By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
By Chaz Kangas
By Allison Babka
The 2011 RFT Music Awards Showcase is our biggest ever: 78 bands, solo artists and DJs will play this Saturday on Washington Avenue. They represent nearly half the total nominees for the RFT Music Awards — an unprecedented number. St. Louis is happening right now.
As musicians continue to widen their scope of influence, it becomes harder and harder to contain them in categories; a band nominated as a solo artist may be drawing on everything from folk to punk to hip-hop. Think of this, then, as a starting point. And whether you spend every weekend at local shows or haven't been to any kind of show in ten years, there's an artist in the pages that follow who has the stuff to move you.
Dubb Nubb is an upbeat, eccentric duo that uses whistling, erratic hollerin' and woohoos to its full advantage on poppy, attention-grabbing folk songs. The twin sisters have been writing songs since they were fifteen. Earlier this year, Dubb Nubb played at Foam for the first St. Louis Secret Sound Festival, and on January 14, they released a split seven-inch with Cory Taylor Cox called Shiny Mountain. Additionally, the twins recorded a Daytrotter session early this year, which should be coming out soon.
— Chrissy Wilmes
5 p.m., Rue 13
We're Wolf's simplistic, dreamy folk songs possess a lyrical maturity beyond the duo's collective years. Anne Romer and Maya Bailey Clark's voices sound quite similar; they often take full advantage of this by layering them in a way that complements the stripped-down strumming. The duo opened for Brandi Shearer at Off Broadway and played the first Crestwood Local Music Festival. The We Haunt the Same Houses EP was released in May 2010 and is available at shows, or fans can download free tracks from We're Wolf's MySpace page. (CW)
8:15 p.m., Flamingo Bowl (Palm Room)
The Blind Nils is a collaboration between local folk musicians Cassie Morgan, Jerry Baugher and Adam Hajari. Each member brings years of solo experience and talent, which shows in the lyrical depth and complexity of its songwriting. The trio's been performing together as the Blind Nils since 2009, and it plans to release a debut EP later this year. (CW)
10:45 p.m., Copia Urban Winery & Market
Cassie Morgan and the Lonely Pine
Though some songs are adorned with only Beth Bombara's backing vocals or a gently strummed guitar, Cassie Morgan's sturdy voice and vivid bucolic images ably thatch the spaces in between. Since releasing its first full-length, Weathered Hands, Weary Eyes, last April, Cassie Morgan and the Lonely Pine has Emmylou Harris and Dar Williams fans sitting up and taking notice (it also notched a place in this paper's top ten albums of 2010). Recent high-profile gigs have included a 10 p.m. slot at the Duck Room for the Homegrown Showcase, and the act will be back on the stage in a week for Twangfest. Morgan reaches far beyond straight-ahead folk: Jazz and blues influences are represented here, and her latest song, "These Years," is a poignant and haunting look at life.
— RFT Staff
7 p.m., Copia Urban Winery & Market
Old-time folk meets the unholy blues in the spare and fierce sound of the Skekses. Taking its name from the reptile villains of Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal, the group keens and dreams through songs of murder, magic and monsters, carried by banjo, guitar, rattling percussion and Elly Herget's stratospheric moan. Recently pared down to the duo of Herget and Evan O'Neal (who drums for Pretty Little Empire), the Skekses proves that less is more isn't just a cliché. Herget is a gripping songwriter and singer with a voice that could tackle timeless Appalachian ballads if she chose, but whose original songs evoke the newer, personal tradition of Gillian Welch and Alela Diane.
11:30 p.m., Rosalita's Cantina
BEST AMERICANA (ROCK)
Theodore's third album, Hold You Like a Lover, which came out last year on Moon Jaw Records, was widely heralded as the band's best, and it brought its signature mix of blues, alt-country, jazz and something that can only be described as the essence of St. Louis to the attention of a national audience. This year promises to be just as big for the quartet. Recently it signed with the respected indie label Misra Records, which released the band's spanking-new EP Blood Signs last month. Singer, guitarist and songwriter Justin Kinkel-Schuster told the Riverfront Times in January that both Blood Signs and a full-length record that will, with any luck, drop by year's end "are (hopefully) manifestations of our desire to constantly out-think and outplay ourselves in every way, shape, form and sound." (RFT)
7:45 p.m., The Dubliner (Main Floor)
The Dive Poets
No band likes to be a called a "bar band," but given its name, the Dive Poets' fate has been sealed. The six players know where they're coming from and where they're going, and there's liquor and lyricism at every stop. Led by the songwriting of Eric Sargent, the band combines a rugged rock & roll rhythm section with wailing viola, over-the-top lead guitar and souped-up harmonies to make music that's essential honky-tonk listening — especially if the joint has a jukebox spinning Uncle Tupelo and the Replacements 24/7. But in the Dive Poets' bar, when the bourbon is drained and the tables return to their upright positions, the band will close out the night with a Sunday-morning hymn like "Lord, Take Me Home," and remind you that a good neighborhood bar can be the sweetest spot you'll ever know. (RK)
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