2003 Music Awards

The readers spoke, and the RFT music staff listened. Find out who's large and in charge on the St. Louis music scene.

"To be honest, I try not to have deep or intimate feelings about the music business, which is why I'm very pleased with this deal," says Tkach, who has already experienced the ups and downs of major-label life with her band Hazeldine." It's not hooking us into any sort of strangeness with any big monster machine." -- Roy Kasten

Best New Artist
Whole Sick Crew

The votes are in, the beans have been counted, we have received the input of our secret masters from the outer realms and the Whole Sick Crew has been declared the winner in the Best New Band category, mercilessly slaughtering all who would come to their broadside. Not that they care; as their Web site firmly states, they don't care if you voted for them, because the RFT is just a "lousy liberal rag" anyway. Vote for them you did, though, and they've won one of our "lousy liberal rag" awards. Although their oh-so-biting remarks could have sapped lesser souls of the will to live, we have a sense of humor about it and aren't above a little friendly poking and saber rattling, because they really do deserve the award. Just ask them -- they'll tell you. Upon being informed that they were getting some coverage in the paper, their fiddle player, apparently a little too in her cups, or mayhap touched with some sort of brain fever, remarked, "Well it's about [expletives deleted] time; we've been busting our asses for a while now, and you finally decide to notice. Thanks a lot, you [hurtful names deleted]." Whereas this might seem harsh, nothing less could be expected from this Crew of well-read miscreants.

As St. Louis's only anacoustic pirate-folk punk band, the Whole Sick Crew has left an indelible mark on the city in a relatively short period of time. With instrumentation out of time and lyrics straight from the bottom of Davy Jones' locker, the Crew presents a rousing live show, their shambolic sea shanties engaging the crowd while they engorge themselves on rum, whiskey and ale. Where do you go, though, when your only scene is the sea and the winds may not blow so favorably for you on say, a hardcore show? Although this corollary may confuse some lunkheads, in being unique, the Crew fit on just about any bill and will play wherever and whenever they can.

The real question, though, is now that they're moderately successful and have a bit of the recognition they craved, what will they do? Will they inspire legions of pirate-rock Cap'n Blood-come-lately pretenders? Will the streets be littered with the corpses of the pillaged? A brief discussion with Crew leader and main songwriter Brien Seyle suggests that he seems to be steering the ship away from the bloody-pirate theme and more toward a sort of Shane McGowan/ Pogues vibe. All that we at this "lousy liberal rag" can say is Godspeed and pogue mahone. -- Erik Carlson

Best Hard Rock
Asia Minor
Calling Asia Minor "Dan Campbell's new band" is a bit of a misnomer. Although Campbell, who sang for such regional powerhouses as Back of Dave, the Five Deadly Venoms and Keyop, brought the band its most recognizable face, Asia Minor had actually formed well before he joined. Also, calling Asia Minor "Dan Campbell's new band" lessens the importance of the other four members' contributions. One can't dismiss the fluid melody lines of bassist Bruce Klostermann or his rhythm section partner, drummer Drew Carr, whose subtle yet powerful playing often brings more heaviness to the songs by implication than hard-hitting mindless thrashing ever could. Nor, of course, can one dismiss the interlocked chiming twin-guitar assault of Tom Sweet and the soon-to-be-departing Dave Todd, who together bring an almost hypnotic sheen to the songs, sometimes working against the rhythm, sometimes locking into it to mesmerizing effect. No, calling Asia Minor "Dan Campbell's new band" just isn't really correct. Maybe one could call them "that band from Belleville that does the killer punk-rock version of Thin Lizzy's 'Jail Break'."

Nah, best just to call Asia Minor the best hard-rock band in St. Louis. Even against such stiff competition as the Shame Club, LoFreq, fellow Rocket Bar regulars Riddle Of Steel and last year's winners Sullen, Asia Minor's post-punk/indie/emo/math rock managed to win the majority of the voters' hearts. Although certainly aided in part by the band's willingness to play shows on both sides of the Mississippi River, something it seems distressingly few bands bother doing, a great deal of Asia Minor's popularity can be traced to its wonderful self-titled début, released on Belleville's Anomer Records, a CD that's garnered the band tons of KDHX airplay as well as regular spins on The Point's local show. Asia Minor has also done a fair amount of regional touring, having returned from a nine-day Midwest mini-tour days before the band's RFT Music Awards showcase spot last Sunday. With a growing Midwestern following, a solid debut CD and, now, an RFT Music Award, Asia Minor's future looks bright. -- Matt Harnish

Best Eclectic/Uncategorizable
Grandpa's Ghost
If Grandpa really does have a ghost, he's a changeling who appears without warning, rattles all hell out of his chains (and amps and drums), moans in eternal torture, disappears, then creeps back into your home, whispering sweetly over acoustic strains, as if begging forgiveness for all the racket. You never know what Grandpa's Ghost you'll get, either on disc or in concert. That's in part because the band remains unknown to itself -- and the members like it that way.

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