Remembering Bob Reuter: St. Louis Speaks [Multiple Updates]

Categories: Local History

Larissa Rook, Wormwood Scrubs

The first time I met Bob Reuter he told me to shut up. It was at an open mic night at Frederick's Music Lounge. He was hosting. I was in the audience. I was young. I was on a date (with my future husband). I was too loud. He called me a singer/songwriter or Joan Baez or something equally insulting after I performed a few songs. I thought he was a crotchety old man. I had no idea who he was. Or what he was. Or that he held that stage as sacred ground.

I suppose I feared him for a while. We learned to tolerate each other and played shows together on occasion. But I still didn't get him. Then one day, maybe after I had been sick and after he had been sick, we became friends. We had seen the other side. We were fellow travelers of the edge.

"You almost die?"
"Yeah, me too."
"So what are you gonna do now?"
"Play the blues."
"Yeah, me too."

And we did. For years. Sharing the stages across St Louis. And I grew closer to understanding what he was all about. He was a man that did not compromise. He was honest to a fault. He bled every time he got on stage. It didn't matter what size venue or how many people were in the audience. He was serious about his art. And he expected you to take him serious. Even when he told a joke. I loved his jokes. I can't remember any because I have a terrible memory. But every time we met, the conversation started with a joke. They always had a long set up so you really had to pay attention. And the endings were either corny or dirty. Perfect vaudeville.

One night, I believe we were doing a show at Off Broadway soon after Bob's open heart surgery. After a good joke, we got to talking about scars. I have my share thanks to being a cancer survivor. One thing led to another. I'll show you mine if you show me yours. We wound up outside in the alley and took each other's picture. He let me use his camera. Bob Reuter let me use his camera! I never saw the photos he took of me that night. I always imagined he kept them in a box with gold teeth, photos of amputees, and broken guitar picks.

I hope he is stomping around in the afterlife with a mic in one hand and a camera in the other. And if his ghost ever comes knocking on my door, I'm going to shut up and listen.

Nick Acquisto, KDHX DJ

Bob had a drive to do something exceptional all hours of the day and more often than not, he did. I remember in 2008, when The Vultures performed live on The Space Parlour for the Live in St. Louis Series, Bob was in the hospital for triple bypass surgery and had played live on air a week before. I remember that he called at the beginning of my show just to say that he was listening. Since I knew how much The Vultures were friends and fans of Bob and how much Bob loved that band, I asked him to introduce them live over the phone on-air from his hospital bed. Of course he did. I know it meant a lot to him, because he's brought it up at least a few times since.

While he was in the hospital at that time and really needed to take it easy for the next month or two, I know there was nothing Bob wanted to do more than something like that. It was really hard for him to slow down and he didn't for long. He was back at all of his creative passions more than ever after his surgery and seemed to produce more vigorously than even before.


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