Blues You Can Use

A new documentary captures "the last generation of authentic bluesmen" on film

The success of the single has pushed the release date of the full-length, also called Country Grammar, back to mid-June. Nelly's label, Universal Records, is treating the record as a potential blockbuster, implementing a massive marketing campaign. Last week they flew him out to Los Angeles to perform for Interscope (a Universal subsidiary) label heads Jimmy Iovine and Doug Morris, two godfathers of the music industry.

BAYWATCH: It's a shocker to listen for the recorded voice of Nick Sakes, ex of Dazzling Killmen and Colossamite, and not hear a ferocious hair-curling howl or yammer. You can actually hear his voice, not just his scream, when he sings with his new band, Sicbay, and though he's kind of mumbly at times, it's a far cry from the perpetual cry of the days of yore.

Nick Sakes 2000 arrives back in St. Louis from his home base of Minneapolis to debut Sicbay (which also features fellow ex-Colossamite-ite Ed Rodriguez and fellow former St. Louisian Dave Erb). As with Sake's voice, the overall sound of Sicbay is less distorted than Sakes' previous associations -- you can hear the Wire influence more clearly than before, and the overall feel of the work is much more relaxed (though just as powerful), especially on the stunning kickoff song, "The Reach" (which appears on the forthcoming CD Fort Busy Signal). Sicbay performs twice this week: first, tonight, May 31, at the Creepy Crawl, opening for Love 666; then, after a detour to Columbia, Mo., at the Rocket Bar on Friday, June 2, along with kindred spirits Zulu as Kono, a six-piece Austin, Texas, outfit.

A GOOD MAN IS HARD TO FIND: If you were lucky and Fred Boettcher, who died May 23 after a battle with lung cancer, was feeling up to it, he might saunter onto his stage at Frederick's Music Lounge on Chippewa, crouch over the piano and toss off a racy little number, or some standard from the '40s or '50s, for the crowd. The ubiquitous cigarette dangling from his mouth suggested a raspy two-pack-a-day voice, but that suggestion vanished as he started singing and a rich velvet tone flowed out. It was a beautiful voice, just as beautiful when he was humming to himself as he kicked your ass in bumper pool as it was when he was up there onstage. Known to many South Siders simply as "Fred Friction's dad," Boettcher opened the doors of his lounge every Thursday night to musicians of all sorts, and the weekly hootenanny evolved into one of the most inspired (and very, very loose) open-mic nights in the city (RFT, Oct. 6, 1999). And Fred Sr. was always there, planted on his stool, occasionally singing along, occasionally sitting silently, though more often than not either good-naturedly harassing the female patrons or catcalling the stage. No news yet on the future of the music lounge, though for a long time now Fred Jr. has been tending the bar.

Send local tapes, tips, discs and detritus to "Radar Station," c/o The Riverfront Times, 6358 Delmar Blvd., Suite 200, St. Louis, MO 63130; or radarstation@riverfronttimes.com.

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