Concert photos: Harry Nilsson tribute at Off Broadway, Saturday, November 26

It was a memorable night Saturday at the Off Broadway as local musicians and fans gathered to raise many glasses and pay tribute to influential singer-songwriter Harry Nilsson.

First off, I love love love what Off Broadway owner Steve Pohlman has done with the venue recently, taking out the space-eating bar that was always hard to access due to the stool sitters. Though I’ll miss the saloon vibe that the hardwood bar provided, I love the sleek new feel of the club — and the extra room for sure.

There were many highlights with great performances by Theodore, Ransom Note, Dock Ellis Band and others performing hits like “One,” “1941″ and “Without You,” which was the performance highlight of the night. Singer and Off Broadway stalwart Johnny Vegas rocked it as well late in the show. Regrettably, nobody chose to take on “Everybody’s Talkin’” or “Good Old Desk,” but maybe next time.

My highlight of the night was watching Nilsson’s animated feature, “The Point,” as the Rats & People Motion Picture Orchestra performed the score onstage. Sherman S. Sherman narrated wonderfully, breaking into some great accents throughout. It was pure 1970s gold and I didn’t want it to end.

Photo essay: Street musicians, the sound of the sidewalk

Street musicians connect with their audience where it counts the most, their everyday lives. In this piece, I document nine performers in action, live from the sidewalks you walk on.

I chose to create a photo essay on street musicians because they are everyday people who inspire people like themselves. Street musicians fill the streets with beautiful music that touches people in route to completing their day.

As Zalinksy, Dan Aykroyd’s character in the movie “Tommy Boy,” said: “I make car parts for the American working man because that’s what I am and that’s who I care about.” Street musicians share music with everyday people because that’s who they are.

Street musicians can be found across St. Louis in the most public of places. Each musician has his or her own reason for sharing his or her music on the sidewalks. Some do it as a source of income. Some do it for the pure enjoyment of playing for others. Regardless of why they perform in public, they all have one thing in common — sharing their love of music, and perhaps to earn some change, even eek out a small living, along the way.

The most common places to find street musicians (or buskers as they’re sometimes called) in St. Louis are the Delmar Loop and Downtown, especially near events that draw large crowds. There are occasional sightings on or near Metrolink platforms, on South Grand in the theatre district, in the Central West End or popular hangout spots where there are crowds of people.

Wayne Valentine

Wayne Valentine

Guitar player Wayne Valentine was found on a Tuesday afternoon at 1 p.m. on the Delmar Loop. He was playing under the pavilion next to Market Pub House. Valentine comes to the loop two to three days a week.

Wayne Valentine

Valentine plays jazz and ragtime music by Scott Joplin. He primarily plays guitar, but is also classically trained on the piano. Valentine plays at open mics from time to time. “It’s nicer to play to an audience than to four walls,” says Valentine.

Wayne Valentine

The 49-year-old has been playing since the age of 12. After hearing him play, a woman affiliated with the Julliard School for Performing Arts told him that he has a “gift for composition.”

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KDHX photography highlights: July 24-30

From a Downtown arena to a South City farmer’s market, this past week in pictures features the grandeur, the pleasant and all things in-between. Check out photos from Sade and John Legend at Scottrade Center, Babs & Dot and their South City Serenaders at Harvest Sessions, Bo and the Locomotive and Union Tree Review‘s CD release party at the Firebird and Buffalo Killers at the Duckroom.

You can see the full galleries at

Bo and the Locomotive

Bo and the Locomotive at The Firebird. Abby Gillardi

Babs & Dot and their South City Serenaders

Babs & Dot and their South City Serenaders at Harvest Sessions. Abby Gillardi

Buffalo Killers

Buffalo Killers at the Duck Room. Nate Burrell

John Legend

John Legend at Scottrade Center. Travis Crosby

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Concert review: The Get Up Kids revive the ’90s at the Firebird, Friday, July 15

The Get Up Kids at the Firebird, July 15, 2011

Will Kyle

Last night the prototypical ’90s emo-punk quintet, the Get Up Kids, wowed fans young and old at the Firebird in St. Louis. Their massive set ran the gamut of their nearly 15-year catalogue.

After the Globes warmed up the crowd with exuberance, distorted guitar and floor-stomping drums, the Get Up Kids came on stage. With raised hands and screams, the crowd welcomed the seasoned Kansas City punk rockers. Lead singer and rhythm guitarist, Matthew Pryor, launched into “Tithe,” from early 2011′s There Are Rules. Horror-show synth bled into rolling tom work from drummer, Ryan Pope, and the thick, driving bass of Rob Pope.

“Action and Action,” the heart-sleeved anthem from 1999′s Something To Write Home About, surged with nostalgia. Pryor’s sinewy vocals had the crowd moshing and throwing fists in the air. “Regent’s Court” featured frenzied snare hits. The squeal of lead guitarist, Jim Suptic, leapt registers with magnificence. On “Automatic,” Suptic lent versatile vocals to the mix. Pope’s syncopated bass played against synth blasts and formed a post-emo-punk canvas.

“I’m a Loner Dottie, A Rebel,” painted the scene of leaving a lover embarking on road-weary distance: “If I go, it’s not impossible, but possible is probably wrong.” The crunchy bass and ethereal keys of “Keith Case” showed the band’s continuing experimentation with sonic landscapes. Horizons of alternative rock opened before the audience as “Off The Wagon” slid into crowd-favorite “Overdue.” “Shatter Your Lungs” featured athletic vocals and bass-thrum. Jim Suptic added high-pitched guitar polish as sweat-drenched acolytes swayed and cheered.

“Red Letter Day,” “Woodson,” and “Shorty” cooked with the energy that originally united the Midwest ’90s emo-punk scene. Jim Suptic’s studied guitar licks wove around Pryor’s vocals to form a mind-bending, emotional intensity.

Pryor asked the audience if Beatle Bob was still around. Some of the crowd let go a nostalgic sigh, but other younger members screamed, “Fuck Beatle Bob!” Pryor chuckled and said, “When I first saw Beatle Bob at one of our early shows, I knew we had made it,” and strummed into “Holy Roman,” off 2003′s Guilt Show, which asked the audience to “Fight the good fight, maintain the trend, just look me in the eyes and say, ‘The world’s not gonna end.’” The crowd shouted along as if the world might end that very moment.

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Concert photos: Patrick Sweany at Off Broadway, Thursday, February 10

Nashville rhythm and soul man, Patrick Sweany brought his style of rock & roll to Off Broadway last night. Touring in support of his just-released album That Old Southern Drag, Sweany and his band plugged in, turned it up and let loose. With a tight set consisting of foot-stomping tunes, Sweany unleashed his signature sound for the appreciative crowd. With an on-point rhythm section holding it down, the frontman was able to work the stage with a commanding guitar performance accompanied by an equally commanding range of vocals. Playing over an hour’s worth of original numbers from his 5 album catalogue, Sweany heated the cold evening in south city.

Opening the evening was St Louis indie folk duo Cassie Morgan and the Lonely Pine, who held the room at a standstill with a beautiful blend of harmonies, precise guitar work and an array of accompanying instruments. St Louis rockers Benjamin Riley Band rounded out the evening, playing an energized set that was highlighted by Riley’s unfiltered soulful vocals. From beginning to end, it was a terrific night of live music.

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

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R.I.P. Gene Roberts: A Legend of Country Radio

Gene Roberts by Sara Finke

Sara Finke

The music community of St. Louis (and beyond) is saddened by the news of Gene Roberts’ passing on January 12, 2011. Gene was 82 years old.

Gene was the long-time host of Country Function, Bluegrass Junction on 88.1 KDHX, and an influential and beloved figure on the traditional country music scene in Missouri. His involvement with radio dates back to the 1940s. Before going on-air with KDHX in the early ’90s, Gene broadcasted with WGNU, KWRE and KCLC. His birthday parties were always well-attended, joyous celebrations of old time music and he supported local and national musicians by regularly hosting them in the KDHX studios, interviewing them on-air and playing their records. Gene also hosted the annual Hank Williams Special on 88.1 KDHX, a 2-hour radio show that brought together some of the finest musicians in St. Louis to cover songs by the legend.

His trademark exclamation, “Mighty fine!,” is just one way to describe his spirit.

88.1 KDHX programmer sub (and former host of Biddle Street Beat, among other shows), Tony C. recalls learning from Gene: “I remember him as a very warm, even-handed person. He really served as a mentor to many of the programmers back in the early years of the station. He also knew about a lot of different genres — rockabilly, blues — beyond just country.”

Larry Allen, who co-hosted Country Function, Bluegrass Junction with Gene, recalls: “He was just a very nice guy. I originally came on just as a board operator but Gene welcomed me with open arms and invited me to co-host with him. There will never be another Gene Roberts.”

Funeral arrangements: Bradford Funeral Home, 305 N. Main, Summersville, MO 65571
Visitation: Saturday, Jan. 15 5:30 p.m.-8 p.m. Funeral: Sunday, Jan. 16 2 p.m.

Listen to the first hour of Gene’s 2007 Hank Williams Special (which originally aired January 2, 2007) and enjoy the slideshow. All photos by Sara Finke.

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Concert photos: Jill Andrews, Cassie Morgan and the Lonely Pine and Jailbox at Off Broadway, Thursday, December 9

When talented singer songwriters like Jill Andrews and Cassie Morgan share a bill, there is no doubt that the audience is in for a special treat. Both women create powerful lyrics and have enchanting voices that can put a hush over a noisy bar. They each debuted new songs during their sets for the delighted audience and both delivered flawless performances. The only complaint at the end of the night was that it didn’t last long enough. Jailbox, from Perryville, Mo., warmed up the crowd and opened the evening.

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

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Concert photos: Japandroids and the Walkmen at Off Broadway, Wednesday, October 20

All photos by Tom Lampe. See more at my Flickr.

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