By Bob McMahon
By Allison Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By Carolina de Busto
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
We have already recommended this year's batch of RFT Music Award nominees to the tune of some 17,000 words earlier in this very edition of the paper. We've said even more online at rftmusic.com. But we are also a very small percentage of the people championing St. Louis music in one way or another, so we thought we'd give someone else the chance to corroborate our enthusiasm. What follows are the 2011 RFT Music Showcase itineraries of a few notable St. Louis music folks; some are involved behind the scenes; some are former or current musicians; some are just fans. If the full schedule (which can be found on page 8) seems overwhelming, let any one of these experts make it easy on you.
Janet Maevers is co-owner of Retro 101/Cherry Bomb Vintage on Cherokee Street. "I'm no music critic, not a musician, can't sing a note, but I love music," she says. "I get to meet a lot of musicians when they come in to the store to shop, and I love to go out and see them when they play. If you see me out, say hi. I'll be the one tapping her toes in some comfortable yet stylish shoes!"
"I'd have to start things off with Sleepy Kitty. Paige has the sweetest voice, and hey, they also wear vintage from a certain vintage store. Next I'd have stop by and hear a few songs by Cassie Morgan. Been hearing and liking her songs on the only radio station in St. Louis. Or wait: Maybe I'd go see Black James. She's a cutie, and she has shopped with me.
"Then on to Theodore. These guys put on an amazing show, and you never know what (instrument) they'll be playing next!
"I'm thinking this is a good time to grab a bite to eat. Can't be running around all night seeing bands without some food. And speaking of running around, what shoes am I gonna wear? This is going to be a long night, so it's going to have to be something comfortable.
"18andCounting — Stan, another man of many talents, is at 9 p.m. Gonna have to run by and say hi. Now I'm really torn at 10:45 p.m. I hear Tight Pants Syndrome songs on the radio all the time, and I really like them but have never seen them. On the other hand, Doom Town is playing at the same time, and Ashley's first band, the Vultures, played their first (I think) gig at my store back in the day. She has been shopping with me since she was fourteen. She's like the daughter I never had; how can I miss that?"
"I'd love to get out early and see Ellen the Felon do her thing, but I'm not a big fan of DJs in this kind of setting, so I'd start my day at the outdoor stage with Funky Butt Brass Band. I don't get to see them very often, and they absolutely kill it live. Jay Fay actually did some of his first shows at Firebird as a mashup DJ, and it's cool to see his progression into original music.
"Sleepy Kitty are always charming. From there it's on to the Britches. It's a tough choice for the 7 p.m. slot — I'm going to have to split the time between the Jump Starts and the Force MCs on the outdoor stage.
"Then it's a mad dash to catch the end of Borean Dusk's set. St. Louis' metal scene is exploding right now to the point that we even have our own folk-metal group, and I can't pass that up! I'll take the next fifteen minutes to see what Ra Cailum's all about, then it's back to the outdoor stage for my boys in Machree — shame on the RFT for putting them in the same timeslot as Disappeared. Total rip-off. I'll have to ditch the end of the set to see one of my favorite locals, the Blind Eyes. I'll also head over to cheer on my bandmate Morgan Nusbaum.
"I'll probably stick with the Dubliner for the next hour or so and catch all of Flaming Death Trap and the Breaks. I'll have to begrudgingly pass on Bunnygrunt to see what new band Doom Town is all about. In the unlikely event that they suck, I'll go check out the 'Grunt. Although I wouldn't mind catching Union Tree Review, Hair of the Dog seems like a great spot to end the night, so I'll stick around for Kentucky Knife Fight and Humanoids."
Tom Huck is a St. Louis based printmaking artist/shit disturber and owner of Evil Prints.
"Bands I would see: Kentucky Knife Fight, the Humanoids and Sleepy Kitty. Never miss great rock & roll live, and these bands bring it!
"My complaint: Why in the fuck are Alley Ghost, Tilts and Rum Drum Ramblers not featured in this thing? Uh, we need the real stuff featured, folks."
Nick Acquisto is KDHX (88.1 FM) music director and host of alt-rock show The Space Parlour on Thursday nights from 7 to 9 p.m.
"Itineraries are not easily kept and will drive you crazy at this thing, but I offer these picks to see. Many I have been meaning to see for a while. Others I've had live on my show because I think they are really doing something great. The rest I've just seen and been impressed by over and over again. I may wander off and see some band I've never heard of. Who knows?"
Nick's going to be a busy man catching sets by Ellen the Felon, Dogtown Allstars, Funky Butt Brass Band, Sleepy Kitty, Black James, Theodore, the Blind Eyes, Karate Bikini, Warm Jets USA, Pretty Little Empire, Magic City, Kentucky Knife Fight, Troubadour Dali and the Humanoids.
But he finds a serious logjam at 10:45 p.m. "This is a tough one, so I'm floating venues," Acquisto says. "I'll give a KDHX T-shirt to the first person to find me at one of these shows [Syna So Pro, Doom Town, Bo and the Locomotive, Tight Pants Syndrome, Bunnygrunt or the Blind Nils]. Good luck, and try not to think too much about what you may or may not be missing. "
Brian McCormac is the manager and talent buyer for the Old Rock House in downtown St. Louis.
"RFT has helped music lovers out by not making them leave the main stage for a few hours to take in some of STL's finest. Kicking the day off is an interchanging two-and-a-half hours of bass-driven house music from the London Calling DJ and the cities two funkiest groove outfits Dogtown Allstars and Funky Butt Brass Band. If you have never seen Funky Butt, do not miss this chance. Make sure to stick around for the infectious sounds of Sleepy Kitty and members of STL's freshest hip-hop collective, the Force.
"Now it's time to hop around the clubs, and RFT has done a pretty good job on not crossing over too many artists that I really want to check out. When the sun goes down you don't want to miss Theodore, 18andCounting, Teddy Presberg, the Wrek Sessions, Kentucky Knife Fight and my boys Fresh Heir. Enjoy, folks!"
Pancake Master Robert "MustardRØB" Severson, proprietor of locally based and internationally intriguing record label Pancake Productions and exclusive heir to the Googolplexia millions.
"Obviously I'll hit that main stage as early as possible. Good buddy Ellen the Felon is not only a great songstress but a cool lady and a keen participant in local music. That Dubb Nubb is playing just before the veritable "wolf pack" of other things is fortunate. I'll do my best to return to the main stage to see Sleepy Kitty afterwards.
"I keep missing Britches, so I'll hope to catch some of that before the dreaded 7 p.m. hour — dreaded because the Conformists, Black James, and Cassie Morgan and the Lonely Pine make it a tough call. I'll probably give the lion's share of that slot to the least-recently-seen Conformists. Squeeze in a little Ra Cailum before partying some with Theodore. At 8:15 p.m., I'll be going halfsies between We're Wolf and the Blind Eyes.
At 9:30 p.m., I'll try to determine what the reason for stretching one awards category into three (and then tossing some DJs and others inexplicably into the mix) was, when I go halfsies yet again, between Best One-Person Project nominee .e and Best Solo Artist (Female) nominee Beth Bombara. I'll see my buds the Breaks for as long as possible.
"Considering Bunnygrunt regularly plays a song by Tight Pants Syndrome's Tom Stephens, the Bunnygrunt/TPS simul-scheduling seems ill-advised. Have to go with my people in the Bunnygrunt, though. They're a perennial party band at the RFT showcase, and no doubt they've got something good cooking.
"Then... Scripts 'N Screwz? Union Tree Review? The Skekses? Magic City? Maybe just stay put because I'll be tired and drunk, and enjoy Kentucky Knife Fight, then close 'er out with the Humanoids?"
Brian Cohen is the founder and organizer of the LouFest Music Festival. In the '80s, he was the drummer for the punk band the Beaslies.
Cohen plans to start with a fuel up at El Borracho before he heads to 11th Street and Washington Avenue to "secure a good spot in front of the outdoor stage to get my dance on with the DJs from London Calling and the Funky Butt Brass Band," he says. "Then round it out with the indie sounds of Sleepy Kitty."
He'll also head to Rue 13 for Dubb Nubb. "This dynamic duo just competed in our high school battle of the bands and were awesome. Looking forward to hearing their full set."
Up next is Theodore. "I have heard great things about this band," says Cohen. "But this will be my first chance to see them live." After catching some of the Blind Eyes, he'll head for Pretty Little Empire. "Reviews put them somewhere between the Velvet Underground and Nick Drake, so I'm all over it." He'll end the night with Troubadour Dali — a band playing this year's LouFest.