Jeremy D. Goodwin | St. Louis Public Radio

Jeremy D. Goodwin

Arts & Culture Reporter

Jeremy D. Goodwin joined St. Louis Public Radio in spring of 2018 as a reporter covering arts & culture and co-host of the Cut & Paste podcast. He came to us from Boston and the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, where he covered the same beat as a full-time freelancer, contributing to The Boston Globe, WBUR 90.9 FM, The New York Times and NPR, plus lots of places that you probably haven’t heard of.

 

He’s also worked in publicity for the theater troupe Shakespeare & Company and Berkshire Museum. For a decade he joined some fellow Phish fans on the board of The Mockingbird Foundation, a charity that has raised over $1.5 million for music education causes and collectively written three books about the band. He’s also written an as-yet-unpublished novel about the physical power of language, haunted open mic nights with his experimental poetry and written and performed a comedic one-man-show that’s essentially a historical lecture about an event that never happened. He makes it a habit to take a major road trip of National Parks every couple of years.

 

Ways to Connect

Poet Haki R. Madhubuti and musician Nicole Mitchell collaborated on a collection of poems set to music. 3/15/19
New Music Circle

Jazz flautist Nicole Mitchell was taking a break from college when she started volunteering at Third World Press, a Chicago bookstore and publishing house. That move sparked a lifelong mentorship with the press’s founder, poet and activist Haki R. Madhubuti.

Twenty years later, the two collaborated on a collection of his poems set to music. They’ve performed the material only a few times, and never outside Chicago. That changes Saturday, when they play a New Music Circle concert at St. Louis University.

Members of IN UNISON Chorus rehearse for a recent concert. Charter member Gwendolyn Wesley is seen, bottom center.  2/28/19
Jeremy D. Goodwin | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Symphony formed IN UNISON Chorus for a 1994 concert meant to help bridge the black church and the overwhelmingly white world of classical music. Twenty-five years later, the chorus is still singing. Each season it plays two concerts at Powell Hall with the orchestra, plus one a cappella performance and occasional guest appearances, like at the annual season-opening concert at Forest Park.

The chorus specializes in music by African-Americans, from 19th-century spirituals arranged for 120-voice chorus to contemporary gospel and pieces by black composers. The melding of black-American and European classical styles is heard vividly in the finale of the chorus’s February concert, the pathbreaking “Gospel Mass” by IN UNISON’s founding director, Robert Ray.

IN UNISON Chorus rehearsing at Powell Hall. Charter member Gwendolyn Wesley, lower left. 2/22/19
Jeremy D. Goodwin | St. Louis Public Radio

As St. Louis Symphony Orchestra musicians file into the Powell Hall stage door facing Delmar Boulevard, they’re striding along the boundary that divides a segregated city.

With IN UNISON Chorus, orchestra leaders made an effort in 1994 to bridge that divide and welcome more African-Americans into the predominantly white world of European classical music.

The St. Louis Symphony appears to be the only American orchestra to maintain a second full-sized chorus dedicated to music by African-American and African composers. Its members largely come from about three dozen black churches in and around St. Louis, where SLSO orchestra members also perform recitals throughout the year.

Creative Reaction Lab was one of the first winners of the stARTup Creative Competition 2/17/19
Arts and Education Council

Calling all arts entrepreneurs in the St. Louis region: the third-annual stARTup Creative Competition is underway. A $20,000 prize is at stake.

The Arts and Education Council devised the contest to give a boost to new ventures.

Either one winner will receive $20,000, or two will split it. The prize also includes work space in Arts and Education Council’s arts incubator at the Centene Center for the Arts in Grand Center, including internet access and other logistical support.

Following an extensive renovation, Jazz St. Louis's Ferring Jazz Bistro attracts international artists and offers local musicians a prestigious performing space. 2/8/19
Jazz St. Louis

A $350,000 grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation will help Jazz St. Louis spread the word about concerts at Ferring Jazz Bistro, its signature performance space in Grand Center.

Known for its good acoustics and sightlines following a renovation that began in 2014, the 250-seat venue attracts international artists and offers local musicians a prestigious performing space.

But it doesn’t yet have the international profile it deserves, said Gene Dobbs Bradford, president and CEO of Jazz St. Louis. Aiming to remedy that, the organization will use some of the grant money to purchase new equipment that will allow the club to stream concerts online.

Kayia Baker leads a piano class for beginners at Pianos for People on Cherokee Street.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

There’s music in the air at Al Chappelle Community Center.

The St. Louis Housing Authority facility, which serves residents of the adjacent Clinton-Peabody housing complex, recently received a heavy delivery: a Kawai upright piano. The instrument is only about 13 years old and in excellent condition.

It was a donation, courtesy of Pianos For People.

The St. Louis-based nonprofit has distributed more than 250 pianos to private homes and public spaces since it began taking piano donations in December 2012.

Incoming music director Stéphane Denève will begin his first season at the helm of St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. 2/5/19
St. Louis Symphony Orchestra

St. Louis Symphony Orchestra’s first season under the artistic leadership of incoming music director Stéphane Denève will include two world premieres, a selection of French composers and artists, and a world-renowned artist-in-residence.

The orchestra announced its 2019-2020 season Tuesday. Denève was announced in 2017 as the orchestra’s next music director, following the departure of David Robertson at the end of last season.

Syrhea Conoway, aka Syna So Pro, is a woman of many instruments. 1/31/19
Syrhea Conoway

Syrhea Conaway isn’t a DJ, and Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis isn’t a dance club. Yet Conaway — in the guise guide of her solo project, Syna So Pro — is CAM’s new DJ-in-residence. That means she’ll perform a two-hour set at the museum for every First Friday event this year, beginning Feb. 1.

J. Samuel Davis plays Antoine in New Jewish Theatre's production of "District Merchants." 1/24/19
Eric Woolsey | New Jewish Theatre

In a heated conversation during the first act of “District Merchants,” a white immigrant tells a black man that he understands the other’s plight: “I know what is to be poor, hated and looked down on just because you’re, you know, you.”

The African-American points out that he lives with that stigma every day. White people see the word “thief” written on his face, he says. The immigrant replies: “Not everyone sees that!”

A version of this conversation could have been had in 16th-century Venice or post-Civil War Washington, D.C. — or a Twitter thread in 2019.

That’s part of the point of “District Merchants,” Aaron Posner’s 2016 adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice.” A production by New Jewish Theatre begins performances Thursday.

The old stage at The Muny is already gone, and construction of a new one is in progress. 1/1/19
Jeremy D. Goodwin | St. Louis Public Radio

The Muny is on track to finish most of its planned renovations in time for the start of the 2019 season in June.

The outdoor theater in Forest Park has so far announced $42.7 million in donations toward its $100 million goal, managing director Kwofe Coleman said.

The Muny acknowledged a gift of $20 million from James and Elizabeth McDonnell of JSM Charitable Trust in August, and 12 gifts of $1 million each in December.

Jacob Shacko performs at St. Louis Public Radio.  12/26/18
Jeremy D. Goodwin | St. Louis Public Radio

Jacob Shacko fled his home in the Democratic Republic of Congo when he was 7 years old and learned to sing and play guitar while growing up in a Ugandan refugee settlement. As a teen, he formed a band with fellow refugees and a United Nations agency commissioned the group to write topical songs and perform for the public. He was relocated to St. Louis along with his mother and two brothers in 2016, with help from the International Institute of St. Louis.

Shacko, now 17, has seen a lot of things that one might think he’d like to forget. But he takes strength from his memories, both good and bad, and channels them into his music. He sings about love, about missing his friends back home, and, in “Prayer For Africa,” he directly evokes some of the horrors he experienced as a child.

Guitarist-vocalist Paige Brubeck and drummer-vocalist Evan Sult play the Ready Room on Dec. 13. 12/21/18
Jeremy D. Goodwin | St. Louis Public Radio

On a crisp, December weeknight in Sleepy Kitty’s cozy practice space on Jefferson Ave., guitarist-vocalist Page Brubeck and drummer-vocalist Evan Sult begin to rehearse for an upcoming set at the Ready Room.

An opening slot on a weeknight, the gig seems pretty low-profile. But it’ll be their first in over a year. Brubeck was sidelined by throat surgery in January, and it’s been a slow, difficult path back to the stage.

Brubeck and Sult view the set as a re-affirmation of the band’s very existence. And they’re not sure how it’ll go.

Fans at LouFest 2017 basked in tunes and perfect weather. Sept. 2017
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

Logic Systems Sound and Lighting, the Valley Park-based company that had been hired to work the 2018 festival, is suing LouFest’s promoter for breach of contract.

In a suit filed last month in St. Louis County Circuit Court, Logic Systems detailed over $70,000 it claims Listen Live Entertainment owes it for work on the canceled festival, plus three other events held earlier in the year.

Logic Systems owner Chip Self said he considered it a “long shot” that the suit will yield a payday. He sued, he said, in part to stand up for other vendors who haven’t been paid for their services.

The Luminary gallery on Cherokee Street has raised more than 80 percent of the $500,000 it needs to expand both its building and its reach into the community.

When complete, the enhanced facilities and additional programming will boost the Luminary’s presence as a kid-friendly, neighborhood spot where visitors are invited to drop by — and are not expected to buy anything. Its leaders say that is a much-needed feature on Cherokee Street, a bustling commercial area rife with restaurants and shops.

Poet Justin Phillip Reed relocated to St. Louis to earn his MFA at Washington University, and the city's history hovers over his first book, which won the National Book Award.
Nicholas A. C. Nichols

Justin Phillip Reed’s writing career has gotten off to an extraordinary start. Following a chapbook in 2016, this year he published his first collection of poetry (“Indecency,” Coffee House Press) — and it won the National Book Award for poetry. “Indecency” is, in large part, a product of the 29-year old’s time in St. Louis.

The South Carolina native relocated here to earn his MFA at Washington University, which he completed in 2015. His work foregrounds his identity as a queer black man in America, and examines the complex social calculus he’s navigated as he earns literary accolades and is celebrated by traditionally white institutions.

COCA's arts integration programs meld the arts with various academic subjects.  11/21/18
COCA

More St. Louis-area students will soon use the arts to help make sense of science, technology, engineering and math concepts.

COCA launched a school residency program devised to combine the arts with the STEM subjects as a pilot program in 2013. This school year the arts center is running 44 such residencies, spread across eight public schools. A $100,000 grant from Boeing will help COCA expand to 60 residencies in nine schools, reaching 1,500 total students.

Revelers at the Upstairs Lounge sought out the club's intimate atmosphere and underground musical leanings.  11/15/18
Sarah Hays

Upstairs Lounge was a mainstay of St. Louis nightlife from its humble opening in 1992, upstairs from Mekong Restaurant on South Grand Boulevard, to its breathless closing this month with a string of eight straight nights of dance parties.

It was home to generations of revelers who favored the no-frills space’s intimate quarters and underground musical leanings.

In this Cut & Paste episode, we speak with two people closely associated with the Upstairs Lounge about the club’s early days, its heyday in the first years of this century and the heartbreaking realization that it was time to shut it down.

Dave Grelle has been one of the most sought-after keyboard players in St. Louis for years. But two years ago, his life — and his music — were upended. A hit-and-run driver struck him on South Grand Boulevard and caused him major injuries, from which he’s still recovering.

Grelle has been easing back into his musical life, sitting in with various groups around town. Now comes a big milestone: For the first time since the accident, Grelle will make his way back to the stage as a bandleader this weekend, when he leads a group of local all-stars, Friday and Saturday at Ferring Jazz Bistro.

A still from "The Drunkard's Lament," University City native Jim Finn's re-imagining of Emily Brontë's novel "Wuthering Heights." 10/31/18
St. Louis International Film Festival

One way to size up the 27th annual St. Louis Film Festival is by the numbers. It’ll feature 413 films at 14 different venues, from mainstays like the Landmark Tivoli Theatre in University City to Old Bakery Beer Company in Alton. Organizers expect a record 30,000 to attend.

Another is the breadth of programming, from a fantasy story told through puppets and animation to a documentary about black jazz musicians who were asked to join United States propaganda efforts during the Cold War.

"Three Girls in a Wood" is based on the painting by German artist Otto Müller. 10/29/18
Kehinde Wiley and Roberts Projects

Kehinde Wiley has vivid memories of the first time he felt at home in the world of fine art. Growing up in 1980’s South Central Los Angeles, he’d occasionally go with his mother to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It was there that he first saw one of Kerry James Marshall’s paintings of everyday African-American life.

He remembers being “completely blown away” by seeing black subjects painted by a black artist on a large canvas. It gave him “the sense that anything is possible.”

Wiley aims with his latest show to create the same sort of experience for St. Louisans.

Courtesy Kranzberg Arts Foundation

Artist Oscar Murillo’s installation now on view at Kranzberg Arts Foundation evokes a very strange political protest, one in which no single cause is apparent but it’s clear that passions run high.

More than 150 protest placards crowd the space — some plainly visible, some stacked upside down or otherwise obscured. Their surfaces are crowded with paint, magazine clippings, plaster sculptures and even a wig or two.

Zoo backers want to build a breeding facility and outdoor attraction offering a safari-like experience in Spanish Lake.
Stephanie Richmond | St. Louis Zoo

When St. Louis Zoo president and CEO Jeffrey Bonner sketches out his plans for a proposed zoo annex in Spanish Lake, he evokes an idyllic scene based on an experience he had at a Florida zoo.

“If you can imagine sitting in a kayak and looking up maybe two or three feet up to the [river] bank,” he said in a recent interview, “and then looking up beyond that and seeing a 14-foot tall giraffe — it was amazing.”

The Zoo could make such activities possible if St. Louis County voters approve a ballot question in November, increasing the sales tax by one-eighth of a cent. The tax would add about an extra 12 cents to a $100 purchase.

The St. Louis nonprofit Prison Performing Arts has been putting on plays with incarcerated people for 19 years. Here, two women at the penitentiary in Vandalia, Missouri rehearse a scene from "Hip Hop Hamlet." 10/11/18
Jeremy D. Goodwin | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s opening night for “Hip Hop Hamlet” and more than 200 women dressed in baggy, khaki-colored clothes have packed into the gymnasium at the women’s penitentiary in Vandalia, Missouri. They’re eager to watch fellow members of the prison population perform a beat-filled, rap adaptation of the Shakespeare text.

Shakespeare scholars say his work offers ways to get in touch with what makes a person fully human. For the women participating in this show, that plays out at a very basic level.

Gemma New wants to talk about music with you. 10/10/18
Cropped photo by Roy Cox

New Zealand-born conductor Gemma New is on a roll. She’s on the cover of the October issue of International Musician and will make her debut with New York Philharmonic in November. In St. Louis, she made history on two fronts in September when she led St. Louis Symphony’s opening-night concert. She was the first woman and the the first resident conductor to do so.

New, 31, spoke with Cut & Paste in Powell Hall after leading the orchestra through its first rehearsal for opening night.

Hamiet Blueiett was known as one of the greatest ever to play baritone saxophone. 10/5/18
Courtesy of Dennis C. Owsley

The jazz world has lost a giant. World Saxophone Quartet founder Hamiet Bluiett died Thursday. He was 78.

A native of Brooklyn (Lovejoy), Illinois, Bluiett was an internationally admired innovator who frequently returned to the St. Louis region as a performer and educator. He was known as a master of the baritone saxophone.

His sound on the horn was unmistakable, said trumpeter George Sams, a friend for more than 50 years.

RhonniRose Mantilla, wearing a red dress, rehearses Thursday night for an upcoming community production of West Side Story in July.
Monica Mileur | COCA

Famed Broadway lyricist and composer Stephen Sondheim dismissed complaints that white actors should not be cast to portray people of color.

He made his remarks as a guest on Thursday’s episode of St. Louis on the Air.

The issue is freshly in the news with the cancellation last month of a student production of the 1957 musical “West Side Story” after Latino cast members complained that the director cast white actors to portray key Puerto Rican characters.

Gemma New was the first woman and the first resident conductor to lead St. Louis Symphony Orchestra's opening night concert. 10/11/18
St. Louis Symphony Orchestra

Opening night at the symphony has a special buzz and a once-a-year chance for the orchestra's artistic leader to welcome back the musicians and the audience. If an orchestra happens to be between leaders, the occasion also offers a plum spot on the calendar to invite a guest-star conductor with a pedigree.

St. Louis Symphony Orchestra took a different route this year. With the seat of music director technically unfilled — French conductor Stéphane Denève takes over that job next season — the orchestra’s leadership turned to the rising star in its ranks.

Gemma New, 31, led the orchestra’s annual kickoff concert in Forest Park and then held onto the baton for opening night at Powell Hall. She made history on two fronts: as the first woman to lead SLSO’s opening night concert, and as the first resident conductor to do so.

"Living In Tents" chronicles an encampment of homeless people by the St. Louis riverfront. 9/27/18
Courtesy Artica Films

Paul Crane was scouting sites for an assignment in a photography class in 2010 when he came upon an encampment of homeless people living in tents by the St. Louis riverfront, not far from the Four Seasons hotel. He befriended one of the leaders of the community, and soon set up his own tent there while he shot footage for a documentary film.

The result is “Living In Tents,” which became available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video in August and will be shown at the St. Louis International Film Festival in November.

Felicia Shaw, new executive director of St. Louis' Regional Arts Commission, said she had a sense that this community would now "be open to change" after the events of Ferguson.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

The Regional Arts Commission envisions a more ambitious agenda for the St. Louis area’s cultural community. In a plan released late last week, the grant-making organization set out a series of priorities for the immediate future of the region’s arts scene.

Among the plan’s recommendations is that arts groups work with local organizations to help solve community problems. Arts groups can play a role with efforts to build affordable housing, improve public safety and other civic initiatives, RAC executive director Felicia Shaw said.

The Avett Brothers at LouFest 2015
File photo | Jess Luther | St. Louis Public Radio

When the organizers of LouFest canceled the event, the news came as a shock to many, though signs of the festival’s distress had been apparent. The festival’s promoter, Listen Live Entertainment, insisted that everything was fine until the moment it pulled the plug.

The announcement identified several causes including the loss of key sponsors, debt and expected rain. Organizers insisted the festival had been on target “until a bit of unfortunately timed media coverage caused many of our vendors and artists to demand up-front payment.”

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