Remembering Bob Reuter: St. Louis Speaks [Multiple Updates]
Little Rachel Fenton, St. Louis musician:
Bob is St. Louis, through and through, and I really learned a new appreciation for this fair city from knowing him. I am a transplant to this city. St. Louis seemed harsh and unwelcoming when I arrived... especially since I was the "new girl," moving in with the respected, established St. Louis musician. Even Mat [Wilson, Rum Drum Ramblers] did not want to go out in public in St. Louis with me much when we first started dating, because he didn't want to answer all the questions, or make me feel like I had to prove myself. He was trying to protect me, but I just felt even more like an outsider... like maybe he wasn't even sure I was going to be good enough. These St. Louis musicians were a tight bunch. They were a community...and they all looked up to Bob Reuter.
Mat was an original member of Bob Reuter's band Alley Ghost at the time I moved to St. Louis. I generally don't seek approval from others, but Bob intimidated the hell out of me. Since Mat and all his friends spoke so highly of him, I knew his approval was vital to my longevity here in St. Louis. I guess it was because he was so revered by so many talented St. Louis musicians I respected. I also knew Bob was very close friends with Mat's previous girlfriend of four-plus years. I heard he could be a bit prickly, and made no attempt to spare your feelings if he didn't like you. So, I kept my distance at first. It is literally impossible for me to be a kiss ass. Even if I tried it, I am completely incapable of it. I did seek Bob's approval, but I am unable to kiss ass to be in anyone's good favor, so I just avoided saying much at all.
What I learned in very little time is that Bob Reuter had a gift for seeing what is real, and appreciating it for being real, whether it is good or bad. I did not have to say much to get the approval I sought from him, because he knew I was genuine. I appreciated it so much that he could recognize that. He never once made me feel like I had to prove myself, and to my surprise, was completely accepting of me from day one. Bob played a song from one of my CDs on his KDHX show, Bob's Scratchy Records, even though it was a "CD," not a "record." That was one of the biggest compliments I could have imagined and one of the first times I ever truly felt accepted as a St. Louis musician. Bob knew what was real, and to get the "Bob's Seal of Approval" was an honor. His acceptance made me appreciate the tight community of the St. Louis music scene and feel more welcomed as a part of it.
I still can't believe this is how the story ends for Bob Reuter. I know he has left behind a legacy of artistic work far beyond what most artists dream of putting out there. My only hope now is that he will continue to gain the recognition in death that he should have been able to enjoy in life. Thanks, Bob, for opening so many ears and eyes to the beauty of what is real, with your music and your pictures. You will be greatly missed. This is an end of an era.
Mario Viele, St. Louis musician and engineer:
We recorded Born There in two nights. We went into Firebrand Recording, set up sixteen mics and let the band rip. The plan was to get a high-quality studio record on a garage-band's budget so we treated it like the Stones would have and just HIT. Any audio messes would be cleaned up as best they could later, and however much or little that was SO BE IT. Bob was totally on a high the whole time, he didn't want to play songs more than one or two times and if anyone wanted to cut another take he would yell stuff like, "COME ON, MOTHERFUCKERS, THIS IS ROCK & ROLL!"
There were arguments, there were broken rules, there was blood and steam and sweat and fire (like when Chris's crazy voodoo incense altar almost burned down the whole joint and we laughed like madmen), and there was a whole lot of truth. Everybody worked long and hard, and in the end we got the lightning in the bottle. Born There is a real live Midwestern rock & roll band going lo-fi on hi-fi; a reckless, off-the-rails testament to the songs Bob had written. He was so giddy with excitement that Maysam and Mat had to explain to him why he couldn't play the rough mixes on the radio; he just wanted to so bad. When he heard the test pressing it was as if he might have exploded right then. It's an amazing record, and it's for everyone.