National Blues Museum Meets Fundraising Goal, Begins Construction on World-Class Blues Experience

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The home of the National Blues Museum on Washington Avenue.

When the National Blues Museum announced on December 11 that it had completed financing and was ready for construction in downtown St. Louis, business executives and music fans around the metro region became excited. After all, a world-class tribute to the blues located on Washington Avenue could drive all kinds of economic and cultural development.

But Rob Endicott, chairman of the board of the National Blues Museum, isn't merely excited about the museum; he's also confident that this is the piece that will forever connect the Gateway City with a style of music that has contributed so much to America's rock & roll legacy.

He should know. He's a blues musician himself.

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Carried By Styx: Pallbearer Incorporates Prog-Rock Influences Into Its Doom-Metal Sound

Categories: Interviews, Metal

Diana Lee Zadlo
Pallbearer loves Kansas.

Being the torchbearer of the modern American doom-metal movement can be a tough job, especially when you list Kansas as one of your favorite bands. But it makes sense, according to Pallbearer bass player and vocalist Joseph D. Rowland, who says the band's progressive tendencies are just as important as its metal roots.

"I think we are just as much a prog-rock band as we are doom-metal," says Rowland. "We're huge fans of King Crimson, Yes, Kansas -- bands that pushed the envelope. We like telling a story through the music as well as the lyrics."

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Andy Cirzan Keeps Going All In For Christmas Music

Categories: Interviews

Andy Cirzan

As a junkie to his fix, as Santa to milk and cookies and chimneys, so is Andy Cirzan to Christmas music. The 57-year-old Chicago native has been making influential mixtapes (and now digital compilations; his 2014 mix has just been posted) for more than two decades and, for the last fifteen years or so, has been making annual appearances on Chicago radio (WXRT (93.1 FM), WBEZ (91.5 FM) and WGN (720 AM)) to spin holiday music that most humans never knew existed. To say he's devoted to discovering Christmas music -- the weird, wonderful and totally wigged-out -- is to say a beachcomber has sand in his toes. He keeps on digging and digging and digging, and somehow he keeps managing to sift out the gems from the vast winter-wonder-wasteland.

Cirzan recently appeared in the new documentary Jingle Bell Rocks!, which traces the spiritual (really) journey of filmmaker Mitchell Kezin as he tries to make sense out of his life through holiday music. Cirzan never planned to become one of the world's foremost collectors (his archive numbers in the thousands of records) and authorities on the genre. Fortunately for those who share his love of the best of seasonal sounds, his obsession had other ideas.

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Humdrum's Mic Boshans Takes Over Cherokee Street's Foam Coffee & Beer

Categories: Interviews

Kelly Glueck
Mic Boshans enjoys the fruits of his own labor.
Mic Boshans is many things to St. Louis. He's a musician, a barista, a promoter and, as of November 1, an entrepreneur. Foam Coffee & Beer, located at the corner of South Jefferson Avenue and Cherokee Street, is undergoing a makeover with Boshans at the helm.

"It is nerve-wracking," says Boshans, just before downing a double espresso from his own bar. "This isn't something I'd ever really wanted to do -- I'm a musician first. But when it came down to Foam about to close its doors if I didn't grab the reins, I decided I was going to take the plunge and do this."

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Lagwagon Nails the Delicate Art of Aging Gracefully

Lisa Johnson

Ever wondered what kind of maladies might befall residents of an old folks' home for punk musicians? All you have to do is crank up Lagwagon's "Falling Apart," on which the long-running Santa Barbara, California, band fast-forwards time and imagines what its members will look like when they are decrepit and utterly dilapidated. There are all manner of ailments: baldness, osteoporosis, glaucoma, blown-out knees, liver failure, dementia, muscular atrophy, dental decay, etc.

At the particularly mournful-sounding bridge, vocalist Joey Cape's distinctive, kinda nasal voice wades through despondence: "I'll never be Ozzy/Onstage when I'm 50/I'm gonna look like Elvis/By the time I'm 40/We're already bogus/We're already fading/We'll never be the Rolling Stones/I'm staying home."

And there Lagwagon is: infirm and irrelevant. It's a pointedly tragicomic riff on youth disappearing -- Cape himself sees the tune as more funny than sad.

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Shopping Season: Rough Shop Returns With Another Album of Christmas Songs

Categories: Interviews

Nate Burrell
Rough Shop, bringing the holidays to you.
Christmas music can elicit a range of responses: Doe-eyed sing-alongs and nostalgic reveries are both understandable responses, but there are many listeners who see red at the first strains of "Jingle Bells."

Rough Shop feels your pain.

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HBO Star Kristian Nairn to Bring Rave of Thrones to Old Rock House

Photo provided by Central Entertainment Group
Kristian Nairn of Game of Thrones DJs in New York City. See him at Old Rock House on Wednesday, December 10.

What do you say when a star from one of television's most stunning shows announces that he's going to DJ an event in your city?

"Hodor," of course.

On HBO's fantasy hit Game of Thrones, Irish actor Kristian Nairn says nothing but "Hodor" -- a version of his mentally challenged character's name. But get him talking about house music and his upcoming St. Louis show, and Nairn has plenty to reveal.

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Over 25 Years In, the Urge Continues to Sell Out St. Louis Venues

Categories: Interviews

Jess Dewes
The Urge, still going strong.

Steve Ewing says his band is doing just fine in 2014.

"We're healthy, we feel good, and we're better writers than we've ever been," the Urge's energetic frontman confirms. "We're pretty lucky in that sense."

The St. Louis band blew up nationally in the mid-'90s on the strength of tracks such as "All Washed Up" and "It's Gettin' Hectic" from 1995's self-released Receiving the Gift of Flavor, culminating in a record deal with Epic Records' Immortal imprint and tours with bands including Korn and Incubus. The group's hit single "Jump Right In" from 1998's Master of Styles (featuring singer Nick Hexum of 311) even landed a spot on the soundtrack to MTV's Daria. After nearly a million records sold, the members of the Urge decided to go their respective ways in 2001, only to reunite a decade later to headline Pointfest 29 and release "Say Yeah" as a teaser for then-in-progress album Galvanized. The band has been selling out shows ever since, playing to a packed house at the Pageant this past Saturday, November 22 — exactly one year after releasing Galvanized to a capacity crowd — and will perform again six days later, this Friday, November 28.

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St. Louis Symphony's "Music You Know" Series Draws Inspiration From the Familiar

Dilip Vishwanat
Music director David Robertson leads the St. Louis Symphony.

Have you ever really thought about where you hear classical music? No, really thought about it? Once you know what to listen for, you'll notice that orchestral pieces are everywhere, from video games to cartoons to presidential inaugurations. It's kind of scary how often we're surrounded by beautiful scores, and it's even scarier how often our brains take them for granted.

A new program from the St. Louis Symphony aims to change that, though. Through a series dubbed "Music You Know," the symphony will lead music lovers through famous classical pieces they may have heard outside of a traditional concert event. Music director and conductor David Robertson will further enhance the audience's surprise by explaining the historical and cultural origins of the music and why the pieces lend themselves so well to everyday use.

"We have a huge repertoire of pieces that the audience isn't necessarily going to know by the title," Robertson says. "That's part of the fun of these concerts — the joy of actually discovering, 'Oh, that's what that is!' and saying, 'Wow, that's really cool!'"

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Tonight's Found Footage Festival to Include VHS Hilarity from St. Louis

Courtesy of the Found Footage Festival
Hosts Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett share wacky VHS stories during a Found Footage Festival show.

The Internet thrives on virality. If you watch it, you share it. It's how YouTube stars are born, and it's why an eleven-minute homage to '90s sitcom credits has racked up 2 million views in less than a week.

But those millions of viewers are watching at different times, in different places and on different devices. What's missing is a group of friends -- possibly high, possibly gorging on Domino's -- gathering in a living room to laugh uproariously and give each other the "What the fuck?" look every time a dude on an infomercial insists that his cat-training video will bestow riches and sexiness beyond viewers' wildest dreams. That's where the Found Footage Festival comes in.

Uh, the crazy-video part, not the stoned-and-hungry part.

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