Listening Post

TWO CHOICES: For some mysterious reason, it seems as though all the music this week happens on Saturday, Jan. 23. You make the call.

Indieopolis II is the brainchild of Stillwater, one of the most om-nipresent and active rock bands in St. Louis (who did a great version of Tom Petty's "American Girl" a few weeks back at the Way Out Club) and one of the few who will play Union Station one night, Mississippi Nights the next and the Way Out Club the next. The show, which is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 23, at Mississippi Nights, features six area rock bands, of varying degrees of inspiration, performing over the course of the evening. The cheap cover ($3) should draw the broke among us and will grant access to Fly Everywhere (featuring former Autumn Clock-er Eric Hensley on vocals), Full On Venus, Johnny Magnet, Petlover (a new band with Doug Rafferty, formerly of Judge Nothing), the Spelunkers and Stillwater.

How's this for a potential surreal evening of music: Beatle Bob's Birthday Bash is at the Hi-Pointe on Jan. 23. Dash Rip Rock, a Southern-fried bar band, headlines the evening, with the Trip Daddys opening. No biggie -- should be good. But the dancing fool has arranged for onstage appearances by the following artists: Johnnie Johnson (presumably he'll be buzzing by either before or after the Notes From Home gig mentioned below), Jacqui Staton, Oliver Sain and Brian Henneman. It may be the only time you'll see Sain and Henneman onstage at the same time (though you can see them on the same screen in PBS' The Mississippi: River of Song special). (RR)

NECESSARY RELEASE: Nick Baur's a man of few words when it comes to describing his latest project, a CD EP by the Rabies called See You in Rodeo.

He offers that the work sounds "more professional" than the Rabies' previous release, though that one was recorded by Steve Marshall of Celery and he says he doesn't want to reflect badly on him: "He's my boy." The band's looking for another guitarist, too, but Baur says, "I like the lineup. It's pretty good." As for the band's touring career, they've hit "every city, pretty much -- except Florida." The first CD EP, a self-titled release on respected indie Dill Records, was the last for that label. The new label? "No name -- it's just us."

If Baur, a former horn player in MU-330, wanted to brag, he could. After all, over the Rabies' brief recording history they've offered up two unquestionably strong pop-punk releases with hooks hopping out left and right. Recorded at Sonic Iguana in Lafayette, Ind., See You in Rodeo starts off with the clipped "Lucky Star" and continues its pace through six songs over five tracks (including one of those popular mystery tracks). All of them are over in a mere 16:29, but it's a good, wild ride while it lasts.

With some serious roadwork behind them, the band's also got the chops live. Though Baur admits some of Mazen Khierbeck's multitracked guitar work won't come off the same onstage, the band's tight, melodic approach to a well-covered style of music should see them in the good graces of the kids for a few years to come. See them with Celery and N.I.L.8. on Saturday, Jan. 23, at the Galaxy. (TC)

RESCHEDULING INFO: The Chicago Underground Duo/Brokeback show, originally slated for the evening of Jan. 13, has been rescheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 27, at the Rocket Bar. (RR)

"NOTES" NOTE: Hard to believe, but the Notes from Home series turns 5 this year. Once a novel notion -- an idea still foreign to many other cities -- Notes from Home should be applauded for making one of the best acoustically designed buildings in St. Louis available not just to high-priced out-of-town acts but to our finest local musicians. January continues with a benefit for the St. Patrick Center on Saturday, Jan. 23, featuring the Kelley Hunt Band with special guest Michael Finnigan on Hammond B-3 organ and Johnnie Johnson on piano (see "Sound Checks," page 38). On Friday, Jan. 29, you can hear four of St. Louis' best acoustic guitarists playing in a round-robin format: Tom Hall, Charlie Pfeffer, Bobby Caldwell and Peter Clements. The February series starts on Tuesday the 2nd with the OGD Trio (that's organ, guitar and drums), comprising Reggie Thomas, Rick Haydon and Montez Coleman, familiar faces on the St. Louis jazz scene. Nine days later you can hear two exceptional young trumpeters, Russell Gunn and Keyon Harold, both of whom have gone on to major jazz careers. In between, Notes from Home offers several vocal ensembles, including Pieces of 8 with LA's Impact -- covering classical, gospel and jazz in a cappella arrangements -- the Youth Gospel Music Conference and the St. Louis Philharmonic Players.

No venue in St. Louis provides greater intimacy or sonic wonder than the Sheldon. Even if you've heard Hall or Johnson before, you'll hear them anew in this warm, enveloping space. And, as a tease, make no plans for Friday, March 12, when Vassar Clements joins the Flying Mules in what may be the concert of the year. (RK)

YET MORE DYLAN NEWS: The dust of rumor continues to blow around Bob Dylan. Followers hunt for outtakes from Time Out of Mind -- one of which, "Mississippi," surfaced on Sheryl Crow's latest album -- and pine for the hinted-at -- if you believe the promises of bootleggers -- retrospective of 1966 live recordings. For its part, Columbia has advertised remastered and outtake-supplemented versions of Blood on the Tracks and The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan.

Why the yearning for more, ever more, from a musician whose albums number more than twoscore? Paul Williams, in his just-reissued two volumes of Bob Dylan: Performing Artist (Underwood Miller), argues that Dylan is best understood not as a songwriter or poet or prophet but as a performer, an artist of the stage, whose every gesture, harmonica strain and vocal spin adds to the emotional complexity of the blue-eyed minstrel's goal. Given Dylan's sometimes ruthless, sometimes astonishing reinterpretations of his work, Williams' argument rings true -- even up to the millennium. If you've seen Dylan and his current road group -- along with the Band and the Rolling Thunder Revue, his most devastating -- or heard the flurry of new bootlegged live recordings -- most of mind-boggling quality -- you know that this is no artist in twilight. His voice has never risked more, never found more mystery than it does today. He has no St. Louis dates lined up as yet, but mid-February promises two nearby shows with the Brian Setzer Orchestra: Friday, Feb. 12, at the Southern Illinois University Arena in Carbondale and Saturday, Feb. 13, at the Illinois State University Redbird Arena in Normal. Don't be late: You can set your watch by Dylan. (RK)

Contributors: Thomas Crone, Roy Kasten, Randall Roberts

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