Erin Bode Brings Her Annual Valentine's Day Shows Back to Jazz at the Bistro

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By Erin Williams

Valentine's Day can be such a complicated holiday. If you're in a relationship the ideas for celebrating can boggle the mind -- and cost you an arm and a leg, if you're not careful -- and if you're single you try as hard as possible to avoid being hit by all the "specials for two" and heart-shaped boxes of chocolate that seem to be in endless supply.

But all parties can agree that a night of good music is worth the trouble -- and the trip. Jazz vocalist Erin Bode and her band, the Erin Bode Group, will be playing their fourth set of Valentine's Day concerts at Jazz at the Bistro this Saturday.

"We really love playing at the Bistro during Valentine's, because people are excited to be going out and doing something romantic, and we love to play love songs and romantic songs," Bode says. "We always choose our repertoire carefully, and we pick songs that we think will put people in the right spirit of things."

We spoke with the St. Louis native about covering all the bases of love in her music, being a working musician and what her own holiday will entail.

Erin Williams: Before your Valentine's Day concert, do you ever take the time to look out into the audience and take the temperature? See who might be fighting, might be not as in to it?

Erin Bode: Yeah! And what's cool is, of any venue, Jazz at the Bistro is one of those places where you really can get to know your audience as the evening goes on, and you kind of feel like you're all in it together. That was definitely the case with the old building, before they remodeled, but it's still that way. That is one of the fun parts of it. Looking out and seeing, of course, some familiar faces but also new ones -- and especially on Valentine's Day, when everybody's there for a special occasion. It's nice to share that with everybody and to get to know them by just being there together. So yeah, you can kind of tell what's going on with people. And it's usually good!

Are there any personal favorites that you like to perform for the occasion?

We're going to be doing one from our very first recording, which is a CD called Don't Take Your Time, and we're doing Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time," and that's one that I just never get tired of hearing or singing. It's really beautiful, and it's kind of like a song of dedicated love. That's one of the things that we're trying to do with this repertoire for this weekend, is to take songs that examine love from all different angles. So we've got some songs that are happy about love, some songs that are angsty about love. We're doing a song called "Down With Love." It's kind of like 'I'm tired of being in love! It hurts too much.' That kind of thing.

Continue to page two for more.

So you're not leaving anyone out, so to speak. Even though Valentine's Day is technically a lover's holiday, do you feel that singles or a group of friends would feel comfortable coming?

I would hope so, yeah! We've got some Bob Dylan tunes... We're doing a song by Sting. We're doing some standards. We're doing a couple originals. We're gonna really span the spectrum. In fact, the last song we're gonna do is a song that we wrote for Children's Hospital, to talk about one of their special patients who had many heart surgeries. It's a song we recorded and wrote that uses the sound of her heartbeat in the song. So it's kind of a special song to us, and one we love to perform. I hope everyone will get something out of it.

You have roots in St. Louis and still call it home, even after continuing to grow your career. Was there a point early on when you thought that you needed to relocate to a bigger city in order to be famous?

We definitely talked about it -- we even wrote some songs about it. But we found that we were working so much here. The music listeners in St. Louis are so loyal and so dedicated that we have lots of work, and that's really kind of what made this our home base. We could tour whenever we wanted to, but we were always busy when we were home, so that's kind of one of the reasons that we stayed. We wanted to be working a lot, and St. Louis made that possible.

What are your own Valentine's Day plans?

Well my husband [Syd Rodway] is in the band, so we're always playing on Valentine's Day, which is fun and romantic. But our anniversary is on February 28. We usually wait to celebrate after Valentine's Day for our anniversary, so that's always nice. We always do something really fun together. This year we're going to Nashville to see the Punch Brothers in concert, so that's going to be really fun.

Bode performs at Jazz at the Bistro (3536 Washington Avenue) at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on February 14 and 15. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased here.

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