COMUSIC REVIEW: Hooten Hallers 45 Release Party @ Off Broadway in St. Louis

Okay it’s the 14th of September and I found myself in the St. Louis area this weekend for work related reasons. While I know a couple of people and have relatives in the area I also wonder what else is going on as the days approach. In my research I come across  news that Columbia’s own the Hooten Hallers will be having a release party for their new 45 RPM record at Off Broadway in St. Louis. Needing something to do Friday night, I decide to head over there and see what things were like. Here’s a brief example of the artists who played and the atmosphere there.

 

Doormat and Littel Rachel starting off the night.

St. Louis; Doormat and Little Rachel played first. Their old timey blues with male/female vocals and an electrified dobro style guitar was a blend of both old blues and jazz as well as some originals. Intimate, even a little tinny (a metal bodied guitar will do that), the duo had a swing feel and made the most of their brief set to play something that seems a world away but will fit the tenor of the night better than some would expect.

Jack Grelle and the Johnson Family bringing the honky tonk to us.

 

After several missed opportunities I finally get to chance one time local Jack Grelle’s latest project – Jack Grelle and the Johnson Family playing live. Ranging from five to seven people, the band transforms Grelle’s old timey folk country songs into stone country tracks one would find on a jukebox at a honky tonk. Full of pedal steel guitar and tales of life, loss, and people you wish would get lost Grelle and company were largely acoustic, even mixing in a bit of Western Swing into the sound that’s rooted somewhere between Austin and Bakersfield as much as the Midwest. Those familiar with Grelle’s previous solo work will be pleased with this fleshing out of his sound.

Bugchaser taking the night somewhere completely different.

Bugchaser veered things into a complete different path. Their music was high energy space rock (for lack of a better term) built of dual drums and dual keyboards as much as spaced out or fuzzed our guitar. Driving and high energy their songs walk more of a punk or garage feel than the roots music of the earlier acts. Still, the chaos was less of a contrast than one would think.

The tension in the crowd grew as Hooten Hallers came on to play. As you may have guessed, their nasty, stripped down blues rock tore the house down. Delivered with an intensity that neared vintage punk at times, John and Andy fed off the crowd’s energy and gave it right back with some greasy guitars and primal drumming that hit the spot like an after bars late night diner breakfast. Tight, energy draining and aggressive, this turned out to be one of the best shows I’d ever seen by them, I was expecting a lot and I wasn’t disappointed.

Hooten Hallers taking the night over.

And with that it ended. As last call hit we ventured out into the autumn air and various plans (ranging from parties to sleep – depending on the person). Regardless, this was one of those events that I needed to witness.

The Canvas – Creating Art and Smiles One Sing Along Song and Bellini at a Time

I’m pretty sure I’ve found my new favorite girls night spot. I recently took my mother on a long over due mother/daughter evening to The Canvas on Broadway. Downtown’s newest art venue with a twist (of lime if you want) is sure to be a hit. I told mom to find a night with a picture that fit her home decor (which isn’t difficult since they offer a wide variety) and she picked a summery themed piece.

We walked in and were greeted by the owners Angela Bennett and Stephanie Hall and immediately I felt like I just reconnected with some long lost girlfriends. The environment is laid back and casual, so no pressure if you feel like you can’t draw a straight line. The signature drink at the bar is a Bellini, but don’t drink too many because, well, if you thought you couldn’t paint a straight line before…

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I’m pretty sure their playlist is called “everyones favorite singalong songs ever” and as you start to hum along while you grab your supplies you know that even if you’re don’t create a masterpiece you’re still gonna have a great time.

I mentioned earlier the girls night appeal, but there were guys there as well having just as much fun. Our instructor Stephanie lead us through the techniques and brushstrokes and was upbeat and optimistic even when the paintbrush stroke went awry. You can tell these ladies are passionate about helping their customers find their inner creativity.

20120901-203518.jpg“There’s a storm coming in mine,definitely gonna rain,” my mom said, pondering the ocean sky behind her adirondack. Listening to my mom sing Simon and Garfunkel at the top of her lungs while dabbing her brush and mixing her colors made me smile.

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By the end of the evening we each had a piece that, while similar, had our own individual stamp on them. I know I will be back – one of the MU themed pieces is going to look great in my newly remodeled downstairs. Helping me spark my creative self while sharing a great evening with my mom was fabulous. And now we both have a souvenir to remember it by.

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CoMusic: Papadosio

I came across Papadosio while checking out upcoming shows at the Blue Note. If I’m not familiar with a band, I’ll listen to a song on YouTube and decide within two minutes if I’m going to the show or not. It didn’t even take two minutes to get completely hooked on Papadosio’s sound.

That sound has been described as live electronica with songwriting that “showcases improvisational interludes and refreshing vocal harmonies with an amplified message of transcendence, unity and universal understanding.” It sounds lofty, but that is exactly what I feel while listening.

Their live shows combine music with art and lights to create an atmosphere that transports audience members somewhere else—I’m not sure exactly where, but I plan to find out Wednesday evening.

Until then, here’s a short interview with Anthony Thogmartin:

I don’t think that “live electronica” adequately describes the music of Papadosio. Do you have any words that do it better?

I don’t think it does either. I like the word “electronica,” and I like the word “rock.” They are both very unassuming, and that’s right where we like to be. The whole premise of the band has been to never discredit a musical idea regardless of how much it does or does not sound like Papadosio. Honestly, we didn’t think people were going to be very into our sound back in our first years, but we find ourselves gaining more and more ground. I think it’s because people like variety and color. They want epic; they want emotional; they want to go on a kind of adventure. That’s the show we are trying to throw. So to define what an adventure is may be rather difficult. They should call us Progventurocktronica.

You put on a hybrid show–music, lights, art. Can you tell us how that evolved and what to expect?

Expression led to expansion. We are surrounded by creative people who inspire us and we inspire them. Some of them have joined us on the road; some of them have given us art to project live; some of them come to dance. We took all these elements and made an all-encompassing experience that changes every night. All I can say is: it’s never going to be the same night to night; it’s always going to be fresh. And this tour is going to be very stimulating for sure.

What does To End the Illusion of Separation (TETIOS–the name of the new album) mean to you?

The new album’s name came from the central theme of our life and time now. It’s not complicated; nor does it deserve a long silly scientific explanation. It’s just the most obvious thing that we are all in this together. It’s entirely up to us to learn that all life is reliant on different aspects of itself to survive and thrive. We need to learn to reintegrate ourselves as humans into this vast web of interconnections, instead of trying to dominate it as if we were separate from it. This is just one of the many ways we feel like the title is relevant to what is happening in our world. Many of the songs deal in some way with this realization too.

Artistically the album is a collaboration between us musically and twenty different artists who created a special visual piece for each of the twenty songs. So we are trying to unify visual and audible art: to end the illusion of separation between different art forms. It’s a very exciting time for us to be releasing this album. 😉

Papadosio at the Blue Note. Wednesday, August 29, 2012. Show starts at 8:30.

COMUSIC – Local Bands Worth Checking Out

So, the summer is over in all but the actual autumn equinox sense. School is back in and people are adjusting to a long routine of studying, work, et al. However, life is about more than just the work we have to do to survive. With that in mind I would like to talk about some bands you may not have heard of. They’re mentioned here in no particular order other than the first bands or artists that came to mind. They’re also the ti of the iceberg in terms of local music in Columbia, So whether you’ve just moved here for school or other reasons or have been around for a while but really busy and haven’t paid attention to what has been going on here musically, here are a few local bands worth checking out.

BATTLEMENT

Battlement

 

I hadn’t heard this band until I saw them play live recently and became a believer. This young trio delivers vintage style thrash metal with tight, relatively complex songs and a hint of prog mixed in. What emerges are songs that draw upon the roots of thrash while adding enough of a twist to show the potential they have ahead of them. More intricate guitar leads than gimmicks or tuned down crunch, While Columbia has never beenexactly known as a hotspot for metal, Battlement is a band that may change that.

GRAN MAL

Gran Mal

Ben and Nate of Gran Mal

 

What if you’re in the mood for some vintage style punk? Well, check out Gran Mal. this trio tears down the aural gauntlet with straightahead punk and hardcore that goes for the throat with medium fast beats and raw to the point,power chord guitar work. These guys know their genre and deliver no frills and in your face with a mix of sonic roughness and visceral energy that you don’t hear a lot these days. Gran Mal is the latest link in the chain of hardcore punk reamining true to its roots while trying to mark their own niche within it.

NOISE ORDINANCE

Noise Ordinance

Noise Ordinance live – May 2012

 

This is a very young band (as in they’ve only played a literal handful of shows) but these kids lay down a blend of vintage punk with occasional ska and reggae overtone that shows a lot of potential.  Yeah, they wear their influences on their sometimes tattered sleeves but they draw from old HC as much as new punk and raw a rawness that some readers will find refreshing.

 

As I said earlier, this is far from a complete list of local bands to check out.  It’s the tip of the tip of the iceberg.  In addition, just because I recommend a band doesn’t mean you’ll agree with me.  Regardless of what you think of the bands I recommend here I do feel you should take some time and check out the local music scene here in Columbia.  Yes, it may take some effort but you may also find some artists that surprise you.

 

Wordless Wednesday: Artrageous Friday & Summerfest

(all photos taken on a Nikon D300 with 35mm 1.8 lens)

 

COMUSIC REVIEW- Trio Kablammo, Missouri Weather and the Wait 5 @ Artrageous Friday

As I type this we are suffering under the weight of one of the worst droughts in years (if not decades) Several weeks of nearly constant 100° plus days has created a stifling heat that has gotten people on edge and made people not want to go outside anywhere unless absolutely necessary. However, since cabin fever can drive people up the walls, sometimes you have to brave the heat and get away. For me it was after doing some errands Friday night and the realization that I needed to have a night out that led me to finally fulfill a promise and see a band I’ve been meaning to for a while but had been unable to in the past.

 

Missouri Weather and the Wait 5 laying it down

Missouri Weather and the Wait 5 laying it down

I arrived at the back of Artrageous gallery in downtown Columbia shortly after Artrageous Friday’s house band Missouri Weather and the Wait 5 started playing. This local quintet provided a sonic backdrop of classic sounding rock drawing from a mix of jazz and blues elements with a fair element of improvisation and some hints of heavy metal at points. Built around Anna’s vocals and acoustic guitar work, the songs have a lilting quality where lush organ and piano percolate to evoke vibes that are part jam band but one may also hear touchstones of classic rock ranging from Van Morrison and Atlanta Rhythm Section in their sound. This band is still fairly young but standing at a crossroads between class rock/jam band style roots and melding more modern sounds within it. This band is slowly building a following in the region and looks to be growing into a promising live act.

 

TK

Trio Kablammo taking things somewhere unexpected – as expected.

I didn’t know Trio Kablammo would be playing tonight until I found out just after Missouri Weather began playing, making this a welcome surprise. The band rose to the challenge to deliver a set of their trademark jam/country rock complete with their trademark skewed sense of humor. Filtering jazz chords and thumb picked lead guitar with a tight rhythm section, the trio came up with a set that was relatively breezy, slightly snarky, and a respite from the sweltering heat outside. While Trio Kablammo was unexpected, they added a feel to the event hat complimented the night.
Eventually, I went out into the night. Between Ana Popovic playing Summerfest on 9th St and a couple of club shows, this was a quasi-sleepy night in Columbia. However, sometimes when you seek things out on a hot somewhat sleepy night, what you might may surprise you.

COMUSIC REVIEW: CABIN SESSIONS – “Back to Compton”

Back to Compton Vol5 the fourth CdCabin Sessions have always been somewhat of an enigma within Columbia’s music scene. Where most artist begin playing live before recording, CS began as a one-off project with some local songwriters that was recorded just to hear how it sounded. From those first songs getting played to friends, the local collective emerged as a band in its own right with three CDs released and a number of live shows (limited due to family and other obligations). After a fourth session was shelved for a number of reasons, it appeared the future was in question, However, they eventually returned to Compton, AR (the site of the first session) and emerged with their fourth album.
Vol5: Back to Compton finds the group’s blend of country, folk, and indie pop harnessed in the vibe of each songwriter, starting with the introspective pop of “When the War (Within You Ends).” Along the way, the songs move the listener on a (mostly) acoustic journey through country (“The Grip,”), folk (“Slow Moving Cold Front”) and blues (“Tom Cat Blues”) and onwards with aural landscapes painted with blends of acoustic guitars and assorted percussion while peppered with slide guitar, banjo, and lush harmonies in many songs. All leading up to the loose feeling blend of country and folk “When It All Goes Wrong,” which closes out the disc. While the recording vibe is far from slick, the rough hued charm is what makes Cabin Sessions what it is on disc.
Back to Compton finds Cabin Sessions at an interesting point. While no longer a one time project, it began as, the band has created music that reveals a variety of moods while complimentary the individual songwriter. It will be interesting to see what they do in the future.

Art in the Park 2012

Perfect weather. Color everywhere. Great food. That sums up our day at Art in the Park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

***Photographs by Isabelle Heintz and Susan Heintz.

Southern Culture on the Skids

What are you thinking about doing this weekend? Some live music? Maybe something different for a change? How about a band that’s been around since 1983? Or one that aims to combine high and low culture (moonshine martini, anyone…)? Or one that plays swamp pop? Or surf? Or R & B? Or rockabilly? Or a crazy combo of all those styles with a punk edge?

How about a show that Rolling Stone magazine calls “a hell-raising rock & roll party”? Or a show where, if you are quick, you can catch some fried chicken thrown from the stage?  Or maybe you’d like to go to an outdoor show because the weather is so beautiful?  Maybe you need a family-friendly event where the children can run around blowing bubbles while you laze next to your dream date?

Or maybe you’d like to see a band whose current LP has something to do with zombies? Or maybe one whose music has been featured in a hit movie like Beavis and Butt-head Do America?  Or a band that will let you dance on stage and share their bounty of banana pudding when your energy starts to flag?

Of course I am now going to tell you how to get all that and more.*  I’m not a tease.

Southern Culture on the Skids.  Saturday at Kemper Park in Boonville.

The show is part of the Pedaler’s Jamboree line-up.  Those not riding on the Jamboree can attend the show by getting tickets ($20) at Kemper Park starting at 3 pm on Saturday.  I’ll be there dressed in orange, a perfect target for some chicken.

SCOTS, as we like to call the band, consists of Rick Miller (guitar, vocals), Mary Huff (bass guitar, vocals), and Dave Hartman (drums).  I spoke to Drummer Dave about everything but music.  Here is some of that conversation:

How did you come to discover that “the people want chicken”?

We were in Harrisonburg, VA, playing near the front door of a tiny club to eleven disinterested people.  A guy wandered in off the street and stole our chicken dinner from the side of the stage while we were playing.  We looked over and saw him dancing with a piece of chicken in his mouth. Rick said, “If you’re gonna dance with our chicken, you need to be on stage.” Suddenly the eleven people became interested, and the rest is a Trivial Pursuit answer (really – Pop Culture Edition).

How’s the chicken cannon coming along?

Still in development. We’re modeling it after the design of the Go-Nuts Snack-A-Pult™. Really.

Who would portray the band members in SCOTS: The Movie?

Harry Dean StantonNed Beatty, and Katey Sagal.

If Elvis were alive, what SCOTS song would he cover?

Carve that Possum.

Have you actually roasted a pig on stage or is that just a dream?

Are you kidding? That takes 24 hours and the hardest part isn’t staying awake – it’s not getting too drunk to eat.

If SCOTS threw Jello along with the chicken and banana pudding, what flavor would it be?

Lime flavor with 7-Up, just like at the family reunions.

What advice would you give your younger band self?

No Little Debbie snack cakes or leftover chicken after 2 am!

Ever play a bicycle event?  How do you feel about Spandex?

Don’t know anything about Spandex, but Rick’s down with the Sans-A-Belt™.  Now, if they’d invent a product called “Spam-dex”….

*The more that I promised?  It’s Hella Go-Go, because it isn’t a dance party without Hella Go-Go!  Not only do these gals wear awesome dresses, they get down in the crowd and boogie.  If anyone is up to the challenge of getting tired cyclists to get up and shake it, it’s Hella Go-Go.

The entire Kemper Park main stage line-up: Carry Nation & The Speakeasy (6:15), The Hipnecks (7:30), Burn Circus (8:45), Southern Culture on the Skids with Hella Go-Go (9:00), The Wildcat Daddies (10:45–acoustic).  See you there!

Dirtfoot: Coming to CoMo

Off Track Events is bringing the gypsy punk country grumble boogie band Dirtfoot to town for the Pedaler’s Jamboree on May 26th and 27th.  The word on the street and the trail is that this is the one band not to miss.  They expect audience interaction, even handing out homemade bean cans to round out the band members’ guitar, banjo, bass, saxophone, drums and miscellaneous percussion instruments.

Dirtfoot is winning awards left and right.  They will be playing two shows at the Jamboree, and I plan to get there early to get my bean can.

Dirtfoot’s J Bratlie spoke with me from Shreveport, Lousiana:

Gypsy punk country grumble boogie? It sounds like all the odd people in my high school class got together and formed a cult.

Gypsy Punk Country Grumble Boogie was coined by a local writer who did one of our first reviews. He managed to sum up our sound so well that it stuck, and we’ve been running with it ever since. It’s not an intentional sound; we don’t try to write for a certain genre.  It just comes out purely primal, from the gut. Everyone says we sound familiar, but not like any other band or any style. We’ve been called Alt Country, Swamp Rock…hell, Les Claypool said we sound like a Southern version of Gogol Bordello, but not so Eastern European.

The story goes that God brought the first two band members together with one of His acts on one of His special days. Do you feel like you would be letting Him down if you didn’t continue to make music?

We do feel that a tornado, which brought myself and Matt together, is a fitting backdrop for the beginnings of the band. We formed on the same front porch of the reconstructed house, with numerous musicians sitting in and playing. Cool thing was, we weren’t trying to form a band, we just liked jamming, and if we really liked what somebody brought, they became permanent.

Was the house rebuilt while the band was forming?

The house was rebuilt by Matt and his family. They came out from west TX, and in a few weekends the house was better than ever. This happened in April 2000. Matt and I met right after the storm and basically started jamming immediately. The banjo I ended up playing was actually sitting in the corner of his house, and I saw it for the first time while examining the damage.

What’s with the bean cans?

The bean cans were a happy accident. We had a junk percussion player before we had a drummer, and homemade shakers were part of the rig. It seems like every show we were passing out the percussion to the folks, and it just kinda stuck. Now it really does help the crowd become the 7th member of the band.

Speaking of unusual instruments, how does one play a rubber chicken?

Ah, the rubber chicken… It is but one of our many accents that our percussionist, Daniel Breithaupt, has at his disposal. It was heavily featured in our song “Break My Bones” until, unfortunately, the chicken lost its voice a year or so ago. We’ve also had squealing pigs, horns, sirens and other fun things to make the necessary noises.

Is Dirtfoot acoustic or plugged in?

We are mostly acoustic. Our bassist plays his upright through an amp and does alternate with an electric bass. Matt and I both run our instruments through pedals to “play” with the sounds. Matt has also added an electric guitar recently, so you never know how it will morph and change.

 

You shot your video for “Cast My Plans” at the Wade Correctional Facility in Homer, LA, and it is fantastic! How did that project come about?

Well, that actually started with a music video.  We were approached by Jonathan Rothell, a film editor from California who wanted to make a music video of our song “Cast My Plans.”  He had the whole basic concept of the video: we are all thugs and you see us committing our crimes and getting caught. At the end of the video, the band forms in prison and we play in front of the inmates.

It seemed easier to actually go to a prison for the filming rather than attempting to build sets, costumes, etc, so we contacted the local prisons for help. Wade Correctional was very interested. We quickly decided that if we are going to go to a real prison and shoot ourselves in front of real inmates, then we should actually play a show. And if we’re going to play a show and we have cameras available, we should record that.

Then we reached out to our friend William Sadler, who we met playing a wrap party for the movie The Mist, to play our warden. At this point the buzz began to build about the project, and we had a whole crew of people who actually work for the movie industry in Shreveport volunteering for our video.

We then had a documentary crew put together to film the whole process, making the video, recording the live performance and put it all together in a sweet documentary “Making of the Cast My Plans Video.”  Of course the project had ballooned out of our small budget quickly. We decided to use a 35mm film camera to shoot the video to give it that “look,” which of course meant the extra expense of film processing. We also had to get Mr Sadler from New York to Louisiana for the shooting. We decided we had to come up with a way to fund this project, so we set up a Kickstarter campaign.

We set out to raise $10,000 in 30 days and spread the word mainly online: facebook, website, etc.  Well, we were very surprised by the quick response and actually hit our goal in 20 days.  So, after a little prodding from some of our die hards, we decided to up our goal. If we hit $15,000, we would print a special run of vinyl as well. On day 30, we had raised $16,200 and were blown away by the response.  So, needless to say, we spent all the money on making the best album, DVD and vinyl that we could. We have at least 175 people to thank for that one!

 

I’ve read that your audiences should expect an “aerobic workout of their bodies and ears” at every show. You sound like the perfect band for bicyclists. Have you ever played a bicycling event?

The Pedaler’s Jamboree is our first bicycling event. We’ve played many shows with folks riding around on bikes, but never for a bike-specific event. We are really looking forward to the shows, and we have good friends in Columbia too. It’ll be like a mini vacation.

If Dirtfoot were a meal, what dish would each member be?

Hmm…not sure what meal we’d be.  Being from Louisiana, a lot of folks compare us to a gumbo: lots of different flavors blended together to make something new.

I guess individual members:
Daniel – Spice. He definitely gives the music some zing.
Scotty – The sauce.
Nathan – Mystery spice. He gives that flavor that can’t be identified but rides underneath everything else.
Lane – Vegetables, good and hearty.
J – Some type of meat, like crawfish and sausage.
Matt – Meat. With a little gristle.

**Photographs curtesy of Dirtfoot.