Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Why We Listen To The Juke Box

There's a story involving Willie Nelson back when he let go of Nashville and first moved to Austin. He'd been there about a week when a cosmic thought hit him - "Fuck suits!" said Willie - after which he never wore one again - from there on it was t-shirts and jeans like the folks he'd grown up with - like the folks out in the crowds he'd play to. He hadnt exactly been run out of Nashville and the country music mainstream, I mean they liked him alright only he kept wanting to sing a play lines that seemed a little bit, i dont know, more jazz based than what the country industry's demographic was used to - so he packed it in and moved back to Texas where there were enough halls to make a living playing for hippies, students, shit kickers and such that seemed in congregate down there.

He was talking to a friend backstage at one of those halls, he pulled, the stage curtain open just a touch and says, "Take a look - there's the whole story" the friend didnt quite pick up on his meaning and Willie continued, "Ninety-eight percent of'em arent with their first choice of who they wanted to be with"
"Hey, neither are we" said the friend.
"it's why they listen to the juke box" Said Willie.


...Well, the Doors came here shortly after Morrison'd been arrested in Florida for exposing himself -pulling out his weezer on stage. So I guess that on this particular night he was maybe a little more fucked up than usual. They were really good I guess, couldnt really tell, I was kind of overwhelmed just seeing them - What I mainly remember is that about two thirds of the way through the concert, they began, "When The Music's Over" - The band kicked into it and were playing the intro riff - the bass kept going, "do, do-do, do, dooo" but the Lizard King just stood there, mouth on the mic, leaning on the stand looking at the crowd but not saying a word - You cold see the other band members getting pissed, like the drummer would accent the riff's turn-around with a heavy, "bam bam bam bam!!" on the snare - but the lizard might as well've been deaf. This went on fo r a good three or sour minutes - members of the audience started yelling shit like, "wha'd ya forget the words??" It was almost like some had come just to hate, it was like we all knew we were watching a cat at the end of his tether - acid shaman in his Gene Vincent black leathers just trancing his way through this eternal in-resolved riff - audience on their last nerve just about reaching boiling point and then "Buwah- ha- ha - ha!!!" he let out with this deep, Vincent Price horror movie evil laugh and a big bunch of us rejoiced, cheered, others fell back confused, still others grew more angry!! And then he began - Talking - saying all this shit from old blues songs, "I had a friend. At least I THOUGHT he was my friend!..." and like, "Play with me baby, make it hard, drive the dog into the yard!!!" There were people getting upset people who had only heard the hit, "Light My Fire" on the radio - they were dressed in evening gowns and suits, They got up in a huff - standing up, shaking their fists at the stage and walking out! Good riddence. Everything else beyond that point was kind of anti-climatic, I guess the concert ended, I guess we all got home - next thing you knew you knew we started seeing pictures of him where he'd really started gaining weight , looking like some cat in an old man's bar...and then, not long after that, we heard that he was dead - died of a heart attack in the shower - the water was too hot or something - attacked his heart. Must'o been the still sea conspiring - b

jim-morrison.jpg the doors image by jeylinaforever

Lookin Back - "Me and Red Mouth"

Well, I still got no money but am trying to ride lose in the saddle - So I had this cat named "Red Mouth" come in right after the radio show...let me start that over - I met this guy on myspace - not even sure how we became friends but he contacted me saying he was coming up here and could I maybe hook him up for a gig - well, i couldnt but told him I could get him on the radio and then we'd see what we could do - so I scheduled some studio time right after my show on Friday and he drove up from Springfield MO where he had played the night before - that's about a three hour drive and he literally just gets out of the car and walks in sets up his shit and performs in front of four of us who he dont know from Adam and he fucking just ruled!!! I mean he brings in this wooden platform that he sits a stool on and pounds his foot and the platform's about four inches high and so it amplifies it so all of a sudden this six foot three kid with long stringy red hair, his eyes get real big, lines form on his face and he's all like...crazy and this voice comes out of him that's like some seventy year old man who's possessed by the fucking devil or somethin'. It's like the devil's defiantly in the room - like he's eaten up Harry Smith's dead body and is spewin every mutilated confederate soldier, wound or insult the south's ever taken - every dead mule!! And the studio's already backed up cause it's Twangfest weekend and they've got bands stacked up like planes over Laguardia and somebody with a stop watch is policing Red Mouths one hour jealously... and BOOM! everybody just stops what they're doing at that moment and silently stares into the studio!

So anyway, there's this guy from fucking Alabama and i want to buy him a meal or something but I got no money and neither did he so I come up with this idea and we go down to U. City and play on the sidewalk in front of vintage Vinyl, out on the sidewalk, the two of us and there's all these college kids and tourists and young black kids and the whole Twangfest crowd (it was alt country weekend and all these liberal young professionals were going to that and that was weird cause I know a bunch of them and they were sneaking by kind of like I was embarrassing for them...) and, anyway we wound up making like $48 bucks which we kinda split - gave him the extra eight bucks and we took twenty a piece and then we went and bought a roasted chicken at the grocery store and tore that apart with a little container of potato salad and then went down to a bar downtown, the tap room, and watched Magic City, Peck of Dirt and some out of town band called Slick who were nothing if not the living embodiment of Black Oak Arkansas, complete with a heavier version of Jim Dandy himself and it was kind of a warped southside anti-twangfest celebration with all my southside rocker pals.

Then Saturday we slept half the day then ate Mexican down on Cherokee street where I introduced him to this wonderful trash pile of a "drugstore" we got called Globe Drug where you can but all kinds of railroad salvage bargains for hardly anything and Red Mouth buys himself a case of energy drinks for six bucks - he says they taste like ass but he's got to stay up twelve hours to get back to the gulf! - So we ate Mexican down there, (the street's kind of a little barrio of it's own so there's plenty o'great places down there to tie the feedbag on!) and that rocked and then we went to this party that my band, Alley Ghost was playing that night for this friends 47th birthday. This house is owned by this great couple named Ross and Kim who are both unbelievable cooks/punks/hippies/really cool folks with a huge garden about seven dogs and cats and this wonderfully bizarre house that they moved into and forged out of the ghetto wilderness - they lived their for at least two years with no electric power or heat. anyway, given the playing that me and Red Mouth had just done the night before we worked out a deal for me and to back him up - so he did a gig after all! It was fucking great! We played in a bedroom on the third floor - filled with about thirty people in the room and bout twenty more in the room just below us downstairs - Red Mouth became the old crazy fucker again just a slappin his tambourine and stompin' his foot for like two songs and then we got up behind him and jammed on another two songs which together went about ten minutes and all we were doing was jammin around a G chord on iether one - it was like some crazy ass white boy hill country trancin shit like ol' RL Burnsides used t'do - Damn man, my band's the fucking best too - I mean they hadnt ever even seen this cat before let alone heard his music and we were just wreckin the room - Red Mouth kept turnin his head to look at me with this big shit eatin grin on his face, "GET RIGHT CHURRRRCCCHH!!" he was a shoutin! Then he moved over and we kicked into our own set - Christ, the room went wild! I kept on lookin' out into the crowd and could see kids mouths movin like they knew my words by heart - they were singin along, pumpin' their fists are just dancin!! Hee hee! by the time we got done it was like 3AM, Red Mouth grabbed him a last beer and I went around with my hat beggin Red Mouth some gas money for his trip back to the Gulf - S'mazing how big drunken hearts can be - he made enough for gas and for us to eat one more meal! it was five AM by the time we got back to my crib and we just crashed - he slept in my front room on a water stained futon that took up the whole floor - we slept till noon the next day and went out to my fave natural foods restaurant (Shangrala!) to do our usual Sunday brunch - (the owner has named our little group as the "hipster Algonquin round table") Well, we ate our fill and then he hit the road back south about three in the afternoon - I'm gonna play his session on this weeks radio show - little bits of it anyway! Fuck. what a weekend. Wish they were all this good!


Thursday, July 8, 2010

One of St. Louis' finest storytellers, Mr. Bob Reuter, was featured in this week's Last Collector Standing

By Jon Scorfina for the St. Louis River Front Times July 9

Spending a day with Bob Reuter is an emotional experience. Synonymous with his KDHX show Bob’s Scratchy Records, every Friday from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., Reuter does not just have a passion for collecting vinyl, but sees the pops and scratches between the grooves as being part of the meaning of life. His gut-wrenching worldview exudes from his voice and has recently won him Best Male Vocalist in the RFT music showcase with his band Alley Ghost. Even more so, it has ultimately manifested itself in the upcoming documentary film about his life “Broken and Wonderful,” playing at the St. Louis Filmmakers showcase. Between homes, Reuter stores his records in the back of Tom Huck’s art studio, where we met on a hot afternoon and discussed 45s, Bob Dylan and the Columbia Record Club.

LCS – When did you first start listening to music, and what was the first record you remember buying?

Reuter – I started consciously listening to music when I was six or seven years old. My older sister had a collection of forty-fives. She’s eight years older than me. When she got out of high school, she figured she was too old for rock n’ roll, so she gave all her records to me. I was just thrilled.

Those were the first records that I got, and for a long time, I just played them. The most thrilling record there was “Good Golly Miss Molly” by Little Richard. At one point I left it sitting on a metal space heater and it warped. It was horrible. I felt like a relative had died.

I didn’t buy a new copy of that for like 15 years. I just felt like, “well, that’s gone.” Like I couldn’t get another copy of “Good Golly Miss Molly.”

I’m kind of embarrassed by the actual ones I first bought. I wish it could be something really cool. It was just a weird concept. There was a record store right by my school, and I had never bought a record. The concept of being able to go into a store and actually buy a record was real foreign to me. I didn’t know how to do that (laughs). I wasn’t sure how much they cost. I think it was like 99 cents for a 45… I’m really dodging it here, but the first 45 record I actually bought was “Let’s Limbo Some More” by Chubby Checker. It wasn’t even “Let’s Limbo” it was “Let’s Limbo Some More,” a bad follow up. I don’t have a copy of that now. It was kind of like (laughs) some guy losing his virginity to an ugly girl that he doesn’t really like because he has to get his feet wet, or something wet.

Maybe I’ll start lying and say it was something else.

What would be your ideal record to say was your first?

“Good Golly Miss Molly.”

When I first started buying records in earnest was when the whole British invasion hit, and [I bought] the Beatles and any [other] rock ‘n’ roll band from England. Then I had a backlash from that where I bought all American artists. That was real important. Who was as cool as these British groups? Well, Bobby Fuller was. At that time the Beach Boys were. The Sir Douglas Quintet was. Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels. The Young Rascals.

Also, my brother-in-law was in college, so it was compulsory to have a few folk albums. I stole a few of his albums. Those were the first albums I ever had. He didn’t even notice they were gone. That’s the part that really gets me. It was Pete Seegar doing “We Shall Overcome.” It was a concert he did live at Carnegie Hall. It was the closest to rock n’roll that he ever did because they were rebellious songs, like “I Ain’t A Scared of Your Jail Because I Want My Freedom.” Also, he had a Leadbelly album on Capitol. It was a much better recording than all the recordings I had heard prior to that. It can of blew my mind and still has an effect on me. People back in the day use to tell me I sounded like Leadbelly when I sang. That was the first none rock ‘n’ roll thing that sounded like rock ‘n’ roll to me.

Back when I didn’t quite know how to buy records on my own, I lived in north city and I wasn’t big on riding the bus across the city. I was 11, and there was this big record store in midtown. That was when record stores were more like department stores. I think it was called Musicland. My mom was a clerk in the library, and I used to sit there and wait for her to get off work. I would read Down Beat magazine, and I had read all these articles about Bob Dylan. So I got on the bus and made this journey by myself to this record store. This record store clerk at the time -- and you should have seen the clerks -- it was this really nerdy guy with a short sleeve white shirt and tie and horn-rimmed glasses. That sounds like it’s cool now, but it very definitely wasn’t cool then.

I said, “Do you have anything by Bob Dylan?”

He looked at me real puzzled and went, “oh, you must mean Bobby Dye-land”

“Well, whatever.”

He pulled out this forty-five of “Like a Rolling Stone.” It was like at the beginning of The Simpsons (Sings the opening theme) like God’s in the room or something. I picked up that record, and I heard the music and looked at the picture of Bob Dylan. I remember him sitting at the piano with that crazy-ass hair, the Ray-Ban sunglasses and the harmonica around his neck. For the time, I’d never seen anybody look like that. I’d never seen a white guy look like that. It almost didn’t register on me until I played it ten times. It wasn’t catchy like the way pop songs are catchy. It was something completely different. I just listened to that record non-stop. I’m not talking about the album; I’m talking about the forty-five.

I got hooked up in the Columbia Record Club. It was like for a dollar you got six records. They would send you a record every month, and if you didn’t pick one they would send you a record at random. One month I didn’t pick one, and they sent me a copy of an album. It was The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, where he’s walking down the street with his girlfriend. I was like, “Whoa, he doesn’t look quite as wild as on the 45. What’s up with this?”

I put it on and dropped the needle and listened to it. “Holy Fuck, Dylan’s gone acoustic!” It just blew my mind. He didn’t sound like rock ‘n’roll, he sounded like a folk musician. What’s up with this? So I did the inverse of what everybody else did.

Do you prefer 45s or albums?

45s. I think because to me they sound punchier, like it’s recorded better. I’m not very technical. It just sounds like they have more punch to it. To me the recordings on albums seem a lot thinner, because they have to take up more space. Forty-fives are heavier vinyl. You can have a forty-five from the ‘40s or ‘50s and it will look all scratchy, and you put it on and it sounds really good. It doesn’t sound like there’s a million scratches on it. You take something that was pressed in the ‘80s and it looks like it’s in mint condition, and it just sounds like crap. You can hear scratches all over it. It’s in the quality of how they printed them. They weren’t doing it to last. Those earlier 45s can look like someone strapped them onto their feet and went skating down the sidewalk and they still sound cool. Especially for rock, you’re not going to hear the scratches anyway. They just kind of give it more texture.

Why did you name your radio show Bob’s Scratchy Records?

That was purely a defensive move. If I was listening to radio prior to that, and I’d hear some one play a record that was scratched, it was real obvious that it didn’t sound like everything else. Usually it was some hippie crap that you needed the quiet to hear what it was, but like I said, in rock ‘n’ roll the scratches don’t matter. I knew that I was going to get some assholes who would go, “That sounds all scratchy.” I figured I’d just jump pass that by calling the show Bob’s Scratchy Records. It’s like a bald guy making fun of the fact that he is bald before anyone else could do it for him. Okay, well just get this out of the way right now.

Sometimes if it’s like a really cool song, and there’s a lot of scratches, I’ll go, “I want you to just pretend there is a giant pan of bacon frying in the background while this is going on.” I hope that covers it.

Do you think the pops and scratches that you hear on records gives anything to the music as well?

Oh god, yeah. I have a couple of records, one is Still A Fool by Muddy Waters, and the other is Bo Diddly doing “Back in my love life.” Both of those versions I have are really scratchy. Nothing major, just a bed of scratches. Then I’ve gotten a clean copy of those songs and they don’t sound nearly as cool. They sound a little too antiseptic. When you here the scratches, it’s almost like your smelling the cigarette smoke, and it’s burning your eyes. You can smell the alcohol in the air, and it’s hot and you’re getting sweaty. Whereas when it’s all clean sometimes it sounds like your sitting in a laboratory. It’s the difference between Sonny Boy Williamson playing for a bunch of collage kids in England rather than playing in a juke joint in Chicago.

Can music sound as good on a digital format?

To me it can’t sound as good, and it’s maybe just me, but I know there are some other people like me. Like on NPR, they have those shows where you have a guy who sounds like an English teacher. He’s going, “Now we’re going to bring you down to the delta and listen to the recordings of Blind Jimmy Shoeshine.” They play it and there’s not a scratch on it. It just sounds so scholastic that all the emotion is totally removed from it.

For rock ‘n’ roll and dirty music… what do you want an antiseptic version of dirty music for? That just seems like it defeats the purpose to me.

A lot of these classic rock n’ roll albums are being remastered -- for instance all The Beatles albums, the Rolling Stones Exile on Main Street -- do you have any incentive to go out and re-buy those deluxe editions?

No. That to me is just a trick on white folks. People get hypnotized by that shit. You know the latest ad campaign tells them they got to have this, and they’re so bored and empty in their lives that it’s like, “oh this is exciting because they tell me it’s exciting.” That’s fine. I’m glad they found something, but I just think it’s sad. To borrow a line from Marshall Crenshaw, “I never bother with the usual things.” I want to find something that’s got more mystery to it.

For the kind of music I listen to, I just want it rough and raw. One thing that really draws me to music is sometimes, if I’m feeling really bad, and my heart’s feeling broken, I wanna go to the Record Exchange and go up into that big giant 45 room. Just hunt through that shit. Look for certain labels. I have an idea of what kind of label is going to have something I’m interested in. If I find one of them, I look to see who is the artist, who is the writer. If there is any kind of information, like if it’s recorded in Louisiana. To me there is something healing about finding some cool record recorded down in Louisiana by somebody nobody’s ever heard of, and this guy’s pouring his heart out. He’s like this mysterious shaman from the past and he’s carrying this message, and somebody else has felt like this before, and I feel more connected with the earth somehow. That’s what I feed on.

Most of the time the records that are holy grails to me are ones that are just filled with mystery. “Wow, who in the hell was this? What made them do this? Did they really think that this was going to sell, or did they just in their heart of hearts know that they just had to get this pressed up and put it out there?” All they really knew was that this was something that they had to spew out, and it’s going to be there for fucking ever. I come along 50 or 60 years later, and I found it. I hope that somehow they know that I found their record, and I’m playing it on the radio.

You started that story explaining that there is a passion of the hunt. Do you think current generations of music fans, though they might have the instant gratification of getting it online, might be missing out on the hunt?

That’s like a real double-edged sword, isn’t it? You have access to almost anything you can imagine at your fingertips nowadays. It does seem like it loses some of its value. I didn’t start getting into computers until probably around 2000, but all the sudden it dawned on me that there are 17 year old kids who know about records that came out in 1967. If you were a record freak in 1967, you had to be extremely hip to know about something. These kid today, they know about stuff that’s totally obscure, that you not only would have to have been extremely hip, but you would have had to have friends in every city to find out about that.

You used to go into a record store for a new record. They would cost like eight dollars for an album. You would go in and you would look at the covers. You would stare at that cover and spend practically the whole afternoon looking at record covers. You couldn’t play them at that time. You just had to make a good guess. “Does this cover look like it’s going to be worth my money? Eight dollars!” Sometimes it paid off. Sometimes you were just a chump. There was some mystery to it even then. I don’t see how it can have the same value, because you can just go to a computer and get a taste of it. You can get it for free, whether you want it or not. I don’t see how it can have the same kind of value.

See the cool thing is, the kind of shit that really means something to me, you still can’t get on the computer. Generally, if you don’t find it online, it means that no one ever really noticed it. When I have a record like that that I think is really cool and I realize that nobody really noticed this record, I really feel like I got something.

If you could give a young music lover who’s never bought a record a few words of wisdom to get them to go out and buy a record, what would you tell them?

You know (long pause)… part of it that gives it it’s value is…. It’s amazing the number of 45s you find that have a little piece of tape on them with a girls name on it, or written across the record -- very rarely a guy’s name. You know, these girls had sleepover parties and they all brought there 45s so their’s wouldn’t get mixed up with everybody else’s. Just the story of you’ve got the same object in your hand that someone who lived back then, and maybe this was something that was really important to them. You really have a little piece of somebody’s life, or history of this country, or the real culture. Not only is it this object that was owned by somebody that [it] was so important to, but it’s something that was recorded by somebody that what they were saying was real important too, or who they wanted to be was real important too. Sometimes having that in your hand and putting on the turntable and dropping the needle and listening to it can actually make your life better. It’s like finding some sacred object that has some of the secrets of life there. You get to share and be part of that, and maybe when you’re gone, that will be left for somebody else to find.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Good Bye Baby, Baby Good By

That non-specific sadness is back - an acknowledgement that life is just gonna be whatever it's gonna be - a reminder that it's always and forever out of your control. I guess I could look on it all like some big adventure but sometimes I just get so tired -

When the woman you thought was gonna be there forever just up and goes away - as mysteriously as she first appeared - You just lie there at night wondering just what parts were real. How did this happen? Two ways, gradually and then suddenly. I can remember looking at her one night in awe of how much I loved her, or at least of how much I felt when I looked at her face. Chemestry, or biology or whatever's amazing really. I dont know. Astounding how the wounds take place, how they repeat all through your life like some bad b-movie noir script...

Now I play my gigs and I feel this connection with my boys. Some nights we're able to make magic - no seriously, this band I got could weave gold out of dog shit - some primitive alchemy that soothes the raw wounds at one's core. By the end of the night my guitar's in my trunk and I'm back in the the night, out on the road - the buring heat - my brain reals at what I just took part in. And I want to let some one know and I want to go back to that lost and gone sweet love I thought was gonna save me - But I walk now, only with strangers - I talk now only with strangers - I move with angels that got no place.

Last night at Tom Hucks place something bordering on astounding went down. I started out swinging wildly at the ones I love the most - I did it in public - brothers fight - brothers jab and claw each other like young animals (I swear I used to be young!) So I hid out - back in the wharehouse space with all my worldly possesions and I screamed inside -and I wept out loud, then I went back out, put my dark glasses on and fronted my band in that glorious room - industrial wasteland - sweat soaked and smokey, contruction lamp bulb burning my eyes - all darkness beyond that one burning spot cept for momentary flashes of a camera light and,

"OH my god there's a room full of people out!" and the next second they're gone and back into black

And we wailed - And we wailed - And we wailed - And we wailed!!! And all that pain we all hide inside shot out my mouth and Matty's guitar and his wails and every player spewed their passage, spoke their truth - battered their axe and some how we all came out more whole.

Something had taken place beyond the realm of what we come to expect in situations like this - somthing like the shit mystics seek - and I truly almost felt sorry for everyone there, not one of the five of us - We alley ghosts - You dont get to be this for free - there's a cost involved that not everyone's gonna be able to pay - Sometimes you gotta give away everything and everyone you ever held dear, or be willing to...and then we move on into the night again, all solitary an'shit - But we get to take part in magic. And on some nights it feels SO worth the price you pay.

the Sun's Going Down On Grand And Gravois

The sun's going down on Grand and Gravois as a skittish Mexican hairless makes it's way east 'cross four lanes of traffic. This town's beginning to look a lot like some
foreign country - Africa, Bosnia, goat herding survivors of floods, cat
with a turban walking an alpaca through the Tiny Bubbles Laundramat,
lookin like the proverbial Black Hole of Calcutta...

Sittin' at the drive up window awkwardly shoving your money up over
the top of your car door cause the electronic push button windows dont
work no more as you run out what's left of your last quarter tank of gas - six minutes left on the "pay as you go" piece of shit Chinese phone in your pocket. Gun shots off in the distance and the sweat burning your eyes. I been spending like a broken yo yo all week long, I need a
place to rest.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

So we're coming into my favorite time of year! I love the heat, (not so much during the day, except for the fact that it brings to mind all the best parts of growing up in the non-air conditioned days of North St. Louis,) but more particularly the nights. I could just swim out through the thick wet St. Louis night - wetter the better! conjures up noir,Tennessee Williams, the 40's 50's and 60's, crimes of passion, cold bottles of beer in a forhead press - respite from the scary ass days when all the truly horrible shit happens. Many was the night me and my many dead friends walked the back streets wondering as we wandered what our futures held - for some, like Frankie, the truth was been mostly dead air - I wonder sometimes at the confusion he might have felt, or maybe he just dreamed of his baby girl growing to womanhood with dreams of her own. Anyway, now it's just me alone but I still wonder enough
for us all.
My Photos | Bob Reuter Three weeks ago I took part in a film being made by Wolfgang Lehmkuhl, the title is "Scratcher" and I play the lead. It's about a widower obsessed with the lotto - he's living for that winning ticket - I spend a sizable portion of the film in the front seat of a big ass Cadillac out in a night of pouring rain - you'd never guess there was a crew of four standing six feet away running hoses, lights and cameras - it's all part of this place, this dream in which i love to dissolve out there in the night. Reality came crashing down on the last day of the shoot which took place out in the elements on a bridge 'cross the Mississippi - one of those cold, wet and windy last hold out winterish days - 'neath a junglish overhang of trees with relative strangers attempting to dry shave my three week beard, using only plastic disposable razors and bottled water - a half wet towel wrapped 'round my throat protecting the suit all wind whipped and raw - It's all a long curve, it all comes at it's own time - C'MON SUMMER!!! I dont know how long I can wait!

Friday, April 16, 2010

just like you'd see in Vogue!

The other day I was at Vintage Vinyl looking for stuff to play on my radio show and couldnt help noticing this beautiful young girl in a sleeveless black dress - real arty type and she wore red lipstick and had this series of red lines diagonally slanted across her right cheekbone - looked like something you'd see in Vogue Magazine! Anyway I let it go till a little later I made my way over to the truntable to test drive a couple of platters and noticed that she and another gal were using it. When they saw me approach with a records in my hand they smiled and said something like, "Ok, now it's your turn!"

As I sat down and was about to put on the cans I noticed she was debating whether she ought to actually buy this one comp, a "Detroit Party" collection. I told her if she wasnt gonna get it, that I would - well, she debated and then I asked if she lived in town, she allowed that she was actually from Nashville but, yeah, she WAS an art student going to school here. so I says, I do a radio show called Bob's Scratchy Records and that if I bought it and it was any good she could hear it on the radio - She lit up and said she was familiar with the show and really liked it and that that would be fine.

I figured only an art student could pull off that red thing cross the cheekbone and said so - she thanked me but said that it was really from a bike riding accident in which she had fallen off and skidded across the pavement on her face. (SILENCE)

"Well it looks great!" I said, "Not everyone could pull that off!"

Just for the record - that record in question was a collection of lesser known late period Motown artists doing bad bad disco mixes of once popular soul songs - the collection was from the early 90's - it sucked.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

You cant close the door on this rock and roll moron

“You Can’t Close the Door on this Rock n Roll Moron” by Chrissy Wilmes

If you tune in to 88.1 KDHX on a Friday afternoon, you will encounter some scratchy rock n’ roll records, and a voice spouting what some call brilliance and some call nonsense. You’ll be listening to Bob’s Scratchy Records, and you’ll be meetin’ Bob.

Although, you two may have already met. Between his presence on the cover of CD’s and 45 sleeves at the record store, on stage with his band (Bob Reuter’s Alley Ghost), and in his photography (which is on display in bars, coffee shops, and galleries all over the city), he kind of gets around.

“I already know who you are” is the response he often gets upon introducing himself. He’s well known throughout St. Louis, but there’s no single reason why. He’s not locally famous for what he does so much as for what he is- an unwavering presence in the arts community.
“I started playing out when I was 14 years old, and I’m 58 now. It’s something like Superbowl 49, and at the very first Superbowl I was having band practice. So, however many Superbowls there are, that’s how long I’ve been playing.”

“I mean you think of T.S. Eliott, Miles Davis, Ike and Tina Turner-everybody who’s made it. There are very few who’ve stayed here. Chuck Berry may be the one exception.” Bob Reuter isn’t going anywhere. He’s determined to find a way to make ends meet doing what he loves, and he wants to do it right here. “I’m proud of it here. Maybe that’s just cause it’s all I know, but that’s good enough reason right there.”

Bob has reinvented himself a few times. 1997 was a rough year. He lost his job, his girl, and his house; he then found himself in the hospital being treated for blood clots. He very nearly died. “I felt like I was reborn, like I was given a second chance. Even though I had lost my house and everything, I had discovered photography, and kind of just felt like the universe had clean cut my life. I lost everything. I lost my house, I lost my girlfriend I had to give away my dog, ya know. But I gained a new talent and a new reputation.”

In 2008, Bob found himself in the hospital again. This time, it was for quadruple bypass surgery following a heart attack. He didn’t feel like the universe gave him a new start this time-he just felt “beat up and old”. He’ll show you his scar- a thick, jagged line segmenting his chest vertically.

Bob swears that this time, he didn’t reinvent himself. Some might say he just doesn’t want to admit it. His trip to the hospital inadvertently introduced him to Mat Wilson of the Rum Drum Ramblers, a local blues group. Mat got to know Bob, and they began throwing around ideas for making music. These ideas came to be Bob Reuter’s Alley Ghost.

“When you’re 58 and you’re getting up to a set on stage with this whole band of young guys in their early 20s you feel like you must look like you’re 110 years old. And you kind of feel like it.” Bob glows a little when he talks about those guys, though. He seems deeply, genuinely happy discussing the music they're making. “Because we’re doing my songs and my songs have gotten all that time behind them, it’s like the best of all possible worlds. You’ve got all that energy behind songs of substance. It’s pretty cool.”

Bob’s sticking with Saint Louis, even though he can’t seem to make ends meet here. He loves this city, and he loves that it’s a good environment for active artists, but not necessarily for financially successful ones. “I don’t seem to be able to make much money, you know. I still do this art thing, and everybody loves these pictures, but nobody’s interested in buying ‘em.”
Luckily, local artist Tom Huck (who has recently seen success designing album covers for recording artists such as The Roots) has taken Bob under his more commercial wing. He’s let Bob set up his darkroom in his studio, and has given him a place to keep creating his art, which keeps him going.

Even though Bob's a little melancholy as he talks about the current state of things (such as his recent eviction and surgery), he’s still optimistic and playful. He gets a bit giddy as he talks about his current love interest, who he met through his radio show, and who is often featured in his beautiful, softly lit, high-contrast black and white photographs.

And the future? Bob recalls a telephone conversation he had earlier this week with his ex-wife. “She said she was worried about me, and asked if I have a backup plan. I told her I did, but she wouldn’t understand. She said, ‘Try me.’” Well, let’s just say Bob’s plan involves having known and loved a lot of people, and having made lots of connections. He’s hoping that having shared his stories, talents, and passion with all of those folks will have made an impression, and that when they need someone to fill a role (for example, “riding a donkey across the stage on a game show”), they’ll call Bob, and that will be his lifetime achievement award!
All in all, it’s a pretty solid plan.

Monday, March 29, 2010

By Phantom Photo - St. Louis

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

bob reuter intereview for www.thisisull.com out of the UK by Steve Rudd

struggling right now to make ends meet but I could be doing a whole lot worse!
St. Louis is a town of crumbling red brick buildings - got a hell of a baseball team and a hell of a past - it's right in the center of the country - in mood it's southern which to my mind make is the top of the dirty south! There's no risk of hitting the big time from St. Louis which allows you the freedom of exploring what you're really into to your hearts content - musicians here tend to know their roots a lot deeper than they do most other places - Ike Turner's got history here - I've seen Chuck Berry around town all my life - Deep blues cats like Henry Townsend - Uncle Tupelo were and are personal friends of mine - tons of gospel greats you've probably never heard of like the Bronner Brothers, The Rev Lloyd Oldham have influenced me too. This is a good cheap place to live - a well kept secret with a lot of creative artists - writers, painters and rockers often working in conjunction with each other! - a very good place with four distinct seasons of weather!

Well, see, back in 1997 I was a house painter - I came down with blood clots up and down both legs - they still don't know what caused it but when I was laying on a gurney there in the hospital, when they weren't sure yet whether I'd live or die, I kind of made this deal with God that if I were to live, I'd never waste my life working some dead ass straight day job again - if I lived I was going to use my creative talents to make a living or go down trying. So I don't know if you've ever tried to make a living off art but you better have a whole mess of irons in the fire! You got to keep moving, one aspect of what I do raises the visibility of the other things I do - you just go to keep hitting it and don't let up. The way it usually works out is, you cant really excel in more than one area at a time - when you get hot in one area, you work on that, when that cools, you go on to the others.
See, I started playing guitar and playing out in public in about 1966 when I was fourteen years old - I was playing in a garage rock band, playing college frat parties and teen dances and clubs - when my first couple of bands fell apart I began playing acoustic solo - I'd stolen a couple of my brother-in-law's Leadbelly albums around that time... The photography didn't start til I got out of the hospital in '97 - I couldn't go on doing the physical work I'd been doing and the state sent me back to school through Vocational Rehab - they'd tested me and said I might do well in graphic design, which as it turns out, I wasn't that great at - I could never make my borders even or straight but while I was struggling with that, I took photography as an elective and "BOOM!" I felt like I'd found my home! I did my first gallery show within a year of starting and it's continued on since!

Well when I started out, I'd just lost my house which, cause, since I couldn't continue house painting, I couldn't keep the payments up on - and so I was kind of bouncing around staying here and there and when you're staying at other people's places, rather than making a nuisance of yourself, you try and stay out as much as you can - only go home to sleep - so I'd go out to the bars and just hang (I actually gave up drinking back in 1984) so I'd just drink me some non alcoholic beer, smoke a lot of cigarettes and shoot pictures of what I saw. It wasn't exactly the bands I was taking photos of, it was the whole kind of low class white trash night life thing - the girls, the drinking, the tattoos, the craziness and, yeah, the bands too. I got into the whole aesthetic of night time photography - I'd blow the shots up big and you could see the grain which would sort of make the stuff look like drawings. I'd focus on the lighting - I was fascinated with the damaged beauty of it all - the beauty of desolation - people getting fucked up and living part of their dreams - I like to capture'em while they're flying, at that moment just before they crash and burn, you know, while they're still up - there are enough shots of people crashing and burning, they know that part way too well. I like to give people a view of themselves at their peak! You know, we may not be pretty but God, sometimes we're just so beautiful!!!

I think black and white captures and holds emotions so much better than color, don't you? I mean, it's so much more realistic in a way - Color purports to be more realistic but it's not, it doesn't really look like what you experience it just drags it down to a kind of pseudo realistic version of what you experienced - ya konw????
I don't really shoot weddings on a regular basis. I get lucky every once in a while and somebody asks me to document their event as I see it - not all that different than the way I documented the bar scene - you know, I dont to the traditinal shots of the bride cutting the cake or all the relations standing together - they can get somebody else to do that - I catch a lot of candid moments that cant be scripted - I seem to be able to capture that kind of thing. I'm not to be hired by just anybody - I only do work for people who understand what I do and that's what they're hiring me for - sometimes they'll hire me AND somebody to to the traditional stuff - i work cheaper than those guys do but my overhead is so low, it's a lot of money for me - hee hee - I just use this Pentax K-1000 film camera which is the kind they used to have high school kids use - and then I also use fast low light film and just shoot using existing light so it's a pretty low tech, portable set-up!
6. AS A DYLAN-INSPIRED SONGWRITER, HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR YOU TO TELL 'REAL-LIFE' STORIES THROUGH YOUR MUSIC? How could you tell I'm Dylan inspired?? Is it that obvious?? hee hee. hmmm. I dont really try and tell stories. What I do is I begin writing by messing around with chords, putting them together in a way that interests me and then once I've got some music I try and get my conscious mind out of it - usually by staying up really late till I 'm so tired I can almost be hypnotized and I just start singing whatever words fall into place, whatever words seem to be called for based on the melody. The way it usually works out is that once I get that frame work down, it's only a matter of looking at what I've got and getting an idea of what my unconscious has been thinking about - and then from their I let my conscious mind jump in and pull it all together - does that make any sense?? If I do write anything like Dylan, I'd make the case that HE doesnt really write story songs either, at least not most of the time. I sometimes find myself describing a situation but mainly I just put down what I'd FEELING - and generally that turns out to be something other people have felt or ARE feeling too - at least when I get lucky!
7. HOW OLD WERE YOU WHEN YOU FIRST BEGAN TO SING AND PLAY GUITAR, AND WHY DID THE MEDIUM OF MUSIC STRIKE SUCH A CHORD WITH YOU? I think I was singing to moment I popped out of my mom - my family always gave me shit for singing, like I was brain damaged or something ya know?? hee hee - seriously, I think I was just dropped on the door step of some crazy people, none of them could ever understand where I was coming from. I grew up in a house owned by my grand father - my mom moved back in with her parents when my dad died when I was three. He was the big daddy - a year later my aunt's marriage broke up and she moved back with her three daughters - there were seven of us living in three rooms - two rooms and a kitchen - money was tight and my grandpa was totally against spending good money on a damn guitar so my mom had to sneak out and by it for me behind his back. He was sure it'd be one more thing I didn't follow though on. Anyway, in my neighborhood, music just seemed to be everywhere - Elvis, Jerry Lee, Buddy Holly were all on the radio - Black folks were moving up from the south - it was jsut everywhere - it spoke to my soul - it was a natural!
8. YOU ARE PRESENTLY A MEMBER OF TWO DIFFERENT ST. LOUIS-BASED BANDS. SUCH A FACT CAN'T HELP BUT BEGGAR THE QUESTION: HOW DO YOU FIND THE TIME TO JUGGLE ALL YOUR CREATIVE ENDEAVORS, ALLOWING 'SPARE TIME' FOR SLEEPING AS YOU GO? Uh huh - all the good players in this town play for two or three bands at a time - no one band doing original material plays enough to fill up anybody's calender, so I play solo gigs and have two bands to be able to play as much as I can - If one band's main members aren't available on a given date, I go to the other band - The only real problem I have is when I dont write gigs down - it's easy to forget something - I've got all these little pieces of paper with phone numbers and dates scribbled on then - all just stuffed in my back pocket - I'm kind of a messy un-organized guy - hee hee... Anyway, the two bands I have are Thee Dirty South which is me and two other guys about my age - it's two guitars and a drum kit - we play rock and roll with a lot of power and a heavy blues lean - we all sit down while we play but we kick ass. The other band is Bob Reuter's Alley Ghost and that band (not to play favorites but I'm just being honest here) is where my heart really is! We've got this little local label called Big Muddy Records - it's not so mcu a real record company as it is a spiritual thing - it's a umbrella type thing that about five local bands are loosely affiliated with. Anyway, it's run by these young guys in their twenties who really loved my radio show and knew my stuff and they aproached me with the idea of recording me backed by them and thus bringing my music to a younger crowd of kids who would otherwise not have even noticed I was there! They kick ass, they play with all their hearts and they're GOOD! So you know, it's the old guys' material, the old guy's voice and these rockin young cats behind me - occasionally I wear them out - hee hee. I love these boys dearly - it was their idea to record ourselves on reel to reel tape in my apartment kitchen - the drummer's playing a snare and pots and pans on my four burner stove! We got me playing rhythm, lead guitar, snare drum and a acoustic stand up bass - it's right up out of the dirt - we're a tight little group that'll kick your ass!
9. YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY AND MUSIC ASIDE, YOU ARE A WELL-KNOWN STORYTELLER. WHAT KIND OF STORIES DO YOU PEN, AND DO THEY TEND TO BE BASED ON TRUE ONES? Yeah, when I write prose, it's generally things that HAVE happened - I dont have enough imagination to make shit up - usually I'm just telling the stories of my life - I just try the best I can to write them down exactly like I would tell them to you - when I TRY and "WRITE" it comes out all phony. The way I got started was just hanging out telling people stories and by and by they began telling me I should really write them all down so that's what I'd doing - writing them down the way I was tell them so I dont forget'em.
10. RUMOUR HAS IT THAT YOU OFTEN DJ AS WELL. IN WHICH VENUES CAN BE CAUGHT, AND WHEN? I do a show for the local community radio station KDHX FM 88.1 out of South St. Louis - it's a listener supported station. You can here it on line at www.kdhx.org . I was talked into it I dint really jump at doing it - - he knew what kind of music I was into and he kept on me til I said I'd try it and then once I did I fell in love with it - My show's really popular on the station, one of the top money makers when it comes to pledge drive, it's called Bob's Scratchy Records. At the time I started doing it I was almost burned out on music altogether - some how I had become a classic "singer songwriter" guy because I was taking so much care with my songs and, I don't know, it all just got to be really boring to me, I was losing interest but quick. When I started doing the radio show I think they expected I'd be playing all singer songwriter stuff but I was playing raw rock and roll, gospel, gut bucket blues, glam, garage, punk and after about two years of playing this cool ass stuff on the radio I picked up my guitar again and found that the stuff I was writing was a lot more like the stuff I'd been playing - I'm very happy now musically!

11. FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE NEVER VISITED ST. LOUIS, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY ARE THE CITY'S MOST ALLURING ATTRIBUTES? People are real southern here which is to say more friendly than they are up north - the place is lousy with old crumbly red brick buildings and trees, the whole town's just rife with trees! tons of great places to eat - a hell of a ball team and the most supportive fans in America, (people here love the game to the point that we'll applaud a player on the other team if he's made a good play) and beyond all that, on the south side you'll find a world full of mystery and creative people - and you'll find them when you're not looking for'em - St. Louis is a well kept secret so keep this all to yourself, I'd hate for word to get out and draw the wrong kind of crowd!

new shots of bobsitting in with the Humdingers

http://c1.ac-images.myspacecdn.com/images02/113/l_3e0eaaa1c66440dab60b0194191c6e0c.jpghttp://c4.ac-images.myspacecdn.com/images02/136/l_9b8cdb7b97074122bb253bfe9f4cce6b.jpgby Phantom Photo

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

So I was invited to bring my dark room into Tom Huck's Evil Prints Studio. If you dont know who Tom Huck is, you should look him up - the cat's amazing! He's been an inspiration to me and I hope I've given some back - Anyway, I've been hitting it kind of hard lately, going through all my old negatives and re-printing many I havent had in stock for some time. - If you've received this letter you are invited to drop me a line to come take a look - Maybe you'll see something you want, something that moves you - Maybe we can do each other some good - As always with these kind of sales, they're priced well under what you expect at a gallery show - I'd like ya to get a look at the new set up!