American Theatre, Saturday, December 14
It was an ambitious idea: show a holiday classic at a mostly shuttered Downtown venue. Fill the place with holiday trimmings, carol singers, door greeters and Miss Missouri. Give the proceeds to the 100 Neediest Cases cause. Staff the whole thing with volunteers, aggressively pursue media and... hope for the best. Well, it worked. For the night showing of "White Christmas" about 1,000 folks came out, with another 400 attending the matinee show. Taking up a holiday tradition started in Chicago, "White Christmas" is an appropriate work for such an annual fete, despite the lamentable "minstrel number" and a crazily pro-military vibe throughout. (Join the armed forces, meet a date!) Those quibblings aside, a movie that's song-and-dance heavy and purely sentimental perfectly suits an event that's nostalgic, on its own. After all, this event's all about promotion of Downtown for the holidays. And based on one year, it's a message that works.
The Shenandoah Bar & Grill
Sad month, really, for local club goers, as the Lemmon's Basement Bar lost the ability to host live music in the wood-paneled splendor of the downstairs venue. As has been detailed elsewhere, the room was cited for a lack of sufficient exit points; odd, of course, in that the venue had been operating for months. Why did the City choose to revisit the case and take such a hard stance? The word late in December was that the club was making strides in getting back to opening. We'll see how this situation unfolds and hold out hope that the fun-loving staff at the club are allowed to do what they were doing: bringing quality local and national rock to a unique space.
On the other side of South City, the Shenandoah Bar & Grill is facing what seems like a slower, but equally inevitable, demise. The building housing the classic South City tavern was up for sale for quite a time. Finally, the place sold and new ownership is said to want to start from scratch with a new, internally run restaurant tenant. Though there were times when the Shenandoah was positively empty, on other nights, the place hummed with softball players, Serbian immigrants and hungry people wanting the bar's famed fried chicken. The place will remain open into the New Year and if you've not been, you might just enjoy the food and casual, no-frills ambiance. Regulars will want to revisit, if only to gaze on the wonderfully dated Hamm's Beer curtains. (Though the shotgun restrooms will give even the most passionate fans a bit of pause.) Here's hoping there's a second version of this joint.
"A Very Bert Dax Christmas Volume I"
There's little doubt that the smart set will love this Yuletide compilation: after all, the players consist of bartenders, record store managers and roustabouts from all the right places. It also helps to recommend this disc because of an equally obvious reason: there's a good deal of quality on this short comp. Eight songs long, "A VBD Christmas" has some definite highlights, including the sweet opening cut, "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" by Fred's Variety Group. Praise, too, to the Phonocaptors, with their snarky "I Like Presence"; the energetic "Merry Christmas, Everybody" by the Flamerz; and the Fantasy Four's lovely "How I Spent My Christmas Vacation." Even though we're past the record's prime season, these cuts will sound good in next July. (Bert Dax, P.O. Box 39012, St. Louis, MO 63139)
Lennox Press Box
KFNS 590 AM, 9-11 a.m. weekdays
Here's a theory: there's nothing more amusing than listening to sports-talk radio on the day after the home team loses. (Almost doesn't matter the sport, though the Rams seem to bring on the most shrill, pained calls, at least in recent months.) And there's little sports-talk radio better than Frank Cusumano's solo show on KFNS, which is heavy on expert interviews, while allowing the locals to chime in, too. I'm not as hip on Frank's conservative politics and music choices (though Earth, Wind & Fire is always a plus), but few local journalists, in any genre, put in the same amount of effort. Even if you're a marginal sports fan, you'll find something intriguing here, especially when Cooz is mixing it up with regulars like Arnold, Rich from Maryland Heights, 3-and-13 Ray and Baby O.
KDHX 88.1 FM, 5:30-7:00 p.m. Saturdays
I imagine that Andrea Dunn must live in St. Louis, though I'm more prone to think she lives in some exotic second plane of local existence, driving around town in a classic convertible (even in winter), with a chilled fruit drink in hand. Her music gives the impression. Brazilian music, that is, of all sorts: "An eclectic blend of Brazilian sounds from the 1950s through today. You will hear samplings from a variety of genres including Bossa Nova, Samba, some psychedelic treats from the Tropicalia movement, Samba-Soul plus contemporary artists who have incorporated Brazilian flavors into their dance-floor beats." And, yes, there's even the occasional Beatles-covers show. A lovely soundtrack to a Saturday afternoon.