KDHX Pledge Pitching

Greetings. Yes, I did a show on KDHX, though it currently rests in amber. My feeling, though, has always been that I was kept around due to my golden touch during fall and spring membership drives. My ability to seamlessly join a show’s already-existing vibe, allowing the host to remain a star, while bringing the key KDHX membership messages to the listenership is nearly unparallelled. Thus, my extreme popularity as a co-pitchman!

Either that, or my lack of a full-time job makes me a good fit. Ah, hell.

But seriously, folks… please consider rubbing some coins together on these days:

Friday, March 30, 4-7 p.m., with Art Dwyer of Blues in the Night
Monday, April 2, 8:30-9 p.m., with D.J. Wilson of Collateral Damage
Monday, April 2, 9-10 p.m., with Ann Haubrich, Jason Braun and Nickey Rainey
Wednesday, April 4, 7-9 p.m., with Rob Levy of Juxtaposition
Friday, April 6, 4-7 p.m., with Art Dwyer of Blues in the Night

While I enjoy all the shows and personally like all the hosts… serving as second-banana to Art Dwyer is among the great gifts that I’m handed each year. Three hours of pure, wacky bliss. Tune in to that business, later today?

An American Dream

A couple weekends ago, I ran into one of the those (to invoke the cliche term) “interesting” moments of life. At the end of a shift at the bar/restaurant where I clock some hours, a large video production team began rolling into the club for an all-night shoot. With every new arrival, it was obvious that this was a Webster University cast and crew; every other body through the door, it seemed, was a former student, too. At the time, it was a bit mortifying. (Not true: it was a lot mortifying.) The nightly closure of a restaurant is nothing that ordinary people need to, or want to see; to call on another cliche, it’s like the creation of laws or the making of sausages. It’s a process that involves a bunch of physical labor, usually accompanied by shift drinks, raids of the potato chip containers and the necessary off-load of the night’s frustrations through pointed, off-color monologues. The desired company’s a loud stereo, not a group of fresh-faced filmmakers.

For the most part, then, it’s not the kind of scene where you want to run into a bunch of your recent students. One month you’re teaching them how to write, or how to become “successful” in communications. The next month you’re swinging a mop in their company. Maybe there’s a teaching moment there, somewhere, but in that moment, no one really wants to give it, or receive it. “So, kid, you wanna be a media producer? And you wanna do it on your terms? Well, here’s a broom, a dustpan and few thoughts…”

A life in media content creation can prove a weird, difficult, hard-to-organize beast. I wish the young well, but wish myself well a lot more.

Right now, I’m in something of a feast cycle, through it’s not such a rich life that I’m quitting the night job, yet. The most recent addition to the lineup’s possibly the most unusual resume stocking-stuffer to date. And it’s potentially the most fun, for the short term: yes, thanks, it’s true, I’m the press contact for a Presidential candidate.

Blake Ashby is a St. Louis businessman, launcher of websites and software companies, restaurant owner and avid political blogger. Maybe I can relate to his lifestyle because his days are also hard to pin down; there’s a pretty good-to-really good chance that both of us will wind up at Meshuggah on the same afternoon, chasing varied dreams via laptops. For his part, during the past two election cycles, Blake’s run for President. As in President of The United States of America. This electoral season, he’s decided to throw his name into a new ring, eschewing the Republican Party (where he ran in 2004) and the independent candidacy route, too (ala his path in 2008).

This time out, he’s entered the digital election cycle created by Americans Elect, an online movement that’s heavily invested in reaching voters through social media. The idea, in the broadest sense, is to tamp down the corrosive nature of party politics, allowing average Americans the chance to either draft their desired candidates, or to throw their support behind self-nominating candidates who’d not get a full hearing in the mainstream. Blake’s approach this time out to help move the needle on issues important to him, while setting the scene for a longer-term push in 2016. And to help accomplish all that, he’s bringing on a small amount of help in the field of media direction.

So we are are, keeping life “interesting,” through both planning and happenstance.

More to come…

RFT Love

Today, I got a nice, online nod from Jaime Lees, via the RFT’s website.

Because? Well, because I’m posting handbills and flyers that I collected while working at the RFT, back  in the dead trees era.

To quote The Bernard Pub flyers: “what’s old is new again.” Indeed.

Well… welcome to anyone who came over here because of that.

What you need to see, though, is this.

Operation Reggae: DOA; Operation Photography, Underway

The 2011 concept of learning everything possible about reggae was a qualified failure. Please don’t laugh.

Watched the key movies. Read some books. Listened to the shows on KDHX. (Featured Ital-K on an audio feature. And wrote about Professor Skank for an upcoming print feature.) Took in about 5% more reggae than in a normal year. That is “measured” additional knowledge, no?

So, with that as an immediate framing agent, I’m off on the new pursuit: getting my photography chops up from a D to a C, in the spin of 12-months. For the short term, film recommendations are sought. With the semester not quite in full-swing, there’s still a bit of time. Kick any docs that I need to see. Have a few in the ol’ Netflix queue, but addition ideas are welcomed. Thanks.

Update: though videography and still photography are distinct beasts (I get this, as I also understand the difference between “film” and “video” and, yet, will still mix in the terms in daily conversations), this movie is a treasure. Freaking brilliant and free on YouTube:

Second Set @ stlbeacon.org

Greetings. If only to break the silence here, some notes about a new project.

Second Set will run Thursdays at the stlbeacon.org site. Here’s the explanatory text that accompanies the series:

For the past two-decades-and-change, Thomas Crone has covered alternative music and culture in St. Louis for such publications as the St. Louis Beacon, Riverfront Times, Post-Dispatch and St. Louis magazine, along with a host of smaller, deceased titles like Jet Lag, 15 Minutes and his own zines Silver Tray and 52nd City.

He’s co-produced the music documentaries “Old Dog, New Trick” and “The Pride of St. Louis,” along with several shorts. He’s currently pre-producing the web series “Half Order Fried Rice,” while teaching media writing at Webster University.

This series will highlight the known and unknown stories of St. Louis musicians, deejays, promoters and gadflies. Each week’s edition will showcase artists, albums and songs that collectively make up a fascinating Midwestern musical culture, one filled with both major successes and vexing could-have-beens. Combining personal recollections with interviews of the principals, these article will put into context the people, recordings and venues that have informed St. Louis’ recent rock’n’roll and pop music.

At the end of 2012, the pieces will be collected, along with new essays and Q-and-As, into a book, produced by the Beacon.

Here’s a link to today’s piece, dedicated to the old Pablo’s. And one to the debut, about Bill Boll’s “36 Minors.”

On KDHX Now, Plus…

Please consider becoming a member of KDHX during the next two hours, or…

Monday, 10/10, 9-10 p.m. on Literature for the Halibut
Friday, 10/14, 12-2 p.m. on Silver Tray
Friday, 10/14, 4-7 p.m. on Blues in the Night

Thanks for your consideration!

The Kinda Quirky Viva Voce Show

There’s this person I know, not terribly well, who works at a national music magazine. Recently, I put out one of those 1-in-76-success-rate pitch letters, thinking at the keys about how I’d turned into a very casual music fan, after growing up as a serious, died-in-the-wool, must-see-shows freak. It happens to many of us, this trend, and I’m not proud about it all, but, hey, we all go through changes. And, yet, the band Viva Voce really just put that all into perspective. This is how.

A friend who still maintains the flame, Jim Utz, mentioned that Viva Voce were playing the Firebird. This was on, oh, Friday or Saturday of last week. I had no idea that they were coming to town, let along were going to be here within a few days’ time. It dawned on me that I’m only skimming the upcoming shows lists in the local papers, and if Eduardo Vigil doesn’t have tickets on my Silver Tray freebie list, there’s a chance that a show like this just sails right n by. Well, the lad was not only good enough to tell me about the show, he spotted a ticket, so off I went to the Firebird on a Tuesday night.

Driving up, it was obvious that this was going to be a small turnout. No cars on Olive and virtually none on the back parking lot. Walking up to the club, about a dozen smokers hung near the door, making the inside of the room even more sparse. When you tossed out the members of the opening band, there were maybe 25, 30 paid customers in the joint, not even including myself, there on scholarship. This was freakishly just like the first time that I’d seen the band; then, they were playing to maybe a dozen people at the Way Out Club, and I loved them so much (and felt so bad for them) that I immediately shelled out $25 for their second and third albums and, maybe, a sticker. It’s a bummer when the bands you love don’t seem to gain traction, but I’d done my part, playing cuts from the group’s newest, “The Future Will Destroy You.”

Last night, that’s all they played. These are lovely songs, but somewhat reserved for the duo, come can really tear into a set when their minds are set that way. But at the ‘Bird, they moved languidly from one to the next, chatting on-mic about their short tour. Drummer Kevin Robinson was a bit more vocal than wife Anita Robinson, who was content to tune, play, tune, play and repeat. This isn’t to say they were dismissive of the couple-dozen fans, either, as they expressed appreciation more than once.

But you did get the sense that Viva Voce aren’t going to route tours with St. Louis as a must-stop from here-on-out. This had to have been a show in which they wanted to play, sell some merch, get the best night sleep possible and then hope for more at the next stop.

Sorry, y’all, I tried. Didn’t pay, but I showed up, that’s something right? And if I’d have known about the show, there would’ve been some extra punch on the radio show, really. (And, you know, there’s always karma. I so, so, so wanted to interview them for thesamefivequestions.com, yet never made connects.) Maybe we’re not supposed to click, ultimately. Some crushes run one way only.

Sigh. ‘Cause I do love some Viva Voce.

“My Name is Haji Haji”

Last week, the St. Louis Fimmakers Showcase played the documentary short “My Name is Haji Haji,” which I worked on with Brian Spath. I had another short on the same bill, but in picking up Tyler DePerro, the DP/editor of “The South Side of Luck: Frank’s First Alarm,” he and I showed up late enough to miss both works. At some point in time, that’ll become an amusing anecdote, brought on by just a classic run of bad luck and weird circumstance. So goes life. For now, I’ll just remain miffed.

If things had broken a bit different, young Haji would’ve been in St. Louis to see his mini-doc on the screen of the Tivoli, too, but he wound up visiting Saint Louis during the wrong month this summer, missing the the showing by a couple weeks. Luckily, there’s the web, and the short “My Name is Haji Haji” can live there for a good, long while.

At the time of the shooting of the video, the fall of 2009, Haji was already living in North City. But he was a South Sider for about four years prior to that, part of a large, growing population of Somalis that’ve taken root in our city. He’s a real corker, with a curious, hyper-talkative way of expressing himself and watching him in new situations immediately got me to thinking of ways to feature the kid in his own video series, which we envisioned as “I Am Haji Haji.” But as soon as Brian and I started the project, his family first moved North, to an immigrant-centric housing complex on the City/Wellston border, followed by a more dramatic move to Lewiston, Maine.

We initially envisioned a variety of fun scenarios for Haji to get into, from cooking goat (a Somali specialty) to visiting new places and working/visiting with the crew, like at the City Museum or at Zoo. Who knows what it could’ve turned into? This summer, I tried to get back to the concept, but things didn’t click again. A new camera proved trickier than I thought, Haji got his job back at the flea market, then poof! he was gone again.

He’s a wacky kid, though, with an interesting, curious way of looking at the world. I’m happy that Brian dusted off the old tape and put together this short, shot over four sessions with him, most of them after his move to Maine was announced. Enjoy.

(Cross-posted with thesouthsideofluck.com. And thanks to DJ Wilson should’ve been in the credits, but we’ll add them here.)

STL Filmmakers Showcase: This Wednesday, Double Docs

Two things here.

A list of the films playing the St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase “Documentary Shorts” program of Wednesday, August 17, at the Tivoli Theatre.

Then, on of the two shorts in which I took part, featuring the late Stephanie Skaggs.

5 p.m.
Shorts Program 7: Documentary Shorts
81 min.

Gray Matters
Randy Shinn, 18 min.
A look at senior programs and the impact they have on the lives of the elderly.

Maturity and Its Muse
Franklin Oros, 40 min.
Senior artists talk about their lives and art.

My Name Is Haji Haji
Thomas Crone & Brian Spath, 9 min.
Haji Haji is a Somali immigrant with personality and charisma.

South Side of Luck: Frank’s First Alarm
Thomas Crone & Tyler DePerro, 3 min.
A visit with the denizens of a South Side tavern.

The Yodel Within
Matthew Rice, 11 min.
A young man is inspired to yodel after he watches a YouTube video of “The World’s Greatest Yodeler.”

Two Blogs, Other

What a lightly updated blog this has become! Here are the most-recent self-promotional items of note. With more to come.

Blog one: thesouthsideofluck.com

Intermittent updates about the best kind of life: South Side life. It looks like two more independent study students from Webster U. are coming on-board for fall, one adding audio features, the other some video. It’s fun to put personal interests out there, especially when you can find young, talented collaborators to help execute those ideas. This one’s going to push beyond the initial summer run, it appears.

Blog two: silvertrayonline.com

Here’s the idea: three songs posted daily, in the form of good, old-fashioned music videos. Sometimes, a rock documentary trailer will sneak in. Maybe there’ll be an opportunity for an interview, or two, as well. Possibilities abound. Today was day one of this experiment, (which holds the same non-money-making potential of all my best ideas!) Part of this is simply shilling the Silver Tray radio show (back on the air today, actually), but it’s also a way to force me to keep at least mildly current on new music. So we’ll have old cuts for young people, and recent cuts for the geriatrics, who still enjoy finding new stuff. That’s the idea, anyway. Got a request?