It's no secret that the garage-rock scene in St. Louis continues to flourish and thrive in the city's clubs. But here's a little-known fact: The nation's premier online champion of past and present garage-rock talent is based right here in St. Louis in the form of the GaragePunk Podcast.
Found at www.garagepunk.com (the RSS feed is located at feeds.feedburner .com/GaragePunkPodcasts), the project originated in mid-2005 with Lo-Fi Saint Louis (www.lofistl.com) majordomo Bill Streeter, who suggested the podcasting idea to GaragePunk proprietor Jeff Kopp (a.k.a. Kopper, the former host of the Wayback Machine on KDHX [88.1 FM] and now curator of the "Savage Kick" podcast). The latter immediately warmed to the concept.
"My idea was to create a sort of ‘radio station' or ‘podcast network' with multiple programs [i.e., separate podcasts] hosted by different people, with a different show posted daily," Kopper says. "And thus, GaragePunk.com Pirate Radio was born!"
The simple premise a one-stop clearinghouse to listen to a wide variety of music that falls under the garage-rock rubric has paid big dividends for Kopper and the Web site; each show averages more than 3,000 downloads (that's per day) and has more than 1,000 subscribers. Shows have names such as "Rock & Roll Suicide," "Snake Alley" and "The Vagabond Garage Rocker" and heavily emphasize independent music ("Either old and obscure records of the '50s, '60s and '70s, or newer music that's strictly self-produced or available only on tiny indie labels," Kopper clarifies) as well as authenticity.
"Quite a few of the shows are done in classic '50s or '60s radio-station-style, with heavy reverb or echo added to the announcer's voice, soundbytes from classic horror and B-movies, vintage radio ads, soundbytes and so on," he says. "There's a large network of bands, labels, 'zines, and Web sites that exist below the radar of folks trying to make garage rock the next big thing (like Little Steven, for example), and that's what we try to focus on."
I'll focus on the business and technology aspects of this podcast in next week's column; stay tuned!
Despite the closure of Magee's late last year, the popular weekly Stag Night event now lives on every Wednesday at Off Broadway (3509 Lemp Avenue; 314-773-3363). The February 28 edition is especially worth attending: It's the "Big Muddy Records Rowdy Record Release Party" for the "Spirit of St. Louis" seven-inch, a platter starring Johnny O & the Jerks and the Vultures. Talented Louisville resident Pokey LaFarge who's played mandolin with the Hackensaw Boys is also on the bill.
Speaking of raucous celebrations, Off Broadway will also be celebrating the one-year anniversary of the Chippewa Chapel Traveling Guitar Circle, Medicine Show, Open Mic and Musicians Networking Night on Thursday, February 22. In fact, founder Paul Stark is pleased to announce that the Chapel is taking up permanent residence at the venue on Thursdays.
"Off Broadway had all of the ingredients we were seeking in a new home," he says, "including a great P.A. system, a conscientious sound technician, cheap booze, attentive bartenders, ample parking, sufficient seating for nights with large attendance, a physical space haunted with the presence of talented musical ghosts of years past, an afternoon happy hour to give us a head start on our buzz before show time and owners who are sincerely supportive of providing a space for local musicians to perform and network."
The festivities are free, start at 9 p.m. and welcome everyone who's eighteen and up.
After wading through twenty-plus submissions and making several difficult decisions, I'm pleased to announce that the finalists for this year's DJ Spinoff are: DJ Foster, DJ GXK, DJ SlantE and Scotty Mac.
I'll be judging the finals on Thursday, March 1, at Atomic Cowboy (4140 Manchester Avenue; 314-775-0775) along with several of my lovely co-workers. Each DJ will spin a 30-minute set, starting at 9:30 p.m. The winner, again, will earn a free trip to represent St. Louis at the Ultra Music Festival in Miami. Annie Zaleski
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