You could staff an entire basketball league with the amount of local rock and folk musicians who have accompanied Bob Reuter over the years. In fact, the south-side denizen is the closest thing St. Louis has to a modern troubadour, a musician who teaches his collaborators as much as he draws from their talents. On Alley Ghost, members of the Rum Drum Ramblers, 7 Shot Screamers and Johnny O & the Jerks back Reuter with snare drum, banjo, upright bass and harmonica. The resulting songs are an inspired mix of young and old — Reuter sounds invigorated by his younger counterparts, and the young Alley Ghost stallions put their love of prewar music to good use. Certain tunes rely on well-worn folk-and-blues arrangements, while other songs capture the off-the-cuff feel of a guitar circle. The enthusiasm and soulful skill of the musicians lift these songs above the standard singer-songwriter fare and give wings to Reuter's lyrics, which remain (as always) funny, poignant, twisted and true. "Rock & Roll Moron" serves as a rallying cry for the music-scene lifers around town; on it, he sings, "You can't close the door on/this rock & roll moron." Thankfully, with the help of Alley Ghost, no one will be putting Reuter out to pasture anytime soon.
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