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The Urge enjoy a rarefied position in our music community; only a few other St. Louis acts -- the Son Volt/Wilco axis, Gravity Kills, maybe Stir -- own the same type of national reputation and local drawing potential.

Nowadays the band members spend the better part of their lives in tour buses, dropping into St. Louis for only the occasional gig: a Pointfest, or the lively annual Christmas shows.

This year the Urge is booked for four straight nights at Mississippi Nights starting Dec. 27, with "Old Skool Night" slated for the last show, Wednesday, Dec. 30. The band's latest release, the Epic/Immortal Master of Styles, bounces through several kid-pleasing genres, with hints of ska, metal and hip-hop reflected in the radio-ready pop sheen.

There's no doubt that the veterans of this band have paid their dues in full. Their near-week of Laclede's Landing glory stands as testimony not only to their instrumental skill and songwriting smarts but to their all-too-rare ability to embrace good, old-fashioned work.

-- Thomas Crone

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