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

Categories: Interviews

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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

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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

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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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Minneapolis' Miami Dolphins Is Not a Football Team From Florida

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Joe Scott
Don't worry; they're OK. Dolphins can breathe underwater.
Aside from the fact that it is decidedly not a sports team (but also, still totally a sports team), not much is known about the whimsical Minneapolis band Miami Dolphins. Having carved a quirky cacophony into the foreheads of freak deviants and gleeful art-school nerds alike, the band seems to garner a wide array of bizarre comparisons from every direction. Terms like "angular avant-punk" and "spazz-rock" drunkenly dance around reviews while other confused music aficionados liken the group to the Minutemen, Wire, Dog Faced Hermans, Fantomas, Le Tigre or a kindergarten class on a sugar high.

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Les Claypool Talks Primus & the Chocolate Factory: "Expect Lots of Chocolate"

Categories: Interviews

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Les Claypool has been the driving force behind funk-metal outfit Primus since 1984. In that time, he has also written a book, South of the Pumphouse, directed a film, Electric Apricot, and become synonymous with the sounds of animated TV shows Robot Chicken and South Park. Now he's remade the Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory soundtrack.

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Playing for the Cause Connects Bands and Their Fans with Charitable Causes

Categories: Interviews

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Tom Carlson
Mike Tomko and Lynn Cook, music and charity professionals, respectively.
"I've been in fundraising a long time, and when you have people happy and in front of you, they're more likely to give you money," says Lynn Cook, founder and executive director of Playing for the Cause, a newly christened 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in St. Louis. PFTC, which was awarded a $25,000 grant from Washington University through the school's Youthbridge Community Foundation in May, works as a middleman between bands looking to make charitable gifts and the many nonprofits in cities around the country.

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Memphis Goner Records Quartet Nots Works Hard to Keep Punk Weird

Categories: Interviews

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Press photo
Even as punk rock inches toward the half-century mark, it still retains some of its old disruptive power. Last month, for instance, the band Nots appeared on Local Memphis Live!, a newsmagazine-type show on Memphis' ABC affiliate. Against a typically cheerful soundstage (complete with fake city views through fake windows), guitarist Natalie Hoffmann shouted her lyrics with controlled glee, keyboardist Alexandra Eastburn provided harsh synth squiggles resembling Eno at his '70s best, bassist Madison Farmer played rumbly, melodic lines and drummer Charlotte Watson held down the tribal beat. In between songs, the hosts came out and asked questions. "What kind of music would you say you're playing?" the male host asked. Hoffmann, shrugging her shoulders, answered, "Weird punk."

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Anthony Jeselnik on Death Threats, Standup and Roasting Donald Trump

Categories: Comedy, Interviews

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By Ryan Pfeffer

"Tonight, Anthony Jeselnik is going to leave his stamp on the roast. And tomorrow, he'll use that stamp to buy food."

That's how Seth MacFarlane introduced Anthony Jeselnik at Comedy Central's Roast of Donald Trump. And while obviously a bit hyperbolic -- like all great jokes -- there was a good deal of truth poking out beneath the surface.

That night was America's first introduction to Anthony Jeselnik. It was an audition. And Jeselnik was painfully aware that his performance in those six minutes would either spawn a career in comedy, or send him spiraling toward obscurity.

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Watch Film and Commercial Clips Featuring Songs by St. Louis Bands

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Screenshot from preview below.
This scene from The Last Time You Had Fun features the song "Now Is Not the Time" by St. Louis' own Pretty Little Empire.

Most local musicians don't aim to have their songs on Dance Moms and other reality shows. Sometimes they're just lucky that way.

Actually, a bit more than luck brought indie-pop band Scarlet Tanager together with the Lifetime television program in 2013. As we note in this week's feature story, the St. Louis group had licensed songs to a major music library that places tunes in television shows. Rock group Pretty Little Empire also has had success placing songs on TV and in film, though that band accomplished the feat not via a song library but through people already familiar with its catalog.

So what's the deal? Do musicians give up the rights to their songs when they let an entertainment entity use the tunes?

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Movie and Television Licensing Deals Provide Exposure for Bands in St. Louis and Beyond

Categories: Interviews

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Ben Mudd
St. Louis act Scarlet Tanager has had its music featured on The Real World, Dance Moms, Catfish and a commercial for GoPro cameras.
For many kids with guitar-shaped stars in their eyes, cutting an album deal is what it means to be a successful musician. Those ten cherry-picked songs backed by a major label signify "making it" -- something that will launch them into superstardom, world tours and giant piles of money. And once upon a time, that's kind of how it was.

But the times, they are a-changin'.

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