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LoFi St. Louis celebrates 10 years on Cherokee Street

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LoFi St. Louis
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The Hamilton Band is one of 13 St. Louis bands being filmed at this year's LoFi St. Louis.

St. Louis’ most unusual music festival began by accident.

Videographer Bill Streeter started the LoFi St. Louis blog in 2005. It showcased the local music scene, with videos Streeter shot of bands performing in bars. Seven years later, a local music collective, Tower Groove Records, asked Streeter if he could make videos to promote its new compilation record. Maybe, they suggested, he could shoot a video a week on Cherokee Street, which was becoming a hub for indie music on the south side.

Streeter was into the idea — but then local musician Jason Hutto made an offhand suggestion that changed the whole equation. “Can you do them all in one day?”

“I thought about it,” Streeter recalled, “and I thought, ‘We could pull that off.’”

Even with that hubris, it never occurred to Streeter that he was creating a music festival. “I thought people would want to watch the videos,” he said. “I didn’t think they’d want to watch us make the videos.”

Listen to Bill Streeter on St. Louis on the Air

But they did. As Streeter explained on Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, “The first year we did it, people start following us around.”

From there, LoFi St. Louis became a music video festival and an anticipated annual event. Once a year, Streeter and a group of audio crews set up a series of shoots on a single day at businesses on a single street, and people come out to watch the manic, musical fun. This year, the festival’s 10th, will include 13 bands, 13 venues, and 13 shoots — with 13 one-take (or sometimes two-take) videos by the weekend’s end.

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Alex Heuer
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St. Louis Public Radio
Filmmaker Bill Streeter set out to film music videos -- and ended up creating a music festival.

This year, those shoots won’t incorporate live audiences as they did in the past — unless the audience is watching through the venue’s windows (which is, actually, a very real possibility). Partly for COVID-19 reasons and partly because it’s the direction Streeter wanted to go anyway, he’s asking people to stay outside. They can watch the setup and — with music being piped out to the outside — they can hear the performances. But for the actual shoots, he could use a few fewer people around.

“We’re trying to make a video here,” he explained. “It gets hard to do it when the room is packed.”

Even so, Streeter isn’t trying to lose the festival aspect that makes Lo Fi St. Louis so unique. “I've heard people say that they know it's LoFi Cherokee day on Cherokee Street, because there's little party puddles that are left on the street,” he said. “As we move along, we leave little puddles of people behind.

“People might hang out and have a beer afterwards, or they might move on to the next one,” he continued. “Or they catch us later on during the day. It’s super chill.”

Related Event
What: LoFi St. Louis 2022
When: 10:30 a.m. April 9
Where: Cherokee Street, St. Louis, MO 63118

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Emily Woodbury, Kayla Drake, Danny Wicentowski and Alex Heuer. Jane Mather-Glass is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Sarah Fenske served as host of St. Louis on the Air from July 2019 until June 2022. Before that, she spent twenty years in newspapers, working as a reporter, columnist and editor in Cleveland, Houston, Phoenix, Los Angeles and St. Louis.

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