MARDI GRAS MUSIC: Up against some stiff competition in the neighborhood on the same evening -- including a big blast supported by this paper -- the Mardi Gras krewe known as the Mystic Knights of the Purple Knights throw their 11th annual Mardi Gras Ball on Friday, Feb. 12, at the historic St. Louis Casa Loma Ballroom. Headlining the evening are the nationally regarded Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas. Local favorites Bob Case and his Wild Accusations, featuring Ron Levy, open the evening. Costumes are encouraged, of course, and beads will be for sale. Tickets are available through MetroTix for $20. If you're headed down that way for the Friday-night festivities, you can also check out Fernest Arceneaux at Patty Long's 9th Street Abbey (he plays Saturday, too) and Jumpin' Johnny Sansone at the South Broadway Athletic Club. (TC)

REMOTE CONTROL: You probably know Bob Reuter from his desperate country songs, both solo and with his band, Kamikaze Cowboy. If you want to see another side of Reuter, though, check out an exhibition of his photographs, opening 7-9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20, at the Compass Rose, 4974 Fyler. Reuter's photographs address themes that pepper his songs -- factories, the road, bars, workers -- and document musical performances. The question, then, is whether Reuter's relative absence from the live-music circuit these days is related to an emphasis on photography over music. The answer is a qualified no: Kamikaze Cowboy has been in the studio of late and therefore staying out of the limelight. "I've just been concentrating on things that are more in my control," Reuter says. "It's taken away from the music, but recording is something that's in my control, whereas playing in bars, talking to bar owners, hasn't been in my control. Taking pictures, which I do by myself, and going into the darkroom to print them, is under my control. So maybe in a way it has taken a little bit away. But I also think that it has somehow reawakened the music, too. Taking pictures is the closest thing to songwriting for me. It's telling a story, boom -- but going out and hearing all these other bands, and taking pictures of them, has inspired me musically."

If you can't get to the opening, you'll have to make an appointment to view the photos: Call 481-8851.The image shown here, part of the exhibition, depicts LA artist Toledo, who, coincidentally, is performing in town this week (see "Sound Checks," page 58). (RR)

NEW WAVE NUGGETS: If you're of a certain age and musical temperament, you may remember the giddiness with which you greeted the news of the arrival of KPNT (105.7 FM) in the St. Louis radio marketplace. We were finally getting an alternative radio station to keep us up to date on all the exciting happenings in the rock underground! You probably also remember that, whatever its virtues, the Point failed to live up to our expectations. Instead of a vast sea of creativity, we got a tightly programmed, audience-tested product.

The word "alternative" was originally used to distinguish radio programmed without research, with songs and artists chosen by individual disc jockeys who were constantly looking for new, more unfamiliar sounds. It was found in the early '80s down on the left of the dial (celebrated in song by the Replacements), where the college radio stations were a bastion of experimentation in rock forms.

Three volumes of Postpunk Chronicles have recently been issued by Rhino Records to remind us of what we thought we were getting, albeit a few years down the line, with the Point. These CDs each contain 16 songs from the early to mid-'80s, with virtually none turning up on narrowly focused kitsch-leaning oldies shows. Not every song is great, but you'd be surprised how tunes by the likes of Wire, Comsat Angels, Cocteau Twins, Dream Syndicate, Teardrop Explodes, Gang of Four, Three O'Clock, Pere Ubu, Echo and the Bunnymen, Magazine and Pigbag are capable of sounding fresh 15-20 years after they were recorded. (SP)

REQUIEM: Joan Bouise, a native of New Orleans, was buried in her hometown on Saturday, Jan. 30. She died in late January, in New York City, after a struggle with cancer. In between Joan's Big Easy upbringing and her final journey home, she spent several years in St. Louis, lifting many a spirit with her soulful vocals and gaining loyal friends with her outgoing personality and irrepressible laughter.

Singing was something that came naturally for Joan, whatever the musical genre. She spiced her performances with everything from Betty Carter-style jazz scatting to dead-on renditions of New Orleans R&B classics by Irma Thomas and Lee Dorsey. Joan moved from St. Louis to Chicago in the 1980s, and, encouraged by friends and fellow musicians, decided to make the move to New York City a few years later. There she balanced a day job with a major talent agency and performances and recordings with J.D. Parran's group Spirit Stage. But my best musical memories of Joan are of her duet performances with St. Louis bassist Jim Mayer. Together they managed to become a musical definition of synergy -- creating a sound that seemed much larger than ought to have been possible for just a duo. We'll miss you, Joan. (TP)

Contributors: Thomas Crone, Terry Perkins, Steve Pick, Randall Roberts