By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
Dozens of disgruntled Radar Station readers have made it known that our Nellymania is ruining the column. Their arguments fall into one of two categories: (1) Nelly doesn't need any more publicity. (2) Nelly is a no-talent purveyor of crap. Why, they ask, should we write about Nelly when we could write about yet another local band's CD-release party? Should we stoop to acknowledge that Nelly's the most successful pop star St. Louis has ever known when literally hundreds of local bands could really use some hype for their press kits? We're so gaga over the multiplatinum cuddlethug, so blinded by the bling, that we apparently can't tell what's newsworthy anymore. Therefore we're conducting an unofficial poll: Should we just shut up about Nelly already? What fascinating local-band news is getting shortchanged? Seriously: We'd like to know.
In the meantime, we're compelled to report that Nelly, who continues to have the number-one record in the country, just inked a deal to star in his own sitcom. Like Will Smith and LL Cool J, our hometown superstar's cute and a canny crosser-over. Way to prolong that fifteen minutes, man!
In non-Nelly news, Rich Fortus -- who, if you happen to be playing Six Degrees of Nelly, is just two degrees away, insofar as he's rumored to have played uncredited guitar on the last album from Nelly's dirties 'N Sync -- has just joined Guns N' Roses. Fortus, who was a member of late-'80s/early-'90s local phenoms the Eyes and Pale Divine, went on to play with Love Spit Love and the Psychedelic Furs. His might not be a household name, but chances are you've heard his work. One of the most prolific session players around, Fortus has collaborated with everyone from trance wunderkind BT to Latin-pop superstar Enrique Iglesias. Now he's in a band with a hoosier has-been, a former Replacement and various alumni of Primus, Nine Inch Nails and the Replicants. If you think we're pulling the guilt-by-association routine, you're wrong. We've never thought Fortus was any cooler than we think he is today. Good hustle, fella!
A benefit for one of our favorite local singer/songwriters, Larissa Dalle ["Real Dalle," July 18, 2001], will be held July 27 at Frederick's Music Lounge. "Far From Lonely: An Evening With Friends of Larissa Dalle" features music from the Doxies, Salt Pie and the Highway Matrons -- and maybe Dalle herself, if she feels up to it. Proceeds from the show will go toward Dalle's cancer treatment. Dalle told us she'd prefer to have people find out about her illness from the source rather than from rumormongers, so we'll quote her:
"Some of you might be wondering what I've been up to this past year. Well, the year started off on a good note. Played a sold-out show with the Handsome Family at Frederick's Music Lounge in January and had planned to start recording my next album with a bunch of new material.... But my plans took a detour in February when I was diagnosed with cancer. Since then, I've had several surgeries and have begun chemotherapy. After chemo, I will follow up with radiation this fall.... Needless to say, the album has been delayed, as well as concert dates. [However, the illness] has inspired some new material that I'm very proud of."
If anyone could transform something so ugly and unfair into beautiful art, it's Dalle. Let's wish her a speedy recovery.
On July 31, Diesel Island makes its debut, opening for Kelly Kessler and the Wichita Shut-Ins at Off Broadway. Diesel Island is a side project/cover band/supergroup composed of the Bottle Rockets' Brian Henneman and Mark Ortmann and the Rockhouse Ramblers' Kip Loui and Dade Farrar. (No, the Bottle Rockets haven't broken up -- they're opening for the Flatlanders in Chicago on August 8 -- but with the departure of longtime guitarist Tom Parr and the busy touring schedule of bassist Robert Kearns, they've had a few setbacks of late.) From the looks of things, Diesel Island should be a gas, gas, gas. "We're concentrating on what we call 'phase-shifted' country, the 'outlaw' stuff of the '70s," Henneman explains by e-mail. "But we'll move a little bit in either direction, '60s or '80s. We do no original songs and never will! We're just gonna play stuff you don't hear on the radio anymore: Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, Don Williams, Mel McDaniel --you know, from back when country stars looked like truck drivers, not soap-opera stars! We're never gonna leave town, either; we are a St. Louis exclusive."