This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 11, 2008 - When Joe Schwab moved his independent music shop, Euclid Records, from the Central West End to the Old Orchard area of Webster Groves, he thought it might be nice to book some bands to play in nearby Gazebo Park. The idea was to create a family friendly street festival atmosphere that would generate some interest in the Old Orchard shopping and restaurant district.
With the help of the Merchant & Business Association of Old Orchard, Schwab carried out his plan and his idea grew into a concert and movie series that has attracted more attention each year in the half-decade since its inception.
This year's series, which runs each Friday from June 13 to July 25 (with the exception of July 4), features St. Louis-based musical artists as well as those of national repute paired with movies ranging from comedy to suspense to family fare.
How do they match the music and the movies? "It's a little tricky," admits Schwab, who books the musical acts and helps plan the movies with help from other merchants and representatives of the Webster University Film Series. "But we do the best we can."
For example, Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Charlie Louvin, who will perform on June 27, will perform before a screening of Christopher Guest's folk music mockumentary, "A Mighty Wind."
"Charlie Louvin is not folk music, he's country and country spiritual music," Schwab says. "But there's a correlation. I think most fans of that movie and that genre of music are fans of Charlie Louvin as well."
Schwab notes that all of the shows are family friendly, but the June 20 bill, which pairs jazz and pop vocalist Anita Rosamond with "The Muppet Movie," was put together with smaller children in mind. That evening's film will begin a few minutes earlier than usual so the kids in attendance can stay up and see it.
Besides the entertainment, the festivities will include food from local merchants such as Weber's Front Row, Serendipity, the Highway 61 Roadhouse, Cyrano's, the Grove Deli and others.
This year's series is even being commemorated with a special poster designed by Portland, Oregon, artist Gary Houston, who often does artwork for Grateful Dead alumni Bob Weir and Phil Lesh. The signed and numbered run of 150 posters featuring Charlie Louvin will sell for $25 each.
Though it may have been his idea in the first place, Schwab is quick to deflect credit for the series away from himself. "The Merchant Association members are our sponsors and they're the ones who really put it on," he says. "They're the ones who give us money to do this. We've pretty much had the same sponsors year in and year out and, you know, a lot of those guys can afford it and a lot of them can't but they know it's good for the community and that's the important thing. We just want to point out that it's a really great area for shopping and it's really got great restaurants and we want to get some things happening and try to make people's visits to Old Orchard memorable."
Dan Durchholz is a free-lance writer.
Old Orchard Concert & Movie Series
- June 13 -- Music: Kim Massie, Movie: The Birds
- June 20 -- Music: Anita Rosemond, Movie: The Muppet Movie
- June 27 -- Music: Charlie Louvin, Movie: A Mighty Wind
- July 11 -- Music: Marquise Knox, Movie: Ferris Bueller's Day Off
- July 18 -- Music: Raven Moon, Movie: Young Frankenstein
- July 25 Music: The Skeletons, Movie: TBD
Concerts start at 7 p.m. | For more information: www.oldorchardwg.com