St. Louis stopped being "fly-over country" years ago. In addition to whatever big arena rock tour comes stomping through, take a look at what this city has to offer each and every week. Young jazz crews like Animal Children host free, open jams at Foam on Mondays while Mark Dew holds it down at the Hideaway every Sunday.
This week also brings back Veruca Salt, the '90s band that bridged the gap between riot grrrl and grunge, performing for the first time since its fifteen year reunion tour last summer. For a change of pace, we recommend the public viewing of "Shakedown," a documentary about local Grateful Dead tribute group the Schwag. Browse the list and you'll see how biased we are toward a certain coffee house on Cherokee Street; Foam might be the best small venue St. Louis has had in decades, so go investigate and find out for yourself.
MONDAY, JULY 20
Animal Children Open Jazz Jam Monday, July 20 Foam Coffee & Beer 8 p.m. | free By Christian Schaeffer From the RFT Music archives: It's not impossible to lead a jazz band from behind a drum kit -- just ask Ark Blakey -- but it does take a certain kind of selflessness to drive the beat while giving a platform to your instrumentalists. Drummer Kaleb Kirby is the leader and chief composer for the new jazz sextet Animal Children, and while he's done time with swing-oriented jazz as part of Tommy Halloran's Guerrilla Swing, he brings a certain expansiveness to his own compositions. Kirby keeps a firm grip on the sway of these songs, but local jazz-scene veteran Adam Maness is a key architect here -- not just as an elder statesman in a troupe of relatively young guns, but as the hands behind the Fender Rhodes electric piano. That instrument's plinky tone and muddy depths immediately call to mind everything from the proto-smooth-jazz of Bob James to the fusion experiments of Return to Forever to the barbed mellow of Steely Dan. And Maness references those traditions while helping establish the band's place in the modern jazz tradition -- albeit with a few detours.
TUESDAY, JULY 21
"Shakedown" - The Schwag Film Documentary w/ Five other short films Tuesday, July 21 Tivoli Theatre 5 p.m. | $12 By Joseph Hess While this event doesn't technically qualify as a "concert," the featured film is no less important to the history of St. Louis music. Jerod Welker's short "Shakedown" zeroes in on Jimmy Tebeau, Camp Zoe and the Schwagstock festival -- all major parts of the Grateful Dead canon. For a tribute band, the Schwag takes on a distinct identity -- one this film aims to explore within the bridge between audience and performer.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 22
Veruca Salt w/ Charly Bliss Wednesday, July 22 The Ready Room 8 p.m. | $25 From Veruca Salt Returns After Fifteen Years:
During their fifteen-year musical estrangement, Nina Gordon and Louise Post frequently shared the same dream: They'd perform onstage together just like in the mid-'90s, when Veruca Salt became alternative-nation nobility with hit single "Seether." Except in these REM reveries, the Beatles replaced their other bandmates.
"It'd be, like, "Holy shit, I'm onstage. Wait, there's Louise to the left of me. And there's John Lennon," Gordon says, laughing. She's in North Hollywood, where the grunge rockers' original members are rehearsing for their first shows since 1997.
THURSDAY, JULY 23
The Deadly Vipers w/ Big Blonde, The Crisis Thursday, July 23 Foam Coffee & Beer 9 p.m. | $5 By Daniel Hill The Deadly Vipers seriously kick ass. Blending psych-rock grooves with punk songwriting sensibilities, the all-X-chromosome quartet keeps it simple but impossibly catchy on February's Ouroboros. With vocals ranging from from poppy and clean to snarling and hissed, the album keeps listeners on their toes. Black Sabbath is probably the most readily apparent influence (with a healthy dose of punk thrown in for good measure), and the lyrics bear that out: "Keep the sun behind the moon/shaman knows what to do/take my hand for countless days/bring me to that sacred place." Tony Iommi would be proud.
Follow through for the best concerts in town this weekend. FRIDAY, JULY 24
Acid Kat Fest 3 Heavy Fundraiser w/ Path of Might, ThorHammer, Planet Eater, Heavy Horse Friday, July 24 Foam Coffee & Beer 10 p.m. | $3 By Daniel Hill Now entering its third year, Acid Kat Fest is quickly becoming one of the best festivals in town for those willing to scratch a little beneath the surface. Freaks and weirdos from St. Louis and parts beyond gather for a night of music that ranges from the poppy to the avant-garde to the hardcore, touching on many sounds that fall in between. This year's fest will take place next week, on August 1 -- think of this show as a primer. All proceeds will go toward making the festival itself possible.
SATURDAY, JULY 25
The Fog Lights Album Release w/ Letter to Memphis, Emily Wallace Saturday, July 25 Blueberry Hill 9 p.m. | $8 From Premiere: Watch the Fog Light's New Video for "Lead the Way" Now:
The Fog Lights, the duo that comprises Justin Johnson (Pretty Little Empire, Jump Starts) and Jim Peters (Javier Mendoza, Upright Animals, the Provels), is debuting the new video for its song "Lead the Way," with RFT Music. Shot by Justin Hayward, a commercial director based in Chicago who grew up with the members of the band, the video is a spare affair, featuring long, unbroken shots in black and white, and few cuts.See also: Some of St. Louis' Finest Musicians Are Doing Their Best Work in Splinter Groups
SUNDAY, JULY 26
Mark Dew Sunday, July 26 Hideaway Restaurant & Lounge 7:30 p.m. | free To walk into the Hideaway is to enter a place that seems frozen in time, where the dozen or so seats around the piano are packed with your grandparents' friends, decked out in chunky jewelry and tilted fedora hats. Ostensibly, they're here to listen to Mark Dew play -- he's here Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights -- but you're just as likely to hear one of those old-timers sitting around the piano trill Charlie Rich's "The Most Beautiful Girl." And when Dew finally has his turn at the mic, he'll say something humble, like, "I apologize; it should have been in the key of F." No matter. Dew is the conductor of this time-traveling train, and everyone's on board. Dew, who is blind, has been the piano man here for nearly a quarter-century and jokes that the best part about working here is, well, getting paid. He marvels at the younger set trickling in and its knowledge of the Cash and Sinatra songbooks: "The more the crowd gets into it, the more I play," Dew says. And that's enough to keep him around. "I'm not quite ready to be out to pasture," he says. "Yet."
Note: Though we wish we could, we can't feature every great show happening in town in just one post. Look for plenty more recommendations this Friday in our weekend shows post, peruse the St. Louis concert calendar for more ideas and let everyone know what else you're looking forward to seeing this week in the comments below. To be considered for coverage in RFT Music, submit show info online or drop us a line anytime.
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