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
Earlier this year, filmmaker Zlatko Cosic premiered Bad Folk Story, a documentary he shot about the venerable macabre-twang outfit. But you won't find a group less likely to be movie stars than Bad Folk – even if Story's stark, black-and-white images accurately captured the band's gritty tunes. Unassuming and understated, the group lets mournful banjo, whinging pedal steel – and as of late in concert, mincing violin from Rats and People's Brien Seyle – help its tales about the desolate open road, unsavory characters and late-night country heartbreak come alive in vibrant shades of greyscale. — Annie Zaleski
Pi, 10 p.m.
Magnolia Summer live shows now happen with the scarcity of a comet streaking through the sky — but that just makes them more of a must-see event, especially since you never know how many people will join vocalist/guitarist Chris Grabau onstage. (Past collaborators include the Bottle Rockets' John Horton and Grace Basement's Kevin Buckley.) Upcoming recordings showcase Buckley's always-lively fiddle, a majestic touch that matches Magnolia Summer's ruminations on life's weightier matters. (AZ)
Pi, 8 p.m.
Wickedly comic and seriously demented, the Monads' take on bluegrass punk combines the sweetest harmonies with the wackest lyrics, whether spelling out every letter in "Mississippi Wine" or discovering common humanity in the universal corpse swinging from a gallows. None of this would get the quartet very far if it didn't have a very hot fiddler in Matt Shivelbine or Jason Matthews' land-speed-record-breaking banjo. How much the Monads love old-time string-band music is evident from how much fun it has playing it. The band may be irreverent punks, but its celebratory spirit is country gold. (RK)
Market in the Loop, 5 p.m.
Rats and People is an unorthodox band founded by former members of the Whole Sick Crew and the Baysayboos. This unlikely ensemble plays post-punk folk songs on a wide variety of instruments – so many that it resembles a small orchestra: trumpet, violin and accordion all get time here. Even with all of these interesting elements, Rats and People's focus is on storytelling. Each song weaves a separate tale, its stories told from a different point of view. (JL)
Best Blues Artist
If you haven't come across the Bottoms Up Blues Gang yet, you must be either dead or in jail. The trio plays out nearly every night at venues ranging from the classy and cool (Brandt's) to the funky and unrefined (the Shanti). No matter the venue, the style of acoustic blues seems to fit right in. Kari Liston and Jeremy Segel-Moss may be this town's best male-female harmonizers, and Adam Andrews' harmonica honks and hollers are propelled by Segel-Moss' forceful acoustic guitar strokes. (CS)
From his colorful wardrobe to his authoritative singing and spare, no-nonsense blues harp, Big George Brock is a difficult man to ignore. Still going strong in his mid-seventies, Brock compels attention both as a master showman and as one of the last local bluesmen of his generation still performing and recording on a regular basis. His raucous, electric sound is rooted deep in his Mississippi origins, gaining additional urgency from a hard-driving backup band that follows the leader through every possible twist and turn that can be wrung from twelve bars of blues. — Dean C. Minderman
Over three decades of making music in St. Louis, Tom Hall has perched on every stool in every corner of every bar in Soulard and beyond — or maybe it just feels that way sometimes. He's the preeminent fingerstyle, country blues guitarist in town because he's never given up, even when his priceless 1930s National Steel guitar was stolen last year (a benefit somehow managed to replace it). He plays with wit and soul, drawing on masters like Mississippi John Hurt and Robert Johnson, but also tuned to the intricacies of jazz and the avant-garde. And his deep croak of a voice is as authoritative as his guitar work. (RK)
Delmar Lounge, 8 p.m.
Still not out of his teens, guitarist, pianist, harmonica player and singer Marquise Knox has been called "the future of the blues" by some observers. Knox may indeed have a bright future in music, but let's not forget that he's already making some powerful sounds that have helped make him a popular attraction at local blues clubs, festivals and other events. Having benefited from the tutelage of esteemed veteran musicians like the late Henry Townsend and Big George Brock, Knox seems poised to be a standard-bearer for the St. Louis blues tradition for many years to come. (DM)
The vibrant and unassumingly adorable DJ Karizma (real name: Angela Villinger) spins upbeat electric beats that shimmer and buzz. Karizma – the winner of this year's RFT DJ Spin-off — is more of a performance artist than other local DJs (probably due to her childhood experience as a songstress), while nearly seven years of experience mixing dance music translates to skilled production at the turntables. Karizma intends to use more of her own vocals in upcoming mixes, so keep an eye on this local for original productions performed live. — Kristy Wendt
Pin-Up Bowl, 8 p.m.