If you live in St. Louis and you're a musician, DJ, MC, promoter or motivated groupie, chances are you frequently ask yourself, "Is it me, or is it St. Louis?" Maybe the real problem (i.e., the reason you're not able to "take your career to the next level," make it with Winona Ryder and chill with Jack White) is that your life-force is slowly getting sucked dry in Schmoesville, where everyone is too logy and lead-addled to comprehend, much less nurture, your budding genius. Yeah, St. Louis is fine for Nelly and Chingy and old-tyme dudes like Chuck Berry, but it's not working out so well for you personally. Is it the fault of the hoosier hegemony, all those Sammy Hagar-lovin' retards and their Incubus offspring? Is it because we're right in the heart of the heart of the country grammar? Is it because all the smart people took off for NYC, Chicago or Prague a long time ago, leaving helpless highbrows such as yourself to languish in St. Loser?
Radar Station loves St. Louis like a fat kid loves cake, but we realize that it's not usually the first choice of residence among more ambitious types. In our twenty-plus years as an observer and occasional participant in the local-music scene, we've seen countless bands flee our stagnant shores, confident that a different zip code will solve their little obscurity problem. From Blind Idiot God to Uncle Tupelo, from Gravity Kills to the Living Things, from Miles Davis to Truth Hurts -- the list goes on. And now we've got two more future expats to add.
Mike Davis, better known as DJ Mike 2600, moved from Nashville to St. Louis to attend Washington University. He stuck around for years after graduation, spinning all over town with his Litterthugz crew, doing freelance graphic design for local companies such as F5 Records, promoting cool underground hip-hop shows, putting out brilliant mix tapes and publishing the only decent fanzine this town has seen since Head in a Milkbottle went on what appears to be a permanent hiatus. Early next month he takes off for Minneapolis, where his pals from the Life Sucks Die collective will no doubt welcome him with open arms. His friend and crewmate Doug Surreal is disappointed to see him go but understands that Davis has been tilting at windmills for a while now. "My impression of things here, as far as hip-hop is concerned, is that people aren't interested in experimental or off-the-beaten-path stuff," Surreal says. "There's the over-25 crowd that's down with some of the neosoul and East-coast stuff, but it's basically the same kind of hip-hop that's been around since '92. And then, of course, there's the people who are into the crunk stuff, the jiggy shit. You just don't have that many people who know who Kruder & Dorfmeister is. I think it's largely why Mike is leaving: I mean, for the DJ world, he's a relatively decorated guy. He's got a bunch of mix CDs out, he's buddies with Peanut Butter Wolf, he's totally down with the Life Sucks Die guys. People in the underground world, like the Galapagos crew up in Chicago, they all know who he is and get excited about it. He plays here, and his name means nothing to anybody."
You've got one last chance to watch Mike 2600 cut, scratch and juggle this Friday, August 15, when he holds court at The Science (Blueberry Hill's Duck Room). While you're there, pick up a copy of his newest mix CD, Cut Class and Eat Paste, which he describes as "60 minutes of 1989-era Ultimate Breaks and Beatsploitation, disco rap, cut and paste, and more."
Also leaving town is local twang doyenne Mary Alice Wood, who, with her fiancé Mickey Bernal, is moving to Nashville the first week of September. After self-releasing Daisies in My Hand earlier this year (see the March 19 installment of Radar Station), Wood decided that she wanted to put her musical career into high gear; unfortunately, she found this difficult to do in her native St. Louis. "Day jobs and other musical projects are Catch-22s," Wood explained recently in an e-mail sent to friends and supporters. "I needed to take serious steps to find a band that will be able to tour very regularly to make this project work. We believe that Nashville will be the place I can achieve that goal and many others. No, I won't be the next Nashville Star. I do want to be closer to my main market of the whole Appalachian area.... I have a great product with my new record -- and it's time to get out there and spread that gospel."
We're sad to see you go, Mike and Mary Alice, but we understand. The exodus started before you even got here.