By Bob McMahon
By Allison Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By Carolina de Busto
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
Exciting news from the Hot House Sessions: The fabulous Afro-house/jazz fusion collective has just signed a record deal with Chicago's Slang Records and is busybusybusy bringing its delectable dance music to the masses. We caught up with DJ and co-founder Alexis Tucci (legendary in this town for her That Girlpromotions and warehouse parties), who gave us the lowdown. "It's a small new label that's owned by Vince Lawrence, a DJ who's been producing house music out of Chicago for the past twenty years," Tucci says. "It's affiliated with [Chicago house label] Trax, and the studio's in the same building as R. Kelly's. It's weird because we ordered food for delivery from there the other day, and [the restaurant employee] was, like, 'Are you in R. Kelly's studio with my boyfriend DMX?' I was, like, 'Yes -- can you make that real quick?"
Tucci laughs. She seems to be in a great mood, and who could blame her? Things couldn't be working out better for the Hot House Sessions. Now in the midst of recording, they're in good shape to get a four-song vinyl EP out in time for the hugely prestigious Winter Music Conferencein Miami. What's more, there's a strong possibility that the whole band will be playing this time around. (Last year, Tucci did a solo spin at Tantra.) "But, regardless, we'll all be down there to promote the album," Tucci says cheerfully. By March, a CD featuring the Hot House Sessions and two other Slang artists should be available in stores for those unfortunates among you who don't own turntables.
In the meantime, the Hot House Sessions are zealously winning converts, seemingly from every corner of every scene. "We're coming at it from a variety of different angles, which is so exciting for us," Tucci says. "Our clientele really is limitless. We play bluegrass bars, Schwagstocks and Spookstocks, and about 50 percent of our clientele in St. Louis is African-American. As a former promoter, I'm so happy to see that people are opening their minds to different sounds."
The Hot House Sessions, unlike 99 percent of local bands, are in the enviable position of making a living doing what they love. They're playing out almost every night: Weekends are generally sewn up months in advance, Tuesday nights they're at the Delmar, Friday nights they're at Nik's Wine Bar & Hookah Lounge, twice a month on Sundays they pack 'em in at Miso and, starting soon, they'll be at the Pepper Lounge (the former Side Door) every Thursday night.
The band's lineup is solidifying, too, although it's still centered on the three core members: Tucci (turntables and percussion), Chris Hansen (percussion) and Kasimu Taylor(trumpet). For most local gigs and many out-of-town ones, the band is supplemented by Lamar Harris (trumpet and trombone) or Lou Winer III (saxophone); Tom Ray(harmonica with effects); Jeff Lash (vibraphone) and Rod Weible (didgeridoo).
"We like to change it up," Tucci says. "We're taking Tom with us to Springfield, Missouri, on Saturday -- it's really awesome. We're having a blast!"
Because things seem to change with the Hot House Sessions from minute to minute, we'll be grateful when their Web site is finished -- if all goes according to plan, www.hothousesessions.com should be up and running next month. "We've already reserved the name, but right now it's just a link to Astroboy's site," Tucci explains. "And if you just type in 'hothouse.com,' you'll get a really nice porn Web site."
A few recommended shows: On October 26, K Records' Mirah performs at the Muff Dive (a basement at 5834 Southwest Avenue, next to the old Sardo's). If you think queercore is all about the screaming, think again: Mirah's soft, richly layered chamber-folk is quietly mesmerizing. Touring with Mirah is Shemo, a duo that contains a member of the Haggard but, with its sad and dreamy pop soundscapes, doesn't sound anything like that band. Don't be late: The show starts at 6:30 p.m., so as not to freak the neighbors, and veggie burgers will be available for guests.
Brooklyn-based noise combo Black Dice hits Lemmons Basement Bar on October 29. These high-concept improv obscurantists just released a CD, Beaches and Canyons (DK), and are already earning accolades in such publications as the New York Times, of all places.
Those of you who just can't get over the traumatic Urge breakup should check out vocalist Steve Ewing's solo work. His new CD, Here We Go Again, shows Ewing moving in a more soul/R&B direction. He performs with Pomeroy at Pop's on October 26.