music

This photo of St. Louis' Big Red Burlecamp was taken in St. Charles in 1963. Big Red is in the center, with guitar.
Reedy Press

When Kenneth Johnson was a young boy growing up in rural Missouri in the 1940s, his bedtime routine included music. But the sounds that lured this youngster into dreamland were the live performances of dance-hall musicians.

Thelonius Kryptonite
Durrie Bouscaren

Ah, high school. The place where you can reinvent yourself after middle school, screw up, then graduate and reinvent yourself again. But for St. Louis musician Thelonius Kryptonite, University City High School was where he started out strong and just kept going.

It began with a little tabletop musical improvisation. Soon Kryptonite, known then as Corey Williams, began living a dual existence: joining marching band and becoming the king of hip-hop. Before graduation, he was already signed to the Soul Tide record label.

Gene Lynn on his balcony at home
Provided by the family

Gene Lynn, with a baritone voice that was as smoky as the nightclubs he owned for more than three decades, was one of the brightest lights of the St. Louis entertainment mecca known as Gaslight Square in the ’60s.

Show Me Arts Academy kids rehearse to Bruno Mars' "Uptown Funk"
Willis Ryder Arnold/St. Louis Public Radio

Frustration gripped local singer and actress Marty Casey in the days after Michael Brown’s death at the hands of then-Officer Darren Wilson. This weekend, a little more than six months later, Casey and 10 other people launched Show Me Arts Academy, the organization born from her call.

Clark Terry
Clark Terry's website

In April 2006, jazz trumpeter and St. Louis native Clark Terry talked to "Cityscape" host Steve Potter about his upcoming performance at the Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival.

By then, Clark was widely regarded as a legend. He was a star soloist with Count Basie's and Duke Ellington's bands, led his own big band, and was the first black man to play in "The Tonight Show" house band.

Country and bluegrass artist Ricky Skaggs will perform in St. Louis on Feb. 28, 2015.
Skaggs Family Records

Ricky Skaggs started playing the mandolin in the hills of Kentucky at age 5. Fifty-five years later, he’s still in love with what he calls “old-time mountain music.”

“That real traditional thread running through the fabric of the music scene, I’ve always been drawn to that,” Skaggs told “Cityscape” guest host Jim Althoff. “I’ve always felt, too, that if that particular thread ever gets pulled out, I think the whole piece of cloth can just unravel. It’s a very important part of what we need desperately to hold on to and honor.”

Professor Lerone Martin holds recording of Rev. J.M. Gates
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

The term "televangelist” was coined in a 1975 TIME magazine article to describe a practice now familiar to many Americans. Lerone Martin said that practice may stem from sermons recorded in the mid 1920s. Martin wants people to imagine a recording session with Louis Armstrong and his musicians in New York’s Columbia Records studios as one of the first bridges established between religion and mass media.

Sheldon Art Galleries Director Olivia Lahs-Gonzales takes a photo of Aurelia Hartenberger as she plays a bird ocarina from South America on 'Cityscape' on Feb. 6, 2015.
Katie Cook / St. Louis Public Radio

It started as a garage sale purchase, and grew. Last month, music professor Aurelia Hartenberger and her husband donated 2,500 instruments to the Sheldon Art Galleries.

Jenn Malzone of Middle Class Fashion records at St. Louis Public Radio studios
Willis Ryder Arnold/St. Louis Public Radio

More than 5,000 bands submitted video entries to NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert Contest, including a dozen from the St. Louis area.

Contestants filmed themselves indoors, outdoors, as groups or solo acts, and some even featured tiny desks of their own. Although submissions are closed, "Cityscape" gave listeners an exclusive taste of three local bands participating in the contest. The contest winner will be named Feb. 12.

Middle Class Fashion  

Delmar Records launched January, 2015
Courtesy of Delmar

Delmar Records is a new label focused on promoting St. Louis musicians on a national scale. Local musician James Irwin, who performs and records as James K, said the label is like a home for his music.

“I’ve been in situations where I’ve been offered deals through major labels and indie labels and it just never felt right; and I figured why not put my music out through an avenue that I was actually kind of in control of and I actually believed in,” said Irwin.

Sebastian “Tech Supreme” Lee is a cofounder of Delmar Records and a music producer.
Amy Harris/Courtesy of Delmar Records

Delmar Records is working to bring the national spotlight to a group of St. Louis musicians.

Cofounder and music producer Sebastian “Tech Supreme” Lee said the label’s roster features St. Louis musicians with strong careers who are looking expand their audience.  

Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

    

Local band Bo and the Locomotive is releasing its first album in three years titled It's All Down Here From Here. During that time, the group evolved from a bedroom recording project to full band, lost members, replaced them, and was locked out of their own record. 

“It's not what we were expecting to happen when we started recording it over two years ago, but now that it's all pressed on vinyl and in our hands, there is a big sense of accomplishment,” said Bulawsky.

Event logo

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.

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