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Week of September 21, 2005

Burning Ember
Pomranz not so Swift: I went to the Ember Swift show at Off Broadway. She was amazing, as always. Ember is an independent artist. She puts out her own CDs and she plays by her own rules and hers alone. Therefore, she is free to speak her mind without fear of losing her contract. Well, during the show she mentioned a piece by Kristyn Pomranz in the September 7 Riverfront Times that compared every single one of her songs to Jewel, insulting her in the process.

Jewel! Are you drunk? Ember Swift has nothing in common with Jewel, other than being a blonde who carries a guitar. I think it's very telling that the RFT has to compare an independent artist with a mainstream, corporate entertainer so its readers have something to go by. Even more telling is that the RFT did not mention last night's show. Could it be because she is an independent artist that her show was not posted? Could it be because there is no monetary benefit for the RFT to post anything positive about her or her show? Could it be because she is an activist that the RFT chose to insult her? I think so and I don't think it was an oversight that Ms. Pomranz was not at the show.

I have been patronizing our local bars to see both local and national bands for nearly fifteen years. I remember a day when the RFT actually was "alternative" -- when the supposed critics were actually from St. Louis and they actually went to our rock shows. I remember a day when people went to bars to see shows, not just the UMB Bank Pavilion or whatever corporate name it holds today. Unfortunately, those days are long gone, our local music scene is struggling and now we are left with a slightly different version of the so-called alternative magazine that is sold in every other city across the entire country. Same format, same topics, same columns, same corporate agenda.

If the Riverfront Times chooses to feed the corporate machine so be it, but please stop calling your publication "alternative." Since, honestly, it is anything but.
Carrie Hartnett
St. Louis

Editor's note: We listed Ember Swift's appearance at Off Broadway in three places in the September 7 issue: in boldface type accompanying Kristyn Pomranz's B-Sides piece, in our concert calendar under "This Week" and in Off Broadway's listing in our Club Guide. Additionally, Off Broadway listed the show in a paid advertisement. Owing to an error in posting B-Sides on, the item appeared without information about the show.

A Bobbing We Will Go
Meet the Beatle: With regard to Malcolm Gay's "Sit Down!" in the August 24 issue, I am unbelievably disappointed that you chose to print such a story on our hometown rock fan Beatle Bob. Journalism should be more selective than this. I find absolutely zero validity in anyone's opinion that a rock fan (especially one of Bob's enthusiasm and dedication) should be sitting down because he or she is distracted by him.

You sold him out because bored assholes are bonding over disliking him. This makes your publication, which I read avidly, seem hard-up for material. You published hate speech this month, and you provided links for all these computer-age nimrods to find a club. Get cool again, please.
Vincent Krimmel
St. Charles

He's a full-blown rudester! After having been out of town for a couple of years, I returned to find the Beatle Bob phenomenon in full swing. However odd this guy used to be, I noticed a big change this time around. Someone had given him power. Whereas he used to be a minor nuisance, now he's become a full-blown rudester! Twice I was at a musical event within a few days of each other and he showed up late, barged his way through the crowd, all the while shoving people like they were so many obstacles in the way of his destination, which was (of course) to be in front of the band, vying for their attention and intruding upon the natural interaction which had been taking place between the musicians and their audience. The show was no longer about the band, it was about Beatle Bob. This is unfortunate, because Bob has no talent and cannot dance well.

I never saw any footage where anyone danced like that in the '60s, and I for one didn't pay my cover charge to watch this dude. Sorry St. Louis, but I don't get it. As far as Bob's excuse about wanting people to dance, it appears he has the opposite effect. Bob -- it's not all about YOU!
Deb House Buttner

Call him Mr. Flail: Though Malcolm Gay's piece does have the unwanted side effect of giving the knucklehead attention, kudos to Wade Alberty for calling Beatle Bob out for his continued rude behavior at concerts. No, the issue's not earth-shaking, but those crying "Live and let live!" have obviously never had to stand next to the Mr. Flail at a show. Oh, and puhhhleez, don't trot out the "He's into the music/free spirit/St. Louis is too uptight" tripe. Any fool can see the guy is all about drawing attention to himself.

Next concert or charity fundraiser, perhaps he might sneak into a therapist's office for the evening and let others enjoy a show without enduring his antics.
P.A. Higgins
St. Louis

Look, P.A.! Erica's trotting out the "He's into the music" tripe! I am appalled to hear that people are asking Beatle Bob to sit down. He is a great promoter of music everywhere!

Anyone involved in that Web site should feel horrible. I know Beatle Bob has danced for your band or your friends' band or your favorite band at one time or another. St. Louis loves Beatle Bob! Beatle Bob, KEEP DANCING!
Erica Brown
St. Charles

Whaddaya know...More "He's into the music" tripe! I'm a pianist and producer and I've played professionally for almost 40 years. I have known Beatle Bob for over 25 years. I'm proud to call him a good friend as well as a musical "running partner" of many years' standing. Bob is one of the most knowledgeable all-around music people I have ever met, period. He has an amazing command of virtually all pop-music genres and subgenres. If Bob hips you to a new band, they are the sh*t, end of story.

If Bob shows up at your gig and trips the proverbial light fantastic, it's an honor. Based upon my experience, Bob only picks the most musically noteworthy gigs to attend and busts his tail to make the scene (he reportedly doesn't drive). He lives, eats, sleeps and breathes music, often to his own detriment. As such, Bob is one of us, and simultaneously the ultimate fan. Sometimes Bob will be the only enthusiastic fan in the audience!

As the late lamented Guided by Voices wrote -- and specifically about Bob, by the way (check out the video) -- he's "My Kind of Soldier." My only regret is that we don't have more Beatle Bobs out there supporting live music and the spirit of rock 'n' roll and music in general.
Bob Lohr
St. Louis

Still more "He's into the music" tripe! Here we go again trying to defame, belittle and become angry with a very gentle man. Just a little bit of information here: Beatle Bob does not attend shows where the bands are mediocre or "less than good." He has great taste in music. Most bands feel if Bob is not there, then their shows are less than what they should be. Out-of-town bands usually love to see him. He makes the show seem more enjoyable, more worth seeing.

In the late '90s during my tenure at Intermission Magazine, I had an assignment that no other writer on the staff seemed to want: to review Sweet Honey in the Rock. Not really caring for a cappella music, I reluctantly went. And there in the same row I was in was the man I had seen at countless music venues dancing that silly little dance he does, the dance that makes people smile just a little bit. Beatle Bob was sitting there. SITTING! I just had to get up and introduce myself and ask him why he was there and not up by the stage. He told me that he was a great lover of Sweet Honey in the Rock. And that he was coming back the next day and bringing his nephew for the show. My attitude was beginning to change about a cappella. Bob was right; they were magnificent, incredible -- and Bob sat there the whole time listening very intently.

I now know that whenever I go to a show -- and I go to many -- that if I see Beatle Bob the show will be so worth watching. And when I see him dancing near the stage -- and he does stand off to the edge not to be too intrusive -- I smile and only wish I could be just a little more like Beatle Bob.
Michael Draga
St. Louis

More "He's into the music" tripe -- with a little "Fuck you" on the side: As a poor (that is: broke) music lover, I don't get to go to as many concerts as I would like to. On the occasion when I actually do get to attend, I come to dance. Dance my fucking ass off. And if that means that I accidentally bump you, à la Beatle Bob, sorry. But I spent my electricity bill on this fucking show and the music is awesome, so let's dance!

I was sad to read about the Web site dedicated to telling B.B. to sit down. I personally ask him to never sit. He enjoys the shows a lot more than all you fucking wallflowers do, and he has just as much right to shake his ass as you do to not. If he's bumping into you, ask him to please stop. I'm sure someone so addicted to music is not trying to be the reason you didn't enjoy a show.
Christine Wamble
St. Ann

"He's into the music" (with a soupçon of "Free spirit"): Hey Wade, find something of substance to complain about. I have been to numerous gigs Beatle Bob attended. He is always polite, courteous and just enjoying the music. If more St. Louisans had the passion for music as he does, we wouldn't be considered a D-List city by so many people in the music industry! Keep Bob-in' and a-weavin', Beatle!
Ed Engel
Des Peres

Hmmmmmm, the "Impostors Theory": I've come to the belief that perhaps Beatle Bob never grew up, mentally. I've never been graced with his presence, but I did take a look at what he's up to.

It seems he writes for Sauce magazine. Journalism. He loves these bands, he praises them, he gives them recognition. It also appears that Beatle Bob is part of this group of free birds that call themselves the Impostors. They have, like, a creed and everything. Some of them resemble homeless people and may be mentally challenged, or heavy drug users, or just alcoholics, I don't know (no offense if you're one of them; just seems that way from the pictures). They celebrate freedom, no shame, and they all have special names. It's what they live for. Artists, if you will. All of them creating a character for themselves, and boy do they travel! They're like rock hobos.

So he's not alone; he might just be more famous than the others. Music saved them from being homeless, nameless nobodies, or from being locked up in a mental facility, is what it seems to me. I mean, these people are traveling the world on craftiness. In some weird way I kind of respect them for at least being productive, if annoying. He could have ended up some weird-looking dude making minimum wage and angry at the world finding no release for his anger (again, no offense if you're one of those dudes), or a stalker (which he kind of resembles) or a serial killer. But instead he found a way to be this happy man in his own world, enjoying life, taking here and there but also giving back the best he can. Wow, kind of a bittersweet story.

I guess he's probably funny until it gets old, or you lose an eye. Annoying when you're really into the band you've paid money to see. But I guess if you stay out of his way, he's about as harmless as any one-man mosh pit. Then again, I might be able to say that just because he's not riding my jock or hanging out at the shows I attend. He's the strange punk kid that never grew up, that lives the life of a rock star in his own mind so well that the rest of the world believed, if only for a moment, which was long enough for him to believe.

I, for one, say someone should make a movie about him. If you don't, I will.
Sandi Thomas
St. Charles

And finally, the tripe trifecta -- "He's into the music/free spirit/St. Louis is too uptight": What is it about individual expression that threatens people in this city so much? As a local musician and someone who's attended many local shows, here's what I know about Beatle Bob: He is eccentric and self-promoting, but also friendly, kind, intelligent and as genuinely passionate about music as anyone I've ever met. We once played a quiet, acoustic show at the Sheldon Theater and Bob sat through each song, respectful yet enthusiastic. Next show was at Frederick's Music Lounge, where his unearthly dance got everyone in the room on their feet and moving.

Hey, Wade Alberty and Malcolm Gay: It's rock 'n' fuckin' roll. Next time I hope Bob's flying elbow knocks you straight into the middle of a worked-up, blood-spittin' crowd at the Creepy Crawl.
Mark Ray, Undertow Music Collective
University City

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