Black Music Matters Festival
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From the Country Standard Time Archives

St. Louis bands come charging "out of the gate" - again

Off Broadway, St. Louis, Mo., Aug. 3, 1996

By Eric Zehnbauer

ST. LOUIS - The burgeoning St. Louis alternative country scene is rich with talent, and the proof was evident before a full house at Off Broadway.

In an effort to gain exposure for St. Louis' plethora of musical talent, producers Kip Loui, Rick Wood and Jeff Swift compiled the new CD "Out of the Gate Again." Saturday's show was one of four planned to celebrate the release of the CD, showcasing contributing bands.

First up was the Cheyenne Social Club, a new group composed of several skilled veterans of the St. Louis music scene. Mary Alice Wood, Chris Grabau and E.J. Fitch shared a wealth of songwriting and vocal talent in a set of all original tunes.

John Horton (who played with all three bands this night - what a trooper!) stood out on electric and steel guitars, and Scott Roever played 12-string.

No rhythm section, but they weren't missed, allowing the beauty of the other instruments to shine. Wood's fiddle playing also stood out and along with Grabau on mandolin, gave many of the songs a distinct bluegrass feel.

As befits their name, several songs featured western themes, such as "If It Was True."

Belle Starr, another name which conjures up images of the Old West, had a more rocking sound. Consisting of Kip Loui on vocals and guitar, John Horton on lead guitar, Spencer Marquardt on drums, Fred Teutenberg on bass, and Lynne Reif on vocals, acoustic guitar, and tambourine, they displayed a range of influences from Buddy Holly to Elvis to Johnny Cash.

The opener, "Gotta be a Better Way," was a contemporary working man's anthem. The follow-up, "Live & Learn," sounded very Rockpile-ish, but with a riff reminiscent of "I Fought the Law." Also featured was a Cash cover, and"Buddy Holly's in Heaven," a tribute of sorts to Holly, borrowing heavily from Holly's style, also sounding a bit like Webb Wilder.

Belle Starr's set pretty well covered the spectrum of early rock'n'roll, rockabilly and honky-tonk. They have a new CD out, and based on this night's performance, appear to be on their way up!

After the upbeat, rollicking set by Belle Starr, the New Patrons of Husbandry slowed the pace a bit. This sextet featured Jennifer Stuckenschneider doing most of the vocals. On many numbers her high-pitched voice was quite pleasant, but on others it became almost a yodel, which could be grating after very long.

The songs ranged from fast rockers ("Doing Just Fine") to two-step tempos, to slow waltzes such as "A Queen City's Salvation," on which Stuckenschneider shared vocal duties with Jeff Swift. Horton's lead guitar was a high point of the set.