St. Louis, as most of us are keenly aware (and as Jonathan Franzen reminds us on nearly every page of The Corrections), ain't no cultural center; it's a quaint Midwestern town with humble goals and modest achievements. We live. We drive from place to place. We root-root-root for our home teams, and when we want to see some big-deal culture we head north to Chicago. So the story goes. But those of us who are from the Lou and proud scream and shout when something brilliant and expansive grows within our walls, and one of those musical cultural thingies is the oft-lauded, never boring Third Lip Cabaret.This installment of the ever-evolving Cabaret, a roaming compendium of musical acts that in the past have included rock, free jazz, hip-hop, post-rock, folk and experimental electronic artists all sharing the same stage, seems a bit more tightly focused than some of the others. Within this focus -- the guitar, it seems, at its center -- is a wide variety of approaches. The Julia Sets play melodic, wall-of-guitar rock; the Highway Matrons (pictured), as most know, play hard country rock; Cloister, one of the shining little gems of St. Louis music right now, plays a brand of fizzle pop that's dense with static and electronic washes but never sacrifices melodicism; Fred's Variety Group features the beautiful vocal stylings of Sunyatta Marshens in front of curious guitar rock; and then there's what could be the highlight -- or, given those involved, an insane mess -- dHHP. Like Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman & Howe before them, dHHP consists of men who have combined the first letters of their last names to create their moniker, in this case Penny Studios' Chris Deckard on computer; Ben Hanna of Grandpa's Ghost on guitar, keyboard or both; Eric Hall on tapes and miscellaneous electronic equipment; and fellow Ghost (and former Painkiller and Uncle Tupelo producer) Jack Petracek on drums. Lord knows what this'll sound like, but given the output of the individuals involved, it will certainly be out there. The same could be said of the Third Lip Cabaret in general. Consider it the after-turkey coffee of your Thanksgiving.
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