Black James and her MOUNTAIN BOY: Dance Folk For The Future

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Mabel Suen
Black James with her new tape. released at Plush last Friday.

In this weekly column, RFT Music gets to know local creatives, musicians and their missions. Get a slice of the local scene, complete with a snippet of sound and info about upcoming releases and shows. Stick around to see what St. Louis artists have to say whenever they Fill in the Blank.

"It was a very, very gradual process from banjo to booty," says Jennifer McDaniel, who might better be known as her alter-ego Black James. For roughly five years and counting, McDaniel has built a varied sound that started with dark American folk and morphed into fierce dance music. Not that those genres go hand-in-hand, but McDaniel has managed to carve out songs that pander to no one but still feel accessible as a whole.


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Matt Stuttler Makes a Shitstorm of Garage Rock in St. Louis

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Daniel Hofmeister

In this weekly column, RFT Music gets to know local creatives, musicians and their missions. Get a slice of the local scene, complete with a snippet of sound and info about upcoming releases and shows. Stick around to see what St. Louis artists have to say whenever they Fill in the Blank.

Matt Stuttler makes St. Louis a better place to love live music. While booking for local venues Heavy Anchor, Plush and, as of this week,the Firebird, he's brought a quality ethos to an industry that likes to play favorites. Through his own music label Eat Tapes, Stuttler helps finance and promote independent bands by releasing cassette tapes, a format that's all but dead among collectors and analog purists.


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Meet Local Rockers Shark Dad at Rockabration 4 This Weekend

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Mili Pinski
Shark Dad live.

In this weekly column, RFT Music gets to know local creatives, musicians and their missions. Get a slice of the local scene, complete with a snippet of sound and info about upcoming releases and shows. Stick around to see what St. Louis artists have to say whenever they Fill in the Blank.

Rockabration, hosted by local musician Jason Robinson, has become a Memorial Day weekend tradition at Off Broadway (3509 Lemp Avenue). This Sunday, May 25, marks the fourth year Robinson has put together the event: a day of local music, food trucks, cold beers, roller girls, live art and more. He initially came up with the idea while fronting the now-defunct band the Orbz. These days, his rock project Shark Dad holds down the stage with a selection of other artists.

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Meet Ben Daniel, the Brains Behind Eclectic Indie-Rock Outfit the Uncredibles

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Corey Woodruff Photography http://www.coreywoodruff.com
Ben Daniel plays every instrument on the Uncredibles' new album.

In this weekly column, RFT Music gets to know local creatives, musicians and their missions. Get a slice of the local scene, complete with a snippet of sound and info about upcoming releases and shows. Stick around to see what St. Louis artists have to say whenever they Fill in the Blank.

In his latest music video Fuck Bono, Ben Daniel appears as singer, guitarist, bassist and drummer, like a punk-rock Multiplicity. Because cloning machines aren't an option, Daniel tends to fill out the Uncredibles with a backing band -- but for him, that's an exception, not a rule. The Uncredibles is often performed as a solo act, with Daniel playing musical chairs on a stage crammed with instruments.

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Ded Bugs Celebrate 25 Years as a Band With a Series of Shows Starting Tonight

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Bob Reuter
Matt Meyer of Ded Bugs.

In this weekly column, RFT Music gets to know local creatives, musicians and their missions. Get a slice of the local scene, complete with a snippet of sound and info about upcoming releases and shows. Stick around to see what St. Louis artists have to say whenever they Fill in the Blank.

"If you would have told me in 1989 that my band would go on to release five albums, tour Japan, meet the Ramones and perform with the Dickies, I would have figured you completely mad, mad, mad," says Matt Meyer, guitarist and founding member of punk outfit Ded Bugs. To celebrate 25 years together, the band will play a string of anniversary shows, starting tonight at Plush Saint Louis with Rat Heart and Better Off Damned.


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Stonechat Releases BACCO Tonight at Cafe Ventana; Preview A Track and its New Comic

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Mabel Suen
Stonechat is Sean Ballard, John Beabout and Charlie Nehr.
"It's funky, it's heavy, it's mathy. It's passionate. It's nitty-gritty," says Stonechat's newest member, John Beabout, when asked to describe the trio's sound. Beabout joined the band last fall on keyboards, lending a unique range of melodies to guitarist Sean Ballard and drummer Charlie Nehr's spastic rock and pop sound. Tonight, Stonechat will release its first album as a trio, titled BACCO, at Cafe Ventana (3919 West Pine Boulevard; 314-531-7500).

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Meet Les Gruff and the Billy Goat, Songwriter Billy Croghan's Americana-Based Band

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Allan Crain
Les Gruff and the Billy Goat.
St. Louis native Billy Croghan grew up on a steady diet of singer-songwriters -- music he says his "old man listened to." Inspired by artists including Cat Stevens, James Taylor and Waylon Jennings, he set out to learn guitar, later studying classical technique in college and writing his own set of Americana songs tinged with folk, country, blues and roots. Today, he performs his songs in Les Gruff and the Billy Goat, a band that includes members of the Last Night, Aye Sir Owl, the Boxcutters and more.

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Nato Caliph Presents "The Build" at Blank Space

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Omar O'Hara
A still From Nato Caliph's "Polarity" video shoot at Kayak Coffee.

In this weekly column, RFT Music gets to know local creatives, musicians and their missions. Get a slice of the local scene, complete with a snippet of sound and info about upcoming releases and shows. Stick around to see what St. Louis artists have to say whenever they Fill in the Blank.

"Your music is not for everybody. Artists need that wake-up call. It's hard to believe, but that's a fact," says hip-hop artist Nato Caliph. "Focus on making quality music for the people that want to hear it, and that will spread itself. That's the reality, but that's what makes it beautiful."

Whether he's writing for new tracks or booking shows, Nato stays humble, with a strong sense of community. That humility shows in the poster for his next show, on which his name sits at the very bottom, despite his role as its main promoter. Catch him, along with ten-plus additional performers, at The Build at Blank Space on Saturday, April 26.


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Progressive Hip-Hop Artists Jah Orah and KD Assassin Debut Video For "It's Not the Same"

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Mabel Suen
Jah Orah and KD Assassin.
In this weekly column, RFT Music gets to know local creatives, musicians and their missions. Get a slice of the local scene, complete with a snippet of sound and info about upcoming releases and shows. Stick around to see what St. Louis artists have to say whenever they Fill in the Blank.

"We're basically learning from the pioneers that started this thing, and becoming engineers going through things in life," says hip-hop artist KD Assassin. "What we do can be called 'street-hop,' meaning it's good music with an edge.... It's positive music -- intelligent, intellectual conversation with a message."

Recently, KD Assassin and fellow emcee Jah Orah released a music video for "It's Not the Same," a song that their producer Stephen King, a.k.a. InStrumenTaL jokingly refers to as "some kind of unintentional manthem." Prince Ea directs the video, which also features Orah and KD's counterpart, MC923. Assembled on the spot in the studio, the song tells the story of each artist's individual relationships and frustrating realities in one seamless song.

See also: Twelve Must-See Music Videos from St. Louis Hip-Hop Artists

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Zagk Gibbons Is a One-Man Rock Band with a Psych Edge

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Mabel Suen
Zagk Gibbons is a sound engineer, artist and musician.

In this weekly column, RFT Music gets to know local creatives, musicians and their missions. Get a slice of the local scene, complete with a snippet of sound and info about upcoming releases and shows. Stick around to see what St. Louis artists have to say whenever they Fill in the Blank.

Zagk Gibbons takes a page or two from the book of modern pop artists. By stacking samples atop live guitar and keys, Gibbons effectively builds his songs bearing the force of a full band, and he does so alone. His newest EP, Nothing With the Letter V, is set to release on May 31, and Gibbons has shared with us a sneak peak of what's to come.

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