Listening Post

Half Full is just that when you're only paying attention to Johnson; then, you can swallow it. But when your ears shift away from her to concentrate on the surrounding sounds, Half Full is half empty. (RR)

CORAL REEF DEPARTURE: The Peter Mayer Group is set to perform this Friday, June 25, at Blueberry Hill's Duck Room. Not exactly a news flash, you're probably thinking, considering that guitarist Peter, his bass-playing brother Jim Mayer and drummer Roger Guth usually play in their hometown several times a year when they're not out touring as part of Jimmy Buffett's backup band.

But this concert is definitely a special occasion, marking a major crossroads for the three musicians. It's their final performance in St. Louis before moving to the Nashville area. Actually Guth moved to Nashville back in July, but it was only recently that the Mayer brothers finally decided to follow his lead and relocate to the music-business hub.

"I suppose it's been a question in our minds for years," explains Peter Mayer, referring to the Nashville move during a recent phone conversation between concerts on the latest Buffett tour. "Nashville is one of the best places to be in the music business, especially for a songwriter. And after Roger moved, it just seemed as if the time to try it was now."

Friday's concert will find longtime friend and fellow musician Scott Bryan sitting in with the Peter Mayer Group; the group will also work with a string trio during part of the show. In addition, Mayer has composed a special song for the band's farewell concert at the Duck Room, a tune he calls "This Town."

"It's not one of those "ode to the Arch with mentions of other local landmarks' kind of songs," Mayer says. "It's basically about what really feels like home to me. I guess I'm excited about the move, but I also realize how much I l; and Jim and Roger l; had to appreciate here in St. Louis with family and friends, especially other musicians." (TP)

ALL JAZZ, ALL THE TIME: Music and television have long walked hand-in-hand, though it's never been easy for music fans to fill up on the televised performances they crave. Bruce Springsteen once sang about "57 channels and nothing on," and that's the way things are most of the time on your basic-cable channels. You might catch a video here or there, now and then, but it's far easier to tune in to auto racing than it is to see people playing instruments on TV.

Luckily, we're now living in the Digital Age, and if that can often mean more than infrequent commercial interruptions in transmission, it also means lots more music. There are four more Box channels on digital cable, which allow you to watch videos pretty much anytime you want. If you don't like what you see, you can switch to any of two dozen DMX stations, which don't have any pictures but provide an incredible mix of music.

Jazz fans get the best deal. Starting June 1, TCI Cable added BET on Jazz, a 24-hour channel devoted to live performances of jazz and occasionally blues. In the last couple of weeks, they've run rare footage of Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong (together!), as well as Arnett Cobb, and highlighted talents as diverse as Johnnie Johnson, Brad Mehldau, Stan Getz and Archie Shepp. Sure, they play their share of Pieces of a Dream, and more lame blues acts than you could imagine, but there's a high ratio of good stuff to bad.

A couple of warnings: There are a lot of commercials, mostly public-service announcements. Sometimes they'll edit a piece of music, chopping to a commercial right in the middle of a piano solo. If you don't recognize a musician and you don't catch the introduction, you will probably never learn who you're hearing. Most live footage is done on as sparse a budget as you've seen since the early days of local access. But the soul of the music comes through, and you'll find yourself tuning in every chance you get just to see what's on next. (SP)

Contributors: Roy Kasten, Terry Perkins, Steve Pick, Randall Roberts, Jason Toon

Send all local tapes, tips, discs and detritus to Randall Roberts, The Riverfront Times, 6358 Delmar Blvd., Suite 200, St. Louis, MO 63130. E-mail him at [email protected]. Drift

« Previous Page