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
August plus St. Louis plus asphalt adds up to "omigod, it's hot as all fuck," but don't let that foreordained formula keep you away from The Lot, one of St. Louis' best -- and, at five years old, probably among its oldest -- free outdoor music festivals. This year's incarnation unfolds from 6:30 p.m.-1 a.m. Saturday, August 24, on the parking lot of the St. Louis Brewery & Tap Room, 21st and Locust streets, and features live entertainment from Celia, Bob Reuter and Kamikaze Cowboy, Capoiera Angola Palmeres, the Rockhouse Ramblers, Kenya Ajanaku and Company African Drummers, Tripstar, the Aalim Bellydancers, E.M. Grueve and Core Project. From hard country to soaring psych-pop, from goofball folk to freeform fusion, the Metropolis St. Louis-sponsored event has something for even the most esoteric music fans, as well as the less snooty ones who just want to get wasted under the stars. What's more, if you find yourself clobbered by the heat, you can escape to the indoor annex, upstairs at the Tap Room, where several of St. Louis' best DJs -- Ken Dussold, Don Tinsley, OB-Juan and some guy named Randall Roberts -- will spin dance music.
We've attended the last few Lots and found each an unqualified hoot. Even if the band onstage doesn't float your particular boat -- and, given the diversity of the lineup, that's bound to happen at least once or twice -- there's just something very agreeable about listening to amplified sounds ricocheting off century-old brick. Urbanist reverb aside, there's also something kinda swell about watching little kids and old people, yuppies and stewbums, fashionistas and fat slobs, all vibing to the same beat. In an increasingly balkanized music scene, the dizzying mixture of musics and music fans represented at The Lot makes for a refreshing change of pace, not to mention an unparalleled opportunity for some primo gawk action.
O frabjous day, calloo callay! Don't mind us -- we're just chortling with joy because MC5: A True Testimonial is finally finished, after seven long years in the making ("Radar Station," June 12). A couple of months ago, attendees at a benefit concert at the Way Out Club were titillated by a jaw-droppingly great trailer, perhaps the only trailer we've ever seen that elicited screams, howls and devil-horn signs from an audience. As thrilling as the seven-minute teaser was, a sad little segment of our mind grieved because we thought we might not live to see the day that the noble folks at Future/Now Films -- including St. Louisan Jim Roehm, the executive producer, and expat David C. Thomas, the director -- would rustle up the jack to finally finish the thing. Feature-length films aren't cheap, and corporate sponsors aren't knocking down doors to fund movies about filthy rock & roll insurrectionists.
Well, it just goes to show that hard work, dedication and talent occasionally pay off: The documentary makes its debut on Thursday, August 22, as the featured film on the opening night of the Chicago Underground Film Festival. Its international premiere takes place at the Toronto International Film Festival, September 5-14. We don't yet know when it'll hit St. Louis, but rest assured that we'll be there with bells on when it does.
It's with great sadness that we report the passing of James "Pops" Farrar, who died August 9 after a long struggle with cancer. Though many local music fans knew him only as the father of Jay (or maybe of Wade, Dade or John -- all the Farrar sons are freakishly talented), Farrar père was himself an enthusiastic, inimitable performer, whether he was singing Civil War ballads and sea chanteys at the weekly hootenanny at Frederick's Music Lounge or holding forth with weird, fascinating tales from his days in the merchant marine. Deemed "Best Raconteur" in the 2000 RFT "Best of St. Louis" issue, the 71-year-old Korean War veteran released a CD a few years back, a charming collection of songs and stories called Memory Music, which can be ordered from www.skuntry.com.
RFT contributor Roy Kasten helped produce Memory Music and was a longtime fan of Pops'. "Pops' music was strange," Kasten says. "He couldn't keep regular time, and he didn't sing in the same key as the tunes he played on his accordion. But the combination of his high, gnarled voice and the droning of his accordion was somehow beautiful. He knew scores of old songs -- Cajun songs, cowboy songs, gospel songs -- and for each one he had a story. And though the stories always rambled, they were never boring and usually ended in a very sweet and tender memory. All of his songs were like that: sweetly, tenderly flawed memories."