Atomic Cowboy Expands With the Bootleg, the Grove's Newest Venue

Categories: Live and Local

All photos by Mabel Suen
Thunder Biscuit Orchestra performed at the Bootleg's soft opening on February 6.

For nearly a decade, the site at 4140 Manchester Avenue has been in flux. The space has had many names -- Novak's, the Spot, Foxhole and, most recently, the Demo. Last Friday, the room reopened as the Bootleg at Atomic Cowboy, the latest addition to the Grove's growing list of concert venues.

"We used to surprise people. We used to enjoy being spontaneous, and we did that right in the midst of our restaurant. Nowadays, we want people to know what they're going to get when they walk through the door," says Atomic Cowboy owner Chip Schloss.

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Listen to Pokey LaFarge's Ridiculously Catchy New Song, "Something in the Water"

Categories: Live and Local

The album cover for Pokey's upcoming Rounder Records debut, due April 7.
Yesterday, Rounder Records -- new home to the music of St. Louis' own Pokey LaFarge -- announced an April 7 release date for his debut album for the label, entitled Something in the Water. Accompanying the announcement is a short video with footage from the studio and a portion of the album's title track playing in the background.

And it is ridiculously, toe-tappingly catchy.

See also: Pokey LaFarge Signs to Rounder Records

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Twelve St. Louis Submissions for NPR's Tiny Desk Contest

Screenshot from Al Holliday's entry.
The Tiny Desk Concert series from "All Songs Considered" host Bob Boilen is looking for new talent, and St. Louis is coming out in force.

Who knew that such an itty-bitty desk could have such a big impact?

The Tiny Desk Concert series on National Public Radio (NPR) has been a hit since it was introduced in 2008. During what is literally a bunch of musicians crowding around All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen's office desk to perform a few tunes, the series has showcased different sides of artists such as T-Pain, Skinny Lister and Yo La Tengo. The virality of favorite concerts via social media has given a surge of popularity to retro acts and millions of potential fans to newer bands.

And a St. Louis act just might be next.

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St. Louis' Bryan Ranney Launches 'Not a Ukulele' Tour, Overdoses on SpongeBob

Categories: Live and Local

Bryan Ranney's "Not a Ukulele" tour page
Don't call it a ukulele.

There are plenty of stringed instruments out there -- guitars, banjos, zithers, harps, ukuleles, mandolins. But, as St. Louis musician Bryan Ranney warns, they're not the same thing, dammit.

Besieged over the years with questions about the latter two mentioned above, Ranney is out to set the record straight during his recently launched "Not a Ukulele" tour. Ranney tells RFT Music that upon seeing him play his mandolin, audience members have pondered what it is, grasping only that it's a strangely shaped guitar-type thing and automatically (and kind of inexplicably) assuming that it must be a ukulele. Early on, Ranney even considered creating t-shirts saying "Not a ukulele."

"The idea came to me again a couple of months ago. I thought, 'Hey, I've got a friend who makes t-shirts; I should just run with this,'" Ranney recalls. "From there, I thought I should make a sticker, and then it became a brand for the tour."

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Art of Live Festival: A Guide

Categories: Live and Local

Photo by Pooneh Ghana
Cloud Nothings closes out the Art of Live Festival this Sunday at Old Rock House.

This weekend's Art of Live Festival is sure to shore up communal vibes across five area venues including the Demo, Old Rock House, the Firebird, Off Broadway and the Ready Room. This four-day fest encourages show-hopping by offering $35 wristbands for every event -- without it, you'll pay the typical ticket price at the door. Here we have laid out everything the festival has to offer, with links to music, so you can decide which shows you want to attend. What are you looking forward to? Read on and let us know in the comments section below.

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Catching Up With Last Year's "St. Louis Musical Acts to Watch"

Andrew Koh
Mvstermind Einstein of M.M.E.

We're getting a fresh start in 2015 and looking ahead to the new sonic awesomeness that St. Louis musicians will bring. The talent pool in this city continues to grow, and that promises nothing but good things for our local culture and notoriety.

But we've been down this path before. At the end of December 2013, we predicted what might happen for eight local acts that we dubbed "the ones to watch" for 2014. So how did last year turn out for these brilliant creators and performers? We went straight to the musicians themselves to find out. (Not all eight acts could be reached for comment.)

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Six St. Louis Musical Acts to Watch in 2015

Adam Newsham

The abundance of musical talent in St. Louis shouldn't surprise us anymore. After all, this is a city that was built upon the talents of Scott Joplin, Tina Turner and Chuck Berry. But damn if we don't get big ol' grins every time a band hits the "click."

You know the click — that period in an act's lifecycle when everything from songwriting to personnel to gig schedule comes together in a power-surge that screams, "Hell yes, this is it!" And when that happens, witnesses can see the elements merging together all Captain Planet-like onstage, adding a special kind of electricity to a performance. It's pretty beautiful.

We see that happening with a lot of St. Louis talent right now, but it's quite pronounced in the acts below. Maybe these folks recently added a surprising instrument to the sound. Maybe they're on a high from a new album. Maybe they just said, "Fuck it, I'm going to finally make the kind of music I love." Whatever they're doing just works, and that's why these are six St. Louis acts we'll be keeping our eyes on in 2015.

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Wedding Bells Ring Onstage at Mt. Thelonious' Recent Schlafly Tap Room Show

Categories: Live and Local

Billy Sukowski via Mt. Thelonious' official website
Mt. Thelonious
Staring at a spot on the floor, a slight young guy in a wool knit cap picked out an ascending line on his acoustic guitar. A few bars later, the violinist came in. Her long sweater swirled around her as she plucked the strings, the two parts bouncing off one another. A third musician, wearing several jackets and a grumpy expression, pulled low notes out of his blond standup bass.

As the guitarist approached the mic to sing, a high-pitched whine shrieked over his voice. Feedback.

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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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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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