By Jeremy Essig
By Jason Robinson
By Hans Morgenstern
By Joseph Hess
By Peter Gilstrap
By Julia Burch
By Jeremy Essig
By Nathan Smith
The Beat's not the only station with ambitious on-air talent. Q95.5 jock Nite Owl just released a CD single, "True Stories," a groovy, downtempo little number about his irresistible sex appeal. It's not just your standard hip-hop hot air, though: Interspersed with the boasting is a poignant tale of love gone wrong with a female DJ who's also a single mother. Not only a gifted MC, Nite Owl is a guy who obviously knows how to hustle. He's got a hot track on Q95.5 called "Flossy," which features his teenage heartthrob colleague DJ Jay-Nicks, and he's also working on a commercial for Yellow Key Insurance. Another Q95.5 DJ, the adorable DJ Needles (host of the fantastic underground-classics show Phat Laces, which airs 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Sunday nights) just released another mix CD, Love: Hip-Hop Style 2 ... B-Boy Meets Girl. With cuts ranging from LL Cool J to homeboys Altered St8s of Consciousness, the disc is a delectable slab of old-school hip-hop, lovingly fashioned into an aural valentine.
Local music fans mourn the sudden passing of Venice Café co-owner Paul Cuba, who died of heart failure on Monday, March 4. For more than a decade, Cuba handled all the music booking at the beautifully wacky Benton Park establishment; his taste in performers was as eclectic as the café's legendary décor. "I've known him for over 20 years; it's gone by really quick, all of a sudden," says his business partner, Jeff Lockheed. "He kind of jumped into the music thing when he wasn't that equipped for it, but he grew into it really well -- and somehow he managed to pull it off without us going bankrupt. Probably his most notable draws were Tiny Tim -- we managed to bring him in for Mardi Gras one year. Another one was Paula Cole. She kind of launched out right after we had her here. Not that we helped her along or anything, but she did win seven Grammys that year!"
"Ranger" Dave Montgomery, who's hosted the Venice's weekly open mic for the past seven years, has known Cuba since the early days of the Café. "Paul was one of the greatest guys I've ever known," Montgomery says. "I've never seen him angry; he handled disruptive customers with the utmost respect. And he was magnanimous in his approach to new music."
Memorial contributions may be made to the American Heart Association.
The last time Le Tigre played in St. Louis, it was less a rock show than a performance-art installation, complete with slide projectors, goofball choreography and impassioned between-song commentary on subjects ranging from the misogyny of William Burroughs to the NYPD's slaying of Amadou Diallo. With the group's primitive samples, buzzy guitars, demented-robot beats and goofy but infectious Casio riffs, Le Tigre straddles the line between electronic music and punk rock, between brainiac sound-collage and anyone-can-play-guitar garage bravado. Led by former Bikini Kill frontwoman and seminal Riot Grrl Kathleen Hanna, the members of Le Tigre make no secret of their feminism -- which, in the minds of certain brain-dead rockdudes, automatically means they're humorless. Guess what? They're not. In fact, when Hanna waved her hands above her head during her DAT-generated "guitar solo," it was the funniest punk-rock move we'd seen since John Lydon decided to quit lip-synching on American Bandstand. See for yourself why the NYC-based trio has the critics gushing and the teenage girls rushing the stage: They hit Mississippi Nights on Wednesday, March 20, with Tracy and the Plastics and the Star Death.
Also that evening, Sub Pop sensations the Catheters rock the Creepy Crawl. Young, pretty and unapologetically retro, they're obviously mere seconds away from that dreary hype-to-backlash cycle. You know the drill: A bunch of barely legal nobodies are exalted by critics, hailed as the answer to every social ill, slobbered over by the British and then summarily crucified by the fickle masses. Poor little Catheters. Call 'em the next Strokes, call 'em Stooges-wannabes, call 'em every nasty name you can think of, you embittered old fucks, but hey, the kids are alright.
And yet another big show Wednesday night: Underground diva Kelly Hogan comes back to Off Broadway. The last time we saw her there, opening for Andrew Bird (who plays violin on her gorgeous new album, Because It Feel Good), she raved about how refreshing it was to perform in a place with great sound that also smells good. (She's right: Don't take this treasure for granted, St. Louis!) She went on to awe the crowd with her spectacular range, peerless taste in material and subtle interpretive chops. Though Hogan is often pigeonholed as an alt-country singer, she transcends such trendy labels. If she reminds us of anyone, it's the late, great Dusty Springfield -- both have husky, honeyed, delicately nuanced altos and an affinity for Randy Newman songs.