Arts & Culture

Lonely Mountain String Band played last year's An Under Cover Weekend and came back for this year as well.
Provided by Corey Woodruff and Michael Tomko

As Libby Swanger raised her viola and began Jimmy Page’s solo from Led Zepplin’s “Kashmir,” there was no way for her to anticipate the crowd reaction.

“People were like screaming for me, and as a violist, that has never happened ever," she said. "People don’t scream for us, and it was just like a shining moment that came out of last year.”

Swanger’s performance took place with the bluegrass group The Lonely Mountain String Band during An Under Cover Weekend, St. Louis’s annual tribute band festival.  This weekend, the event celebrates its 10th anniversary.

An insect chess set
Provided by the World Chess Hall of Fame

Dr. George and Vivian Dean have been fascinated with chess sets for more than half a century. Their collection of more than 1,000 sets and diverse singular pieces stretches from the 8th century to the present, with examples from as many different cultures and eras as they have been able to find.

Their criteria for selecting works have been: aesthetic beauty, quality and diversity of materials, and quality of craftsmanship. In assembling an exhibition from their collection – titled Animal Vegetable Mineral: Natural Splendors from the Chess Collection of Dr. George & Vivian Dean – one question that had to be addressed was what rational guide could  be used to select the works.

The Kabbalah Centre St. Louis opened five years ago, but has outgrown its space. It will hold a grand re-opening Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016.
The Kabbalah Centre St. Louis via Facebook

A St. Louis spiritual center that is only the second facility of its kind in the Midwest is growing, even as its students say many people in St. Louis don't know about it.

Angels of Detroit” is author Christopher Hebert’s second novel.  It delves into the fictional lives of those experiencing Detroit’s decline and redevelopment. 

Hebert joined St. Louis on the Air on Thursday to discuss the book and the parallels between Detroit and St. Louis. 

Related Event

Portraits hang at the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art as workers finish setting up Erika Diettes' exhibit.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 3:20 p.m., Sept. 28 with Erika Diettes and Terry Dempsey's interview on St. Louis on the Air.

As the daughter of a Colombian general, Erika Diettes grew up fearing FARC rebels would one day kill her father. The rebels routinely made death threats and killed several government officials over decades. Though her father survived the conflict, and Diettes' fear dwindled, those thoughts stayed with her.

When she became a photographer, Diettes dedicated herself to examining how that violence affects individuals. Her portraits capture women as they recall watching rebels torture or kill loved ones during the half-century battle between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. The photos  will be on display Sunday at the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art at Saint Louis University.

Jessica Alvarado and Cecilia Nadal joined "St. Louis on the Air" to discuss Gitana Productions' play based on the lives of local refugee women.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Gitana Productions, a local nonprofit that advocates global healing through the arts, is performing a one-act play titled “New World” this weekend as part of the St. Louis Arts Experience. The play is based on the lives of three St. Louis women who are also refugees from Bosnia, the Republic of Congo and Afghanistan.

De Nichols | Facebook

The National Museum of African American History and Culture opened in Washington, D.C., to the public this past weekend. Unlike many of those in the crowd at the opening ceremony, St. Louis artists De Nichols, Marcis Curtis and Mallory Nezam made artwork that is in the museum’s collection.

The trio made the 13-hour trip by car from St. Louis to see The Mirror Casket’s new home. After touring the exhibits, the group left confident that the Smithsonian will carefully display the life-sized casket covered in shattered mirrors. The sculpture asks audiences to reflect on their role in the struggle for social justice.

A art piece by Kelley Walker depicting a civil rights-era protest is splattered with melted dark, white, and milk chocolate.
Kelley Walker, Black Star Press | Paula Cooper Gallery

The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis will not remove Kelley Walker’s controversial artwork from its walls. 

Some St. Louis residents called for a boycott of the museum and three of the museum’s black employees called for the removal of four works  — and for chief curator Jeffrey Uslip to resign — on the grounds that Walker’s exhibit demeaned black people. CAM director Lisa Melandri said Monday that removing the work would be censorship.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

The September 25  Jazz Unlimited show will be a three-part show.  The “Keys and Strings Hour “ will feature pianist Gene Harris in the first hour.  The second hour will be “Remembering Toots Thielemans.”  The Belgian harmonica player and sometime guitarist will be heard with George Shearing, Cleo Laine, Kenny Werner, Mongo Santamaria, Judy Niemack and Joe Lovano.  New music for September in the third hour will feature Tim Warfield, John Scofield, the Bad Plus, the pianist Lang Lang, Enrico Pieranunzi, a duet between Andrew Cyrille and Bill McHenry and Quest.

You Are My Reflection by Erin Rachel Hudak. Installed with the help of St. Louis Community College students at Paul Artspace
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Two north St. Louis County groups are bringing together local and visiting artists.  Paul Artspace and Sculptureworks Ferguson founders said they’re united by a common cause.

“We’re looking to go into the community, use the exhibition as this kind of mechanism to create conversations, to create networks, to introduce people from outside the community to people inside the community,” said Michael Behle, founder of Paul Artspace founder.

Meera Nagarajan, Andrey Ivanoff, and Glenn Bardgett discussed wine on "St. Louis on the Air."
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

While many people may envision St. Louis as a beer town, the city and surrounding region is also home to many restaurants (and wineries!) contributing to the area’s cachet as a tasty space for wine lovers.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, the team from Sauce Magazine joined us for the next edition of Sound Bites. We discussed wine: wine lists, wine types and what you need to know about ordering a glass in St. Louis.

What do you want to know about St. Louis?

Maybe you've seen a local custom that is quirky, or a legend that is mysterious. Our question generator below is meant to get your creativity going by helping you think of things you're curious about in our region.

Watch the words roll by, or lock in one or both words to try different combinations. When you've thought of a question, fill in the form below to submit your question, and maybe one of our reporters can track down the answer.

An art piece by Kelley Walker uses a floor-to-ceiling cover of a female rapper from men's magazine. It is smeared in tooth paste.
Jenny Simeone | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Sept. 23 with statement from Kelley Walker — The Contemporary Art Museum’s display of a controversial exhibit by artist Kelley Walker — and how the administration handled public objection — has shadowed the museum in tension. The exhibit uses the images of black people in ways some St. Louisans consider disrespectful and offensive.

Three members of the museum’s administrative staff who are black have called for the museum to remove Walker’s “Direct Drive” exhibition. In the letter to the museum's senior directors published Thursday on Facebook, De Andrea Nichols, Lyndon Barrois Jr. and Victoria Donaldson also said chief curator Jeffrey Uslip should resign and issue a formal apology.

On Chess: An ordinary set, an extraordinary rivalry

Sep 22, 2016
A chess set used in a game between GM Reuben Fine and GM Samuel Reshevsky
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

In August 1986, a game of quick chess was played at the U.S. Open in Somerset, N.J. The board was vinyl, the pieces were plastic, and a Jerger wooden chess clock sat next to the board. While the set may have been common, the players were most certainly not.

Playing with the white pieces was GM Reuben Fine.  GM Samuel Reshevsky played black. Both were legends, second only to Bobby Fischer in American chess history.

The timing for this specific game on this chess set was also notable: It was the first induction ceremony for the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame. It is only fitting that the Hall of Fame was opened by a game between two of its most illustrious inductees.

Agnes Wilcox and Freeman Word
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Agnes Wilcox and Freeman Word are the co-directors of a new performance opening this weekend titled “Then, and Now Again, a Worker’s Opera.” The performance is more of a “labor cabaret,” according to Wilcox, and it explores St. Louis’ labor history, connecting workers’ rights and civil rights.

“We’re looking at labor history in St. Louis, which is rich, and we’re approaching it with music and sketches and all sorts of approaches so that we can talk about the history of St. Louis without being boring,” said Wilcox, the former artistic director of Prison Performing Arts.

Tabari Coleman
Tabari Coleman

Tabari Coleman is not originally from St. Louis. His father was in the Air Force and the family traveled all over the country and even to Guam with him.

“I had the chance to be around a whole bunch of different cultures,” Coleman told St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh. “[St. Louis] is more segregated than any place I’ve lived.”

The phenomenon of murmuration.
James West | St. Louis Public Radio

This interview will be on "St. Louis on the Air" at noon on Wednesday; this story will be updated after the show. You can listen live.

This weekend, Murmuration Festival will make its debut in the Cortex Innovation District. On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, we heard from the festival’s founder, Brian Cohen (who also founded, and later sold Loufest), about what to expect from the festival.

Here’s what you should know:

A art piece by Kelley Walker depicting a civil rights-era protest is splattered with melted dark, white, and milk chocolate.
Kelley Walker, Black Star Press | Paula Cooper Gallery

Walk into the Contemporary Art Museum today and you will be greeted with brick paintings, light boxes, laptop sculptures, and a 4-by-4 chocolate disco ball. It’s Kelley Walker’s first U.S. solo museum show, Direct Drive.  

Walk deeper into the main galleries and you’ll see works from the Georgia-born artist’s past shows, most notably Black Star Press, and Schema. They include a floor-to-ceiling print of the model and rapper Trina scantily clad on the cover of KING magazine coated in digital scans of smeared toothpaste. Another uses a 1963 image of Birmingham police and dogs attacking a civil rights protester. The print is splattered with different shades of chocolate. Both works have garnered Walker, who is white, a reputation for commenting on race in America — and fierce criticism of his use of the black body.

2Pac (Tupac Shakur), Ice Cube (O'Shea Jackson Sr.) and Eazy-E (Eric Lynn Wright).
Wikimedia Commons

St. Louis-based journalist and author Ben Westhoff has written for outlets such as Rolling Stone, Vice, NPR, and the Wall Street Journal. He also wrote for the Riverfront Times and is the former music editor of L.A. Weekly.

Chef Rob Connoley will open a St. Louis restaurant devoted to foraging in 2017.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Chef and James Beard Award Semi-Finalist Rob Connoley recently returned to his hometown of St. Louis after many years spent away in the southwestern United States. There, he became known for his skills in the art of foraging and preparing food from what he foraged.

2016 Online Journalism Awards
Online News Association

The Online News Association Awards were presented on Saturday night in Denver and St.

The Heath Brothers

Sep 19, 2016
Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for September 26, 2016 is “The Heath Brothers.”  The Philadelphia-born Heath brothers, bassist Percy (1923-2005), saxophonist, arranger, composer Jimmy Heath (born 1926) and drummer Albert “Tootie” Heath (born 1935) have been a force in jazz since the late 1940’s to the 1950’s up to the present.  They will be heard as individuals and with each other in a variety of musical contexts with King Pleasure, Bobby Timmons, Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, Wes Montgomery, Paul Desmond, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Red Garland, Sonny Rollins, Nina Simone, Thelonious Monk, Cecil Payne

The jazz-electronica group Koplant No emerged several years ago at the University of Iowa.
Provided by Koplant No

When an emerging jazz band seeks to make a fresh statement, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that its musicians would embrace the modern sounds they grew up with.

That explains the path of Koplant No, a quartet that fuses intricate jazz composition with improvisation, electronica and elements of hip-hop to capture a listener’s imagination. The Midwestern group, which this weekend returns to Jazz at the Bistro in St. Louis, has a light and airy sound that can sound a bit like a futuristic movie soundtrack.

For a while, even its members didn’t know how to precisely describe what they play, saxophone player Joel Vanderheyden said. But they've agreed on a description, perhaps after learning that some listeners feel that hearing the music is like taking a journey.

“Only in probably the last couple of years we sort of stumbled upon the label of cinematic electro jazz,” he said.

On Chess: USA wins gold at Baku Chess Olympiad

Sep 14, 2016

Rio was not the only city to host an Olympics in 2016. Baku, capital of the oil-rich nation of Azerbaijan, just hosted the 42nd Chess Olympiad, over the last two weeks. The Olympiad featured more than 1,600 players from 180 countries. When the dust settled, the United States finished at the top, earning gold for the first time in 40 years.

'Miriam Makeba: Mama Africa the Musical' dancers and singers held a pop up performance at UMSL's Millennium Student Center Monday.
Provided by UMSL campus photographer August Jennewein

When Niyi Coker considers Africa’s contributions to modern music, he can’t help but think of Miriam Makeba, the acclaimed South African singer and activist who introduced international audiences to the continent’s sounds.

It’s impossible to separate Makeba’s art from her activism, said Coker, a professor of African-American studies at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. In a life that was heroic and tragic, the singer suffered three decades of forced exile from her homeland for challenging its racist policies and injustice.

When Makeba died in 2008, she left an incredible legacy, said Coker, a native Nigerian who wrote “Miriam Makeba: Mama Africa the Musical.” Its first performance in the United States takes place Thursday at the Touhill Performing Arts Center.

David Robertson and Marie-Hélène Bernard of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Symphony’s 137th season opens this Friday, September 16. On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, we heard from the orchestra’s music director, David Robertson, and president/CEO, Marie-Hélène Bernard about the upcoming season. We also heard about what they’re looking forward to most and, yes, got the backstory on that Nelly collaboration.

You can also catch the symphony on St. Louis Public Radio on Saturday nights, starting at 8 p.m. You can find a schedule of the symphony broadcasts here.

Jess Luther | St. Louis Public Radio

Driven by proven talents and entertainers, LouFest aims to capture college students and older folks, too. It succeeds with a schedule that rolls out like tickertape, allowing attendees to easily flow from one concert to the next with no downtime in between. Hang around long enough and you’re bound to find music you like — and have a good time. 

The Pulitzer Prize medal.
The Pulitzer Prizes

This year, the Pulitzer Prize will celebrate its 100th anniversary. On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed how the award and the journalism it is meant to highlight has changed over the years.

This year, America’s Heartland Remembers placed 7,021 flags on Art Hill to commemorate fallen military men and women killed in the war on terror since September 11, 2001. The display, taken down on Sept. 12, 2016, is called “Flags of Valor.”
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Sunday marked the 15th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, we lookrf back at the past decade and a half and consider what has changed for those impacted by the attacks.

St. Louis area Catholics and other residents pause to pray at the corner of Delmar Boulevard and Sarah Street in St. Louis, during the Crossing the Delmar Divide pilgrimage.
Stephanie Lecci | St. Louis Public Radio

About 250 St. Louis area Catholics and other residents symbolically walked across Delmar Boulevard, the street signifying the city’s racial and economic divides, as part of what they called a “pilgrimage” Saturday.

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