Rock & roll? Good. Philanthropy? Also good. Put the two together and you're sure to get the support of St. Louis' tenderhearted rock stars. To that end, the new local label MapleHood Rekkids (can you guess in which township that label is based? Hint: not Richmond Heights) has released Will Rock for Food, a compilation featuring sixteen local pop, punk, rock and folk acts, all for the benefit of the St. Louis Area Foodbanks. The comp features St. Louis favorites such as the Whole Sick Crew and the Trip Daddys (both recent RFT Music Award winners -- we just can't stop pimping that thing, can we?) as well as up-and-comers such as one-man "looper" Stendek and snot-rockers Commichung. Not only do the proceeds go to a worthy cause, but the CD itself is a handy reference point for some promising young talent.
For the CD's launch in mid-June, the MapleHood gang rented out the Richmond Heights VFW hall, and contributors including bluegrass-punks the Monads, Festus-based shredders Tok and Wesley Willis torchbearers Village Idiot rocked the bingo parlor. According to Caroline Hackmeyer, the founder of the label and proud daughter of Maplewood, two barrels full of canned goods were collected and $850 was raised for the effort.
Though the label is just starting out, Hackmeyer's ambitions are, well, ambitious. According to the label's mission statement, "It is our mission to promote the common cause of creating music -- a labor of love that, like breathing, is beyond all choice." MapleHood Rekkids has already released albums by the Monads and Stendek and plans on releasing more local acts in an effort to, in Hackmeyer's words, "document St. Louis music."
Hackmeyer hopes to keep the charitable arm of MapleHood Rekkids going strong. "I think that it's really important that if you're going to be a community-based label, that you have to be a participant in that community and not just sit around whining about how St. Louis sucks," she says. She hopes to continue the food-drive benefit each summer and is already planning a winter concert to raise awareness and funds for the St. Louis homeless (tentative title: Gimme Shelter).
In the meantime, MapleHood Rekkids is preparing to release records by Fance, Tin Tree Factory and Adam's Off Ox before the end of the summer. Will Rock for Food, which features all of the bands mentioned in this article, is available at Vintage Vinyl and Euclid Records. For more information, visit www.maplehood-rekkids.com. -- Christian Schaeffer
Gone but Not Forgotten
St. Louis rockers were devastated last week to learn of the death of one of their favorite sons, Mike Blake, who was bartender, commiserator and all-around hero of the old Cicero's Basement Bar in the U. City Loop. The 37-year-old Blake, a St. Louis native, committed suicide on June 17 in Austin, Texas, where he lived.
If you were rocking at Cicero's when Uncle Tupelo was in its infancy and the Bottle Rockets were Chicken Truck and setting the club on fire, you'll remember Mike Blake as the lanky barkeep with a huge smile and sparkling eyes, the guy who'd toss you a Jäger shot, a joke and a dose of levity if you were having a rough day. He was the guy who never seemed like he was at work, because even though he was sweating enough to keep the crowd well lubricated, he was also breathing in the music and the atmosphere and glowing at the resulting joy.
Blake was the bar manager and assistant booking agent for Cicero's during its 1991-to-1997 heyday, when the club hosted, among hundreds of others, Beck, Luna, Cat Power, the Blues Explosion and Spoon. He shared duties with Marla Griffin, and the two combined efforts to create one of the country's most respected and influential little rock clubs. When the basement closed to make room for Blueberry Hill's Duck Room, Blake moved to Austin and landed at another legendary music club, Stubb's Bar-B-Q, where he worked until his death.
Griffin says that she and Rocket Bar manager Jen Medeiros are creating a Web site, www.mikeblake.org, to honor the memory of their friend. Anyone with photos, memories and thoughts on Blake is encouraged to post them at the site, which should be up and running in a few weeks. -- Randall Roberts
Revenge of the Nerds
You might know him better as the khaki-clad host of Blue's Clues. You might know them better as giants. Both former kid-show host Steve Burns and "The Two Johns" -- Flansburgh and Linnell of They Might Be Giants -- will bring their geek-rock to town this week (Burns will be at Blueberry Hill's Duck Room on Sunday, July 11; TMBG will be at Mississippi Nights on Wednesday, July 14). See how they compare here, and decide whether or not to make that little birdhouse in your soul after all. -- Julie Seabaugh