Arts & Culture

Public Radio New Directors Incorporated (PRNDI)

  Public Radio News Directors Inc. and emcee Korva Coleman of NPR handed out 173 awards to 72 organizations at its conference in St. Louis this June for work done at stations and other outlets during calendar year 2015. St. Louis Public Radio is pleased to announce that we were the recipient of two of these awards.

You’re invited: On July 11, St. Louis on the Air will take you back to the beloved era of music videos with St. Louisan and former MTV host and runner-up in the network’s inaugural “Wanna Be a VJ” contest. His name is Dave Holmes, a graduate of Saint Louis Priory School, who recently wrote the book “Party of One: A Memoir in 21 Songs.”

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for July 10, 2016 is “The Music of Benny Golson.”  Tenor saxophonist, composer and arranger Benny Golson was born in 1929 in Philadelphia and is still performing at age 87.  He is best known for the Jazztet and his compositions like “Killer Joe,” “I Remember Clifford,” “Blues March,” “Whisper Not,” “Stablemates” and “Along Came Betty,” among others.  Groups heard on this show are the Phineas Newborn, Jr.

Freida L. Wheaton, Denise Ward-Brown and Sun Smith-Floret.
Mary Edwards | St. Louis Public Radio

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, contributor Steve Potter discussed Jacoby Arts Center’s multi-platform artistic exploration entitled “Social Justice: Both Sides of the River,” which opened earlier this July.

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Fans of the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle will hold their 18th annual festival on Sunday, their first gathering since the Collinsville landmark changed ownership last November.

Mike “The Big Tomato” Gassmann, president of the water tower’s preservation group, say he's relishing the occasion.

“We’re really happy with our new owner, and we’re really looking forward to the future,’’ said Gassmann, who wears a button on his cap that reads “I put catsup on my ketchup.”

Debby Lennon and Donna Weinsting in "Grey Gardens - The Musical."
Dunsai Dai

It is said that when “Little” Edith Bouvier Beale first saw a cut of “Grey Gardens,” the 1976 documentary by Albert and David Maysles about her life with her mother in a derelict mansion in East Hampton, NY, she said “Well, I like it, but I wish there was more singing and dancing.”

The composer of “Grey Gardens -The Musical,” Scott Frankel, said he took that as a posthumous blessing to transform the documentary about Jackie Kennedy’s most eccentric relatives into a musical.

Jeffery Xiong, a grandmaster, is the favorite in this year's juniors tournament.
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

For the seventh consecutive year, the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis will host the U.S. Junior Closed Championship. The most prestigious junior event in the country will take place July 8 through July 17.

Melissa Parks sings the role of Katisha in Union Avenue Opera's season opening production of "The Mikado."
Union Avenue Opera

The curtain rises on Union Avenue Opera’s 22nd Festival Season on July 8 with a new adaptation of Gilbert and Sullivan’s classic, “The Mikado.” 

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, contributor Steve Potter was joined by mezzo soprano Melissa Parks who sings the role of Katisha in “The Mikado.” Also joining the program were Eric Gibson, who directs the production, and Scott Schoonover, Union Avenue Opera’s artistic director and conductor, to discuss the production and preview the two other productions in the 2016 season.

LWYang | Flickr |

Summer is in full swing and whether you’re looking for a book to read poolside, at the park, or just staying indoors to get away from the heat, we’ve got you covered.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with three local book experts about what they’re recommending as the top summer reads. We also heard from listeners who shared their favorite summer reads so far. 

Five suggestions from Kris Kleindienst, co-owner, Left Bank Books:


What's your name?

David Cazares

Where do you consider your hometown to be? 

Two towns: Indianapolis and Miami. I was born and raised in Indianapolis, and went to school around Indiana. But as much as I identify with my home state, for much of my adult life I have been rooted in South Florida, where I met my wife and my two daughters were born. I feel at home. I love the mix of cultures and languages there and consider it a part of the country that foretells coming changes to middle America. Indeed, I’ve seen and heard that happen, as whenever I fly back to Indiana, I hear Spanish at the airport there. A generation or two ago, that wasn’t the case.

Bjorn Ranheim of The 442s warms up while awaiting a collaborator.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

When 15-year-old Caroline Luethy saw a lime-green piano in Forest Park, she was immediately taken by the chance to play in a lush setting.

Luethy, of Groton, Conn., approached the piano with a mix of anxiety and excitement. She sat down and started to improvise with chords, evoking a somber moment, like that of a movie soundtrack.

Live From Montreux

Jul 3, 2016
Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for June 3, 2016 will be “Live at Montreux.”  The Montreux Jazz Festival celebrates its 50th year this July.  It is the most recorded jazz festival in the world.  Unlike many jazz festivals, Montreux is not afraid of the avant-garde.  “Live at Montreux” will feature music from Ella Fitzgerald, Monty Alexander, Les McCann & Eddie Harris, Ray Bryant, Abdullah Ibrahim, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, the Art Blakey Big Band. Chick Corea, Miles Davis, Albert Mangelsdorff, Don Pullen’s African/Brazillian Connection, Ahmad Jamal.

Trees surrounding the outside of the Central Reform Congregation in St. Louis.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Six Jewish institutions in the St. Louis area are receiving a total of $370,000 from the Department of Homeland Security to help protect them against possible threats.

The money is the latest allocation of federal preparedness grants intended to help prevent and protect the country from terrorist attacks and other emergencies.

Sauce Magazine's Catherine Klene and Kristin Schultz joined Don Marsh in studio Friday.
Kim Oswalt | St. Louis Public Radio

The Sound Bites team at Sauce Magazine is back and ready to help you plan your nights out at St. Louis restaurants during the month of July.

Catherine Klene, the magazine’s managing editor, and Kristin Schultz, the magazine’s staff writer, joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh to discuss the openings and closings of restaurants you should know.

On their list of openings?

Vista Ramen, 2609 Cherokee St., St. Louis, MO

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon in April 2016.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Monday, July 8, 1776. It’s a “warm sunshine morning” in Philadelphia and the revolutionary Col. John Nixon, the city’s sheriff and distant relative of present-day Missouri Gov. Jeremiah Nixon, stands upon a platform in front of the Pennsylvania State House — now Independence Hall. 

Cliff Froehlich, Executive Director of Cinema St. Louis, says in regards to documentary films, "Although some people continue to equate the word "documentary" with "boring," probably as a result of suffering through the dreary educational films once shown in schools, nonfiction films are among the most vibrant, entertaining and illuminating work now being produced.

Fireworks, fourth of july, reflected, horizontal, arch
Rachel Heidenry | 2008

Despite what you may have heard in your backyard this past week, setting off fireworks is illegal in St. Louis and much of the metro area.

St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson says it’s for a good reason—more than a quarter of all house fires that occur in the area over Independence Day weekend are started by fireworks.

Younger children, like 11-year-old Tanya Raja, don't have to fast during the month of Ramadan like older Muslims do, but many start practicing at an early age.
Stephanie Lecci | St. Louis Public Radio

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan, with its daily sun-up to sundown fasts, increased prayer and focus on charity, is drawing to a close. That means there are only a few days left for young Muslims to try to fast for the first time.

Zack and Brie Smithey in front of their shipping-container home under construction in July 2016
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated with St. Charles City Council vote July 6, 2016, 12:51pm - An unusual house made of railroad-shipping containers is going up on Elm Street in St. Charles. But if city officials have their way, the nearly-finished place could be the last of its kind in the city’s traditional neighborhoods.

St. Charles residents Zack and Brie Smithey began working on their two-story home in May. Their house is being made from eight red containers, doubled stacked and four across. It sits on a sloping lot between a split-level and a ranch.

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Original story published June 23, updated June 30 with audio from "St. Louis on the Air."

Just in time for summer, the Missouri History Museum is taking a road trip down Route 66 with a colorful exhibit on the Mother Road that opens Saturday.

The focus is St. Louis’ place along the famous roadway that opened America’s West to cross-country motoring in 1926.  The ribbon of pavement stretched 2,400 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles, touching eight states along the way. 

St. Louis Public Radio's new arts and culture editor also edits our science and medical reporters.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Do you ever wonder why St. Louis Public Radio covers a particular concert but not an art show opening on the same night? Or a certain play but not a simultaneous music festival?

Editors are instrumental in these kinds of decisions. And we’ve got a new editor for our arts and culture team, who’s come to town with some new ideas. David Cazares (pronounced CAH-sar-ehs ) comes to us from Minnesota Public Radio, where he served as a web editor and music writer with an emphasis on jazz.

Missouri History Museum Photograph and Print Collections

It has been 100 years since a lavish downtown restaurant closed, signaling the end of an era in St. Louis.

On June 30, 1916, Tony Faust’s Oyster House and Restaurant gave its final last call, after four decades of serving as St. Louis’ social epicenter — for the rich and famous and working class alike. 

Faust’s restaurant at Broadway and Elm Street was renowned for extravagant meals, rooftop dining and being the first in St. Louis to offer electric lighting.

Cahokia Power Plant from The American Bottom
Provided by Jennifer Colton

Driving down Interstate 70, headed west toward St. Louis, Jesse Vogler looked out the window and was shocked to see a giant mound rising from the earth. Excited, he mistook a large landfill for The Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, which preserves the remains of a prehistoric civilization.

A program for women learning chess has become a popular outing for participants.
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

In many competitive sports like ice hockey, soccer and gymnastics, there is an expected pattern of an athlete's life. First, children start practicing their chosen sport at a very young age to have a chance of becoming professional athletes. Around the age of 4 or 5, they join a sports team and cultivate their potential. Then in their late teens and early 20s, athletes master their technique and abilities and reach their personal best.

Don Marsh spoke with Tom Gasko, the proprietor of the cacuum cleaner museum and factory outlet in St. James, Missouri in response to a Curious Louis question Wednesday.
Usodesita | Flickr |

Those of you who have grown up in St. Louis might remember the name and personality of Stan Kann, the 22-year resident organist at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis, Missouri. You may also remember him for his vast collection of vacuum cleaners, which made him the most frequent non-celebrity guest on Johnny Carsons’ Tonight Show with over 77 appearances.

Volunteer Alane Antoine next to a four-foot foam bow-tie for a giant bunny rabbit.
Liz Schlemmer

The annual VP Parade is returning to downtown St. Louis this year, after relocating to Forest Park two years ago to make way for construction near the Gateway Arch.

The parade begins at 9:30 Saturday morning at the intersection of Seventh and Market streets. Parade-goers can view the floats as they travel west on Market Street.

Mitch Huett is a local folk artist who owns a gallery/shop on Cherokee Street.
Kim Oswalt | St. Louis Public Radio

The Saint Louis Art Museum has an exhibit on display now through mid-September called, “Self-Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum.” Defined as “art of the everyday,” folk art can take shape in a variety of ways and it often reflects a sense of place.

Mitch Huett, the owner of Cherokee Street's Panorama Folk Art and Antiques, joined host Don Marsh in studio Monday to discuss the genre of folk art and its relationship to St. Louis.

What is folk art?

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited June 26, 2016 will be “The Keys and Strings Hour + New Music.”  The Quieter Side of Jazz will feature pianist, composer and bandleader Chick Corea along with Gary Burton in music ranging from piano trios, a piano-vibes duet and a quintet.  In addition, new music from Steve Davis, Russell Malone, Rene Marie, Warren Wolf, Geoff Keezer, Steve Swallow, the Frank Lowe Saxemble, the power trio of David Murray, Geri Allen and Terri Lynne Carrington, Anthony Braxton, Joe Manieri, and William Parker will be heard in the last two hours. 

A workshop at Firecracker Press with the Institute of Art and Olfaction.
Pulitzer Arts Foundation

What’s in a scent? On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, we discussed the role scent plays in our lives, memories and stories. We also discussed what the future of smells could be — scented text messages, anyone?

This untitled piece by a local street artist known as Stun is expercted to go for between $400 and $600.
Link Auction Galleries

Street art is hanging out in high places this week in St. Louis. Not just around the top stories of abandoned buildings but in a space known for fine art: an auction house. 

Link Auction Galleries in the Central West End is offering the work of local creatives, along with pieces by nationally known street artists including Banksy and Mr. Brainwash.