Plenty of excellent shows this week; particularly as we enter the weekend -- local releases galore. We'll get into that in more detail on the weekend post though.
Supposedly, the world is ending this weekend as well. I know what you are thinking, and I don't really buy it either, but then again there were those remarks from NASA over the weekend about the increased solar flares and sunspot activity, so who knows? One thing I can assure you, as the guy who has been inputting many of these events into a calendar, is that there will be no shortage of "end of the world" parties at which to ride out our final hours. Again though, more on that in the weekend post -- check out this week's picks below.
Joe Pastor Trio Mon., 8:00 p.m. December 17 @ BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups - $5 By Christian Schaeffer The gap between "drummer" and "percussionist" can often seem vast. It's one thing to keep a beat; it's quite another to paint a rhythmic picture with drums, melodic percussion and other sundry items that, in the right hands, can add new dimensions to a song. Local musician Joe Pastor is a capital-p Percussionist: He can certainly keep a groove on the drum kit, as he has done for everyone from jazz and blues players to performers in Branson stage shows. But his dexterity on the vibraphone makes Pastor a rhythmic secret weapon, and Pastor's compositions draw on jazz traditions as well as avant-garde and classical tropes. Back to Front: As a long-time sideman, Pastor has played alongside Javier Mendoza, the late Johnnie Johnson, Kim Massie and the Soulard Blues Band, to name a few.
Kim Massie Tues., 10:00 p.m. December 18 @ Beale on Broadway - $7 By Annie Zaleski Although the word "diva" is so overused it's almost a useless descriptor, Kim Massie is one vocalist who deserves the honor. With its brash, gospel-influenced strains of vibrato, Massie's voice can be as big and broad as Aretha Franklin's, but it contains just enough Etta James-ian blues to undercut this strength with sorrow. When Massie sings the standard "At Last," you can close your eyes and imagine her voice as a vocal preacher, laying down the lyrics like audible commandments, just as easily as you can imagine the sound slinking down a smoky stage moonlit by a lonely spotlight. Massie is always -- and effortlessly somehow -- magical, spiritual and glowing.
NRBQ Wed., 7:30 p.m. December 19 @ Off Broadway - $15 By Roy Kasten From this 2008 article: Terry Adams isn't in the mood to talk about the past. "I didn't know you wanted to go that far back," he says on the phone from western Massachusetts. It's not that he's lost his legendary sense of humor, though. "So, I want to ask you, what happened to Louis between Louisville and St. Louis? He became a saint. So what happened? He did something good heading West? This is a question I'm asking your readers." If you know, Terry Adams, founder of NRBQ and one of the very greatest piano players in rock & roll, is all ears. He always has been listening, after all, for those rock & roll spaces where most serious artists fear to tread. Whether on a free-jazz take on the Bonanza theme song, a proto-psychobilly rave-up about "Flat Foot Flewzy," a blues-funk workout called "Howard Johnson's Got His Ho-Jo Workin'" or a nasty kazoo ride that asks the eternal question, "Who Put the Garlic in the Glue?" Adams and NRBQ (the New Rhythm and Blues Quartet) set the gold standard for how deliriously fun and musically brilliant an American band could be.
Dale Watson Thurs., 8:00 p.m. December 20 @ Off Broadway - $15/$18 By Roy Kasten For Dale Watson, country music has always been a Janus-faced master, urging him between the extremes of dancing and despair, fun and fever, trucking and tenderness. He's the sharpest, swinging and least clichéd of the traditionalists who never stood a chance in the post-Merle Haggard era of mainstream country music. His greatest songs -- "Whiskey or God," "Blessed or Damned" and "I Hate These Songs" -- live up to Hag's finest. They're working class, even if his primary audience isn't, and the stories they tell, via rich language and a rippling baritone, turn back the clock to a time when the best honky tonk Saturday night of your life never seemed to end. What's Next: Watson is prolific but hasn't release an album since 2011's The Sun Sessions. Look for I Lie When I Drink in early 2013.
A Very Mayan Christmas Fri., 7:00 p.m. December 21 w/ Bug Chaser, Kisser, Maximum Effort, Black Panties, The Bad Dates @ St. Louis Skatium - $8/$10 By Kiernan Maletsky As with many things masterminded by neanderthal alien band Bug Chaser, this one is kitchen-sink insanity: A Christmas cookie competition with cash prize! Roller skating! Disco shit! The Skatium's relatively new full bar! And the St. Louis noisemaking all stars -- in addition to Bug Chaser this show features Kisser, Black James, Maximum Effort, Black Panties and the Bad Dates (and possibly more). Apparently this date is significant in certain cultures as well, so if you're into hell beasts and horsemen, this might be a good place to find some like minds to roll into oblivion with. What a Picture is Worth: Go look up Pat Grosch's poster for this one. He was named the RFT's best poster designer of 2012, and this might just be his masterpiece.
Bo and The Locomotive Fri., 7:00 p.m. December 21 w/ Magic City, David Vandervelde, Old Lights, Pretty Little Empire @ Off Broadway - $5 By Michael Dauphin Sure, various numerological formulae and astronomical alignments have been proposed in relation to this date, but I doubt any Mayanist scholars predicted this killer bill. Let's say that maybe the world doesn't end. That won't prevent Off Broadway's inhabitants from undergoing a positive spiritual transformation during Magic City's set. I've seen it happen on a nondescript Wednesday night in South City. Or say the world does end. Wouldn't you wanna spend that moment dancing along to Old Lights or being comforted by Justin Johnson's (Pretty Little Empire) calming voice? It may end up being the end of the world as we know it, but those at Off Broadway Friday night will feel fine regardless. Bo Knows Beeman: Bo and the Locomotive is almost done recording its next album at Native Sound Studios with David Beeman of Old Lights. Don't be surprised to hear new songs.
Talib Kweli Sat., 7:00 p.m. December 22 @ Old Rock House - $15-$20 By Daniel Hill Talib Kweli rose to prominence in the late 90s as the not-Mos-Def half of the pioneering underground alternative hip-hop group Black Star. Since then the prolific Kweli has had difficulty shaking the oft-scoffed "conscious rapper" label, despite having released albums with a decidedly more mainstream-accessible sound. Still, collaborations with the likes of Kanye West, Madlib, Pete Rock and scores more have endeared Kweli to critics and fans alike and helped prove the versatility of the rapper. If Skills Sold: Jay-Z's lyrical nod on 2003's Black Album helped to expose Kweli to more mainstream success but may have contributed in an ancillary way to that one career mis-step, 2004's Beautiful Struggle. All has been forgiven with last year's Gutter Rainbows, though -- expect melted microphones at the Old Rock House.
The Cuban Missiles CD Release Party Sat., 9:00 p.m. December 22 w/ The Disappeared, The Winchester, Sink The Bismark @ Cicero's - $10 By Ryan Wasoba For the better part of a decade, the local operative known as the Cuban Missiles has been stealthily honing its freewheeling rock and roll with elements of pop-punk, punk-punk, and whatever sort of punk Gaslight Anthem is. Yet the Granite City trio remains below radar thanks to its tortoise-speed approach to marketing its hare-swift tunes. The band's new record When They Come For Us, We'll Be Gone is its first recording that plays like a fully realized album rather than a work-in-progress demo. Fittingly, the Cuban Missiles plan a celebratory blow-out including fellow working class punks Sink The Bismarck, The Disappeared and the Haddonfields. I Swear I've Seen That Guy Before: Those who have never watched the Cuban Missiles play may recognize Drummer Colin Anderson as one of the live sound engineers at Cicero's.
Rum Drum Ramblers Record Release Party Sun., 8:00 p.m. December 23 @ Off Broadway - $5-$8 By Jaime Lees It's a packed Tuesday night at BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups, and the crowd doesn't pay much attention when three young gentlemen wearing dapper hats and sharp trousers take the stage. But less than a minute into the trio's set, most of the room is captivated. Two of the men share singing duties, exploring the deep, pained voices of the blues. Occasional hootenanny-style off-microphone hollering energizes the audience, as does a mournful, wailing harmonica. A previously unmoved patron with a gentle face like fine, worn leather cracks a smile. He releases an exhilarated "Hot damn!" and commences tapping his toes and beating out rhythms on his polyester-covered thigh. The Rum Drum Ramblers have won over a new fan -- an increasingly familiar occurrence to anyone who's seen the group live since it started playing together in 2007.