St. Louis videographer Bill Streeter's Lo-Fi St. Louis is now entering its fourth year of producing the popular Lo-Fi Cherokee series. Each year more than a dozen bands take over an equal number of venues along Cherokee Street, playing brief sets while Streeter and Co. undertake the monumental process of capturing each performance. It is a task near-Sisyphean in nature, and the fact that the crew successfully pulls it off year after year stands as a testament to their immense talent.
And this year should be no different.
2015 will see the number of acts upped to eighteen from last year's sixteen -- because, you know, when you have already made the seemingly impossible look easy, the next logical step is to just make it even harder on yourself. Naturally.
"It really feels like this is the year that this event has become somewhat of an institution," Streeter tells RFT Music. "I mean, even if I wanted to quit doing it -- and I don't -- I don't think people would let me at this point."
We spoke with Streeter via email about the the challenges involved in the ambitious project in anticipation of the big day, this upcoming Saturday (set times/venues/performing acts all listed on page two.)
Daniel Hill: This is the fourth year of Lo-Fi Cherokee. What lessons have you learned about the process from previous years?
Bill Streeter: Every year we figure out something else. After the first year we realized we needed to build in a lunch break for the crew (duh). Last year was the first year that we drew decent-sized crowds that didn't seem to fully understand what we were doing, so this year we're gonna have badges and radios for the crew. We'll just be better equipped to manage the audience that is there to watch what we're doing. We're also going to pull some of them in to the scenes in more strategic ways than before. I also decided to actually meet up with each band and discuss each shoot beforehand with them, which I can already tell is going to make things go a lot smoother.
How do you go about choosing the bands and venues that will take part?
I'm gonna have to come up with a more formal process for doing this, I think. That's the problem with a weird personal experimental project that blows up and becomes popular. But, I keep a shortlist of bands I've seen that I want to ask (already building next year's list) and I ask people who I should consider, and I go and check everything out. And I do look at all the suggestions and pick and choose based on a number of factors. I try to get a good mix of genres, as well as a mix of big name acts vs no-name acts (everyone gets equal billing) and I pick based on talent, and if they are doing something interesting musically. I like that it's become sort of a survey of St. Louis music in a given year -- not unlike the RFT showcase -- but obviously we're doing something completely different here. This year the venues were self-selecting. We charged them a fee to participate so we can pay the crew, and surprisingly we had to turn a few of them away. I paired the bands with the venues we had based on a number of different factors.
What is the most difficult aspect of the event?
Raising money to do it, maybe? Yeah, that's probably the most difficult thing. It's just such a unique event that nobody has ever heard of anyone doing before that it makes it very difficult to sell to a sponsor. As far as execution of the event goes ... I don't know. I don't really feel like any of it is too difficult. I've always been a big believer in planning things out so they aren't too difficult. Or maybe it is difficult but I'm having so much fun with it I don't mind it.
What are some of your favorite videos to come out of the Lo-Fi Cherokee series?
That's not fair! That's like asking which of my kids is my favorite! Though It is interesting which videos people respond to -- nobody has the same favorites of the series. I like all of them for different reasons. Pokey's video turned out great last year. But I also love Javier Mendoza's video. Ellen the Fellon was excellent, Beth Bambara is on my list of favorites -- so is CaveofswordS, of course. I loved Née last year too ... I knew this was something special when we shot the first Lo-Fi Cherokee video ever, Humdrum at STL Style four years ago. Man so many of them were great. See? I can't really pick a favorite!
When should we expect the videos to be completed and released?
The videos will be completed in time for our release party on May 29th which will be held at the building formerly known as St. Matthew's Church at Jefferson and Potomac. Then they'll be released two a week in the order they were shot through the summer.
Continue to page two for full set time, venue and lineup information.
Grace Basement / 9 a.m. / STL Style House / 3159 Cherokee Street
Whoa Thunder / 9:30 a.m. / The Blue Pearl / 2926 Cherokee Street
Trauma Harness / 10 a.m. / Master Pieza / 2846 Cherokee Street
Adria Nicole / 10:30 a.m. / Don Carlos / 2800 Cherokee Street
Pat Sajak Assassins / 11 a.m. / Hat Mart / 3411 California Avenue
Irene Allen / 11:30 a.m. / Yaquis / 2728 Cherokee Street
Last to Show First to Go / 1:15 p.m. / Kismet / 3409 Iowa Street
David and Sara Surkamp / 1:45 p.m. / St. Matthews / 3457 South Jefferson Avenue
Blank Generation / 2:15 p.m. / 2720 / 2720 Cherokee Street
18andCounting / 2:45 p.m. / Spoked Bikes & Stuff / 2716 Cherokee Street
River Kittens / 3:15 p.m. / Earthbound Beer / 2710 Cherokee Street
Lizzie Weber / 3:45 p.m. / Bespoke / 2648 Cherokee Street
iLLPHONICS / 4:15 p.m. / Melt / 2712 Cherokee Street
Brother Lee & the Leather Jackals / 4:45 p.m. / I Scream Cakes / 2641 Cherokee Street
Crazy XXX Girlfriend / 5:15 p.m. / Foam / 3359 South Jefferson Avenue
The Maness Brothers / 5:45 p.m. / Fortune Teller Bar / 2635 Cherokee Street
Yowie / 6:15 p.m. / Midwest Guitar / 2610 Cherokee Street
So Many Dynamos / 6:45 p.m. / Dead Wax / 1959 Cherokee Street
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