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Robin Wheeler

With any Shovels and Rope show, it's not just about two skilled performers throwing genre rules in the trash with a multi-instrumental onslaught that defies logic. Two people shouldn't be able to make that much robust, fevered noise without backup, but they do.

Mike Heidorn lives in Belleville, Ill., not far from the neighborhood where he lent his punk gunfire drumming to Uncle Tupelo for its first three albums. Over a three-hour lunch at a local restaurant with his band's framed album covers on the wall, Heidorn talks as fast as he drummed for the band.

Pixies aren't the same without Kim Deal, or so I've heard from many music fans in the weeks leading up to the return to St. Louis of the pioneers of American alternative rock.

A good tribute show occurs on a narrow road bordered by nostalgia and cover-band schlock. The road gets slippery when the band being honored was a batch of local boys done good. For the second Uncle Tupelo tribute show in just over three years, eight St. Louis bands kept it on the road while having a hell of a lot of fun.

Each year brings more and better albums by St. Louis artists. 2013 brought so many that it wasn't possible to limit a list to the 10 best. It’s not a bad problem to have.

The Head and the Heart returned to St. Louis and the Pageant a week after releasing its second album, "Let's Be Still," tip-toeing into the new material.

"Americana is country music for people who like the Smiths," Billy Bragg told the sold-out crowd at the opening night of his tour at the Old Rock House.

It's been 30 years since Billy Bragg blended punk sensibilities with a lone guitar for his debut album, "Life's a Riot with Spy vs. Spy." In that time he's not only created a rich catalog of music, but he's also been a labor advocate, a protestor, a writer and playwright, a father, a collaborator -- most notably with Kirsty MacColl and Wilco, and one of the foremost keepers of Woody Guthrie's legacy.

With their sophomore effort "Amelita," Texas duo Court Yard Hounds embrace breezing southwest-folk style with biting lyrics sung in ringing harmonies by sisters Martie Maguire and Emily Robison.

By late July, some of us are weary of summer. Too bright, too hot and too damn cheerful. Good thing the Handsome Family Band, Sean Rowe and Danny Barnes stopped at Off Broadway with some dark songs and gallows humor.

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Tok Releases Gold Dollar Hen House Volume 3

Tue April 8
Tok is a Festus based rock band who has been rocking St. Louis for 20 years. They are due to release their third installment of their Gold Dollar Hen House collection on February 28, 2014 at Schlafly's…