Among the legends of bluegrass, there are few living with accomplishments that equal Dr. Ralph Stanley.
From the Greek, "phenomena" means, "to show, shine, appear, to be manifest (or manifest itself)" -- an occurrence that is a given, a force of nature that becomes the object of a person's attention.
A few months ago I got a call from a friend who invited me to a "fun" concert at the Peabody with the Joy Formidable, a band I'd seen before at the Firebird and the Luminary and really enjoyed. I immediately said yes and penciled in the date.
There's irony in the fact that what most people know about the band Nada Surf is that they once had a mainstream hit in the '90s by the name of "Popular" -- and that's about it.
The story of Flogging Molly begins not in an Irish bar in Dublin but at an Irish-American local scene in Los Angeles.
Why do I even care what a few strangers from Kentucky think of a St. Louis crowd? Why would it bother me when one of them tells me about the Blind Pilot show they attended earlier in the tour at Headliners in Louisville?
As a rule, I'm a comparative thinker. As a writer, I construct parallels and employ juxtaposition all the time. As a critic, I see comparison as a means towards a more accurate definition.
We are in a dark room in a nondescript building in St. Louis. As the lights fade in, we see 5 men sitting on a stage. They are HONUS HONUS, POW POW, CHANG WANG, TURKEY MOTH, and JEFFERSON. They all sit in silence, but this is broken when HONUS HONUS begins to tap his foot repetitively on the ground in a way so it is clear he is anxious about something. A pair of gold sequined slippers rest atop an amplifier; POW walks over to them, peers inside, and seeing nothing, retreats to his drum kit.
A Sunday night at the Old Rock House can be a touch-and-go affair. I've been there when the band outnumbered the fans and the music bounced around like ping pong balls during bingo night at the rec center. I've also been packed in on the floor with no room to move.