A few years ago, the house scene started swinging. In place of '70s funk riffs and '80s synthesizer washes, a few producers stretched back to the '40s to sample big band, pre-bebop and, perhaps weirdest of all, western swing -- brass bursts, jazzy Django guitar lines and oddball trombones, all Krazy Glued together by a groove. Chicago caught wind and started adding other accents.
James Curd, one of the swing style's originators, is the Conor Oberst of the Chicago house scene. He's 24 and has been DJing professionally for nearly a decade, sneaking into clubs with a record box, yadda yadda yadda. But Curd is the yang to Oberst's yin. Where the latter harnesses angst, Curd trades in joy.
Curd's also in a poppy house band called Greens Keepers, whose latest album, Pleetch, just came out. The record merges 4 a.m. house with electro and rock; some of it's heavenly, some godawful. Whenever a male voice pops out, terribleness ensues. "Man in the House" sounds like a bad Thomas Dolby track, and "Sailing," the Christopher Cross song, is too gruesome for words. But elsewhere the album's a blast; tracks move from electro-pop to Devo dance to sensual booty tracks.
All of this bodes well for Curd's DJ set in the main room of the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, a great space where sound bounces from wall to glorious wall, and the ambiance alone is worth the price of admission. OK, maybe not. The tickets start at a steep $25, but that pays for valet parking, a free drink and tickets to an afterparty. It should be a high-class blast, complete with an art auction (see page 28 for more on the event).
Show at 9 p.m. Tickets are $25-$35; call 314-535-4660 for more information.