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Organizers designed The Art of Live Festival to help musicians, fans, concert promoters and venue owners weather St. Louis’ sparest month in live music.

“January is notoriously the worst touring month of the year for music venues and touring bands so we were looking for a way to drive traffic to St. Louis,” said Brian McCormac, 28, lead organizer and manager and talent buyer at Old Rock House.

Adult Fur ii, Album Cover
Adult Fur | Courtesy of the Artist

Local music collective FarFetched is a loose association of musicians from various genres and age groups. The group celebrates its fourth anniversary with a compilation album, "Prologue IV," and a release concert at 2720 Cherokee arts space on Jan. 9. The group is united by a will to experiment with genres, use digital means for music creation, and push boundaries lyrically and stylistically. In four years, it has grown to encompass 14 acts that range from hip-hop to progressive pop music.

Bridge-Spouted Whistling Vessel, Inca, Peru, 1400-1500 CE, 8 x 7.5 x 3 inches, Collection of the Sheldon Art Galleries, Hartenberger World Music Collection
Provided By the Sheldon Art Galleries

The Sheldon Art Galleries in Grand Center is the new owner of a collection of musical instruments worth more than $2 million.

Local university music professor Aurelia Hartenberger spent more than 40 years accumulating 2,500 instruments from nearly every continent. Some are contemporary, others date back 3,000 years.

Courtesy of Michael Hanscom via Flicker

It’s been 35 years since the the song “Rapper's Delight” made its debut on the radio, yet the track still holds a unique magic. It was one of the first commercial successes for rap music and it got its radio start in East St. Louis.

The mere mention of its title sends people stumbling through the opening lyric:

"I said a hip hop,

Hippie to the hippie,

The hip, hip a hop, and you don't stop, a rock it

To the bang bang boogie, say, up jump the boogie,

Country singer Garth Brooks performs on Dec. 4, 2014, at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
Bill Greenblatt / UPI

There’s a new ghost in the machine, and country music legend Garth Brooks hopes it will give more control to musicians.

GhostTunes offers digital songs, similar to iTunes.

James Baker performs with Kentucky Knife Fight at Off Broadway
Jess Luther | St. Louis Public Radio

For 10 years the band Kentucky Knife Fight, an institution in St. Louis’ indie rock community, pursued a sound that stood out from the crowd.

“I would want people to remember us for the fact that we never compromised our sound, we never tried to fit into a box,” said James Baker, 31, the band’s drummer.

Kim Massie Live at The Beale on Broadway, Nov. 19, 2014
Willis Ryder Arnold/St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis is a music town. Luminaries like Chuck Berry and Tina Turner honed their craft here before hitting international stages. For music to thrive it needs a home, it needs live venues. This month, local venue the Gramophone announced it was closing as a concert space and reopening this spring as a bar. Although they’ll still occasionally have live acts, the venue’s shift is away from high-energy music and toward a relaxed food and drink emphasis.

St. Louis rapper Tef Poe.
Courtesy of the Artist

Two leaders in the St. Louis music community released Ferguson-related songs this month. Tef Poe’s War Cry levels harsh criticism at political leaders while Brian Owens' Love, Love addresses the hope for community understanding.

Sample Lyrics:

Tef Poe’s War Cry: Ferguson is Barack Obama’s Katrina.

Brian Owens' Love, Love: We need love love love - let's talk about it - love is all we need.

Undercurrent 9 tapes featuring Frances With Wolves, Hylidae, Contrails and spoken word by Brett Underwood at Undercurrent 10 event
Willis Ryder Arnold/St. Louis Public Radio

Ask someone younger than 10 if he's ever heard a cassette and you may be met with a blank stare. Before CDs or the ubiquitous MP3, tapes were the go-to method for album releases. Major record labels stopped releasing cassettes years ago, but St. Louis is home to a dedicated tape community. Musicians turn to tape for artistic, creative and practical reasons.

An Affordable Method

Fender Amp
floss | sxc.hu

In the last six months thieves targeting touring musicians have hit St. Louis. At least eight bands' touring vans have been robbed since May 2014. Some musicians like rapper Spose have vowed to avoid the city because of the thefts. Police Captain Daniel Howard, of the Fourth District, where many of the thefts took place, said authorities are making progress and some equipment  has been recovered.

“There’s a ringleader of a group of thieves that we have our eyes on, and we are working with a prosecutor to make charges,” Howard said.

Tiffany Minx
File photo | St. Louis Beacon

Early this month Tiffany Minx announced on Facebook the closing of her independent music shop Apop Records. The store will close this Monday. Although Minx has stressed a desire to look to the future, some fans are mourning the loss of an integral part of the St. Louis music scene.

“It’s just a major loss,” said Matthew Stuttler, who runs a cassette tape music label distributed online and at Apop.

Alarm Will Sound
Justin Bernhaut via Alarm Will Sound

Alarm Will Sound, which conductor Alan Pierson describes as “the orchestra of the 21st century,” will debut two pieces this weekend in St. Louis.

On Friday, the group will perform "Miles Re-Vision" by local composer Peter Martin at a concert at the Sheldon Concert Hall celebrating St. Louis' musical history.

Morgan Nusbaum of bruiser queen
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Bruiser Queen is a pair of St. Louis residents that play catchy, scuzzy, rock music that lands somewhere between 1960s girl groups and 1990s riot grrrl punk. Morgan Nusbaum fronts the band, commanding both microphone and guitar.

She’s backed by Jason Potter on the drums. The duo practices in an old doctor’s office off Cherokee street. The walls are a faded bubble-gum pink and plastic bins for charts are still screwed to the wall near every exam room. The duo rehearsed for Friday’s record release show promoting their newest album Sweet Static.

Wynton Marsalis
Frank Stewart / (Courtesy Jazz at Lincoln Center)

Wynton Marsalis has been to St. Louis many times, but before Thursday night he had not played at Jazz at the Bistro.

“I’ve been coming here for many, many years. This is one of my favorite cities to come and play, in many contexts,” said Marsalis, a trumpeter, composer and educator. “I’d been to the Bistro, just sitting in and hanging with musicians … and it’s a famous place to play amongst the musicians. From a national standpoint, when you talk about St. Louis, you’re always talking about the Bistro.”

Saint Louis Chamber Chorus
Saint Louis Chamber Chorus

Instead of following a theme, the Saint Louis Chamber Chorus' 59th season will focus on composers. 

“In the early years, we’ve put together programs on ideas, on literature, on great cities, on different poets,” said Philip Barnes, the chorus’ artistic director. “We’ve performed in a wrestling arena because I wanted to sing ‘Musicians Wrestle Everywhere,’ words by Emily Dickinson. This is the first time we’ve put together a season where the composers themselves have been the driving force.”

Tritone Drive
Physics Punk Pedals Facebook page

This month David Anderson’s Tritone Guitars turns two years old. Tritone is really Anderson himself: repairing guitars, assembling guitars, and acting as guitar tech for local and national bands as they swing through town. National acts like Robert Randolph and the Family Band have called on Anderson to fix gear when they’ve suffered massive equipment failure in the middle of their set.

Elizabeth Futral
K Cadel / Colbert Artists Management

Soprano Elizabeth Futral and composer Philip Lasser can thank pianist Margo Garrett for their friendship, which spans nearly a decade.

“There was a third party that gave my songs to Elizabeth,” Lasser said. “Then as fate would have it, she was collaborating with Margo Garrett, who happens to be a colleague of mine at Juilliard and who had a studio at the time right across the hall from my studio. We met over these songs.”

Courtesy Old Webster Jazz and Blues Festival

Webster Groves’ largest music festival returns for a 14th year Saturday.

“Great musicians continue to develop here, and it’s really wonderful to give them a chance to get exposure on a big stage in front of up to about 12-, 13,000 people every year,” said Terry Perkins, the festival’s music director.

Streets will be closed and performances will take place on two stages at Allen and South Gore avenues, just north of Lockwood Avenue. The festival starts at noon.

The one and only Cake lights up the stage at the 5th Annual Loufest Saturday Night
Brian Villa | Special to St. Louis Public Radio

This weekend an estimated 36,000 people from out of state and the surrounding area gathered in St. Louis for LouFest 2014, the little music festival that could. In just four years, the weekend-long concert has grown so much that founder Brian Cohen partnered with production company C3 Presents to help handle logistics, bring in bigger names and expand concert amenities.

Christine Brewer
Christian Steiner

Soprano Christine Brewer, jazz pianist Peter Martin and jazz vocalist Denise Thimes will perform Sunday with ensembles from various faith communities in an annual 9/11 commemoration concert. 

Related story: Sept. 11 Concert Focuses On Uniting Community

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