Miss Jubilee and the Humdingers arrived at the burned-out church (now ivy-laden) at Spring and Washington in downtown St. Louis in a big white van. From the vehicle spilled a ukulele, an upright bass and a drum kit with a traditionally-sketched, nude woman riding the ether on the bass drum. A saxophone and a muted trumpet arrived a few minutes later by separate cars. The band set up its instruments and gathered in the shade provided by the back wall of the church to avoid the blistering sun as it drifted toward its noon apex.
During the lead-off song, "Gimme a Sign," Miss Jubilee strummed her ukelele and lifted her left foot under her long, bright dress, while Lawrence Welby spun his bass with a flourish. With a smile hidden behind her eyes, Kellie Everett dropped a thick verse of "wah-wah" baritone sax. Trumpeter Brian Casserly stood full of big-band bombast, shouting,"I need quiet for my close up!" His clean, muted notes blended with Everett's baritone accents, while Dan Conner laid delicate brush strokes into his snare. As he hit the pedal for his kick drum -- placed on a board over loose, white gravel -- the instrument rocked in time.
Each band member was allotted a few bars to solo, and each took up the opportunity with gusto and poise -- bass slaps and knuckle clicks from Welby, and crisp, wry notes from Everett and Casserly -- that added a depth and grandeur to "Gimme a Sign." Few live bands can deliver such a thing even in the vacuum of a studio, never mind outside at noon during a deathly Midwestern heat wave.
Miss Jubilee and the Humdingers perform at Thursdays at the Intersection, presented by KDHX, Grand Center and PNC Arts Alive, on July 26, 2012.
Video: Jarred Gastreich for Show Me Shows
Sound: Ryan Albritton for R&R Music Labs
Writer: Will Kyle