For St. Louis music fans, this weekend presents either a mere embarrassment of riches or a tinnitus-inducing, STD-transmitting, emergency-room-visiting test of endurance. The annual alt-country convention Twangfest goes down Wednesday-Saturday, June 4-7, and the RFT Music Awards Showcase, which takes place Sunday, June 8, squeezes 51 acts into a single afternoon and evening. Without even trying very hard, you can enjoy many, many continuous hours of aural entertainment, and, if you moderate your drinking, you can prolong the experience over several days.
Because an entire pull-out guide is devoted to the RFT Music Awards showcase, with capsule write-ups on every act, and Twangfest coverage begins on page 62 of this section, we won't do the regular rah-rah routine and tell you how great these events are. Instead, we're inaugurating yet another Radar Station essay contest: In 700 words or less, describe your musical adventures of this weekend (beginning June 4, if you like to start your weekend extra-early, and ending Monday, June 9). Who sucked? Who kicked your ass (figuratively or literally)? Pretend you're Lester Bangs or, better yet, Simon Cowell. Don't think you're cut out to be a critic? Here's a little Mad Lib to get you started, although you're certainly under no obligation to follow this or any other formula:
Like a [adjective] [noun], [band/artist name] [verb, direct object optional]. Unlike [adjective] [noun] who persist in [verb, present participle], [band/artist name] manages to [verb, direct object] and obliterates every last vestige of [adjective] [noun] from the [noun].
See how easy it is? Now, peel your ass off that couch and go check out some live music this week! We admit, we're a little biased in favor of the RFT Music Awards showcase, but we'll try to judge the contest on the strength of the writing, not on the taste and judgment of the contest respondents. In any case, there's no way you can moan and cry about how there's nothing interesting happening this weekend. In addition to the aforementioned music marathons, you could check out the Flaming Lips and Starlight Mints, AK1200, Melt-Banana and Back of Dave (all previewed in these pages). Avant-jazz fans are advised to head to the Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center on June 6 to catch Bloomington, Indiana's Unstable Ensemble and St. Louis' own Darin Gray. Like Gray, with whom the ensemble members sometimes collaborate, UE is signed to the provocative Family Vineyard label, which puts out some of the finest experimental music on the planet. Here's how UE describes itself in its band bio/manifesto: "Paying minute attention to the behavior of sound, and the haze of natural distortion, magnified white blots and the clicks and ticks of electronics, the UE blurs any lines between the notions of Jazz, Improvisation and New Music." (You can always tell how serious these dudes are by their use of capitalization.)
The deadline for the contest is 4 p.m. Wednesday, June 11. E-mail your essays to Radar Station at email@example.com (using "Musical Adventures" as your subject line), or mail them to the RFT, attn: Radar Station.
The recent news that Radio Cherokee has "closed for repairs" got some of our more conspiracy-minded peeps speculating about the Man and his apparent plans to impose martial law. Could it possibly be a coincidence that Radio Cherokee suddenly shut down and moved all its scheduled shows to different venues the same week the police raided three other artist collectives and performance spaces in the neighborhood? (See last week's "Radar Station.")
According to David Early, who has owned the building with Galen Gondolfi since September 2002, Radio Cherokee was never actually raided and had no real connection to any World Agricultural Forum events. But the day the other raids occurred, Gondolfi happened to notice several members of the mobile crime unit taking down fliers for Radio Cherokee shows. Since then, Early and Gondolfi have been under increased pressure from the city's building division to complete some much-needed repairs to the property. "They're all for us being there," Early says. "We just need to take care of some things, mostly aesthetic stuff. We'll definitely be back in business in August."
In the meantime, the long-awaited Brown Company record-release party (technically it's a one-sided-twelve-inch-release party), originally slated for June 20 at Radio Cherokee, takes place the same evening, only at the Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center.
See www.radiocherokee.com for complete rescheduling information.