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
The stories Rakel tells are as rich and well researched as a good book. "Sentence," originally recorded by his band the May Day Orchestra, takes some of its lyrics from the defiant courtroom testimony of Louis Lingg, an immigrant accused of being one of Chicago's Haymarket riot bombers in 1886.
The epic track on side B of the seven-inch, "Ship Out of Luck," is a tale of piracy adapted from "The Mermaid Song" by Bascom Lamar Lunsford, which appeared on the classic Harry Smith folk anthologies. Not surprisingly, Rakel sides with the pirates.
"It's a topical song, too. All the Somali pirates, their demands are fairly reasonable. They're just like, 'There's no way we can make a living in our country.' With the British and American ships coming through, they're targeting the people who are indirectly causing them to live in poverty."
2831 Cherokee St.
St. Louis, MO 63118
Category: Music Venues
Region: St. Louis - South Grand
Also performing at 10 p.m. Mangia Italiano, 3145 South Grand Boulevard.
Wednesday, January 27. Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center, 3301 Lemp Avenue.
So is that the message that will make the Union Electric into superstars: Go, Somali pirates?
"Ha, yeah, we're playing a benefit show for Somali pirates," Rakel jokes. "We want them to be able to feed their children without robbing ships."
The punkiest tune on the record is also the one with the deepest St. Louis connection. "You Have Been Served" is inspired by Joseph Folk, the St. Louis prosecuting attorney of the early 1900s, who Rakel says, "was elected on this promise to weed out corruption, and all the financial leaders of the city and the politicians were like, 'Yeah, yeah, weed out corruption.' And then he followed through on the campaign and went after the people who supported him.
"It ruined his career. I like to make heroes of people who do that sort of thing."