Various Artists, "It Came from Uranus" (Pro-Vel Records)
The Bamboo Kids, "Suck the Life Out of Me" b/w "Right On" (Pro-Vel Records)
The sharp set knew of the debuting Pro-Vel Records
prior to the Rock'n'Roll Prom at the Way Out Club a
few months back. But the rest of us caught on that
night, with a pair of rockin' sets by the Bamboo Kids
and Bleed, both acts represented on the raw
compilation disc "It Came from Uranus." It's the first
CD released on the new, St. Louis-based label,
Pro-Vel, and packs plenty of diversity in its tracks.
Mixed both with St. Louis bands Tomorrow's Caveman,
The Electric, Thee Lordly Serpents, the late
Reactions, The Misses and LoFreq, among them and a
host of acts from across the Midwest, the label
fashions a piece of work that would sound right at
home on Kopper's highly-regarded KDHX show "The
Wayback Machine," with a mixture of garage, surf and
lo-fi punk. The overall sound's not going to be
everyone's cup of tea, but if you like raw rock sans
artifice, you might find some cuts here that'll be on
Shorter, but of equal interest, is Pro-Vel's debut 45, a piece of white vinyl from the aforementioned Bamboo Kids. Pint-sized showboats on stage, the New York band manages to bring their live intensity to this two-song single. Frankly, I'd love a piece of colored vinyl if it contained someone reading the phone book, but this has a much higher level of entertainment value than that. And, civics aside, it's also great to have a label in town with some national reach and a consistent sonic approach.
Viva Pro-Vel! (TC)
Trinity Broadcasting Network
A few months back, I bought a television smarter than myself. It took months of tinkering (and subsequent cursing), but eventually I was able to wind up with 10 channels on my set; that ain't cable numbers, but for a poor city mouse, it'll work. Didn't figure, though, that three of the 10 channels would be religious programming, with TBN the most holy rollin', hilarious of them all. If you're lucky, you'll run across the 1960s Claymation classic "Davy and Goliath," but chances are you'll be treated to an array of Bible thumpers that'll amaze you with their garish sets and breathless exhortations to the Lord.
Two hosts, in particular, have captured my incredulous eyes and ears. Paula White's "Paula White Today" and "Praise the Lord" shows border on performance art: the big-voiced White shouts and stomps and drives her audiences wild. It's an amazing sight when she's really rolling and the crowd's about to elevate out of their super-church chairs. Despite my best efforts, it's hard to run across White and not stop for a couple minutes of show time.
Less of a guilty pleasure is the outrageous camp of the "Dino" show, described by tbn.org as a "New York Broadway style format." Forget that, this is pure Vegas camp, starring Dino and Cheryl Kartsonakis. While wife Cheryl gets in on the action, Dino's the clear star, with his giant, sparkly rings and over-the-top piano work. The stage is dominated by four giant letters, DINO, which glow and change with the mood lighting. Unbelievable. If this were secular programming, it'd already be too much to really take in, with Dino's Liberace vs. Martin Short personality and mannerisms and on-sleeve earnestness. Throw in the continual God talk and "Dino" becomes even more enjoyably surreal. (TC)
It's likely that folks outside of the city limits don't fully appreciate the block-by-block nature of city living. And it's so micro! Here, you can have half a block of gorgeously tended lawns and crisply painted houses, only to find Cletus the Slackjawed Yokel living in his shed just down the way. Tower Grove East, in particular, varies remarkably, with all kinds of mixed looks, from big, rambling single families to shoddy, 10-family flats. Mostly, there's a mix of single and two-fams, and most blocks incorporate some of each, with a couple of four-flats thrown in for good measure.
A block that's really intrigued me of late is 3500 Crittenden, maybe my favorite block in the city right now. The homes are universally big, with ample front porches. Trees line the entire block and give a cooling touch on a hot day. There's a convenient proximity to Tower Grove Park and the amenities of South Grand. Judging by the prices on the couple of homes currently listed for sale, it takes a bit of coin to land yourself a crib on 3500 Crittenden, but in a time when $200,000 prices aren't all that unusual in the City, this block offers more than just the actual property itself.
For walking, biking and a mild pick-me-up, I enjoy the occasional side trip down this handsome block. Corny, but true. (TC)
Powell Symphony Hall
Saturday, August 30
Plenty of off-kilterness surrounding this event. To wit: Sinbad was in town to do a charity benefit for the Special Learning Center of Epstein Hebrew Academy and the National Conference of Synagogue Youth. Hunh. And for those still wondering, yes, Sinbad the comedian, that dude from a few regrettable flicks ("Good Burger," anyone?), but mostly a well-regarded comedian whose success is founded in two pretty rare elements in comedy these days: truly funny material that never recedes into the profane and a gift for ad-lib flexibility. The second was definitely on display for the crowd at Powell, (composed largely of rabid listeners to Magic105), as the last 30 minutes or so of the set consisted of Sinbad riffing on the hazards of various customer service-oriented jobs tossed out by the audience. He knows where the laugh-getters lie (themes like "these are crazy times to be living in America" and "men and women are different"), but his good-natured treatment and willingness to open up his own life for amusement are a powerful formula. And for sure the guy next to me was feelin' it, as he bounced around in his chair, swooped up in the air a couple of times with his arms widespread, and a moment of sheer giddiness elbowed me in the ribs when his laughter couldn't be contained. (AED)