Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Last in the American League CD/Book Compilation Combines St. Louis' Artistic and Musical Talents

Posted By on Wed, Jun 18, 2014 at 4:06 AM

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As kids, many of us curated time capsules. We gleefully tossed our Pokémon cards, Backstreet Boys CDs and TV Guide with Buffy the Vampire Slayer on the cover into a plastic container and buried it in the back yard, thrilled to leave culturally representative treasure for the next generation to find.

And while all of that might have been silly, the idea of preserving a slice of modern history has merit. One St. Louis musician says it's time to focus on important local touchstones in a similar way.

"St. Louis has a very rich and extensive art and music history that often has gone under-recognized through the years, and right now is a very exciting time in that history," says Chuck Crittenden. "There is so much tremendous talent and passion on display here, and we want to find a way to freeze this moment in time, to capture the St. Louis art and music communities in a time capsule."

A guitarist in folk-rock act Arthur and the Librarian, Crittenden and his team are curating Last in the American League, a collection of new St. Louis songs and visual art that feed off of each other and showcase the artistic uprising that has been burning throughout the Gateway City in recent years. Crittenden has noted the talent and support crossing from one creative community to the other, and he sees this representing a special era in St. Louis culture.

"It wasn't always this way," he explains. "But now we've got a chance to show everybody that this is something special in a lasting form."

Last in the American League will package two vinyl LPs of new St. Louis music with a book that features specially commissioned local art. But these debut works won't stand alone; the music and art will operate together, forming a multisensory creative experience.

After drumming up interest in the project among the art and music communities, Crittenden selected eighteen musical acts and eighteen visual artists to participate. From those eager contributors, he formed creative pairs consisting of one musical act and one visual artist (listed at the bottom of this article). In his vision, the musician and artist who comprise each pair will influence each other's work, perhaps by discussing artistic concepts or through becoming creative comrades. The result will be a brand new song and an original painting, sculpture or photograph.

"For me, it's one of the most exciting parts about this -- to see how artists interpret a piece of music from a band they might not have known before," Crittenden says. "As a musician, I know that you see your songs a certain way, but to have someone outside come in and talk about some possibilities you might not have thought about before -- you get some really interesting results out of that."

Continue to page two for more.

But local musicians and artists aren't the only ones behind the excitement for the region's creative revival, which is why the group is turning to local studios, producers, galleries and distributors to help make Last in the American League a reality.

"We want to spread out the work to as many St. Louis companies as possible," Crittenden explains.

This entire project was born out of Crittenden's obsession with music compilations in his youth.

"You can look at those old Punk-O-Rama compilations and see how the punk and pop-punk scene progressed over the span of ten years," he says. "With Last in the American League and all these different musical genres and art mediums -- getting them into one melting pot -- you've got a stew going that represents today's St. Louis scenes."

The team is planning a fall release for Last in the American League and plans to sell the vinyl/book package in local shops for around $25. Each set will come with a download code so consumers can add the new music to their phones, computers or other listening devices. After expenses, proceeds will accumulate for future installments.

Crittenden sees the project as a way to further foster lasting collaborations among members of St. Louis' creative class.

"Hopefully in the future, there may be further collaborations between the artists and bands -- posters, T-shirts, art for an album cover or something like that."

Last in the American League will be presented at the Sunday, June 29, at 5 p.m. at the installment of SLOUP, held at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. For updates, visit the group's Facebook page. Admission is $10.

Band/Artist pairings:

Armadillo -- Matthew Hunter Ström Arthur and the Librarian -- Evan T. Smith Bible Belt Sinners -- Susannah Lohr Blackwater '64 -- James Louis Walker The Defeated County -- Randy Lutz Dots Not Feathers -- Zoë Scharf The Educated Guess -- Becca Moore iLLPHONiCS -- Matt Glenn Kentucky Knife Fight -- Chelsea Ritter-Soronen Letter To Memphis -- Brandon Arnold Mvstermind Einstein -- Kevin Kelly Ou Oú -- Mary Frances Foster Palace -- Amelia Fawcett SPEEDBOATS -- Amanda Yates Swing Deville -- Leetah Nickel Via Dove -- Tara Morton Volcanoes -- Brian DePauli Wildeyed -- Chiara Andriole

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