2010 Music Showcase: 1 night, 50+ bands, 5 bucks this Saturday on Wash. Ave.

2010 Music Showcase: 1 night, 50+ bands, 5 bucks this Saturday on Wash. Ave.

RFT 2010 Music Showcase: 1 night, 50+ bands, 5 bucks this Saturday on Wash. Ave.

This year, the RFT Music Awards nominees include more acts than they have in past years. Part of this increase is a function of the process: We honored musicians in many more genres and expanded the number of nominees in several categories. But for the most part, the greater number of acts reflects the enormous talent within the St. Louis music community. Every night of the week, you can hear any genre — hip-hop, soul, rock, folk, indie-rock, funk, country, electronica, alt-country and everything in between — performed by talented local musicians and DJs. While we'll forever grumble about what hot touring acts are skipping St. Louis (even if that's been improving dramatically in recent years), we have no right to complain about a lack of local talent. So enjoy the following list of nominees and what they're all about. Who knows? Maybe you'll find your next favorite band in the bunch.

Best Americana/Folk (Indie-Leaning)

Pokey LaFarge & the South City Three
At first glance, this diminutive blues dude may seem to have more style than substance, what with his O Brother, Where Art Thou? costumes, throwback songwriting and not-so-subtle pseudonym. But Pokey can play — he attacks the banjo and guitar like a mini twister of twang and jug-band blues — and leads his group of rounders like a musician who knows his fate: to channel the energy and vitality of prewar blues and to keep it fresh with inimitable panache. — Roy Kasten

The Monads
The members of the Monads are veterans of the St. Louis acoustic-punk scene — yes, it exists and thrives, even — but they'll never grow up. The quartet dreams of pirates and moonshine and shit-kicking and cornbread and still more moonshine, and it brings those weird dreams to life with a blasting, thrashing, in-your-face bluegrass-punk sound that's as raw as the blisters on their collective fingers. (RK)
5 p.m., 11th & Washington Outdoor Stage

Cassie Morgan & the Lonely Pine 
On her first full-length, Weathered Hands, Weary Eyes, Cassie Morgan employs the pastoral whims of folk and the done-me-wrong drama of blues to illuminate her hushed, intimate story-songs. Morgan is supported by the Lonely Pine, her "band" that is actually comprised of harmony vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Beth Bombara. In concert and on record, the women adorn these songs with simple, intuitive finery that complements the twists and turns of Morgan's words. — Christian Schaeffer 
9 p.m., Flamingo Bowl Palm Room

Rough Shop
Rough Shop cofounders John Wendland and Andy Ploof have been doing their thing in the St. Louis music scene for the better part of two decades, and both are well-respected songwriters. In their current project, Ploof's tenor croon is perfect for old-timey storytelling, while the addition of Anne Tkach's sultry rasp adds welcome dimension. But the utilization of other players allows this group of twang vets to morph from a folk-based, singer-songwriter act into a full-blown band. The title track from last year's Christmas album, Just Because It Was Christmas, shows even more range — and proves that Rough Shop can handle chiming, jangly pop with just as much precision and zeal as it does rootsier fare. — Shae Moseley
8:15 p.m., Lucas Park Grille

The quartet known as Theodore continues to push itself and its growing audience with Hold You Like a Lover, the band's third album, released this year on the nationally distributed Moon Jaw Records. The songs are dense and demotic, the playing sometimes as free as punk and other times as lilting as front-porch folk. But mostly, Theodore continues to mature in its explorations of country, blues, folk, jazz and rock & roll — all while preserving its mysterious, ghostly essence. (RK)
9:45 p.m., Over/Under Bar & Grill Patio

Best Americana/Folk (Untraditional)

Brothers Lazaroff
To be clear, Jeff and David Lazaroff — the look-alike, but not twin siblings of Brothers Lazaroff — have moved beyond all things folk, even as their songwriting retains its connection to their heroes: Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. Backed up by the supremely tight rhythm section of Teddy Brookins and Grover Stewart and pushed into the funkosphere by jazz and electronic maestro Mo Egeston on keyboards, Brothers Lazaroff can jam your ass and stir your heart. (RK)
4 p.m., 11th & Washington Outdoor Stage

The Dock Ellis Band
St. Louis has plenty of country-music ambassadors to cover the many shades of twang. However, the Dock Ellis Band's niche is honky-tonk — the kind favored by whiskey-snortin', Saturday-night-barroom rabble-rousers. Lead singer and frontman Jesse Irwin is an unrivaled entertainer in town with a smile that can light up a room and a witty sense of humor that adds weight to this group's booze-infused boogie. His band's songs are slightly tipsy recollections of classic country music's essence — mixed with equal parts '70s outlaw country, Bob Seger-esque nostalgia, irreverent comedy and a splash of Southern rock for good measure. (SM)
8 p.m., The Dubliner

The Northwoods
If we lived in an alternate universe where it was Paul Simon instead of David Byrne whose sound it were ultra hip to emulate, then the Northwoods would be enjoying all kinds of hype-machine love. But at least for now, we'll just have to settle for keeping this folksy duo of precision finger-pickers as our own little local secret. The lush harmonies produced on 2009's Morning, Noon & Night flutter like long, silky ribbons but are given purpose through lyrics that tell vivid tales. The Northwoods' pristine sound may contrast with a lot of the more rough-edged, shadowy folk-singer fare in town — but in the end just gives more dimension to the scene as a whole. Jeremy Shanas recently left the group, but Elijah Palnik will be soldiering on solo under the Northwoods name. In fact, just this past weekend he opened for 10,000 Maniacs in South Barrington, Illinois. (SM)
12:45 a.m., Flamingo Bowl Palm Room

The Rats & People Motion Picture Orchestra 
In writing and performing scores to silent films (from Sergei Eisenstein's union-advocating Strike to F.W. Murnau's horror classic Nosferatu), the Rats & People Motion Picture Orchestra provides an alternate dialogue to the story on the screen. Principals Matt Pace (piano, trumpet) and Brien Seyle (violin) compose each score from scratch before asking their comrades to fill in the sonic blanks with low trombone notes, martial drums and the occasional theremin interlude. The end result is a combination of live performance, film theory and storytelling. (CS)

The Red-Headed Strangers 
It's a family affair for the Red-Headed Strangers: The talented (and, yes, red-headed) Sullivan brood fills up whatever stage it's on, playing classic country with an ear for folksy harmony. Sisters Maureen Sullivan and Clare Krueger often share the mic, but it's a non-relation — and gasp, a non-ginger — who helps the whole show hang together. Brian Wiegert, formerly of Team Tomato, shares the Sullivans' country soul: He plays electric guitar and sings lead with the conviction of a Texas troubadour. (CS)

Best Blues Artist

Big Mike Aguirre
The young blues-guitar slinger has been known to throw down with jam bands and unplug for a solo gig. But for the most part, Aguirre (pronounced a-gerr-ay, with R's rolled) keeps the flame of Stevie Ray Vaughan burning hot on a Stratocaster that seems to respond not just to his fingers but also to his soul. Aguirre and his band recently recorded a CD at BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups, which is slated for a release later this year, while his ongoing residency at Brandt's Café has been picking up steam. (RK)
11:30 p.m., Flamingo Bowl Palm Room

Big George Brock
At the age of 78, harmonica powerhouse and devastating dresser Big George Brock is one of the unshakable cornerstones of the St. Louis blues scene. He's played with every other legend in the genre, from Albert King to Jimmy Reed, and he's even blown the harp for actor Steven Seagal. His instrumental style is instinctive and muscular — he runs the scales down with a master's touch, and his voice is the true sound of the blues: deep, leathery and plainspoken. (RK)

Uvee Hayes
Singer Uvee Hayes knows how to work the push and pull of blues music, and she can summon seduction, sorrow or righteousness at the pluck of a guitar string. But Hayes' ability to incorporate other, diverse genres makes her a versatile artist. She can work funk, soul, pop and modern R&B into her sets, and her albums and her voice (which can be sweet or sultry) never rest on any one style for too long. (CS)

Alvin Jett & the PhaT NoiZ Blues Band
If 2 a.m. on a Sunday morning sometimes finds you holed up at BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups, then you likely know that Alvin Jett and crew provide an unrivaled soundtrack for such extended late nights. Jett's classic, bending lead lines are backed by the funky, contemporary blues sound of his backing band, the Phat Noiz. The group has kept things moving forward over the past few years by releasing recorded material at a prolific rate. Tunes such as "Make Me Blue," from last year's Honey Bowl, highlight the band's penchant for deep-pocketed funk grooves that put Jett's syrupy baritone vocals front and center. The followup to Bowl is due out later this summer. (SM)

Marquise Knox
A lot has been made of Marquise Knox's age since the blues crooner and guitar phenom started playing out in the local blues clubs when he was just fifteen. But Knox was no flash in the pan or an overhyped youngster with no dedication to the art. His delivery possesses authenticity and sincerity, which immediately sets him apart from his peers. And the release of his 2009 debut album, Man Child, made some serious waves in the blues community at large, which positioned him as one of the most promising new ambassadors of the blues. Overseas live dates and a summer trip to some blues festivals outside of St. Louis should bring his undeniable talents to the attention of a much wider audience. (SM)

Best DJ

Flex Boogie
You never know what Flex Boogie will pull from his bag of tricks on any given night — as he says on his MySpace bio, he plays "underground sets of whatever, from jazz and downtempo to hip-hop to deep/tech house to nü-breaks, broken beat or dub-step." His latest endeavor is Deep Spot on Thursday nights at Sol Lounge, an event that promises "100% Deep Funky House and Techno Music."— Annie Zaleski
10 p.m., Flamingo Bowl Main Room

Rob Lemon
If you miss Rob Lemon's occasional gig spinning at Home Nightclub – he (rightfully) gets to open for the marquee national dance and DJ acts — or his monthly residence at Sol, don't despair: The scene stalwart tends to post his marathon sets up on the music-hosting site SoundCloud for anyone to download. Besides a genius bit of self-promotion, this gesture ensures that Lemon's seamless progressive-house mixes are accessible anytime. (AZ)
1:15 p.m., Flamingo Bowl Main Room

Mohawk vs. Heezy
Despite the adversarial moniker, Mohawk vs. Heezy isn't in competition when the pair DJs together at venues such as 2720 Cherokee or Pop's Blue Moon. The Loyal Family associates work together to create good vibes, in the form of bass-heavy positive jams that draw from funk, grime, reggae, hip-hop, dubstep and electro. (AZ)

Scotty Mac
As a DJ, Scotty Mac isn't afraid to challenge himself — or seek out new ways to improve and refine his sets at Rue 13, Upstairs Lounge and Thaxton Speakeasy. Mac's bio on www.blackscience.com, describes his sound as being "comprised of old school classics, new school bombs, all killer, no filler, plus healthy doses of groovin' percussion, smoked-out keys, organic vibes, quirky basslines, exotic rhythms and those unexpected left-turn rarities that come flying straight out of nowhere." Well said. (AZ)

Spankalicious calls himself "the glitchy hippie" on his MySpace page, and it's an apt descriptor. But it's not the only way to describe the DJ, who embodies — and cherishes — the genre-splicing and spaced-out electro tendencies of the jamtronica scene. Fittingly, Spankalicious is DJing at this weekend's Wakarusa festival in Arkansas; while in town, he's opened for well-regarded national acts such as BoomBox and the Glitch Mob. (AZ)
12:30 a.m., Flamingo Bowl Main Room

Best Electronic Artist/Band

Exercise comes off as a near pastiche of Animal Collective, albeit a version of AC that tends toward the lo-fi instead of the psychedelic. The band formed in 2008 after Berlin Whale disbanded and released its debut, Grandma's House, in the summer of 2009. The synth noise, echo-chamber vocals and Casiotone conceits definitely classify Exercise as art rock, and its live show is a raucous affair. Besides, you can't go wrong with lyrics like this: "Just keep your bed made/So I can get laid." — Diana Benanti
8:30 p.m., Over/Under Bar & Grill Patio

Murder Happens
The hallmarks of golden-era industrial music — manipulated beats, abrasive synths, heavy-metal guitars — are all rebooted on Murder Happens' 2010 release, Dead World and Dying Suns. Band leader and drummer Paul Wood enlisted some A-list talent for the disc; members of Ministry, Pigface and KMFDM all contribute. Still, it's to Wood's credit that the disc can stand on its own: He and his bandmates pay tribute to the electronic rock music of the late '80s while proving that the genre still has legs today. (CS)

Take heed: Phaseone is about to blow up something major. He remixes hard rap, effervescent shoegaze and dub to create singular works of electronic genius. The St. Louis producer has already caught the attention of well-respected blogs, while remix aficionados already know his name. In fact, his flawless remix of Animal Collective's "Daily Routine" has topped the Hype Machine more than once and earned him the title of "St. Louis' best producer" by the blog Gorilla vs. Bear. Phaseone is a prolific mixtape artist as well, and while his remixes of artists such as Nite Jewel, Kollosus and Grouper are tits, his solo stuff, such as "Tower Grove Joint" and "Sage," are psychotically beautiful ambient songscapes punched up with his signature dub flavor. (DB)

Safety Words
Safety Words' The Ghostfaced Pixels Mixtape is copyright infringement as art, unauthorized a capella tracks of the Wu-Tang Clan melded with unauthorized Nintendo samples. Unlike most mashups, however, there's no irony, inside joke or punny moniker; Safety Words chose its incongruent source materials for their individual awesomeness. Pixels isn't a grandiose statement intended to transcend Ghostface Killah's Fishscale or recontextualize the Ninja Gaiden soundtrack — it exists because hearing "I react like a convict and start killin' shit" over a beat from Super Mario Bros. 2 is totally sweet.  — Ryan Wasoba
2 a.m., Lure Nightclub

Tone Rodent
How do you get Public Image Limited/Pigface/Damage Manual member Martin Atkins and Spacemen 3 drummer Rosco to work with you? As Tone Rodent discovered, just ask. The long-running — and loud — local shoegaze/noise act recently recorded some new music with both men, who are known for being post-punk and psych-noise innovators (respectively). Accordingly, the tracks with Rosco possess Spacemen 3-esque, ear-splitting vacuum roars — and should please fans of early, abrasive Jesus and Mary Chain tunes — while Atkins' contribution gives Tone Rodent some rhythmic heft. (AZ)
10:30 p.m., The Dubliner

Best Experimental Artist/Band

Home-recording heroine .e (a.k.a. Dottie Georges) continues to create hypnagogic magic in a bandless world. Dreaming down the line of celestial harmony into the ether, this electronic seamstress exhibits her ability to mend the wounds of lost songs. Armed with her amalgamation of patchwork beats, grunge-pop guitar, waiflike murmurs and a Lou Barlow addiction, .e tackles the world head-on with a somber propensity — and a longing to see the heavens above. — Josh Levi

Glass Teeth
Glass Teeth mashes together '80s hardcore with electronic music and displays a variety of influences. But thankfully, its music doesn't sound like a mashup. A lot of that has to do with the growling of frontman Jeff Robtoy. Between songs at many of the band's shows, he's read from the Mormon bible, writhed around on the floor and insulted audience members. Later this year, Glass Teeth should release not one, but two seven-inch EPs. — Nick Lucchesi

Eric Hall
South St. Louis pillar Eric Hall has stood tall over the local experimental music scene for more than a decade now. With a focus in sampling, looping and live manipulation, Hall's mixology skills encapsulate an expansive universe of sound and sonic wonderment. By blurring the lines of improvisation and composition, Hall is able to keep things interesting with each evanescent anthem, illuminating a symbiotic marriage of broken beats and melody in decline. (JL)
7 p.m., Nara Cafe & Hookah Lounge

It's been a year of recovery and rebuilding for Joseph Raglani. The synthesist and sound sculptor had nearly all of his gear stolen on a tour stop in New York last May, and in the ensuing months he has rebuilt his arsenal (which once again includes his beloved Moog Voyager Old School synthesizer) and started playing shows again. The self-described noise artist delights in stringing together and then unraveling various sonic threads, which can range from icy and inhuman to warm and natural. (CS)

Spelling Bee
Despite existing as a band for just over a year, the spasmodic duo of Joseph Hess and Mabel Suen has amassed quite the rap sheet. Be it touring the Midwest, assailing the airwaves, booking shows or combusting onstage, Spelling Bee has proven itself as not only a hyperactive, spazz-rock embodiment of trepanation, but as a musical entity. Spelling Bee is the quintessence of 21st-century DIY. (JL) 
9 p.m., Nara Cafe & Hookah Lounge

Skarekrau Radio
Skarekrau Radio. Innovators of the brain raid. The Sun Ra Arkestra of St. Louis. Nudist Colony. You've heard it all before. The band's irresistible tin-can beats, freight-train rhythms and frenzied howls of ecstasy whirl audiences into equal parts caveman rave and mutant orgy. Unleashing pyschotropic unrest for over twenty years in the name of its god, Kuu, Skarekrau Radio will forever continue to warp-speed down the expressway to yr skull. (JL)

Best Funk/Soul/R&B (Group)

Funky Butt Brass Band
Funky Butt Brass Band has become the go-to horn section in St. Louis. Whether the troupe is backing up other artists in the studio, making its own records or providing a little New Orleans street-band flavor to a live event, Funky Butt has made people pay attention to brass music again in St. Louis. Credit goes to the act's three-pronged attack of stellar musicianship; an undeniable, good-time spirit; and a diverse repertoire that incorporates Tower of Power-style experimental funk grooves and adventurous arrangements. (SM)

Natural Selection
Listening to Natural Selection's recorded material is unfortunately somewhat of a letdown. It's not because the tracks don't groove hard — they do, with a spirit reminiscent of Dennis Chambers' P-Funk days and a nod to Stevie Wonder's beautiful sense of melody. It's just that without being able to see bassist Nick Jost in action, you somehow miss the full impact of the band. With an ultra-wide-stanced pogo dance, he bounces across the stage like some kind of intergalactic tribal-funk shaman — and he never lets the groove drop for a millisecond. Add the persuasive and charismatic nature of frontman Samuel Glover, and you have a modern, interplanetary funk stew with the showmanship and danceability of Chromeo — all executed by a formidable live band. (SM)

The Soul Alliance featuring CoCoSoul
Led by musical director Mo Egeston and featuring devastating vocalist CocoSoul, the Soul Alliance is not a musty oldies band. Together the act demolishes the boundaries between funk, R&B — and, yes, soul — with impressive instrumental skill. There may be louder rhythm sections in St. Louis, but the one-two punch of Jason "Dirty Lynt" Moore on drums and Sean "Hollabass" Holland on bass keeps the Soul Alliance as tight as any unit in town. (RK)

UG Project
Urban Groov Project (UG Project for short) is co-helmed by veteran sonic-alchemist and keyboardist Mo Egeston and composer and brassman DJ Nune. Along with percussionist Duane "Jingo" Williams, the UG Project plays a funk-based form of jazz fusion that will appeal to electronica heads, experimental hip-hoppers and anyone who wonders what electric Herbie Hancock mashed up with deep house sounds like. (RK)
3 p.m., 11th & Washington Outdoor Stage

Best Funk/Soul/R&B (Solo Artist)

Armed with a nationally recognized producer, Bradd Young, and an angelic singing voice, Aloha Mischeaux is aimed squarely at the top of the R&B/pop charts. As a Top 24 contestant on season four of American Idol, Randy Jackson compared Aloha's voice to that of Beyoncé Knowles; the resemblance is undeniable on uptempo tracks such as "Where You At!?!" and "They Be on Me." Aloha recently auditioned for the FOX show Glee and is scheduled to open for John Legend on July 3 as part of Fair Saint Louis. (CC)

Lamar Harris
Musician, songwriter and composer Lamar Harris has added yet another feather to his cap: He can be found spinning records under the alias DJ Nune. Originally recognized for his talent as a horn player, Harris has since developed an unconventional fusion of funk, electronica, jazz and soul music that combines live instrumentation with electronic synths and drum samples. Harris is expected to release his third album, The Here and After, later this year. — Calvin Cox
1:15 a.m., Lola

Teresajenee is a pure urban R&B singer with a pop soul. Blessed with a voice that's powerful enough for gospel and drawing on influences that range from Elton John and the Jackson Five to the Shirelles and Ella Fitzgerald — or so suggests the stunning and sugary R&B pop single "Sunday" from her debut album The Ecklectic — Teresajenee is more than just St. Louis' answer to Lauryn Hill. She's an idiosyncratic, completely uncategorizable talent. (RK)
10:45 p.m., Lola

Bradd Young
In recent years, Bradd Young has stepped away from performing, as he and partner Orlando Watson (a.k.a. "Pretty Boy") made a name for themselves as producers for acts such as Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Akon and Talib Kweli. But Young's foray back into solo-artist-dom has been successful: "Grown Man" is a sultry, snapping slow jam with torchy rock guitar, while "Girlz," a Ne-Yo-meets-St. Louis-hip-pop song, showcases Young's falsetto. (AZ)

Best Hip-Hop/Rap Artist (Solo)

Street-oriented rap is Joka's specialty — in fact, his raspy voice and repetitive chants would feel right at home on a Young Jeezy song. After his win at DTP Madness last April, the breakout member of local group tha Deck was signed to Ludacris' Disturbing tha Peace label. Joka has since released the Born Wit Haters mixtape, but to date his biggest single is "Swing on 'Em," a high-energy brawler's anthem that received heavy radio rotation in 2007. (CC)

Murphy Lee
With a quick smile and easygoing wit — along with tireless hustle and a Twitter account that can't be beat — Murphy Lee is helping the St. Lunatics get its name back on the national map. In December, he self-released the CD/DVD You See Me, his first official solo album since parting ways with Universal Records last year. In just two weeks, See sold enough to be Vintage Vinyl's top-selling album of 2009. (AZ)

Nato Caliph 
Nato Caliph is a classic thinking man's emcee. "I like everything to mean something," he says when asked to describe his soulful yet forceful style. "It's more than just rapping. I like to have a purpose." He reps F5 Records and the Force and rhymes in an unassumingly sincere manner that makes weighty and abstract subjects seem engaging and easy to understand. His latest record, The R.E.A.C.H. EP, should be released in June on his own label, Cipher Music Group. — Keegan Hamilton
7 p.m., Shiver Vodka Bar & Champagne Lounge

Nite Owl
A staple of the local hip-hop community for years now, "Nitro with the nice flow" is one of the only local emcees to regularly play shows with a live band. Nitro's laid-back delivery and soulful beat selection offer a certain sense of sophistication not commonly present in much of today's rap. The latest addition to his catalog is the new album, Jewelry, a collaborative effort with James Christos (from KC) and DJ Sno under the name Academy Hill. (CC)
6 p.m., 11th & Washington Outdoor Stage

Prince Ea
St. Louis rappers have often been stigmatized as being too simple or "bubblegum." Expect Prince Ea to shatter any such notion. On a mission to "make smart cool," Ea routinely crafts some of the wittiest metaphors to be found with the precision of a lyrical neurosurgeon. Since winning Vibe magazine's "Vibe Verses" contest in 2009, Ea has collaborated with underground heavyweight Canibus and has caught the attention of emcees such as Immortal Technique and Black Thought. (CC)

Rockwell Knuckles
A local favorite and a regular on the RFT Music Awards ballot, Rockwell Knuckles continues to grind with unrelenting energy. Rocky released Choose Your Own Adventure earlier this year, his third project to be backed by influential hip-hop website the Smoking Section. His work is pleasantly unpredictable, ranging from traditional hip-hop to the experimental. Rocky does more than just recite lyrics over a beat, however; he uses exaggerated intonations in his voice to color his music, and he sings many of his own hooks. (CC)
7 p.m., Shiver Vodka Bar & Champagne Lounge

Tef Poe
The title of Tef Poe's stellar, DJ Trackstar-produced, Smoking Section-endorsed mixtape, Money Never $leep$, is more than just a catch phrase — it's a guiding principle. Tef helps wake St. Louis up every day with a freestyle verse on the Rickey Smiley Morning Show on WHHL (104.1 FM), meaning he's busting rhymes before most rappers have even finished breakfast. Add to that the fact that Money was released just six months after his impressive debut, The Redeemer, and it's no exaggeration to say that Tef is easily one of the most talented and hardest-working members of the Force. (KH)
7 p.m., Shiver Vodka Bar & Champagne Lounge

It's been two years since Vandalyzm burst onto the local scene with Megatron Majorz. Since then the University City rapper/producer has dropped beats and verbal bombs on tracks by underground heavyweights such as Khrysis and Donny Goines and scored a deal with New York-based Soulspazm Records to re-release his standout debut as Megatron Majorz Redux. His latest mixtape, Vandalyzm Is Not the Father, is yet another fine example of his uncanny ability to crack jokes, dis haters and express himself with songs that are catchy, clever and cool. (KH)
7 p.m., Shiver Vodka Bar & Champagne Lounge

Best Hip-Hop/Rap Artist (Group or Collective)

Earthworms has managed to make quite a name for itself in the past few years. Its 2008 release, Bottle Full of Bourbon, led to a European tour (and RFT award) in 2009, and in late December the group released Midnight at the Capricorn, its first album on the IndyGround label. With production by Ben Bounce and DJ Crucial, Capricorn remains true to Earthworms' penchant for mixing feel-good lyrics with a vintage hip-hop sound. (CC)
10:15 p.m., Shiver Vodka Bar & Champagne Lounge

The Force
The massive entity known as the Force was created in an attempt to unify the hip-hop scene in St. Louis. Comprised of some of the best and brightest emcees, producers and DJs the area has to offer, the collective's reputation is rapidly gaining momentum beyond the Gateway City. Affiliates such as Black Spade, Tef Poe and Vandalyzm are getting the word out with events such as January's Haiti Relief show and a two-and-a-half-hour showcase at this year's SXSW. (CC)

The Frozen Food Section
You're not likely to find a more diverse or eclectic mix of artists than you will on the Frozen Food Section's roster. Jonathan Toth from Hoth, Pandelerium and Earthworms are joined by acts such as Jonezy, Whoremoans and HearsKra-z, which covers just about every style of alternative hip-hop imaginable. Sadly, the collective was recently caught off-guard by the death of a DJ in the group, Helias; our condolences go out to his friends and family. (CC)

Midwest Avengers
The rap/rock group Midwest Avengers named its last record Headbanger Hip Hop, and that's as apt a description of the group's sound as you're likely to find. Co-frontmen BC (John Harrington) and So'n'So (James Coleman) can rhyme, rap and sing in the proud tradition of STL emcees, but their bandmates add crucial heft with live bass, guitar and drums. In concert, the live band's raw power makes each show a full-contact experience, one that owes as much to hard rock as it does to hip-hop. (CS)

Scripts 'N Screwz
Just about everything you need to know about the sound of the multi-talented East St. Louis underground duo Scripts 'N Screwz is in "On 10,"a solo joint from Loose Screwz. The self-produced beat is an absolute burner, with fuzzed-out synthesizers and a sly cowbell loop that keeps the feet tapping. The lyrics are classic hip-hop braggadocio about fashion, girls and living large. And tucked within the clever wordplay are subtle references to other activities such as filmmaking and skateboarding — two things at which the boys from SNS also excel. (KH)
11:30 p.m., Shiver Vodka Bar & Champagne Lounge

Best Hip-Hop DJ DJ Charlie Chan
More than twenty years in the making, we still find DJ Charlie Chan Soprano working the game harder than ever. Whether he's cutting classic old-school hip-hop on 104.1 FM's Throwback at Noon, touring as the official DJ for Run DMC or scratching deep cuts at the Delmar Lounge, his name rings out into the city. Truly the "Don of St. Louis," this world-famous DJ has got it all: the roots, the rep and the love of St. Louis on his back. (JL)

DJ Mahf
As one-quarter of the group Earthworms, DJ Mahf has a lot to keep up with. In addition to his contributions on Midnight at the Capricorn, Mahf continues to put out his own mixtapes, including the Homemade Junk series and the more recent Nightcrawlers:101. Mahf oversaw Steddy P's last album, Style Like Mind, and is currently holding down two weekly gigs, at the Atomic Cowboy on Fridays and the Sol Lounge on Wednesdays. (CC)
9:30 p.m., Shiver Vodka Bar & Champagne Lounge

DJ Needles
Although Nodzilla (a.k.a. DJ Needles) is one of the most consistent DJs around, he's regarded just as highly for the quality of his music production. He's constantly putting out music, such as the Hawthorne Headhunters Mixtape (featuring Black Spade) and Nodzilla's Baadasssss EP, while producing tracks for other artists in the meantime. You can catch him spinning regularly at spots like Lola and the Delmar Lounge, or check out his radio show Rawthentic Thursday nights on KDHX (88.1 FM). (CC)
10:15 p.m., Lure Nightclub

DJ Reminise
A fellow member of DJ Needles' Soulition crew, Reminise is in his element when he's making beats live onstage at events such as Sound Clash at the Gramophone. He's also produced R&B and hip-hop beats for local talent Jada Avenue and John Hill. You can check his MySpace or YouTube profile to watch him go to work on the MPC — or catch him on the turntables Friday nights at Club Exo. (CC)
11:30 p.m., Lure Nightclub

DJ Sinamin
Don't let the fact that DJ Sinamin is a female fool you. The girl can spin. She's the only woman in the group of local hip-hop power brokers known as the Derrty DJs, and she hosts her own show on 107.7 FM, in addition to making weekly appearances at local clubs the Delmar Lounge and 609. Adding a touch of much-needed estrogen to the testosterone-dominated St. Louis hip-hop scene, she also produced the Ladies of the Lou mixtape hosted by Ebony Eyez. (KH)
9 p.m., Lure Nightclub

DJ Sno
With a résumé that could put most DJs to shame, DJ Sno is truly a seasoned veteran on the local scene. You've probably heard him as a radio personality over the years, and he currently cohosts STL Home Jamz on Hot 104.1 FM, where he tries to break local artists. He has toured internationally as Chingy's DJ, has partnered with Basement Beats and produces tracks and mixtapes on the side. As if that weren't enough, Sno recently oversaw the release of the Academy Hill album Jewelry, his collaboration with Nite Owl and James Christos. (CC)

Best Indie Band

Art Majors
A Venn diagram would clearly show that Art Majors is the violet overlap where Liars' red circle and the Walkmen's blue circle touch — where post-punk's innate power matches loud, kinetic instrumentation. At times, Michael Roche's deep growls are a more intense and rambunctious cousin of National lead singer Matt Berninger. The quartet recently recorded a handful of demos at Shine Studio and hints that an untitled-as-of-yet EP will be released sometime this summer. — Liz Deichmann
10:45 p.m., Hair Of The Dog

Dear Vincent
Concept albums may be de rigueur for all indie rockers after the Decemberists, but concept bands have their work cut out for them. Dear Vincent rises to the occasion. Taking its name from the correspondence between Vincent van Gogh and his brother Theo — a correspondence that fuels the album So Long Winter — the band combines old-time country, pop, lo-fi and brittle indie rock in a way that never feels purely conceptual. (RK)
7 p.m., Lucas Park Grille Patio

The Dive Poets 
The four guys and one gal in the Dive Poets certainly have a soft spot for heartland rock: Twangy Americana is at the quintet's core, and the band nailed its set of John Mellencamp songs at last year's An Under Cover Weekend. But the understanding of classic pop dynamics — big choruses, driving rhythms, boy-girl harmonies — makes the Dive Poets stand out. Singer and guitarist Eric Sargent pushes his gruff, unkempt voice to its limit, and Anna Moffatt is there to sweeten the mix with her harmony vocals and fiddle playing. (CS)
7 p.m., Hair of the Dog

The Hibernauts
Although most of the indie-rock start-ups that populated the St. Louis music scene in the mid-'00s have long since packed it in, the Hibernauts has always found a way to evolve. The group bolstered its lineup by recruiting former Victoria bassist Chad Rogers, who fits in nicely as a capable utility player and total ball of energy in concert. Last year the new five-man crew finally released Velvet Suit, the followup to its well-received 2007 EP, Periodic Fable. The diverse collection of songs on Suit is indicative of a band in transition: It migrates between the propulsive, danceable indie-rock the band has become known for and a moodier, downtempo sound, where interesting new collages of sound break from the band's pop-driven formula. (SM)
2 p.m., Main Outdoor Stage (14th & Washington)

Jumbling Towers
Jumbling Towers has always been ahead of its time. The members of the comfortably creepy quartet gleefully suck the proverbial marrow out of their instruments. Frontman Joe DeBoer's vocals are paroxysmal attacks on the cerebral cortex — and they're a perfect match for the band's discordant beats and off-kilter attitude. On its latest effort, The Kanetown City Rips, the band sheds its quirk for concept: The album has tracks that the would-be children of nonexistent Kanetown City would have made following a summer of disenchantment in 1981. (DB)
9:30 p.m., Hair of the Dog

Old Lights 
The protagonists in Old Lights' songs are almost always losers. Problem drinkers, serial philanderers, wayward sons and needy lovers populate the band's debut Every Night Begins the Same. Somehow, band leader David Beeman manages to transform these ne'er-do-wells into sympathetic characters. That trick is achieved through Old Lights' winning formula of bright piano chords, intuitive drumming and Beeman's sweetly reedy vocals, which can evoke the blush of first love or the tail end of a gin-and-tonic binge. (CS) 
9:30 p.m., Lucas Park Grille Patio

Pretty Little Empire
Don't let the lo-fi, almost twee charm of Pretty Little Empire's debut album, Sweet Sweet Hands, fool you. Onstage, the band, led by singers and guitarists Justin Johnson and William Godfred, are likely to plug in and use the power to drive their elusive hooks home with rock joyousness and clamor. Somewhere between the Velvet Underground at its poppiest and Nick Drake at his most spare, Pretty Little Empire may be fresh faces on the indie-rock scene, but its harmonies and songs sound like they're built to last. (RK)
6 p.m., Over/Under Bar & Grill Patio

Troubadour Dali
Good things come to those with patience. Troubadour Dali's long-awaited 2009 album captures the band's dreamy psych-pop live sound to a tee. Lysergic guitars stretch out lazily, like a kite wending in the wind or a good morning stretch; stacks of harmonies and hints of distortion further add to the blissed-out psychedelic atmosphere. Unlike kindred souls such as the Warlocks, Brian Jonestown Massacre or the Verve, Troubadour Dali's vocals are never bored or detached — which makes its songs that much more approachable. The band has opened for Sleepy Sun and raucous rockers the Whigs in recent months, a testament to its versatility. (AZ)
8:15 p.m., The Side Bar

Best Jam Artist/Band

Fresh Heir 
Fresh Heir may be best known around town as the occasional backing band of Earthworms, but the group can certainly stand on its own. Nick Savage is a magnetic frontman even from behind the drum kit, and the tight, interlocking instrumentalists know how to sustain a groove. On The Sky's the Limit, Fresh Heir draws on 50 years of soul music, from melodic Motown pop to vocoder funk to beat-heavy neo-soul. Benny Love's guitar injects the right amount of rock & roll into the mix, thanks to Hendrix-like fuzz bombs and modern-rock solos. (CS)
1 p.m., Main Outdoor Stage (14th & Washington)

If you think that Madahoochi, one of this city's longest-running jam bands, is stuck in the paisley-colored past, you haven't been paying attention. Last year the band released "Text Slut," a synthed-up, hard-rocking cautionary tale about textual intercourse (the accompanying video, filmed at Cicero's, is worth a look as well). The song is a reminder of how Madahoochi has stayed vital for so long: by constantly tweaking its style of feel-good rock & roll to absorb modern styles, while retaining its classic-rock leanings. (CS)

Messy Jiverson 
If a typical jam band relies on back-and-forth improvisation among musically dexterous band members, Messy Jiverson doesn't exactly fit that mold. The sextet's songs are like long-playing grooves, with well-defined melodic lines and a reliance on harmony over sonic exploration. Nate Carpenter pumps gallons of funk from his vintage keyboard rig, a place where smooth electric pianos, deranged analog synths and burbling Hammond organ chords bob and weave around one another. Thankfully, you can still dance to the music; these intuitive players never let the beat drop. (CS)
9:30 p.m., Lola

Teddy Presberg 
From the first note he plays, you can tell that Teddy Presberg is a jazz guitarist. He nails that sweet, dulcet tone of the finest jazz stylists, from Wes Montgomery to George Benson. But like modern guitar heroes (John Scofield in particular), Presberg isn't weighed down by jazz tradition. His latest, Outcries From a Sea of Red, provides a tour through his stylistic passions. Presberg incorporates everything from New Orleans funk to synth rock to slinky blues in these original compositions. (CS)
8:15 p.m., Lola

Best Jazz Artist

Willie Akins
The dean of St. Louis saxophonists, Willie Akins needs another RFT Music Award nomination like he needs a Mel Bay guide on riffing. But he's just as deserving, having established a sound — ripe, flexible, swinging and soulful — that is his alone and that still sets the standards for any jazz-band leader, in a town with a long history of masters. His every set is a generous, stunning clinic on the art of the golden horn. (RK)

Hamiet Bluiett
Miles Davis prominently featured the baritone saxophone on Birth of the Cool, and Oliver Nelson used the instrument to anchor his seminal The Blues and the Abstract Truth. However, neither St. Louisan revolutionized the instrument like Hamiet Bluiett has. Fascinated with the baritone's sonic palette, Bluiett has made it scream for mercy alongside free-jazz icon Sam Rivers and made it sing like a canary while accompanying Stevie Wonder. Bluiett has been baring his soul on his bari for half a century, but with recent accolades in the New York Times and All About Jazz, the world is finally catching up to what us locals already know. (RW)

Dave Stone
If Dave Stone played an instrument less conventional than the saxophone, he would be nominated for Best Noise Artist rather than lumped in with swingers and beboppers. If jazz traditionalists had legal authority, Stone would burn at the stake. If a line exists, Stone will discover the beauty in its crossing. And if the Mangia Friday-night resident musician has built a reputation as a jazz heretic, it's because his improvisations live within the genre's most polarizing gray areas: between dissonance and atonality, melody and texture, and free jazz and noise. (RW)
7 p.m., Lucas Park Grille

Jeanne Trevor
Four decades of performing in St. Louis haven't tarnished the luster of Jeanne Trevor's voice. She still sings with the open-heartedness and playfulness of a remarkably gifted jazz vocalist who's still discovering how far those gifts can take her. Her repertoire and influences are impeccable — Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald — and her charisma and grace onstage have made her the First Lady of Jazz in St. Louis. (RK)

Best Live Band
Dogtown Allstars
It's hard to remember a time without the Dogtown Allstars — after all, the quartet has been playing live funk so well for so long now. The band knows that its sound — slow-burning, percolating groove music — is best experienced live and in-person, so it doesn't even bother trying to capture that energy in a recording studio. So when you come across the Dogtown Allstars at regular gigs around town, be prepared for a relentless rhythm section, some fleet-fingered organ solos, jazzy guitar licks and plenty of hip-shaking from the crowd. (CS)
midnight, Lola

You never know what to expect from a Fattback show. For a band that draws on Southern rock, reggae, country, surf rock and beyond, its live performances can touch on any — and all — of those styles. It helps that Fattback has not one, but two frontmen: John Joern and Dave Hagerty switch off drum and guitar duties, and both manage to make their bizarre fever-dream songs come to life. (CS)
1 a.m., The Dubliner

The Feed
At their core, the Feed's songs are piano-pop ditties that glide along with a Brill Building-esque sense of harmony and tempo. But in concert, the band shows no mercy in deconstructing these tunes and adding on layers of funk, soul, jazz and noise. The Feed now operates as a duo featuring keyboardist Dave Grelle and drummer Kevin Bowers, but the pair still manages to make a big racket onstage by pairing scholarly levels of musical literacy with a jazzman's sense of improvisation and communication. (CS)
5 p.m., Main Outdoor Stage (14th & Washington)

Rum Drum Ramblers
If a category existed to honor the Best Eco-Friendly Band, the Rum Drum Ramblers would easily walk away with the honor. Everything about these blues devotees is recycled: their instruments, their clothes, their ideas and their sound. What's amazing about the group isn't just this small footprint — it doesn't need electricity to blow a room away — it's that the Rum Drum Ramblers make everything old new again, just by playing its collective hearts out, every time it takes the stage. (RK)
2 p.m., 11th & Washington Outdoor Stage

So Many Dynamos
Oh, the Dynamos. So adored, even after all these years (!). Its 2006 LP, Flashlights, convinced us all that the band is the city's seminal indie-rock outfit. In fact, the Dynamos is one of the few bands whose fans didn't turn on them after they tasted success out of St. Louis. So Many Dynamos perfectly articulates the boredom, distraction and self-loathing wit of millennial disaffected youth, with straight-faced charm and accomplished instrumentation. The quartet worked with Chris Walla on its third album and released 2009's The Loud Wars through Vagrant Records. We were sad to see guitarist/RFT contributor Ryan Wasoba leave the band, but the apparently seamless transition of new guitarist Nathan Bernaix (ex-Target Market) has us excited for its future. (DB)

Trip Daddys
What else can really be said about the St. Louis music institution that is the Trip Daddys? Craig Straubinger's ever-evolving rockabilly trio has found longevity the old-fashioned way: crafting a formula that works and getting better at it with each passing year. Last year's Roll On! showed Straubinger at his most confident vocally, while the addition of two new rhythm-section cats (Tracey Morrissey of Sex Robots on bass and Dennis Williams of Ded Bugs on drums) added more swing and strut than ever. Of course, this band is really all about its live show, where Straubinger's reverb-laden assault of classic guitar licks — and natural showman tendencies — take center stage. (SM)

Best Metal/thrash Band

Cross Examination
Cross Examination's five-year-anniversary show last summer was quite the event. As the band puts it: "People were throwing entire fucking couches (!), the light system got destroyed, people went to the hospital, people were naked, there were giant paper-maché bongs, giant cardboard dicks, everyone was wasted, everything was broken." Really, though, this could have explained any Cross Exam show: Drunken mayhem seems to go hand-in-hand with the band's whiplash-inducing riffs and thrashing speeds. (AZ)

Dude Nukem
Compared to predecessors such as Kill Me Kate and Cross Examination, Dude Nukem may be the most metal of St. Louis trash-punks. The band favors tightly wound musicianship over apathetic slop, yet its riffs still maintain circle-pit adrenaline, and its blast-beats are downright violent. Execution aside, the band enters territories its Black Flag-aping peers fear to tread: By embracing the time-honored metal tradition of the guitar solo, Dude Nukem proves it's more than just a clever name. These punks can shred. (RW)

Do not adjust your speakers: Fister's sludgy, Sabbath-playing-inside-Mordor sound is supposed to sound incredibly blown out in headphones. Live, the band sounds even louder. Volume is a gimmick, sure, but the quartet — which formed last year — has solid songs behind that wall of noise. The result is muscular, hellish heavy metal. Fister released a four-song demo in October and has another release, Obsolete Amps and Intact Guitars, due out this summer. (NL)

It's easy to forget about Harkonin because the veteran metal band tends to stay under the radar. But after all, the most talented people rarely need to toot their own horns — even though the quintet certainly wouldn't be out of line doing so. In April Harkonin played the Con-Tamination 2010 festival, where it introduced guitarist Scott Fogelbach and ten songs earmarked for a new album, Detest, which is coming this summer on Battlegod Productions. (AZ)

Head On Collision
According to a lengthy MySpace blog, thrash-metal enthusiasts Head On Collision are going through some radical transformations. Bassist John Hancock and drummer Jason Brooks are no longer in the band, which leaves vocalist/guitarist Pat McCauley as the only remaining member. This isn't the end of the band, though: McCauley hopes to record and self-release new music, the first tunes since the Milwaukee-based label Beer City Records released HOC's Ritual Sacrifice LP. (AZ)

Terra Caput Mundi
This thrash-metal trio has been active since 2006, but it's caught more local attention in the past year by playing out more and opening for touring acts, many of the shows booked by TCM frontman Jared Caput Mundi. The band recently released Alive in the Hive, a bootleg live CD. As for the year ahead? "Out-of-town dates, songwriting, recording, spitting in the faces of wimps," says Jared CM. "Same as last year." (NL)

Best Modern Rock Band

Categorizing BAMF! should be simple: Its six members, three horns and Red Bull-enhanced tempos typically raise ska's checkered flags. Look deeper at BAMF!'s tracks, however, and you'll find stylistic diversity — specifically, flourishes of metalcore and emo-conscious pop-punk. Throw in the half-million MySpace plays the band's earned from a quasi-ironic cover of T.I.'s "Whatever You Like," and BAMF! becomes more than just a ska band. It's the sonic manifestation of a culture of iPod shufflers. (RW)

Building Rome
Building Rome has been a staple of the local emo/pop-punk scene for years. Last year's Alkaline Trio-influenced Nightmare, however, clearly shows a band shooting for the next level. The concept album, which is based loosely on Jacob's Ladder, was recorded locally at Sawhorse Recording Studios and produced by Steven Haigler, who's best known for his work with the Pixies. The result is a big-sounding, tastefully executed record — and hopefully another stepping stone in its ever-burgeoning career. (SM)
6 p.m., Main Outdoor Stage (14th & Washington)

Machree's extraterrestrial post-hardcore expands upon the templates of Radiohead-obsessed groups such as Cave In and Codeseven, both of which grew tired of rigid subculture restrictions. The local sextet finds drama by exploring contrasts — percussive breakdowns amid sweeping synth pads or delayed, U2-esque guitar leads glowing above gritty, stoner-rock bass riffs. While these arrangements outfox most instrumental acts today, Patrick Baum's confident tenor gives the tracks a gravitational pull freed from clichés of screamo, hardcore or any other genre with the "post" prefix. (RW)
9:30 p.m., The Side Bar

Me Verse You
Me Verse You (née the Audio) rose from the ashes of local punk-pop band So They Say, which recorded for Fearless Records. The band certainly maintains the pop chops of STS, but it is markedly heavier, with a gnarly, snarling metal bent. (Perhaps Matt Hyde, who produced the band's debut, Another Enemy, had something to do with this; Hyde's also worked with heavyweights Bullet for My Valentine and Slipknot.) MVY recently kicked it old-school and went on a performance tour of area Hot Topic stores. (AZ)
midnight, The Side Bar

Nothing Still
Nothing Still has been a consistently visible act on the local music scene since forming in 2000. The band's hard work has clearly paid off, though: The synth-rock act has built a loyal fan base and consistently packs St. Louis clubs. Two new demos — along with the songs from its latest proper release, I've Got a Feeling I've Slept Here Before — tightened up the band's slick, keyboard-driven sound. These songs combine processed bursts of arena-ready guitars with danceable beats and textured synths. (SM)
7 p.m., The Side Bar

Best New Artist

Everything Went Black
Everything Went Black is well connected. Back in March the upstart post-hardcore act released its new EP, Altars & Arsonists, on the North Carolina label Hands Up. (That label is run by Jonathan Raine and Danny Trudell; the latter, a.k.a. Danny Sober, also owns Seventh Dagger, a popular straight-edge hardcore label.) The EP was recorded in vocalist Brandon Hoffman's living room with Gabe Usery (drummer, the Disappeared) and mastered by Alan Douches (Converge, Mastodon, Lifetime). Coliseum frontman Ryan Patterson, who runs a design firm in Louisville, Kentucky, did the artwork and layout. Fittingly, EWB has been doing some local shows, including with Skeletonwitch and Howl at Fubar in February, and doing some regional touring. (AZ)

Flaming Death Trap
What happens when kids from rural Missouri listen to too much indie rock? They buy instruments, start a band and play rock riffs while occasionally singing in a country drawl about cows and cigarettes and trucks. This mingling of styles has served Flaming Death Trap well, however: The band's recently been asked to warm up the stage for such indie favorites as Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin and Those Darlins. — Chrissy Wilmes
12:45 a.m., Rue 13

The Great Outdoors
The Great Outdoors released its debut EP, Board Up Our Homes, in April. Listening to it, you wouldn't guess that it's a brand-new band or that the project is self-produced. In addition to the aesthetic professionalism of its websites, promo photos and the EP's cover, the Great Outdoors' recordings sound proficient and polished. The quartet's soft, slowly building instrumentation has been compared to Explosions in the Sky and its vocals to As Tall As Lions. (CW) 

Popular Mechanics
Popular Mechanics singer/guitarist Dave Todd's vocal delivery recalls the noisier moments of Bob Mould's '90s outfit Sugar, although the band's fuzzed-out seventh chords and hard-driving pop constructs also conjure early Foo Fighters. It's a sound that relies on dissonance and walls of fuzz to insulate the listener from what would otherwise be saccharine-sweet guitar pop. It's also a niche that needed to be filled in St. Louis — and Popular Mechanics is a worthy ambassador of this gritty, head-bobbing sound. (SM)
9 p.m., Rue 13

Sleepy Kitty
If Sleepy Kitty wanted to, it could simply make music and play shows. For Paige Brubeck and Evan Sult, however, that won't suffice. Actually, it's hard to justify calling Sleepy Kitty "just" a band, when really it's more of a multimedia art collective.  The pair throws itself completely into its projects — whether it's writing and performing gorgeous, experimental pop songs, crafting imaginative, screen-printed show flyers or being the newest and brightest addition to Cherokee Street's thriving arts scene. (CW)
9:30 p.m., Lucas Park Grille

Tilts is fronted by Andrew Elstner of Riddle of Steel and also features ex-Shame Club members Ken McCray and Andy White. Judging from this pedigree, you can assume that the band likes rock — pure rock, the kind favored by dudes in Camaros and heshers who value their vintage metal shirts above all else. In fact, the band's MySpace describes its sound like this: "'The Immigrant Song' meets Dukes of Hazard[sic] while listening to 'Brown Sugar' in the General Lee somewhere in the year 1984. So sexy." Judging by songs from its debut EP, Cassingle, Tilts also loves Van Halen ("It Helps") and Queens of the Stone Age-caliber stoner sludge ("Give Me Some Of Your Loving"). The band recently released its second EP, Sidepipin'. (AZ)
8:15 p.m., Hair of the Dog

The Union Electric
The Union Electric may be a new band, but it's comprised of seasoned professionals. You might even say that St. Louis' favorite working-class folk-punks have been laborin' at this for a while – after all, their résumé includes groups such as Bad Folk, the Adversary Workers, Corbeta Corbata and Cassie Morgan and the Lonely Pine. This synthesis of experience and style results in a self-described "hootenanny" full of pirates, incorrigibility and rebellious politics. (CW)
11:45 p.m., The Dubliner

Yung Ro
At least by commercial standards, eighteen-year-old Yung Ro is already one of the most successful St. Louis rappers since Nelly. Last year his obnoxiously catchy rump-shaking anthem "Donk Dat" peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Sales chart, and his latest release, "Fresha Den a Mall," is also racing up the charts and in rotation at local station WHHL (104.1 FM) — all without the support of a major label.  (KH)

Best Punk/Hardcore Band

The Disappeared
What's a punk-metal band doing with a song called "The Ballad of Nat King Cole"? Properly destroying, shredding and double-kick-drumming against nostalgia, that's what. The Disappeared aims for the same lethal power of Motörhead and the heavy guitar wizardry of Metallica, and every now and then they capture it, as on massive, tempo-shifting tunes such as "Hey Bud, This Ain't No Game of Poker." (RK)
1:15 a.m., Hair of the Dog

Egg Chef
Egg Chef is a brilliant name and a bizarre concept. Take some DIY, noise, post-punk and math-rock, throw in some HAZMAT suits and synth sludge, and presto! Instant hardcore omelet! As crazed as the band's sound can get — and as violently absurdist as its lyrics seem — the sound is pretty danceable, if your feet can keep up with 5000-BPM rhythms. (RK)

The Humanoids
Last year's Best Punk Band winner the Humanoids is returning for more — although little has changed, which is bad news for the competition. The band still plays hard, fast and out of control, while keeping a focus on melodies that somehow break through the blister-busting guitar work. The Humanoids' sense of dynamics, willingness to let riffs shine through and happiness in those sweet little "whoa-oh" choruses make them the punk band to beat. (RK)
10:45 p.m., The Side Bar

Maximum Effort
The members of this four-piece punk band say it's "not as much of a band as it is an awareness group." Lyrics seemingly inspired by syndicated radio show Coast to Coast AM and theatrics purveyed by frontman Zeng keep audiences listening to warnings of shadow governments and alien abductions. However, the band's steady schedule of live shows in clubs, record stores and basements over the past year has brought them some well-deserved local praise within the punk scene. (NL)

Shaved Women
The proud tradition of punk band names that raise an eyebrow (or in these modern times, make for a nasty Google search) continues with Shaved Women, a four-piece that specializes in good-mood-destroying hardcore punk. The group hasn't been around long — and it's only released two cassettes — but a demo is planned for this summer. Live, Shaved Women mixes in unlikely cover choices (Bad Brains to GG Allin's the Jabbers) to conflict with otherwise dreary hardcore noise. Those fond of later Black Flag, Flipper or the Jesus Lizard will find much to love about this band. (NL)

Sweet Tooth
A youthful attack of blazing hardcore noise, Sweet Tooth is one of the city's most exciting hardcore punk bands because of its live show: The group plays faster than nearly everyone else in the local scene and rarely misses a note or drumbeat. The musicianship is something that has long separated hardcore from punk — and made for tighter, faster, better songs. For fans of Deep Wound and Void but also later bands such as No Comment and the H-100s. (NL)

Best Pop Band

The Blind Eyes
Pop music needn't be modest, but the Blind Eyes manages to be both unassuming and completely irresistible. The trio's 2009 album, Modernity, is free of flash and gimmicks, and its live sets are simply a celebration of hooks, smart lyrics and catchy rhythms. Sure the Blind Eyes has its influences — the Kinks and Squeeze come to mind — but the band members don't wear their record collections on their sleeves. They're too focused on getting the hooks across with a sense of fun and always-present songcraft. (RK)
10:15 p.m., Rue 13

Gentleman Auction House
Word on the street (er, blog) is that Gentleman Auction House has been holed up in its St. Louis studio working on the much-anticipated followup to its well-received 2008 full-length, Alphabet Graveyard. After its release, the band constantly toured and even recorded a session with the tastemaking website Daytrotter. With how infectious those lighthearted pop confections were — and how different they were from GAH's gentle, folksy debut EP, The Rules Were Handed Down — it'll be very interesting to see where the band decides to go from here. (SM)

Grace Basement 
Kevin Buckley began Grace Basement as an outlet for his pop songs, which touch on '60s British Invasion, Americana and noisy alternative rock. It began as a solo affair, but the project became a different beast in the past few years, thanks to the addition of a full-time band. It's still Buckley's show, but his Grace Basement cohorts help expand these melodic, smartly tailored songs into something raw and wild. (CS)
8:15 p.m., Lucas Park Grille Patio

Jon Hardy & the Public
It's been a long year for Jon Hardy & the Public. After building serious momentum with the release of Working in Love and an EP of Randy Newman covers, as well as a triumphant set at Twangfest 13, the soul-charged pop band lost its drummer to California and has retreated from regular performing in St. Louis. Nevertheless, the recent Sugar EP, which includes a shockingly gorgeous cover of the Supremes' "Where Did Our Love Go," makes it clear that the band is far from giving up. (RK)

Magnolia Summer 
You would have never called Magnolia Summer a "pop" band two albums ago. But in the past few years, Chris Grabau's group has found a way to craft triumphant guitar rock that's both accessible and smart. The band still exhibits traces of country darkness and big-sky despair, but on its most recent full-length, Lines From the Frame, these concerns are wrapped in glorious guitar chimes and heartthrobbing choruses. (CS)
3 p.m., Main Outdoor Stage (14th & Washington)

Best Rock Band

Brookroyal is poised to follow in the steps of fellow local rockers Cavo and break through on a national level. Together just three years, the quintet has a full-length (Motives) and an EP (There Was a Time) to its name. Both releases are full of radio-ready modern rock in the vein of Disturbed, Three Days Grace, Breaking Benjamin and any other band in heavy rotation on KPNT (105.7 FM). In fact, Brookroyal is a perennial Pointfest performer — and last weekend, the band even appeared at the two-day Rocklahoma festival alongside a global array of rock and metal heavyweights. (AZ)

the Incurables
It's been a minute since the Incurables released its mid-tempo, power-pop debut, Songs for a Blackout. But two new demos — the introspective, electric-piano-driven ditty "Wish" and the feedback-laden rocker "16 Lines" — posted online have kept anticipation high for another full-length in the near future. In the meantime, periodic live performances by the Jimmy Griffin-fronted outfit will have to do. You never know who's going to be in the Incurables on any given night, but you can count on the fact that whoever does show up will be some of the best players in town. (SM)
1:15 a.m., The Side Bar

Much has been made of the fact that LOGOS released its debut, Beautiful Disguise, and was consistently playing shows all over the city before its members even graduated from high school. But post-adolescence, the trio's undeniable musicianship and adventurous song arrangements stand on their own. LOGOS' tunes call to mind prog-rock masters of the past, but retain enough youthful spirit and bombastic production to make them appeal to people outside of the KSHE crowd. Two new songs the band posted online do a good job of capturing the intensity and precision of the group's full-throttle live performances. (SM) 

The St. Louis music scene is stylistically fragmented; generally, one or two bands handle a particular sub-genre with precision and tact. LucaBrasi is that band when it comes to throttling modern rock. Each member of the quintet knows his purpose — and the result is a powerful live sound that relies on guitarist Jerry Jost's arsenal of effects-laden riffs, his brother Mike's muscular drumming and Matt McInerney's dynamic vocal style. LucaBrasi's attention to melody and subtle interludes make its densely packed, epic moments sound that much more enveloping. (SM)
4 p.m., Main Outdoor Stage (14th & Washington)

The provenance of the band's handle is unclear, but stoner-rock threesome Tok is perfectly named. "Tok" is monosyllabic, sounds slightly primeval and, most important, it rhymes with "rock." Brothers Matt and Bryan Basler take the loud and fast repetitions of riff rock and then go on excursions toward psych, rockabilly, grunge and punk. Tok's last LP, Long Tall Cobra Box, proved that the Basler bros have no shortage of avenues for their grade-A shreddage — and the band's live sets are an exercise in eardrum abuse. (CS)

Best Vocalist (Female)

Beth Bombara 
Beth Bombara may have cut her teeth on sweetly sung coffeehouse folk, but the raw power of rock & roll emboldens newer material with her band, the Robotic Foundation. Bombara has a classically pretty voice — she's never off-key and can handle the soft/loud/soft dynamics of indie rock — but she's at her best when momentarily surrendering control and letting the rough edges show. (CS)
7 p.m., Lola

It's one thing to hold sway over a bar full of music fans, but it's quite another to grab the attention of a collection of rug rats and ankle-biters. However, Celia Shacklett is the rare singer that can do both. She entertains and educates our city's youth with her funny songs and easy wit, but her more adult-oriented material sinks deeper, thanks to smart guitar pop and positive (but not cloying) songwriting. Her voice possesses both Midwestern humility and a funky, bluesy hint of soul. (CS)
1 p.m., 11th & Washington Outdoor Stage

Syrhea Conaway (Syna So Pro) 
It's a little unfair to lump Syrhea Conaway in the Best Vocalist category. The woman behind Syna So Pro doesn't have just one voice, but many: She uses looping technology to stack her vocals to the heavens, layering harmonies and rhythmic vocal snippets until a veritable Conaway Tabernacle Choir is created. Technology may allow her to endlessly duplicate herself, but her vocal technique is rooted in old-school music theory and native talent. Forget, for a moment, that she plays every note on her records and in performance; her a cappella reveries prove that her voice (solo or en masse) is the secret to her sound. (CS)
8:15 p.m., Nara Cafe & Hookah Lounge

Cassie Morgan 
Cassie Morgan is never going to knock you down with a wail or a shout. The folk singer would rather knock you out with a whisper or a sigh. Her quiet, measured approach belies the wit and heart in her songs, where rural values and modern ennui go hand in hand. "Ain't I Your Honey?" from this year's Weathered Hands, Weary Eyes, slinks along like a bluesy seduction, but Morgan needs little more than a slide guitar and her sweet (but barbed) voice to make it stick. Desolation has never sounded so appealing. (CS)
9 p.m., Flamingo Bowl Palm Room

As a youngster, Teresajenee (a.k.a. Jennifer Sanders) would fall asleep at night listening to the dulcet tones of KEZK (102.5 FM). In fact, soft rock and gospel influenced her the most. But her new album, The Ecklectic, encompasses tender piano ballads, kicky electro-driven dance numbers, slow-burn R&B, and gospel- and string-tinged soul. What anchors the album is her expressive voice, which can coo like a new mother or wail like a church soloist. Think Lauryn Hill or Erykah Badu — and that just scratches the surface. (AZ)
10:45 p.m., Lola

Best Vocalist (Male)

Thom Donovan 
Thom Donovan led Lapush through several releases of British-influenced pop and rock before going solo. On this year's Cast a Light, Donovan touches on girl-group pop, acoustic blues, modern rock and genteel balladry, and he's able to make the whole collection hang together through clear and confident vocals. He can be breathy and tender on one track and assertive and cocksure on the next, an apt stylist with a good grasp of rock & roll's many moods. (CS)
9:15 p.m., The Dubliner

Justin Kinkel-Schuster (Theodore)
Theodore's Justin Kinkel-Schuster steers his vocals from the classic mournfulness of the lonely ("I Won't Be a Stranger") to distorted rage ("Death's Hand") sometimes in the same tune ("Half Pint"). Timeless and ageless, his voice chronicles the breadth of history and emotion, all while standing up to his band's burbling tuba ("Evergreen") — or emitting a high, lonesome wail that channels a haunted past ("The Water Is Wide"). — Robin Wheeler
9:45 p.m., Over/Under Bar & Grill Patio

Adam Reichmann 
Locals of a certain age can still be heard bemoaning the dissolution of Nadine, one of this city's consistently best, constantly evolving bands. Adam Reichmann's poetic lyrics and quavering vocals were at the heart of Nadine's sound, and rumors have long circulated that he would re-emerge with a solo album. While the disc remains to be seen, Reichmann has been performing more and more in the past few months, and he has a slot lined up at this summer's LouFest. If we're lucky, 2010 could be the year for Reichmann's resurgence. (CS)
10:15 p.m., Flamingo Bowl Palm Room

Bob Reuter
Bob Reuter is entrenched in St. Louis music, and he's as rough and scratchy as the records he plays on his KDHX (88.1 FM) radio show. For nearly four decades he's told the stories of people who are as interesting and varied as he is, with a fired-up blues yelp peppering the heart of a folk singer. When he's not performing solo, his vocals drive the band Bob Reuter's Alley Ghost. (Wheeler)
midnight, Hair of the Dog

Caleb Travers 
In recent years Caleb Travers put aside his alt-country fixations in favor of Tom Petty-influenced rock music. It was a smart move: The singer and guitarist has always been able to tap the rich vein of Americana-styled music, but now he's begun looking for ways to make it move. His not-so-secret strength is his voice, which is rich and deep enough to convey the pathos found in country's dark corners — and powerful enough to sell the dream of American rock & roll. (CS)
7:15 p.m., Over/Under Bar & Grill PatioBest Local Album

Bottle Rockets, Lean Forward (Bloodshot)
From a rocking opening ode to the joys of getting lost ("The Long Way") to a eulogy for a kid lost to war ("Kid Next Door"), the Bottle Rockets' Lean Forward gives a solid rock wallop to its usual topics of bumpy romance ("Shame on Me"), the reality of the working man ("Nothin' but a Driver") and resigned optimism ("Hard Times"). The four-piece keeps the beat tight without skimping on the guitar flourishes as Brian Henneman balances everything out with everyman vocals. (Wheeler)

Bunnygrunt, Matt Harnish & Other Delights (Happy Happy Birthday to Me) 
For its first full-length in four years, Bunnygrunt ramps up the scuzzy pop sound that Matt Harnish and Karen Ried have been refining for fifteen years. At this stage, it would be easy for the band to stop caring and phone it in, but Matt Harnish & Other Delights is as sweet and biting as a vodka-spiked Slurpee. Well-traveled guitarists Jason Hutto and Mario Viele add to the squall, but Harnish and Ried's swapped vocals, cheeky lyrics and off-key harmonies are what keep the Bunnygrunt brand from growing stale. (CS)
11:30 p.m., Rue 13

Grace Basement, Gunmetal Gray (Undertow)
Grace Basement leader Kevin Buckley made the band's debut, New Sense, by himself, but for the followup he enlisted the help of his bandmates as well as friends from the local Irish-folk scene. The resulting album, Gunmetal Gray, still bears Buckley's meticulous stamp (stacked self-harmonies, perfectly executed fiddle runs), but it also has the looseness of a basement jam session. Gunmetal also finds the singer/songwriter branching out toward heavier topics (addiction, loss, war), even though the band never wavers in its allegiance to well-crafted, smartly played pop music. (CS)
8:15 p.m., Lucas Park Grille Patio

Jumbling Towers, The Kanetown City Rips (self-released) 
After a promising debut album and a hit-or-miss EP, it was anyone's guess how Jumbling Towers' long-awaited album, The Kanetown City Rips, would turn out. As it turns out, Kanetown was worth the wait. Its track "Black Courage," rumbles and shuffles with dirty electric piano and synthetic brass fanfare, and acts as an overture to the underwater funk grooves and busted hip-hop beats that populate the rest of the half-hour program. Leader Joe DeBoer now sings more than he yelps, but the album is still plenty unsettling. And that's a good thing. (CS)
9:30 p.m., Hair of the Dog

Magnolia Summer, The Current Moves EP/The Slip That Leads Into the Fall EP (Undertow) 
In sorting through the castaways and cutouts from the band's last full-length, Lines From the Frame, Magnolia Summer's Chris Grabau chose to curate two five-song digital EPs. Taken together, they provide a director's cut of the last LP, showing both the robust guitar-rock and the more atmospheric, inventive sides of the group. The Current Moves' standout, "The High Road," features motorik rhythms and vulnerable vocals, while "Rangeline" (from The Slip) sounds like a Nebraska B-side played by the Album Leaf. (CS)
3 p.m., Main Outdoor Stage

Phaseone, Thanks But No Thanks (self-released) 
In the past few years, Phaseone (a.k.a. DJ and producer Andrew Jernigan) has found some blog love from esteemed sites such as Pitchfork, which gave praise to his genre-blurring mixtapes. These mixes are pretty fly, but Phaseone's own creations are self-made worlds of drum-machine beats, analog synths and window-shaking bass bombs. The instrumental album Thanks But No Thanks is either the soundtrack to a particularly nightmarish video game or the backing tracks to a retro-leaning hip-hop album. (CS)

Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three, Riverboat Soul (Free Dirt)
Imagine the wildest, smokiest, whiskey-soaked gambling boat cruising the Mississippi River, circa 1930. Now complete the image by picturing Pokey LaFarge onstage in a straw hat, strumming a banjo backed by his band, the South City Three. As the title of his record suggests, LaFarge's music is an audacious exaltation of bygone eras of blues, bluegrass, rockabilly and rock & roll, replete with kazoo solos, washboard percussion and wicked finger-pickin' guitar licks. (KH)

Rockwell Knuckles, Choose Your Own Adventure (self-released)
If the goal of every musician is to expand sonically and conceptually with each record they release, Rockwell Knuckles is winning. Each one of his three (outstanding) albums has been better than the last. His latest, Choose Your Own Adventure, has him rhyming over thunderous beats from top-notch local producers such as Stoney Rock (a.k.a. Black Spade), Trifeckta and Tech Supreme. His topics range from immortality and existentialism to drunken hook-ups and life on the streets of the north side. (KH)
7 p.m., Shiver Vodka Bar & Champagne Lounge

So Many Dynamos, The Loud Wars (Vagrant)
Though it was given a tragic 5.5 by a cantankerous Pitchfork reviewer, The Loud Wars is So Many Dynamos' most polished release to date. Produced by Chris Walla of Death Cab for Cutie fame, Wars shows that the foursome has grown up a little bit: The album is studded with great tracks such as "New Bones," which is an impeccable earworm that's anthemic in the style of old-school Dynamos track "Search Party." Still, the band maintains the frenetic pace and depressive insouciance for which it's known. And Wars revisits familiar sonic territory: call-and-response bridges, Clayton Kunstel's creative destruction of his drum kit and mathed out madness. This time around, however, there's enough sonic trickery to hopefully dispel those pesky Dismemberment Plan comparisons. (DB)

Son Volt, American Central Dust (Rounder)
With the soft murmur of Jay Farrar's vocals, the rip and cry of slide guitar, and military-precision percussion, Son Volt marches through a modern dust bowl with American Central Dust. The album continues the band's history of relevant social criticism ("When the Wheels Don't Move") and forgotten history ("Sultana"), while turning an absurd urban legend into a soulful piano-driven dirge seeped in humanity ("Cocaine and Ashes"). (Wheeler)

Theodore, Hold You Like a Lover (Moon Jaw)
On February 9 Moon Jaw Records (an Absolutely Kosher/Misra Records imprint) released the third album from the alt-folk/country quartet Theodore, Hold You Like a Lover. Justin Kinkel-Schuster's scratchy, crooning vocals passionately lament the shadowy tales of men and their tribulations. These affecting lyrics tumble across a dusty landscape of brass, upright bass, drums and guitar, while standout track, "Death's Hand," swirls with noise and aches with what it means to be human. (LD)
9:45 p.m., Over/Under Bar & Grill Patio

The Trip Daddys, Roll On! (Daddytime Records) 
Even with a new rhythm section, the Trip Daddys still sound like the Trip Daddys — mainly because of Craig Straubinger's strength of vision and his red-hot guitar playing. Contrary to popular belief, though, the Daddys have always been more than a mere rockabilly band, something which shines through on Roll On! Straubinger and Co. power through tunes that take cues from ramped-up country and reverb-heavy, twangy rock & roll. As the band's cover of the Greg Kihn Band's "The Breakup Song (They Don't Write 'Em)" says, they just don't write 'em like that anymore. (CS)

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