This year, the two big public neighborhood Halloween celebrations, the Central West End costume contest/party and the Soulard costume contest/parade, will be joined by a third major event. The Soulard Nights Halloween Hayride and Pub Crawl offers no fewer than 48 musical acts at 24 Soulard-area bars, with a horse-drawn hayride to transport revelers from pub to pub.
The Hayride and Pub Crawl is the brainchild of 36-year-old Daniel Brewster and his DiMBy Productions. DiMBy (which, he explains, stands for Diversity in My Backyard) is the group responsible for a passel of nifty events during the past year or so. These include the Soapbox Festival, which featured street preachers, activists and poets shouting from sidewalk pulpits, along with a small New York-style "Wigstock" parade of female impersonators, a mini-Soapbox Derby and 72 bands playing on four stages; Soul/Art (a play on the word "Soulard"), which gave Beatle Bob a showcase for his favorite local bands and involved fashion designers, graffiti artists and painters; and the St. Louis Acoustic Revelers music showcase.
Brewster's weekly open-mic poetry/performance night at the Shanti was at one point giving a rather special prize to the monthly Poetry Slam winners -- an audio-book contract. The prize enabled local poets, including Hari Sky Campbell and Lorraine Caputo, to produce spoken-word CDs of their work.
He's now laboring to put together an online music magazine called MusZine and is always trying to start up new ventures and to repeat the events that proved successful.
"My vision is really about helping the artists," Brewster says. "If I'm able to get my ideas to fruition, great, and I'm going to try like hell to make sure it happens. If I can't, then I tried. The whole idea is to bring all art genres together and utilize them as often as possible, to bring a variety of art together in one location."
The Hayride allows Halloween partiers to buy $15 wristbands that get them into any of the bars and on the wagon, so to speak. Brewster's DiMBy, Mike Kociela's Entertainment St. Louis' and Jeff Harlan's Women in Rock worked together to line up the performers, which range from jam bands such as Madahoochi to alt-country musician Corey Saatoff to the harmonica-fueled music of Earl to the radio-friendly rock of Colony to the homegrown funk of Jive Turkey and Core Project. Other musical acts include Blue-Eyed Dog, Supercrush, the LP Outsiders, Fly From August, UGMB, Sepantha, Eric Ketzer, Kelly Lee, Bob Case, Dev Namo and plenty of singer/songwriters. The action takes place at just about every bar in Soulard.
Brewster hopes to make these "Soulard Nights" events quarterly happenings, each with a different theme and a different mode of transport for getting bargoers to the next stop. St. Louis should be thankful for his creativity and his dedication to nurturing artists working in all genres. He is planning so many different schemes to promote the area arts scene that surely some of them will not pan out -- but many of them will.