Category: Lo-Fi Sessions

Ellen the Felon with Mattronome

Weapos;ve been trying to get Ellen Cook (AKA Ellen the Felon) to come do a session for a while and we are happy to report that she finally submitted. Sheapos;s one of the newer musicians thatapos;s been making waves in St. Louis in the last year. It took us awhile to finally decide to shoot this session on the lovely roof of City Museum with Mattronomeapos;s drum kit set up at the bottom of the giant slide there. Here Ellen performs two songs, apos;Where the Heart isapos; and apos;Oh Timmothyapos; and you can keep up with her via her website here:

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The Paper Dolls (Lo-Fi Session)

You might recognize the keyboardist here as Jenn Malzone from our session with Tight Pants Syndrome. Well this is her other band, one of two other bands actually. So she keeps busy. She told me about the Paper Dolls at the TPS session so when we got a chance we booked this one too. They play three songs here apos;Sparksapos;, apos;I Was Too Obviousapos; and apos;Trash Suicideapos; and you can listen and buy their album apos;Sparksapos; here:

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Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three “Claude Jones” and “Drinkin’ Whiskey Tonight”

If youve followed me on any of the social media networks I participate in youve no doubt been aware that I am a big advocate of Pokey LaFarge. Im not getting compensated for it, though it might seem like it. I just see him as this musician that is exceptionally talented and rare, who has a unique sound thats willing to work hard to get somewhere in this world. Hes on almost a non-stop tour schedule now with his band, The South City Three. I wont go into detail describing his sound you can hear it for yourself in the video, but I have gotten to know Pokey personally and I can tell you that his slight frame is packed with southern charm, the relentless drive of a wallstreet tycoon, the mischevious spirit of every class clown youve ever known, and, what seems like, one very old soul.

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Fred Friction

Fred Friction is one person that everyone in St. Louis seems to know. Hes known mostly because of his long time proprietorship of Fredericks Music Lounge on the South Side of the city, which had a reputation much larger than the little room it occupied. A room that will live on in the memories of all the musicians, artists, raconteurs and misfits who called it their home away from home. The man himself also made a name for himself as a musician and as a member of several bands through the years. Hes definitely good people, as they say. A character that adds color and warmth to any room he occupies.

I had this idea to do one of these sessions on the tiny little electric kiddy train at City Museum for a while. I wasnt sure who would be right for it but I knew it was something I wanted to do. And when I was looking for other people for sessions and I thought of Fred, I knew that he would be prefect for this. Here he plays a parody of the Johnny Cash song, Folsom Prison Blues, Freds version is called Ice Cream Truck Blues, Written from the point of view of a kid who always hears the ice cream truck in his neighborhood but it never comes down his street. He also did a second song for me Everybody Gotta Get They Dime performed, appropriately, in front of the bank vault door on the second floor of the museum.

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Sunyatta Marshall with Brandon Mason

You know, I really have no idea when I first met Sunyatta. That line of when I knew of her and when I actually knew her is kind of blurred for me for some reason. I do know that I have admired her from the first time that I saw her perform. And in getting to know her personally over the years I have always found her to be as sweet and charming as her face and voice suggest she might be.

Sunyatta is a member of the Helium Tapes, a band that is on the cusp of releasing their first recording. But the logistics of bringing in the entire band at this very moment wasnt particularly easy. So we settled on a solo performance of songs she wrote that dont fit particularly well in the Helium Tapes repertoire. I knew she had done some solo performances in the past. One that particularly comes to mind is an occasion that she played a country set on the patio of the Royale (a popular southside tavern). The thing that stands out in her solo performances is that you can hear the nuances of her voice and phrasing that you might not appreciate so much when she is leading a rock band. And while I really love the Helium Tapes as a band. I really would like to hear her more often in a low key environment like this. By the way I should mention that Sunyatta is accompanied here by Brandon Mason the keyboardist for the Helium Tapes.

She had a bit of trouble getting through this song on this particular night. Im not sure why. Maybe it was the camera, as sometimes cameras make people nervousthey make me nervous. In the end we finished recording these songs, and while they arent perfect, I think you too will appreciate what a gem Sunyatta is.

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Rum Drum Ramblers

If you ran into the Rum Drum Ramblers on the street you might mistake them for typical hipster kids looking for a good time. Well you would have the looking for a good time part about right, but these hipster kids are anything but typical. Theyre a group of very talented musicians who play old time blues with just a touch of ragtimemost certainly NOT hipster music.

It seems like Monday nights have been the time most convenient for all involved to record these sessions. So here we were on yet another Monday night at City Museum looking for a room to shoot in. I originally had the idea that they ride on the miniature train on the 3rd floor, but one look at the tunnel it went through and comparing it to the upright bass they brought made it apparent that that wasnt going to happen. So finally we settled on the vintage hardwood bar in the great room leading into the architecture hall.

These guys are certainly dynamic performers, so if you happen to get the opportunity to see them live, do. You wont be sorry.

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The Monads

I have a guilty pleasure. It's called Bluegrass. Something about it just gets me right about there and won't let go. Maybe it's the break neck speed that it's played or the singing fiddles or I just don't know. I really really dig it. The Monads arrived at City Museum just after I did. It was raining and really quite nasty out. Once inside they decided that they wanted to perform around the grand staircase that is at the heart of the museum. This particular staircase is indicative of the ascetic of the museum. Whimsical almost to the point of absurd. It's a good example of how the entire building has been made into a work of art. I haven't recorded a band in this series yet so this particular shoot had it's own challenges mostly in the audio department which I must say that Matt Giant the audio help on this project overcame splendidly. Oh, and I should mention that the Monads have a new CD out. I'm sure you could purchase one if you were so inclined (and asked nicely).

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Jason Hutto

On the 4th level of City Museum is a exhibit of building ornamentation; terra cota, marble, concrete decorations the kinds you never see on new buildings. The stuff that normally ends up in a dump somewhere when an old relic of the past is cast carelessly aside in favor of something new and modern, and more often than not, of inferior character. City Museum has managed to salvage a few of these bits and put them on display so people can see how buildings were once built and how much care was put into even the facades. This is the space that Jason Hutto chose to perform for my camera.

Jason is a veteran of more bands that I know. If the universe were fair and just he would be rich and famous. But he’s not. He bangs away with his bands at night and makes a living doing something else. For most artists thats just as well. Wealth and fame aren’t all they seem to be. What is important to a true artist is the work, if the work is good thats all that matters in the end. That we’ve made our mark on the world in even a small way.

While Jason is a talented song writer in his own right, the song he chose to perform here is a song written about him, by someone else, for him, and about him. We should all be so lucky.

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Irene Allen

I first heard Irene Allen when I went to see a production of a play about Zombie clowns. It was a play done in silence with only a musical sound track produced by Irene. She performed the music herself with a band of other musicians that she directed. Before the performance she sang some blues and old time music to get the audience warmed up. That when I knew that she was an incredible performer. She has one of those resonant female voices that can seem to express a whole range of emotion at once. When I asked her to do this project she got all excited. She said she wanted to perform in labyrinth of hand hewn concrete caves that are at the gut of City Museum. I had no problem with that, except that, well, caves are dark, and we were shooting video. We looked around a bit for a place that might have enough light and settled on a large room with a crystal formation in the center of it. There is a colored light that changes gradually over time. I thought it was a nice effect.She sang two songs for me. One My Country is a song about St. Louis living in the city specifically. About how its sort of a wilderness unto itself. The other song, a blues number, is one of those knock you dead pieces that can rattle around in your skull for days if you let it.

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Jesse Irwin

The first thing you notice about Jesse Irwin when you meet him, is his contagious smile. The day I met him for the first time he shook my hand and said, Glad to meet you! and really seemed to mean itlike few people ever do. He has a kind of infectious charm that leaves an impression on you.A few months after this first meeting, I saw his band, The Doc Ellis Band, play somewhere and discovered that Jesse is more than a carpenter, and that his charm works as well for him on stage as it does off. The Doc Ellis Band plays classic Country & Western covers, the kind I heard and loved when I was a kid growing up in the 70s and 80s. The kind of Country music thats so far removed from the stuff they play on Country radio these days that it could be another genre all together. It must have been a good year later that I had a chance to see Jesse perform solo, playing his own music, and thats when I realized that he was more than just a charming guy who probably grew up listening to the same music I did. He could write great simple, well crafted songs too. Songs that were simple, funny and told the truth at the same time. I was an instant fan.So when I started this project Jesse Irwin was definitely on my mind. It wasnt hard to get him to do this. He seemed particularly honored that I would ask him. But seriously, Jesse, the honor is all mine.

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Bob Reuter Session at City Museum

Bob Reuter met me at City Museum on Martin Luther King day, after hours. He had a rental car for the day so I didnt need to pick him up like we originally planned when we arranged this impromptu show on a phone call before the weekend. We made a little small talk as we walked around to find an appropriate place to shoot. He decided on the nautical themed room on the main level. There are fish tanks there with actual fish that are native to Missouri, some big Carp and Gar—which Ive only seen dead before washed up on the shores of the Merrimac while camping in the summer time.Bob, is a main-stay of the current music scene in St. Louis. Ive heard third hand that he played in some of the cities first punk bands back in the late 70s. Ive also heard whispers that he was somewhat of an early musical mentor to some performers whove gone on to become rock stars on the national stage. Hes also known for his photography which was a subject of an earlier video I made about him several years ago. Hes a punk rock troubadour, and a raconteur. I love to read his stories on his myspace bloghe could be a serious writer if he wanted to be. Once we determined the performance space, he took off his hat, tuned up his guitar and we rolled. We walked around each other like fighters before the first blows of a prize fight. He played a song about South St. Louis called Dirty South. The southside of St. Louis being at the bottom of the city that is a gateway not just to the west, but also the Northern border of the southern part of the USthe dirty south as Bob calls it here. The title of this song also shares its title with one of his bands. Then, almost as soon as he started, he donned his hat, packed up his guitar and we were done. He had a rental car to return.

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