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Spin Job

The Rocket Bar joins the ranks of St. Louis clubs looking to snare DJ aficionados


Add the Rocket Bar to the list of rock clubs now dabbling in DJ culture. Though in the past year the number of evenings at the bar devoted to live rock has dwindled to maybe three or four a month -- hardly a thriving schedule, to be sure -- the club has remained a steadfast "rock bar," a refuge from the beat-infested world of most nightclubs in the city in 2001. Tuesday nights, though, the club has turned the music over to Cream, Matt Hunt's night of trip-hop, drum & bass and downtempo. Every Tuesday, from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m., Hunt will be spinning the vinyl, with different special guests each week. Week 1: drum & bass spinners Crisis and Kookie; week 2: Hunt and the wonderful downtempo/jazzy-house DJs Zach Wagner and Chris Hensley; week 3: Rob Gray and Litterthug Ryan B.; week 4: Hunt and Jeff Feller, spinning quiet, pretty house and trip-hop.

Granted, it's only one night a week, and Tuesday at that, but it's an interesting shift for that little block, especially since Hot Locust was taken over by Dr. Zhivegas and Z (who, by the way, have as their resident DJ Steve-O, who spins house music in the front room, Thursday-Saturday). The number of clubs supporting live rock music is shrinking quickly, and, if rumors we've heard lately are to be believed, two more are scheduled to close in the next few months. That knowledge, along with the fascinating behind-the-scenes realignment of promoters taking place right now among a few of the bigger rock clubs, signals a shift to a weird new live-rock landscape by springtime. More on this next week.

A vast core of classic R&B and blues fans in St. Louis will be happy to hear that Lou "Fatha" Thimes, the grand old man of R&B radio, will be making his way back onto the dial starting this week, when he unveils his new show on KDHX (88.1 FM), from 5:30-7 p.m. Sundays. Thimes left WESL last year. "Lou Thimes is one of the great practitioners of personality-driven R&B radio," says Tom "Papa" Ray of Vintage Vinyl (whose own classic radio show, Soul Selector, airs every Monday from 4-7 p.m.). Ray says that Thimes' influence in the St. Louis marketplace was once strong; when soul singer Solomon Burke was last in town, in the mid '90s, he said that Thimes was singlehandedly responsible for breaking his music in the St. Louis market. Thimes has played this role throughout his career, and his return to the airwaves is obviously welcome, especially on KDHX, which will provide a pressure-free environment for him where he can let loose without having to worry about Arbitron ratings. Thimes jumps into an already stellar evening of blues and soul music on KDHX. Those who have never popped onto the station on Sunday evenings should do so; from dusk till dawn -- literally, for fellow black radio legend Gabriel hosts the late-night/early-morning hours -- the station provides perfect programming.

Man, if you're looking for some great hip-hop mix CDs, two are out there and available for your consumption, and both are highly recommended. If you want a taste of the new, check out DJ Needles' remarkable juggling act Fresh Sounds, which features Needles on the wheels of steel working through a playlist that includes tracks by the Black Eyed Peas, Pharcyde, Big L, Lil' Kim, Ill Bill, All Natural and others. Needles peppers the mix with his scratching skills, and the result is a mix that runs nonstop from start to finish. You may know Needles from his mix show on The Beat (100.3 FM), Fat Laces, which airs from 7-10 p.m. each Saturday. If you're wanting to look back into hip-hop's past, check out DJ Charlie Chan's transcendent Days of Old mix, which attacks 12-inches from the '80s and combines them into one monster mix featuring Doug E. Fresh, Eric B. and Rakim, D.O.C., Stetsasonic, Public Enemy, EPMD and two dozen others. It's nonstop (though we wish Charlie would have tossed on a cut from his own '80s work with Dangerous D.) as the DJ cuts in and out of the tracks with his own fingertip gymnastics, scratching spoken highlights from the old-school records, bouncing from snippet to snippet as though he's working with about 12 turntables instead of two, merging beats and looping noise. Charlie Chan spins drivetime every day on Q95.5 FM. Both mixes are excellent and can be obtained at better record stores.

Correction: In Terry Perkins' article on guitarist Dave Black ["Paint It Black," RFT, Jan. 17], Dangerous Kitchen guitarist Dan Eubanks was incorrectly identified as Dan Rubright. We apologize for the error.