Arts & Culture

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.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for September 11, 2016 will be “Remembering Bobby Hutcherson.”  Vibes and marimba player Bobby Hutcherson was born in Los Angeles, California in 1941 and was raised in the suburb of Pasadena.  His first recording was with Les McCann in 1960.  He worked with Curtis Amy and Gerald Wilson before moving to New York in 1963.  He recorded for Blue Note on many classic albums and was active until 2015, dying August 15 of this year from emphysema.  In addition to the aforementioned artists, Hutcherson will be heard with our own Grant Green, Abbey Lincoln, Andrew Hill with ou

Linda Kennedy and Alicia Like joined "St. Louis on the Air" to discuss "Miss Julie, Clarissa and John."
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

This week marks the opening of the St. Louis Black Repertory Company’s 40th anniversary season with the Midwest premiere of “Miss Julie, Clarissa & John,” a play by Mark Clayton Southers.

The Black Rep’s founder and producing director Ron Himes, actress Alicia Like and artistic associate Linda Kennedy joined St. Louis on the Air on Friday to discuss the production and the rest of the season. 

Provided by iLLPHONICS

Updated Sept. 7 with additional information about producing entities. Updated Sept. 9 with audio from St. Louis on the Air.

The seventh annual LouFest will bring hip-hop, rock, and jazz acts to Forest Park this weekend.

LouFest has grown steadily since its debut in 2010 and the last three years have seen a marked increase in attendance.

Provided by Washington University

Many in the United States likely view Iran as a closed society, one that has limited contact with the western world. But many in Iran would like to see more cultural exchanges.

Among them is Grammy-nominated Iranian musician Hossein Alizadeh, who performs Sunday at Washington University. An avant-garde musician, Alizadeh is known improvising on the radif, a  traditional Persian musical instrument. He has toured the world extensively and taught music in Europe and the Middle East.

The Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University is celebrating a decade at its permanent home with a first showing of works from its entire collection.

The museum will celebrate its 10th anniversary at the university with an event Friday that will highlight its paintings, sculpture and other art.  Founded in 1881, the museum’s had a long focus on European art. But in the last decade it has shifted attention to better spotlight political art.

Left to right: Nathan Maul, Sherard Curry and Anna Drehmer in Tesseract Theatre's "Am I Black Enough Yet?" by Clinton Johnston
Tesseract Theatre

The title of an upcoming play by St. Louis’ Tesseract Theatre is a loaded question: “Am I Black Enough Yet?”

It's a challenge that could cause discomfort but the play aims to make fun of the query with a playful approach. The first order of business is to proclaim that the entire audience is “black.” Those who were already black get to be “uber-black.”

GM Hikaru Nakamura, GM Fabiano Caruana, and GM Wesely So.
Chris Bauer | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis

As soon as the 2016 Sinquefield Cup ended, America’s top five players headed to Baku, Azerbijan, for the 42nd Chess Olympiad. The United States usually fields a formidable team, but this year is unprecedented, with three of the five teammates ranked in the top 10 in the world. Gone are the days when Russia, the perennial favorite for international competition, outranks other teams by a landslide. Team America, captained by International Master John Donaldson and coached by GM Alex Lenderman, is seeded second to Russia by just three rating points and is widely considered the favorite to take top honors.

Benton Park resident Alexis Forman didn't know what a flounder house was before she bought her rehabbed home four years ago.
Stephanie Lecci | St. Louis Public Radio

Alexis Forman’s rehabbed Benton Park home has everything a typical house has: a living room, dining room, kitchen, bedrooms.

But every now and then, she’ll find strangers out on the street, staring up at the exterior of her brick house — and its dramatically sloping roof.

The 2016 St. Louis Surge women's professional basketball team.
St. Louis Surge

Earlier this summer, the St. Louis Surge women’s professional basketball team took home a national championship in the Women’s Blue Chip Basketball League. There are 34 teams from across the United States that compete in the league.

Khalia Collier, the owner and general manager of the St. Louis Surge, said that the team has earned “quite the fan base.” She started the team five years ago.

Humorist and former journalist Dave Barry is a native of New York, which might have some people raising eyebrows at the title of his new book: “Best. State. Ever.: A Florida Man Defends His Homeland.


“I’ve been here for 30 years now, which in Florida terms, makes me a Floridian,” Barry told St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh. “This is a state where most people are from somewhere else. … I can’t imagine living anywhere else at this point.”

A preview of the historical timeline you will find at "St. Louis History in Black and White."
Zack Stovall, Katelyn Mae Petrin

St. Louis’ racial history is a big part of what the community is today. For many years, St. Louis Public Radio has hosted an online history that highlights some of the big historical events that St. Louisans, and those who take an interest in St. Louis from the outside, should know about to understand how the city functions today.

Humberto Howard | Criteria Entertainment

The St. Louis Ballpark Village is usually a venue for throwing back a few cold ones and watching the Cardinals game. But today the venue will give locals a taste of Los Angeles. La Santa Cecilia, a modern band that fuses Mexican roots music and Pan-American sounds, from cumbia to soul, is the headliner for the En Vivo Latino Music Festival.

I recently saw an inspiring documentary film title “Carvalho’s Journey” here in St. Louis at the Jewish Film Festival.

In 1853, travelling with explorer John Fremont’s Fifth Westward Expedition, Carvalho became one of the first photographers to document the sweeping vistas and treacherous terrain of the far American West.

Carvalho, a Sephardic Jew, was a painter and had no experience in this rugged outdoor life.  He probably would not have survived without the help of 14 Delaware and Wyandot guides and several topographers.

Poet Alison Rollins
Provided by Alison Rollins

“I realized fairly recently that I have to write. I am a poet and I claim that and it is a necessity. The same way I breathe, the same way I blink, it must be done.” Alison Rollins.

St. Louis poet Alison Rollins has won a prestigious 2016 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship for young poets.