d say November ’96. I wrote the proposal with Tom Delgado. He and I started that show. After we went a few shows on the air, an individual named Brian Rolf also joined us. He gave us a lot of ideas for the wacky stuff, not only the name, but the oddities we play at the beginning that aren’t necessarily music, but the comedy bits. [Tom and Brian] lasted I would say a year or so. Doing late night radio, it’s hard to stay on, because after a while it can get to you, if you have a day job like those guys did.

It went on that way for a short time, then I had another individual, Payton Gibbs, who joined me for about a year. Then I was solo for a while, then Payton turned me on to Matt. I had known Matt previously because he did MidCoast Mania on television. I’d also met him previously. I’d been in the bar business for several years. We met and said, “Let’s give it a shot.” It was a perfect marriage. We hit it off and we’ve been together ever since.

I have a vague memory of MidCoast Mania.

Matt: It was guys from a cable access show who wanted to do something bigger. They’d gotten a spot on Channel 11. We did a half-hour music show on Channel 11. They’d drop us between all the paid programming. I made a jerk of myself, a professional ass of myself.

Tim: I thought, this guy is perfect!

Was comedy part of the concept from the beginning?

Tim: That was part of the concept. We wanted to do something different. Aside from playing music that was underground, we wanted to add another aspect so that it didn’t sound so 2 dimensional, add a third ingredient in there. Something in between breaks that would keep people involved, snippets here and there, anything we could get away with playing.

Who is behind the montages?

Tim: We do it together. I’ve got a collection that I’ve put together over the years.

Matt: I’m sure 90% of that stuff was here when I got here.

How did you get into punk rock, Matt?

Matt: I was a late bloomer. I picked it up midway through high school. I got a good taste of it, and was making a collection of classics, ’80 to ’86, and I remember how I was listening to it with friends and then it just got cut off. I wasn’t hanging out with them anymore. Then I walked in here, and I thought, this is everything I had left behind. I took it as a fun way of doing things and a big learning experience. Here’s all these bands I knew, and here’s stuff I didn’t know. It became a collection of things you had to hunt down, and that made it more important. It had such an importance, to me, personally. Getting on the show, all those things were now in my face. It was like, here’s more, here’s more, here’s more!

Tim: Growing up as a kid, in early high school, I started going to shows in kids’ basements. I started seeing all-ages shows at places like New Values, which was a little record store / boutique at Big Bend and Clayton Road [in St. Louis] in the early ’80s. Now I think it’s a passport shop. That was a cool place.

That was a venue?

Tim: It was a record store and they sold punk rock clothes. They had shows in the basement. I saw big name acts like Toxic Reason, and local bands, Proud Young Men and Three Legged Dog from Columbia. When I was a kid I couldn’t get into bars, and the bars at that time had very few all-ages shows. Back then there wasn’t the Internet. You’d hear about it by word of mouth. You’d catch a ride from someone else and you’d go to this place that wasn’t a bar and see music and get involved with what was going on in the underground. When I first started thinking about radio I thought that’s what people need to hear. The stuff that you’re not going to be able to go out and see but things you hear about through word of mouth.

Matt: That’s what made it fun back then. Your friends were doing it, somebody else’s friends were doing it. Theses little shows, you’d walk in and have a great time. Everything else was so plastic and boring. It was nice to see something that was new.

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Concert review: Exter vs. Kimock bring classical rock to Principia College, Friday, February 25

Exter vs. Kimock

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Hey there, Brother Dan here. I would like to share with you a concert review I received from a long time listener and member of my show, Ryan Moore. I was able to witness a fantastic show with him featuring Exter vs. Kimock from Bethlehem, Pa. What he puts into words, I couldn’t say any better. Enjoy!

Originally, my Friday night plan consisted of sitting right here at my computer researching and writing about prostitution, and that plan was to continue until Sunday night. Lucky for me, that plan changed at about 9:15 p.m. when Brother Dan invited me to attend the Exter vs. Kimock show with him at Principia College, a Christian Science College about 20 miles from where I live in Edwardsville, Ill.

Both of us knew what type of college Principia was known as when we headed into the thing, but neither of us knew what to expect, other than phenomenal music being performed by Exter and Kimock. The gig was upstairs in a building known as Howard Hall, which took some time to find, but as we ascended the stairs to the venue, we knew we’d found the right place. The sounds of a traditionally set up drum set, being played masterfully, and a cello being played in a very unorthodox way, were the first sounds to greet us. The further up the stairs we went, the more clear the music became….

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Concert review: Randy Newman never misses a note, at the Sheldon, Friday, February 25

Randy Newman

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In 1975, in his book Mystery Train, Greil Marcus wrote of Randy Newman: “Newman is afraid of his sensibility, to the degree that he has to get it over to an audience.” 36 years later, here he is in the Sheldon Concert Hall, sitting on his piano bench before a great Steinway, which yawned at a full house of devoted fans, many of them around his age — and Mr. Newman seems only moderately comfortable.

He fidgets, smiles probably more than normal, mumbles the ends of song introductions. But it’s not because the songs aren’t there; it’s not that the piano isn’t tuned; it’s not that his voice is shot, that he’s scared and old, that he’s lost it. He hasn’t. He goes on to play an unbelievable, sincere, hilarious set because he still doesn’t quite know who these people in the audience are, whether they know the line between Newman and his characters. And sometimes neither does he.

Over 2 extensive sets, Newman covered most of the great moments in his songbook. He played everything from his biggest commercial hits like “Mama Told Me Not to Come,” “Sail Away,” “I Love L. A.” and “You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” to his most sneering and morally ambiguous tunes such as “Rednecks” and “You Can Leave Your Hat On,” as well as at least a couple of songs that sit in both groups (“Short People” and “Political Science”). He played the piano like someone else might talk, or more specifically, explain something, make excuses. But beautiful, fissure-less excuses — Newman did not miss a note. His phrasing was as expressive and goofy as ever, able to take on the voice of a sexually frustrated boozehound chasing after a young girl and a man who misses his woman. The magic in his body of work — and in his delivery of it live — is that these voices, all these voices, are not so different. All Newman’s songs can be boiled down basically to longing, death and regret, and he gives all his characters his voice because he feels all of it, as does his whole audience, ideally.

And he hasn’t lost touch with any of the unadorned honesty of his music. In one of the quietest, emotional moments of the evening, Newman introduced “I Miss You” as a love song to his first wife, written while married to his second. The crowd laughed, but immediately sank into the warmth and heady honesty of the song. Newman’s introduction and song served to let the audience see him for what he really is, to give a name to that weird mix of forbidden longing and regret, and to implicate this audience of people, likely well-versed in life’s tragedies, but who do not always acknowledge or say as much.

At 67, Newman has softened up a bit in his old age (in 1975, he wouldn’t have given “Rednecks” a context, explaining how he wrote the song from a Georgian’s perspective after seeing Lester Maddox booed off The Dick Cavett Show), but he makes sure he still straddles the line between gentle composer and dispassionate asshole performer.

Right after starting into “Harps and Angels,” a man in the audience fell on the stairs with enough thud to break everyone’s attention — everyone except Newman. He kept playing, singing about angels and death while the commotion all went on behind him. It wasn’t until the house lights went up and someone yelled, “Call 911! Is there a doctor in the house?” (very cinematically too, like Newman was providing some twisted score for a near-death scene) that he stopped playing, turning around confused and flustered. People crowded the elderly man, who now sat on a stair, seeming to gaze at the stage. Newman muttered, “Tell me what to do…” and looked up at the lights.

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Concert photos: JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound and the Green Room Rockers at Off Broadway, Friday, February 25

Chicago soul group JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound set the stage on fire at Off Broadway last night. With Brooks working the room like a seasoned professional, he and his band turned out a hot set that had the people’s heads bobbin’ and rumps shakin’, as soul-era sounds filled the room. With a near theatrical presence behind the microphone, Brooks and crew deliver a jumpin’ good time.

Midwestern ska fellas, the Green Room Rockers, started the evening on the up-strum. Playing an up-tempo set that had the feel of a Jamaican dancehall, the band brought it proper with amplified good vibes. With mostly original tunes, GRR also turned in a funky cover of a Toots and the Maytals song, which sent dancers into a frenzy. This is a band that will give it to you on the one drop.

All photos by Nate Burrell. See more at my Flickr stream.

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Concert photos: Rum Drum Ramblers and Whistle Pigs at Off Broadway, Thursday, February 24

Seeing the Rum Drum Ramblers is always a good time — no question, but an album release show in front of a packed house at Off Broadway…well, you don’t get to see that very often. Just awesome.

Bikers, punks, hipsters and bridesmaids were all getting down to some good ol’ fingerpickin’ punk blues. With Mat Wilson providing the foundation with his dirty guitar sound and style, he and his band played a set filled with numbers from their new album Mean Scene. Stompin’. Howlin’. Hootin’-and-a-hollerin’. They stirred up a whiskey-soaked crowd for an hour plus, and were joined on stage by members of the Funky Butt Brass Band and Pokey LaFarge at different points of the show. It was rowdy. It was wild. And it was a fine show to start off a month-or-so-long tour in support of the album.

Opening the night were the Whistle Pigs, a 3-piece from Carbondale, Ill. With a hint of Appalachia sounds and as much energy as a backwoods barbeque, these dudes picked out some fine music. Standing 3 across — with an upright bass, a banjo and an accordion, they played an energetic and relentless mix of originals and old songs. They showed no issue with having fun on stage: laughing and singing and playing with a fair amount of boozin’ in between, yet always maintaing a very on-point delivery. This is a band I’ll be going to see again.

All photos by Nate Burrell. See more at my Flickr stream.

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Concert photos: Dum Dum Girls, Minks and Dirty Beaches at Billiken Club, Wednesday, February 23

Dum Dum Girls let the anticipation build, waiting until 11:15 p.m. to take the stage at the Billiken Club. The buildup was not wasted as the 4 piece careened through their low-fi, fuzzed out set. The headliner was preceded by the Minks, a melodic sextet from Brooklyn, and the Dirty Beaches.

Don’t miss the Live at KDHX session with Dum Dum Girls, recorded right before the show on February 23.

All photos by Kate McDaniel. See more at my Flickr stream.

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Thursday Morning Music News: Rufus Wainwright is a dad, Thom Yorke is a dancer and Spotify is here (almost)

Rufus Wainwright

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Spotify may finally cross the pond, as Reuters reports that the beloved (in Europe) digital music service is close to a deal with Universal Music Group in the US.

Not to be outdone by Colonel Gaddafi, industry player Steve Stoute ripped the Grammys in a rambling diatribe. Management for previously unknown (to Martians) band Arcade Fire returned, ahem, fire.

Susan Boylemania is briefly back, as British tabloids report that Glenn Close may be playing the singer in an upcoming biopic.

Stereogum shares an MP3 from the forthcoming record from Halifax power-pop stalwarts Sloan.

Dum Dum Girls taped an exclusive session in the KDHX studios. Stream the 3 songs at KDHX.org.

Pop & Hiss aggregates all the Thom Yorke dancing mash-ups you can stand.

Anti- Blog shares some cool tour footage of Dr. Dog.

The Guardian posted author Dorian Lynskey’s picks for 10 Best Protest Songs — with pictures.

The gene pool just got a whole lot more interesting: To Rufus Wainwright and Lorca Cohen a baby girl is born.

The Blind Boys of Alabama announced details of an upcoming country-gospel album, co-produced by Jamey Johnson.

The Cars released a video for their first new single in over 2 decades. Splicing Up Eyeballs shares details of the forthcoming reunion album.

You can hear 6 songs from the new Baseball Project album over at ESPN’s The Life.

Twangfest has begun leaking bands (among them the aforementioned Baseball Project) for its SXSW day parties, presented, as always, by 88.1 KDHX.

Booker T. Jones is back with a new album, featuring guests Lou Reed, Sharon Jones and members of the Roots. The Road From Memphis is due out May 10.

VH1 Storytellers blows off the boomers and goes “indie” for its 15th season. Death Cab For Cutie, Cee-Lo Green and Kings of Leon are all slated for sessions. There’s a reason “indie” is in quotation marks.

Columbia Records revealed details for a legendary and little-known Bob Dylan concert recording from May 1963. The album is out April 12.

STL Today reported on the passing of Jay Landesman, impresario of the Crystal Palace, a landmark Gaslight Square night club.

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