Six St. Louis Acts Leading the Local Scene


Bunnygrunt is ready to be the grand marshall of our local-music parade. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Bunnygrunt is ready to be the grand marshall of our local-music parade.

Apparently, some football game happened recently, and it was a big deal. We weren't really paying attention; we only watched to see Bruno Mars cause a swoonfest with his sexy dance moves and Bono fight AIDS with his sunglasses. You know -- the stuff that matters.

See also: Super Bowl Highlights: Fully Clothed Bruno Mars Gets More Swoons Than Shirtless Anthony Kiedis

But the Super Bowl got us thinking about leadership. You have to be pretty awesome to be named a team captain, right? Common sense, good character, sweet professional moves -- those qualities play a big part in what being a leader is all about.

Here in St. Louis, we're fortunate to have musical acts that embody all of those traits. They freely offer advice to newer bands, support causes they care about through benefit concerts and consistently put on kick-ass shows with mega adrenaline. They're our music community's team captains, setting good examples for the next generation of stand-out bands. So below, check out six local acts that deserve to wear an embroidered "C" on their jerseys.


There's only one voice that evokes images of a crawfish boil, a railroad hobo and a pair of denim overalls hanging from a clothesline -- Pokey LaFarge's. Old-timey river life simply oozes from LaFarge, who sings stories of St. Louis' -- and America's -- past, both real and imagined. Listening to LaFarge and his band is like swapping stories with your grandma on the porch while sippin' lemonade, but appreciation for the music extends far beyond the Midwest; LaFarge and the gang have appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman and are gearing up for a tour through Australia and New Zealand.


"Diva" is a title that Kim Massie proudly embraces, and this award-winning vocalist has earned it. A boomerang child who moved to Ohio and later returned to the Gateway City, the "Siren of Song" has claimed Beale on Broadway as her home, performing celebrated, groove-inducing tunes several times a week. Often classified as a blues songstress, Massie isn't content to limit herself to one genre; her legendary voice also packs punch on rock, gospel, funk, jazz and more. Slip her $20, and prepare to be blown away by her rendition of Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" or Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love." Two snaps up for this diva!


Marking two decades as a band is not something to take lightly. Some, like Pearl Jam, are easy to celebrate; others, like Smash Mouth, perhaps should have called it quits years ago. Fortunately for us, St. Louis' Bunnygrunt is in the "celebrate" category. The band has seen musicians come and go, but in the end, Matt Harnish and Karen Ried have kept the fire burning. Even after two decades Bunnygrunt channels '90s Sonic Youth, but the music never sounds stale or dated. Rather, the band's playful lyrics and tight instrumentation keep things fresh, and their huge catalog of cover songs is outstanding and full of surprises. The group threw one hell of a twentieth-anniversary party at Plush last March that still hasn't stopped rockin'. Here's hoping we're all around for the inevitable 4-0 birthday bash.

Continue for more local music leaders.


Sometimes true leaders take a step back to ensure that others get time in the spotlight. In a nutshell, that's Black Spade. Though we recently named him one of St. Louis' thirteen best rappers, Black Spade prefers to collaborate with others, often behind the scenes, and push baby rapper birds out of the nest. His own work sets a standard for quality, however, with insightful lyrics, crooked beats and a passionate, soulful voice.


In this town, Beth Bombara is indie-rock royalty. She's also nonstop busy, writing and recording quality tunes while playing countless shows as a solo act, with husband Kit Hamon and friends, in heartbreak-rock outfit Old Lights and as Cassie Morgan's entire backing band. After a successful Kickstarter for her well-received EP Raise Your Flag, Bombara went all-in on promotion, launching a new website and a series of videos in January.


We've raved about Magnolia Summer plenty of times -- most recently during our interview series here and here, and also in our "Eight Bands to Watch in 2014" post. But Chris Grabau and the gang deserve the notoriety and appreciation. A long-time revolving collection of musicians that happily cross-pollinates local acts like bees, Magnolia Summer plays major festivals nationwide, tours the world and arranges some of the tightest, feelingest songs to ever come out of the Gateway City.


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