An Artist of Blues

At the Art Museum

FRI 8/19

The blues is a loud knock at the door of the universe. That beautiful, soft machine, being the mother it is, doesn't deign to respond -- but the soul-effort echoes against the silence all the same. Now imagine Chicago-born bluesman Otis Taylor before that portal. His great-grandfather was lynched, and he also had to endure the trauma of his uncle being shot and killed. Uncut evil at that dosage could spell the ruin of anybody, but Taylor hung tough and learned how to play the banjo, guitar and harmonica, all while still in his teens. Eventually, and rather atypically for a bluesman, he became a successful antiques broker. But he returned to performing music in 1995, and today we're the beneficiaries. You can experience the whip-smart blues of the Otis Taylor Band at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of the Saint Louis Art Museum in Forest Park (314-721-0072 or; tickets are $20.-- Alex Weir

Sydney Lea's Ghost Pain

TUES 8/23

In his latest collection, poet Sydney Lea nails down to the page what can't be seen. The poems in Ghost Pain deal with intangibles, with concepts that loom large but have no physical presence. Violence, "Art," the interaction between individual and community: These things have no physical form except when they take root in the human body. And so like the missing limb that the former bearer can still sometimes feel, Lea gives shape and voice to these spectral constructs, if only on the page. By fixing them in verse, he makes them that much more real. Lea reads from Ghost Pain at 7 p.m. at the St. Louis County Library Headquarters (1640 South Lindbergh Boulevard, Ladue; 314-994-3300 or Admission is free, and copies of Lea's collection will be available for purchase. -- Paul Friswold

Spirit of St. Louis

THUR 8/18

A manse on Lindell, the St. Louis affiliate of the United Paramount Network (UPN) , a 2004 Aston Martin V12 Vanquish, two jet planes, a music venue, a downtown hotel: What doesn't Michael V. Roberts have? Well, a book about his personal philosophy on business and life -- that is, until now. Learn from the entrepreneur's success-times-ten and how to go about achieving a little piece of the action for yourself when the elder half of the "Roberts brothers" reads from and signs his Action Has No Season at 7 p.m. at Left Bank Books (399 North Euclid Avenue; 314-367-6731 or -- you'll know it by the sweet ride parked out front. -- Alison Sieloff

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