Thursday, July 30, 2009

bob gets mentioned in a blog by the Portland band Hairspray Blues

So - Our show in Wichita was so fun. It was an awesome place - kind of like someones living room and all of the people there were very regular patrons. It was the tiniest cutest venue. We played really well and everyone loved it. We sold some more cd's - and made some tips. It was awesome and we loved it and will go back for sure.

Our show in St. Louis was really good too...the venue was kind of weird but everyone there was really cool and we made some new friends from the band Thee Dirty South who played blues rock and the last song was so awesome - the singer put down his guitar and sang the hell out of the song and walked around and kicked stuff and was REALLY into it. He kicked a whole in the stage which was totally badass....he was probably in his 50's(?) I'm bad at guessing ages but he was awesome as was the rest of the band. We exchanged info and will stay in touch for sure. He gave us a rad photo that he took of St. Louis as a souvenier - it's black and white and all grainy and cool.

Explore MySpace Photos
The other day, this guy comes into the radio station to get a bumper sticker and he goes,

"Is that guy, Crazy Bob here????"

and well, I'm not about to answer to "Crazy Bob" so I go, "Bob on Friday afternoons? That's me..."

and he goes,

"I just love you, you crack me up - keep me laughin all the time when I listen to you while I'm workin"

I go, "What do you do" and he says,

"I put 'the boot' on cars that have too many tickets" and I go

"Jesus, I've always wondered what kinda person does that - I been booted twice now - cant you get no honest work???!!"

He says, "I'm trying but this is all I can find"

I go, "You could put dogs asleep at the pound."

he's like, "You crack me up Crazy Bob?"

"I'll let'em know when he gets in" I say

I go, "K, bye"

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Bob Reuter's Alley Ghost - Mig Muddy Bar B Q

Big Muddy Records Bar B.Q. - August 9
1 - till 9:00 PM (no bottles please)
Tower Grove Park - all Big Muddy artists will perform - Rum Drum Ramblers, The Monads, Pokey LaFarge, Hooten Hollers, Say Uncle, Get Born

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Bob Reuter: Living Ghost - An Interview

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Bob Reuter: Living Ghost

I have less patience for bullshit. I don’t suffer fools gladly.

Amazing photographer. Iconic musician. Legendary radio show host. Crotchety old man. Bob Reuter is a lot of things. He has a lot going for him in his life- a life that he regards with a little more reverence due to a decade of health troubles. But when his time is up, he hopes to be remembered for it all.

Reuter- a staple in South St. Louis- has the kind of life that many dream of but few get to live out: doing what he loves for a living. Though he is unemployed due to health issues, Reuter isn’t just content to lay around the house sucking off the government tit. Between being strapped to a guitar, behind a microphone or spending time in the dark room, he finds plenty to keep him going, and he is gladly taking us along for the ride.

A lifelong St. Louisian, Reuter, 57, grew up in North St. Louis in the 50s and 60s. He turned to music as a child to escape the rough neighborhood’s violent calling.

“I grew up in a bad ass place- North St. Louis City. Well, I was never gonna be a real tough guy… woulda wound up dead for sure. But I COULD rock your ass with a guitar - I COULD be a MUSICAL bad ass! Music was a survival thing.”

Living in a crowded house with extended family also taught him to escape into his own mind when privacy was in short supply.

“My family was pretty screwed up- no real privacy- I'd go inside my head, that interior world to get away.” He would daydream about “songs on this big black plastic radio we had. And at the time, they were songs of Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and some other mad men.”

It would be this music that Reuter would carry with him well into his adult years. If you tune into KDHX 88.1 FM on Fridays at 2pm, you’ll hear Bob spinning the music of that era, something he’s been doing for seven years now. And if you go see him perform, you’ll hear the influence of it in his own music. Music that has garnered the multi-talented Reuter the designation of Best Male Singer/Songwriter by the Riverfront Times in 2009.

PTSTL: Where does the music you make come from?
BR: From deep down in this landscape and deep inside of me. It involves red brick buildings, the river and the flight path of jets on the North Side landing at the airport. It involves my whole life story and comes from the most primitive of sources.

Do you draw on your own musical knowledge for your radio show? Or do you rely on friends and listeners to suggest artists and music?
I'm constantly searching and I do that based on what I already know. I try to stay away from "the usual things" when possible. I hunt for the roots of the roots of stuff and of course it's got to fit this need I have for a slamming back beat or some other kind of primal chord I've got inside me.

What has been the high point of your musical career at this point?
Hmmm. Playing at CBGB's on south Grand a couple of months ago. It was a Monday night and we didn’t even go on till 11:00pm but the place was packed like 19 year olds to about 23, a lot of which were singing along with a song I wrote in 1978- long before they were born- "Rock and Roll Moron" as the name of the song and it features the line, "You can’t close the door on, this rock and roll moron!" It was on a 45 we did it in a band called The Dinosaurs. As I was singing the song I almost felt like I could be in a movie- I kept seeing the faces of all my dead friends! I was really grateful.

What were the nature of your recent health issues?
Quadruple bypass about a year and a half ago. I had lost my license and had to ride my bike for a year. I kept getting out of breath really easy and didn't seem to be able to build up any resistance. The clinic I go to ran a bunch of tests and finally determined I needed the operation. It was fucking gigantic in my life. Scared the fuck out of me. Still kind of does. It's one of those things that makes you feel like you're closer to the end than to the beginning of your life. Makes you think more about what you do- 'bout what's right. It colors everything! Made me feel a certain amount of grief, a certain amount of feeling sorry for myself... Now, a year and a half later I feel like I'm getting in pretty good shape for a guy in my shape! I'm eating good and all that crap. Makes me feel like there's a whole lot more I wanna do- whole lot more I wanna say before it's all over- hell yeah!

Have your health issues played a role in the kind of songs you write these days?

Only in the sense that the feelings are deeper than they'd have been otherwise. I dig deeper into the primordial ooze. I have less patience for bullshit. I don’t suffer fools gladly.

What was your first band/project?
We were called The Group and then the Cough Medicine Company (see the cheap drug reference slip in?) It was 1966 and we played garage rock- still in high school, but we played for college frat parties. It was a kind of education!

What are your thoughts on new media as it relates to spreading music to a wider audience?
Not much. The real stuff will always be confined to a relatively small group of hard core freaks. It only spreads out as it gets more and more watered down, till finally it's getting played by sports enthusiasts in the suburbs and then sold at Wal-Mart.

Who are some of your favorite St. Louis artists/bands from the past and present?
One of the first was a band from 1966 called the Acid Set who played at a teen club called Castaways out on Airport Road. They always seemed like they were grown men from San Francisco or something, but they were from North County. Public Service Blues Band was another really cool band, though they didn’t own their own instruments and they'd have to borrow some to play gigs. I think they opened for Cream one time. Oliver Sain and Black Cat named Cecil Davis who had the Cecil Davis Review were ass kicking soul groups when I was in high school. The Aardvarks were cool. They were like this town's version of the Beatles. More recently I loved the Vultures and the Reactions- two very young bands that broke up way too soon. The Highway Matrons were amazing. They always seemed like they dropped down from some other planet or something!

What was the inspiration behind your recent project, Bob Reuter’s Alley Ghost?
Well, I was approached by the kids of Big Muddy Records. They had this idea of bringing me to a wider audience- younger kids who would love my songs, they thought, if I was presented in a little bit different way. The average age in the band is about 23 but in their hearts they're, like, twice that. These boys eat, sleep and drink music- the real stuff. I'm honored they got it in their heads to back me and I'll be eternally grateful to them!

What do you think about the current state of the St. Louis music scene?
Well, it's big. There's probably whole chunks of little scenes that aren't even that aware of each other, but in general I'd say it's really good. Wide ranging and rarely does anyone expect to "hit the big time" so that frees them up to do what's in their hearts instead of what they think they're "supposed to do" in order to "make it!"

If there was one musician you would like to play with, any musician at all, whom would it be? (Time and mortality not being an issue)
Sun House, Skip James, Bob Dylan, Al Wilson (AKA Blind Owl) of Canned Heat, Keith Richards, Otis Redding, John Lee Hooker.

What is your favorite St. Louis venue?
Right this minute, Off Broadway I think. Good sound, comfortable room… Steve and his wife Kit, the current owners- good people.

How do you feel about being an inspiration to St. Louis musicians?
I hope that's true! I'd like that a lot.

What is it about the South St. Louis that it produces so many artists and musicians?
Cheap rents, crumbling old buildings and "like minded others" I think. A lot of kids from small towns in Missouri tend to wind up here cause they can be who they really are, which they couldn’t do in their small towns. We make our own fun in a lot of ways.

What is your favorite thing about St. Louis? Least favorite?
I think St. Louis is the fucking Garden of Eden. At any rate it is what it is- it's home, the only life I've ever known. The St. Louis Cardinals, the parks and trees... What I like least is people who live here and say they hate it. I think they should leave for a little while and come back.

Reuter is also just as passionate about his photography as he is about his music. His grainy, black and white photos evoke a feeling in the observer of fleeting moments perfectly caught on celluloid. Even with his portraits, he captures the raw in-the-moment-ness of his subjects in such a way that the photo ceases to be a simple two-dimensional object, but rather a living, breathing work of art. His use of light and shadow gives each of his shots an instantly nostalgic and noirish feel and his subject matter represents the underbelly of St. Louis in all her glory.

He has shot his fair share of local personalities- musicians, beautiful women and other people of interest, but he has also been called upon to shoot nationally known artists such as Black Diamond Heavies and Jay Farrar.

When did you first realize that you had a knack for photography?
In 1997 I was diagnosed as having blood clots up and down both legs. I almost died. I NEARLY died. I lost my house ‘cause I couldn’t house paint anymore. The state tested me and said I'd be good in the ARTS. They wanted me to study Graphic Design but I wasn’t that good at making all my lines straight an' shit. Then I took photography as an elective and I felt like I had found my home. They said that they wouldn’t support me doing that ‘cause they said my legs weren’t good enough to be a photographer and I said, "OK, see ya later. Rather see ya than BE ya! Smell ya later!"

Digital or film?
Film and paper in the dark with poisonous chemistry!

What is your favorite subject to shoot?
People. Misfits and such- rock and rollers, artists, pretty young women. Anyone who goes against the system in their way.

Any formal training in photography?
Yeah, I took some classes, but mostly I learned from doing it and talking to other shooters in the dark room over at Forest Park College.

What is your favorite photo that you have taken?
Many that I've taken of my first muse, a rock and roll girl and artist named Shanna Kiel - she touches something moves me deeply and she always comes out looking a little bit different each time

What, if any, legacy do you hope to leave when your time is up?
A large body of work- songs, photos, stories, drawings, whatever!- a lot of which you can check out on my Web site. But I know this one friend of mine- our guitar player, Matt's girlfriend Jen- would probably say, "Well, he was crotchety!"

Current Links:

Historic Link:

All photos by Bob Reuter.

Next week: Gravity Plays Favorites

Saturday, July 4, 2009

4th of July - i love this fucking town!

Went to a back yard bar-b-q this afternoon after a session for the documentary - this town rules on the 4th of july - fireworks abound though they're illegal here in the city - it stops NOTHING! the air just reeks of burnt sauce covered pork steaks and gun powder - it's every where! It drizzled all after noon but not enough to drive you inside - world war III was taking place out back in the alley - all kinds of bottle rockets and firecrackers through the afternoon and some one brought underwater explosives as well - firecrackers you drop in water which makes them like depth charges - increases the impact - they had a big pot of water - you drop a lit cracker and the pot damn near flips over discharging all the water - some grown woman I'd met last year - a wonderfully twisted chick dropped one in a water filled wine bottle and "BOOM!!!" glass was like EVERYWHERE! The hostess was NOT amused! The woman and her partner both felt bad and swept it all up right away... I was all like,

"You ARE BAD, so BAD!!! But oddly, my respect for you has never been higher!"

Then some kid dropped one in a can filled with water and it ripped a big hole in it's side - I aint ever seen a standard modern day firecracker rip a hole in the side of a can! And they say the military industrial complex has added nothing to civilization....HA!

So then once it was dark, I headed little further downtown to this club called Off Broadway where some friends were having their big cd release party...

I love St. Louis in the summer! Every fucking fourth of July the whole city's like some urban fucking jungle warfare scene or something - Viet-fucking-Nam in my own home town! 'Specially in the more black neighborhoods - bottle rocket wars, fountains exploding in the middle of the streets, old colored ladies handing out sparklers to little kids and lighting'em up so they chase each other around with these little red hot wires and maybe jam'em into each others eyeballs - hee hee! Gotta maneuver around all this shit just negotiate yer way down the damn street! It's all hot and drippy humid which holds the smoke down to streetlight level - seriously, there's just smoke everywhere - gun powder clouds and the smell of pork, rocket's red glare all bursting in air, giving proof through the night that the street trash is all still there! And I mean, no shit, on my way home the streets were just rife with the cardboard and paper carnage of fireworks everywhere - just big old piles of the shit all over the place - just left where they lay! It's all hot an'wet...damn! God Damn I LOVE this man town - fuckin' garden of Eden!