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Kenny’s Window Journal

Posted: October 4, 2011 in Uncategorized

Check back for regular updates and breaking news from our man in the window.

DAY ONE

6:50 AM
Tim Ezell (Fox 2 News) dropped by to do an interview and cover what we are doing.
You can watch the video at the link below.
http://www.fox2now.com/news/morningshow/timezell/ktvi-tims-travels-lift-for-life-fundraiser-20111003,0,4837690.story

11:06 AM
Happy 47th Birthday, Buffalo Wings! I think I will celebrate by eating a pound or two this afternoon.

1:35 PM
Just took my “toilet” on it’s maiden voyage. It works.

2:42 PM
http://youtu.be/iEt7AMCC0Vg

5:37 PM
Today’s Beer School was all class: Schlitz. The beer that made Milwaukee famous.

7:58 PM
Joe Edwards stopped by for a drink and an interview.
I’ll post a video soon.

9:41 PM
I am the master of Mario Kart.

2:02 AM
Goodnight!

DAY TWO

10:26 AM
I just had a conversation with Kiernan Maletsky at The RFT. I’m looking forward to our Dinner-view tomorrow.

10:42 AM
Where is my toothbrush?

1:37 PM
Beer School/Band Practice at 4 PM today.
BUSSSSSSCCCCCCHHHH

2:53 PM
Just wrapped up lunch. Now it’s time for a little exercise.

3:56 PM
Getting ready for band practice. I don’t think U City is ready for this.

4:19 PM
Just got shut down in under 2 songs. “Do you have any idea how slow you were going?” Noise complaint central. Video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2eZ1l2BOh0

5:31 PM
Beer School. Busch beer with Fister, BC, Liz Baldes, Stantron, and some enthusiastic new scholars.

8:16 PM
Just finished up a great interview with Loren from The Point. Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band is up next!

12:21 AM
Some drunk weirdo decided it would be a good idea to flip a table, and then damage one of our cook’s scooters. Captain Ken caught the offender on video. Have fun in City Jail.

DAY THREE

10:05 AM
Still going strong. We’ve received countless donations for http://liftforlife.org Help us reach our goal by donating on their website, or come down and join us here at Cicero’s.

12:13 PM
Editing yesterday’s beer school footage. Head for the mountains.

1:14 PM
Just got done with a little father and son time, playing Mario Kart with my 4 year old. He won.

3:39 PM
Busch Beer School! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMt-WxpSNTk

4:26 PM
Stag Beer School starts at 5 PM today with guests: The Jungle Fire

7:55 PM
My interview with the Oklahoma Alcoholic, Kiernan Maletsky was great, despite his lack of geographical knowledge.

10:16 PM
Holy mackerel! We just hit $600.00 and Lift For Life has a new music program (now I also have to wear adult diapers for the entire day tomorrow). Let’s keep those donations coming

11:38 PM
Daddy hammered.

3:38 AM
Just had a romantic candle lit dinner with Bobby Jensen.

DAY FOUR

11:22 AM
My mind is going. I can feel it.

1:12 PM
Brownies. Good.

1:38 PM
Importing a lot of golden quality footage from yesterday’s Beer School with The Jungle fire.

2:01 PM
“What if he fuckin’ died in there? That’d be awesome”.  Not as awesome as your Notre Dame Fighting Irish hat and blue jean shorts, big guy.

3:32 PM
I’m so hungry I could eat a buffalo chicken wrap. Yesterday’s beer school video here: http://youtu.be/Z4bRahBJTs4

5:23 PM
Tonight’s Beer School is brought to ME by Depends.

6:02 PM
What a terrible time to be wearing a diaper. Channel 5 just arrived. Airing at 10 PM. My guest at Beer School tonight is Mike Jones of I Hate Punk Rock Records.

8:05 PM
These things really are absorbent. Mike Jones was a terrific guest. And Dan makes a wonderful co-host.

9:42 PM
JUNGLE FIRE!

1:25 AM
I overheard a woman tell her husband:
“I don’t have a job, and have money. You have a job, but you don’t have money.”

DAY FIVE

11:24 AM
These things can be weird.

1:11 PM
I’m being serenaded.

2:49 PM
Leigh Jacobson and Justin Rau brought me a wonderful lunch and picnicked  outside my window. Both delicious and thoughtful. Thanks guys!

4:01 PM

All work and no play makes Ken a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Ken a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Ken a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Ken a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Ken a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Ken a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Ken a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Ken a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Ken a dull boy.

4:17 PM
I’m getting pretty good at mirrored writing.
6:33 PM
Great beer school with Chris Denton, Erik Ramsier, Travis Lawrence, and Marcus Newstead.

9:51 PM
Something about some baseball…

11:34 PM
You can donate more than just money. If you have any old instruments that you aren’t using sitting around in the basement, or combo amps, or even a fresh pack of guitar strings would help tremendously. Contact Kenny@ciceros-stl.com any time to make a donation. Thanks!

DAY SIX

10:32 AM
What part of NO EARLY BIRDS don’t you understand?
Charity sidewalk sale at 11 AM.

1:35 PM
Some young kids with weird hair are here to play music in front of my window. I feel like a 40 year old father in the 80s that has a child that listens to Poison.

5:05 PM
I need a shower.

8:20 PM
STL Punk History 101 with Tim Jamison. Grab a pencil, Kids.

9:46 PM
Just got my ass beat in Wii Punchout by my brother. He will always be better at video games.

10:11 PM
We’ve been receiving lots of instruments from local musicians to donate. Thanks guys! I don’t think they truly realize how generous they are being.

12:35 AM
Thank you for tapping. Everybody loves a drunk.

DAY SEVEN

8:03 AM
I’ve been awake for over an hour listening to a couple old guys talk about how nice the weather is. I bet indoor plumbing is nice too.

10:14 AM
Tom Quach (of Harkonin) and his lovely family just made a huge contribution. They donated tons of music equipment. Who says metal is all evil and darkness?

12:01 PM
OOOOOOH THAT SMELL

4:50 PM
I don’t care if you like baseball or not, I’m listening to the game on the radio and I’m on the edge of my seat.

6:26 PM
Man… I gotta get out of here. I’m pulling my hair out.

8:32 PM
Sine Nomine just dropped by to donate an entire drum kit, cymbals, a guitar, and various other instruments.

8:56 PM
Thank you for all of your contributions. None of us expected it to be nearly this successful.

9:02 PM
I’m getting out of here. Shower bound. I’m going to use a fresh bar of soap and throw it away when I’m done with it.

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Kenny’s week in the window

Posted: September 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

Cicero’s is teaming up with Lift For Life, an amazing local charity keeping kids off the street. From October 3rd through the 9th we will be hosting a benefit fundraiser to raise money for their children’s music program in St. Louis. Throughout the entire week Cicero’s new publicist, Kenny Snarzyk, will be locked in the display window. Kenny will be interviewing guest celebrities and artists, giving his own unique music and fitness instructions and “teaching” his very own special beer school every day he is living in the window. Kenny will also be hosting contests and giveaways throughout the week. You can follow Kenny’s day by visiting Cicero’s facebook and twitter pages or by simply coming down to witness a ridiculous original event all in the name of supporting the wonderful work Lift for Life does for their own community. In addition to the lock in, every night Cicero’s will be hosting live entertainment in the venue by artists The Gorge, Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, Futurebirds, Jake’s Leg, and a very special benefit show showcasing Number 6 Media and I Hate Punk Rock Records bands: Black for a Second, Ensain James, and Boom Tops. Kenny’s weekly itinerary can be seen by visiting https://ciceroschatter.wordpress.com/kenny

SCHEDULE:

Media= Kenny’s starting the day sharing the internet with you. It’s more fun than that friend who comes over to your house and makes you watch every thing he/she’s ever seen on youtube. He’ll be reaching out to radio and television as well.

Exercise= Well, exercise, but for a cause greater than six minute abs. Kenny will take on difficult (for him) aerobic challenges in exchange for donations by any and all. Donate a quarter a push-up, a buck a minute on the shake weight, or whatever you want.

All proceeds collected will go to Lift For Life http://liftforlife.org

Band Prac= Band Practice.  Of course this guys in a band, look at him. They normally practice on Tuesdays, he can’t miss practice.

D.Y.J.= Do Your Job. Kenny will be working on various projects to advertise Cicero’s and Cicero’s Live’s brand. He will most likely be fielding help from passers-by and folks online.

B.S.= Beer School. We have a free Beer School on Wednesdays mirroring the academic calendar where beginners and connoisseurs can both learn from those with the closest ties to your favorite or soon to be favorite beers. This is Kenny’s take on that. It will be informative, though mainly not factual.

Fan Mail. Not what you think. He will be answering your online messages through the week, but fan mail is Kenny writing his favorite and not so favorite people, services, product manufactures, etc. to voice his opinions.

D.V.= Dinnerview! It’s a combination of dinner (Kenny’s dinner) and an interview. Kenny will be interviewing musicians, comedians, local celebs, people leaving the restaurant, you get where this goes, all while dressed in his finest and enjoying his dinner. Kenny believes you can ask people anything when there’s an inch of glass between you.

T.G.= Ticket Give-a-ways! You’ll have to earn them. That’s all I can say.

G.W.K.= Games with Kenny. Entertaining…competitive…no quarters necessary.

P-Time= Kenny’s personal time. He can choose to be social, but bears gotta sleep too.

Photo by Susan Logsdon

It’s no short order to mix the influences of six people while creating your own unique niche and create a lasting stamp on your hometown crowd. Upon my first time ever hearing of Scarlet Tanager I was stunned; I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I heard bits and pieces of several artists, old (I mean older than me, 1950’s and 60’s groups) and new but before I could put my finger on one artist they sounded like they would effortlessly drift to another sound or influence. Somehow this group kept their influences intact without completely ripping them off and they owned their sound. From the vocals to the rhythm section and beyond, this would be the group that restored my faith in local music. This sextet was indie pop and everything great about pop music, with a bit of homegrown twang, in general.

Scarlet Tanager is one of St. Louis’ most well-kept secrets and most precious gems, as Susan Logsdon sings in her wistful, dreamy aural arena and her five band mates (including her husband, brother and sister-in-law) create the perfect mix of warm 60’s charm and the best elements of all that is right in indie pop. Scarlet Tanager explores themes relevant to nearly anyone but no one captures their light as well as Susan and the gang. If Susan’s brutally honest lyrics sung in her outstanding vocal gamut ranging from soft lulls to full bodied croons doesn’t nab your attention the musical palette of the musicians assisting her certainly will. To paint a better picture of what you’ve been missing out on, I took it upon myself to introduce you to St. Louis’ ‘most-satisfying-to-listen-to’ up and coming band.

Describe your sound in your own words. What kind of music does Scarlet Tanager play?

Michael Logsdon: Indie Pop is probably the best description. We’re just trying to play the type of music we enjoy. We have a lot of influences but trying to balance out influences with our own personal sound and six band members can be difficult. Susan comes from a singer/songwriter background but we’re eclectic, we try to bring a lot of 50’s type of pop in to the mix, too.

Every band has influences beyond what the audience may hear; what are influences of yours that may or may not be obvious to audience ears? How do any of those influences affect your sound and how do you mix those to fit that eclectic and unique style?

Susan Logsdon: My influences definitely include Patsy Cline and her 50’s pop sound. I also really like Feist and Regina Spektor. Bright Eyes and Deathcab for Cutie are influences, too, for the both of us [Michael and I], I think.

ML: Yeah, I definitely include Bright Eyes but I also really like Los Campesinos and like to include them as an influence that you can hear in Scarlet Tanager, like with the group vocals and just lots of energy. There’s something primal about just singing your guts out on stage like that and I also really like to include vocal harmonies. It’s funny because when Susan starts to come up with a song she’ll come to me and tell me she’s got a new one. I’ll listen to it and then I’ll hear something in it that she maybe didn’t consciously mean to do, but it still sounds like her or like Scarlet Tanager, very unique and then I’ll add my influences. It’s neat because having six people from different backgrounds keeps it interesting. Jordan (keys/vocals) comes from a theatre background and is really good with harmonies, Josh is kind of a rocker, you know. We just have to keep each other balanced, we make sure that the sound or our style doesn’t get out of hand and that nothing just comes out of left field.

SL: No, we all get along, we’re a very democratic band. Everyone has such good insight and it keeps us all contained. It’s really cool and a lot more fun to get everyone’s opinions on things before we move on and complete projects.

How did you get your start? And how or where did you meet the whole crew of band members?

ML: I think I like my side of this story better [laughs]. In college I played in a band called Roses at Your Feet. A Greenville buddy of mine led me to Susan when he was talking about “girls who do awesome music” and Susan went to Greenville. I thought she was great and it was intimidating! She came to see my band’s show and my friend Jason introduced me to her and all I could really say was “I heard your music! That’s you!” After the show we all went out to Denny’s and I just laid it on thick – I figured I had no chance of bombing because I wasn’t sure I’d see her again but I kept telling her that I was a fan of her and her music. Like, I was a fan of hers before I’d even met her. We started Myspace messaging each other and she came back and we started dating. She even wrote a song about me and that was in 2006.

SL: [laughing at Michael] Yeah, I thought he was…hot stuff. That’s the first time I’ve ever said that [continues laughing]! There was a lot of shameless flirting between the two of us. I made fun of him a lot but it must have worked because we messaged one another all summer and then started dating. But this is the first band that I’ve ever been in and he’s [Michael] has always been there for me and Josh, my brother. And Josh and Jordan are married to each other, too, so that’s really nice to have as a support system as a band and family.

ML: As a band, though, Scarlet Tanager has been together for about a year. We started assembling all the parts a year and a half ago out in West County. There was always a lot of music around us, like when we were in college at Greenville [Susan and some of my friends] and Carbondale [where I was] music and good musicians weren’t hard to find.

SL: We found Matt through church and Dustin from Greenville, but he was also in Michael’s band. Josh was getting serious with Jordan and we wanted to ask her to come join us. So, that was great how it worked out.

ML: It came together so quick that deciding on what we wanted our sound to be was hard. We kept asking ourselves what we wanted this to be. Every song sounded so different and we were trying to find some cohesion. After a few practices and meetings with one another, we came closer to our sound.

SL: Micahel played keys on a few songs, then he’d go play the guitar and Josh would play acoustic. It got hard to picture Scarlet Tanager without an acoustic. Our first show was filmed and after watching it felt that Josh’s talent on acoustic was being wasted. The guitar (electric) sound came to fit our sound, that 60’s pop tone just fit naturally.

Can you tell us about the forthcoming album? This will be your first record and you seem to be doing all of the work on your own, very DIY.

ML: The new album has definitely been a long time coming. Since we started we’ve wanted to record. For the past almost year we’ve done our own recordings. We won some studio time with Jupiter Studios and Josh and I have recording experience but this was a bit out of our zone [at Jupiter]. We took to doing home recordings in the garage and we fix it up and it sounds great. We decided to do the recordings and try to set a date for songs and production and recordings done. Fingers crossed we’ll be all ready and done by the show! The album is very representative of Susan and who she is. Susan is homemade; she’s just great at everything and is a natural at everything she does. Susan is working on the artwork and is screen printing all of the albums, she’s done the planning for it.

The mixing for the album was done by Josh and I. He and I split the duties and each took a few songs to get the whole album done. The mixes were coming out a little different but it was great because we’d bounce ideas off of each other and come up with some really good stuff. But then one night I was driving home listening to a song I was going to mix and I came up with this great idea for a music video. I sat on the idea for a week because I was a little embarrassed but I threw the idea out there and then we all talked about it, made a storyboard and got scenes and the video completely forumulated.

Photo by Susan Logsdon

Wow, a music video, especially DIY, is a huge undertaking! What can you say about the video and where/when will it be available for viewing?

SL: The video was a crazy project, lots of fun! It started as a simple idea but the whole thing just took on a life of its own. Our garage was taken over by the puppets and the sets for the puppets, outfits – we made over 30 outfits for the puppets.

ML: It’s for what’s probably the quirkiest song on the album and came up with the idea for the video with puppets and having a puppet for each member of the band. We set a deadline of 2 weeks for the video to be shot and produced, made – the whole thing, we wanted to do it in two weeks. We worked on it every night for about a month and a half until it was done but it was great because it brought everyone in the band together, all working on something for the group. The video will be premiered at the CD release show on Friday (June 24th) and will also go up on YouTube, Vimeo our Facebook, everywhere.

What’s next for the band?

SL: We don’t have a manager but we’ve definitely talked about it. We’ve done all the work, obviously all the work for the album but also booking and scheduling all of our own shows. We’ll do the work for booking like emailing venue managers and bookers but this is our dream.

ML: Yeah, this is it for us – what we’ve always wanted to do. It’s one of those things where if this doesn’t work then we’ll have kids, but this is what we want to do now. This is something we’ve worked so hard for and something we love doing and we’re looking to do whatever it takes for us to get to that next level.

Join Scarlet Tanager on Wednesday, July 20th at Off Broadway along with Tone Rodent and My Gold Mask. Doors at 8:30p and show starts at 9p.

Original interview can be found at Starla at the Show and Music of the Hour, published June 22, 2011.

Face it: Your Monday is in desperate need of a fix-up, a face-lift, a transplant, a re-do and anything and everything in between – just so long as it doesn’t feel like a Monday anymore. Well, luckily for you Cicero’s Venue and I Went to a Show are here to help fix, if not solve, that whole Monday thing, tomorrow (Monday, June 27th) at 7:30p. If your spirits aren’t lifted by the hook-laden, world-beat percussive sounds of Givers you might not have a pulse. Givers are poised to be the next breakout indie band, especially thanks to the attention given to them by the Dirty Projectors who gave them the duty/honor of opening for them in 2009. Recently, Givers received the “Jimmy Fallon Bump” and were the music guests on his June 13th show (the music/introduction starts at about 36:37). Givers were on everyone’s “must see” list this year at SXSW, which typically bodes well for fledgling indie rock and pop acts. Have a look for yourself; Givers explode on stage at SXSW, and nearly every other live performance I’ve yet to see myself. You’re sure to witness another thunderous and enchanting show tomorrow night at Cicero’s.

I Went to a Show, a local music blog, is presenting the show here at Cicero’s and they knew what they were doing when lining up Givers along with Pepper Rabbit and 1,2,3. If you’re one of the lucky ones to join them during their pre-show Tweet-Up (Up, Up – a clever take on the first single by Givers) you might also be heading to the show for free – join them during the Tweet-Up where they’ll be giving away a pair of free tickets to the show. Come out and upgrade your Monday with new friends, great new music (you know you want to be able to say you “saw that band that was on Jimmy Fallon at Cicero’s once”) and a few brews from Cicero’s outstanding beer selection.

About the Author – Jennifer Metzler has been going to rock and roll shows all over St. Louis from an early age. She recalls some of her first ever shows as rollicking good, jam-packed, sweaty and perfectly dim-lit shows while standing on the Cicero’s venue floor. When not rocking out at shows, writing about music or listening to the newest breakout band, she’s writing about hockey, watching hockey, or screaming and throwing a remote across the living room in regards to, you guessed it, hockey. She also loves to talk to her cats, walk around the duck pond judging duck hair-do’s and collect vinyl records. If you see her at a show, Cicero’s or anywhere around St. Louis, feel free to say hello! 

By Eric and Mimi Griffith

Multiple city tour across the nation? Check. Fans lining up in anticipation of your arrival? Check.  Flashbulbs popping and video cameras rolling? Check. Signing tons of autographs? Check. Rushed in and out of venues by an entourage? Check. Stage dives? Check.

This would appear to be the prerequisites for a rock star with a top ten album, but actually it is just a day in the life of Greg Koch, CEO & co-founder of Stone Brewing Co.  If you haven’t heard about his antics or experienced him in person just check out this clip to get a feel for the energy and intensity he brings to his “beer sermons.”

An Arrogant Bastard is Born

So how did we get here?  And I don’t mean here on Earth, I mean standing in a bar with a glass of beer raised in celebration of a once angry young man who has finally decided it’s time to share his much sought after brews with the craft beer fanatics of St. Louis.  As Greg noted, his most frequent question when traveling to new markets is “What took you so long?”

You see Stone Brewing has been turning out the good stuff since 1996 in Escondido,CA, and they have been one of the fasted growing breweries in the nation over the past 10 years.  It all started when Greg discovered how wonderful beer could be while he sipped a steam beer from Anchor Brewing.  He describes the feeling as being lied to by the mass marketed, fizzy-yellow beer makers, also known as “the man.”  The rock star CEO sums up the epiphany as “boy meets beer, boy falls in love, boy has new career.”

Koch teamed up with Steve Wagner and together they founded Stone Brewing while homebrewing their first beers.  Well it sounds like Steve was homebrewing and Greg was sanitizing and fantasizing.  He developed the gargoyle to serve as the face of Stone Brewing and it also serves as the protector whose job is to ward off cheap ingredients, and preservatives.  Stone produces stronger, bigger character beers than most breweries, but Koch believes that Americans have taste and he will not pander to the lowest common denominator.

The recipe of outstanding beer, in-your-face labels, high quality ingredients, and heaps of passion has pushed Stone from 400 barrels in 1996 to 115,000 barrels of nectar in 2010, and it now distributes to 35 states. The Q & A session atCicero’sBeerSchoolwas more in the vain of an intimate, sit-down, acoustic jam, but like any good rock star, Greg Koch brought along several of his greatest hits…

The Beer
Stone Levitation Ale

He says- I am ready to make this my new favorite session beer.  It appears dark brown in the glass leading you toward the malt side, but then grabs you with a dry-hopped aroma of Amarillo and Simcoe.  There is a sweet background to the flavor, but the aroma helps balance out the palate.  You would never guess this is only 4.4% ABV and it lets you know that lower alcohol does not have to equal lower taste.

 She says- Modest on alcohol but big on flavor.  The toasty malts introduce a sweet flavor right off the bat that is followed by the citrus and piney notes of the hop blends.  How great to find a full flavor beer that is completely sessionable!  You could drink Levitation with a variety of different foods and be happy.

 

Stone IPA

He says- Crisp and clear to the eye with a light amber color.  This is a true, original West Coast IPA with big citrus leaning hops.

I know why this is Stone’s top seller.  Creamy in the mouth yet refreshing on the finish.  It does everything an IPA should do.  Centennial and Chinook fans will be very pleased.

 She says- I noticed citrus hops as the first scent, but it wasn’t overwhelming like some IPAs.  It had a medium body and a crisp finish.  The hop profile will make IPA fans happy.  This is a lovely beer!

Arrogant Bastard

He says- While Greg Koch discouraged the practice, I did age an Arrogant Bastard Ale for one year and it was still delicious.  This is a strong ale with

hops as the focus.  Caramel and nut flavors hide behind a mask of “classified” hops.  It comes with a nice 7.2% ABV so you can share a few sips with a friend.  Aging the beer took away the hop nose, but the complexity of the beer was not lost.  Is this a self portrait of the CEO?  Read the label and decide for yourself.

 She says- I found it to be slightly smoky on the nose.  I agree with Eric in that the word complex is a good one for this beer.  The malt and hop balance was wonderful yet each was distinctive.  This beer is full of fabulous personality.

Stone Ruination

He says- Another great IPA from Stone, this time it’s a Double India Pale Ale with an ABV of 7.7%.  Stronger, sweeter, and stickier than the IPA.  This beer packs over 100 IBUs and is slapping my tongue with extreme amounts of Centennial and Columbus hops.  Save this one for the end of the night because as the name implies your palate will be ruined for all other brews.

 She says- We found out that this was the first Double IPA to ever be bottled for distribution.  As a hophead I love DIPAs and this one was great.  I taste lots of pine from the hops.  This beer does not ruin my palate, but rather fills my taste buds with a million reminders of why I became a hop lover.

The Last Sip

As Greg recites his monologue from the back of the Arrogant Bastard label we realize he either has a really good memory or he truly lives this mantra everyday.  Probably a mixture of both, but the reality is he turns out great beer and we are happy to finally have Stone Brewing inSt. Louis.

Cheers!

 

 

About the Authors: Husband and wife Eric and Mimi have been attending beer school for about a year now and love every minute of it. Mimi was born and raised in St. Louis. Besides sitting down with a fabulous pint of beer, she enjoys gardening and spending time with her horse. Eric was born and raised in Texas. He enjoys sports and searching for the next great beer. A search he says he has been on for five years and one that will certainly never end. Mimi, on the other hand, just realized beer actually has flavor about a year ago. After having moved away for a few years, in 2007, this happy couple moved back to St. Louis and is enjoying all the St. Louis beer scene has to offer, especially Cicero’s Beer School. Cicero’s is lucky to have such an enthusiastic couple writing the beer school blog!

Soundtrack to Last Call

Posted: March 18, 2011 in Uncategorized

It’s not that hard to imagine, really. Weeks in the making or mere hours of planning, a great night out with your best friends at the bar/game/show typically involves more than just a simple plan to catch up and have a few drinks. What you never stop to think about is the soundtrack to your evening: music in the car on the way to and from hanging with friends; music at the bar/game/show you’ll attend; the music playing wherever you end up after your first round of drinks at aforementioned event. Unfortunately, everyone has had a run in with that guy: the one who puts $20 in the jukebox so you can listen to his music all night; the kind of guy that refuses to sing anything but “I’ve Got Friends (in Low Places)” by Garth Brooks every chance he gets; or the guy who gives his rousing a cappella rendition of “Living on a Prayer” and (incessantly) insists everyone sing along. Very few people can defend these acts of musical jerkitude, but what if you could have it your way?

Everyone enjoys playing “what if” and “would you rather” games, and a few friends of mine recently posed the question “What would be your top five songs to close out a bar?” Now, these friends are professional “what if” askers, so they had a few stipulations and conditions: These would be the last five songs played right after the perilous shout of “Last call!” Personally, I have a hard time choosing just five. I’m a very emotional music listener (as most of us are), associating certain songs with certain events in my life, and am able to appreciate music in different ways depending on the setting, event, or mood. I was told that setting, event, or mood could have no sway in my choices, despite the question being purely hypothetical. I’m always up for a challenge and also enjoy explaining the “why” behind my choices and opinions so, lucky you…here they are:

“Drunk Girls” by LCD Soundsystem | How can I help myself from kicking off the waning minutes of a night full of craziness, fun, beer, and memories? James Murphy essentially reads out of the drunk girl anthologies as he sing-speaks: “Drunk girls get invitations from nations/ drunk girls, they got the patience of saints/ drunk boys, they steal, they steal from the cupboards/ drunk girls, drunk girls like to file complaints.” Upon merely reading the lyrics, the song sounds like it may be from a modern country-pop song, but LCD Soundsystem injects the funkiest beats, effects, and up-tempo absurdity in to every one of their songs, this tune being no exception. I dare anyone to try and sit still or keep a straight face during this song If you’re going to close out a bar with five songs, this is the strongest contender—why not start on a danceable and lively note?

“Broken Bottle” by Alejandro Escovedo | Yeah, this would probably get me labeled as “that guy” for having a total buzz kill of a song, but this song digs deeper than the bar illusion given in the title. This song has just enough twang to make you feel like a saloon-sittin’ son of a gun, while your elbows are up to signify the drownin’ of yer sorrows. Too much? OK. Escovedo sings longingly, “So pour me a drink, from a broken bottle/ fill my glass with the dirty water/ what I’ve lost is gone/ what I’ve gained has no name…” From there, the gorgeous, twang-y, finger slide full waltz carries the listener to the bar stool right next to Escovedo to console him through booze.

“Come on Eileen” | by Save Ferris: I have to be completely, 100% honest about this choice: This is a throw away spot. If you’ve noticed, this is the third song thus far in the mix. Now, my friends made the rule that you can’t change your playlist depending on the venue or the type of event you participated in; I’m of the belief that that’s totally unfair. I change my favorite band/song/album like I change my socks (that’d be daily, thank you). At any rate, this third spot is what I’d like to consider the ever-changing sub spot, consistently swapping with one song/artist or another. Yes, I adore Save Ferris and I’m not ashamed to admit to it. This Dexy’s Midnight Runners tune is a classic that nearly everyone in the bar will know and (possibly begrudgingly) sing along to. And what’s not fun about that? Monique Powell’s voice soars in this version, so just raise a glass and go with it.

“Ballroom Blitz” by Sweet | Do you really need an explanation? If you don’t know the words to this song but like to kick back a few brews, there is absolutely something wrong with you. Clichéd? Maybe. Do I or anyone else who will undoubtedly sing along care? Nope, not one bit.

“Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen | The title says it all. Does anyone ever really want to get force-fed their last drink at a bar during last call? Of course not, but why not make the most of it during a raucous, glam-filled rock ’n’ roll classic served on a hedonistic platter by Freddie Mercury himself. “Don’t stop me now, ’cause I’m havin’ a good time/ I don’t wanna stop at all” are the quintessential lyrics of those who obviously haven’t filled their quota of an awesome night.

While it would have been easy to say something like “I’d just put a Girl Talk album on repeat” or “just a bunch of remixes by a DJ,” it does seem to take the fun out of choosing favorite songs you’ll never get tired of hearing, dancing to, and singing along with. Despite the strict guidelines imposed by my friend, I had a great time creating my list, however challenging it ended up, and encouraging other friends and family to choose their own favorites. I highly encourage you to do the same (and don’t cheat!), and feel free to post in the comments section with what your top five would be and why. Come on…make Rob Fleming (…really? The “Top 5” protagonist of Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, remember?) proud. | Jenn Metzler

Jarrod Gorbel | Lightening Up

Posted: February 9, 2011 in Uncategorized

From The Honorary Title’s Doghouse Records debut, Anything Else but the Truth, I was hooked. The music was kind of emo, kind of singer-songwriter, kind of rock…good, but it was the voice that made me a believer. Jarrod Gorbel had this plaintive, yearning yet otherwise nearly emotionless voice, rich and full, delivering lines both insightful and humorous, and yet he made it all mean something. I’ve played that album more times than I can count, along with its successor, Scream and Light Up the Sky.

But somewhere along the way, Gorbel strayed from his emo-rock roots. He wanted to delve deeper into his personality, and after trying to pen the third Honorary Title CD, he found the best way to do that was via a more folksy sound. Thus he abandoned THT—at least for now—in favor of releasing music under his own name.

I spoke with Gorbel recently about the decision to drop his well-known band name and where his career was headed.

What made you decide to abandon The Honorary Title name?

It just kind of happened; it wasn’t a plan. Basically, I went to record a new record—a new EP, and a full-length record that’s going to come out in the fall. When I went to record the full-length record, I went under the intention that it was going to be an Honorary Title thing the whole time. I didn’t think that mattered, ’cause the Honorary Title started as just me and I was the songwriter. But halfway through the process it was just something I decided to do. Maybe it felt a little more personal. I just wanted for the next level to have a symbolic style.

I’ve been touring for a little while, and I’ve still been playing Honorary Title songs—at least ones that I hold onto still. I would say that they’re kind of my shelter; most of the ones that are written by me I play on my own. So it’s not like The Honorary Title’s dead; it’s merely a rebirth.

Are fans embracing it?

The fans that I know when I tour seem to react positively and like it just as much.

How would you say the new tour and energy differs from Honorary Title tours?

It’s more folky and it’s more personal; you kind of just get more of my personality at the show. It’s not just songs, records; it’s more of a dialogue. There used to a full band having a giant production. Now, there’s no pressure. I can play whatever I want, whenever I want. I can throw in some covers if I want. I can decide when I want to start. It reminds me of before I got the whole band together. It’s a more comfortable way for me to play, for sure.

In terms of songwriting, I’m assuming that with Honorary Title there were collaborations on songwriting. Are you still doing that?

With Honorary Title, there would be some collaboration but it would be more on what you expect, the rock/pop songs—something that was more drum- or guitar-driven; that’d definitely be influenced more by the band. I brought in different musicians and kind of just let them do their thing.

When you were growing up, did you always know you wanted to be a musician?

Yeah, pretty much, but I didn’t know how to go about it. I played piano and guitar and started singing, pretty much the only thing that I could do. I graduated and was like, “It’s time to play music.” I got [the college education] out of the way.

Is there any other area of the business where you could envision yourself?

Just songwriting. I could see myself writing for other artists or younger artists, or collaborating with other people. I started doing that kind of stuff just as experimentation.

It seems like it would be hard to write for someone else.

It’s hard, and it’s not, because then you’re not so caught up. When you’re with somebody else, you’re not thinking the song’s so precious, panicking, and getting hung up on every little detail. You just do it.

Beyond touring, what do you see 2011 holding for you?

I hope it opens up a new audience, beyond people that know Honorary Title. I guess that’s it. Just to play a lot more. Play for newer and different people. Newer places. I hope to tour internationally and I hope to write with more people and to keep busy. | Laura Hamlett

To Write Love on Her Arms presents Jarrod Gorbel and Atlantic/Pacific at Cicero’s on Wednesday, February 23, at 8 p.m.; tickets are $10. Buy advance tickets here.

This article was first published in PLAYBACK:stl.