By Roy Kasten
By Kris Wernowsky
By Chaz Kangas
By Joseph Hess
By Julie Seabaugh
By Mike Appelstein
By Rachel Brodsky
By Kelsey McClure
Last December we profiled local jazz vocalist Erin Bode in these pages ["Not Norah," December 8, 2004]. The next week her debut album, Don't Take Your Time, sold out at area Borders, Best Buys and a host of independent record stores around town. Her weekly performances at venues like Cookie's Jazz & More and Chasers Lounge attracted larger crowds. We were proud. She deserves it.
Imagine, then, our delight when earlier this month the Wall Street Journal featured a glowing review of Bode's work, mentioning her name not only alongside influences such as Blossom Dearie and Eva Cassidy, but also in the same breath as Ella Fitzgerald.
Reviewer John Berlau caught an Erin Bode performance during her tour of the East Coast last October, a trip she plans to make again this December. He makes requisite comparisons to Norah Jones and Diana Krall, but not without plenty of paragraphs singling out Bode's unique sound, the classic "girlishness" of her voice and her "very promising debut album."
We caught up with Bode to see if being on the brink of national fame has changed her life. The answer turns out to be...not really.
B-Sides:Bet you never expected to be in theWall Street Journal, of all places. Did you know the paper did music reviews?
Erin Bode:During our interview, Berlau said he occasionally wrote for the Wall Street Journal, and there was a chance I would be in it. I didn't hold my breath. When my mom told me about it, I was in Italy. I was really happy, and scared. She called and read it to me over the phone the next day. It was exciting! We did twelve concerts in fourteen days in Italy. It was a great tour. Most of the shows were sold out or full, and we sold a lot of CDs. The article made for a nice homecoming.
What did you think of the comment that you have a "girlish" voice?
I felt that his interpretation of my album was very accurate. I didn't mind my voice being called "girlish." I like being a girl.
Are you sorry you didn't get one of those classic drawings of your head next to the review?
A little bit. The guys from my label sent in photos but warned me that [the WSJ] would probably draw me. I was kind of looking forward to it, but I just got a regular picture.
Our article focused on your music, but we couldn't ignore the fact that you're hot. How do you and your husband deal with the sex-symbol status that's building?
Actually, I haven't noticed any sex-symbol stuff. I'm not watching for it, especially now that I'm married. My husband is really laid back, and I make sure he has every reason to be happy.
When will you be recording again?
We're supposed to start recording in May, here in St. Louis. We've got several originals and a few covers that we plan to do. We've been busy writing.
Do you feel like a local celebrity?
Well, the recognition was great. After the RFT story came out, people I didn't know would come up to me and say they saw me in the paper and congratulate me. It was great, because we felt like the article was a nice representation of the time we've spent here.
So you're planning to leave St. Louis?
Not at the moment. I don't know what the future holds, though, so we're keeping our options open. Our goal is to start traveling more, but we'd like to have a home base here. We like it here.
We like her here too, but we'll understand if she has to leave us eventually. After all, it hasn't even been a year since the release of Don't Take Your Time, yet Bode seems the owner of a first-class ticket to bigger and better things. But like every great jazz singer, we know she'll always remember her roots: her first St. Louis appearances at Brandt's Café, her inclusion in KMOX [1120 AM]'s Voices of St. Louis program and, of course, her first major press on these ever-intuitive pages. -- Jess Minnen
Wreck Your Life
When a band gets stoked about hitting No. 1 on an XM Satellite Radio station or jamming with John Popper, you have every right to get the willies. Fronted by two brothers, Willy and Cody Braun, Reckless Kelly doesn't need such lame buzz: The Idaho-born, Oregon-formed, Austin-based quintet may perform under the hopelessly cavernous alt-country tent, but they actually have the chops, swagger and half a dozen songs to hang with (and get kudos from) the Steve Earles and Joe Elys of the faux-western world. Restless Kelly's 2005 Sugar Hill record, Wicked Twisted Road, glories in the unwashed Texas badassery of road/car/whiskey/one-night-stand motifs and ganking the metaled twang of Copperhead Road and devil-to-pay swing of Honky Tonk Masquerade. And if you consider those albums Americana touchstones, you're right -- and you need to hear just how hard a band can rock a casino boat.
B-Sides:You took a rather circuitous route to the center of the Americana universe.