St. Louis Duo Letter to Memphis Release Debut LP at the prestigious Sheldon Concert Hall

Categories: Longform

Sarah-Marie Land
The founders of St. Louis group Letter to Memphis certainly know a good thing when they see it -- or hear it.

"The Sheldon," Gene Starks says with more than a little reverence in his voice. "That room is its own instrument."

"It's a very special room," adds Devon Cahill, almost whispering.

The esteem in which Starks, Letter to Memphis' guitarist, and Cahill, the group's vocalist, hold the Sheldon Concert Hall is warranted; after all, many have called the Grand Center venue "the Carnegie Hall of the Midwest," thanks to the room's perfect acoustics. That's why the indie-folk duo knows that debuting their album Phases there will be one of the most memorable performances of their lives.

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St. Louis' Bo & the Locomotive Is Poised for the National Stage

Buy Bo & the Locomotive some smoothies, and these guys will be yours forever.

Every great band has a story about the time it turned the corner, when something magical happened that brought its members' dreams of creativity and stardom just a little closer. Perhaps a record label fat cat takes notice of the group performing at a local dive bar. Or a talent agent catches a musician busking in the park. Or a local news station starts a band down a path of progressively bigger gigs just by having the group perform on a morning show.

Or maybe it all starts on Craigslist.

"I was looking for nude models for my private drawing sessions," Bo Bulawsky explains.

"Goth twink is what you were looking for, Bo; don't be silly," Peter Garea interrupts.

"Anyway, he responded and wanted to be my nude model," Bulawsky continues. "Turns out, he also was a band manager."

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The Grove's Close Confines Have Residents and Club Owners Battling Over Noise

Categories: Longform

Steve Truesdell
Doug Moore and Brad Fratello's patio and pool backs up to the Ready Room.
On June 24, as hundreds of fans entered the Ready Room — a new 800-person-capacity music venue on Manchester Avenue in the Grove — they were greeted with a warning sign: "Tonight's show features excessive volume levels. Hearing protection available at front door." The experimental-rock group Swans would soon treat the audience to one of its brutally loud and viscerally exhausting performances — a sweaty, two-hour set of heavy guitar drone and chest-thumping bass.

Next door at the Demo — a much smaller sister venue which opened its doors in May, just a month after the Ready Room — rock group the Paul Collins Beat christened the stage along with fellow pop-influenced bangers Sherbert and Bruiser Queen.

Inside the two venues, the crowds roared their approval. Outside, it was a different story.

"Throwing two bands in a blender is what it's like to be in our back yard," says Grove resident Brad Fratello.

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How Bob Marley Conquered the Suburbs

Categories: Longform

Yann Legendre

At the time of his death, in May 1981, Bob Marley was 36 years old, reggae's biggest star and the father of at least eleven children. He was not, however, a big seller.

For Dave Robinson, this presented an opportunity.

Two years after Marley's passing, Chris Blackwell, the founder of Marley's label, Island Records, brought Robinson in to run his UK operation. Robinson's first assignment was to put out a compilation of Bob Marley's hits. He took one look at the artist's sales figures and was shocked.

Marley's best-selling album, 1977's Exodus, had only moved about 650,000 units in the U.S. and fewer than 200,000 in the UK. They were not shabby numbers, but they weren't in line with his profile.

"Marley was a labor of love for employees of Island Records," says Charly Prevost, who ran Island in the United States for a time in the '80s. "U2 and Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Robert Palmer is what paid your salary."

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