Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Friday Night Lights

The truth was in the rumor. Mississippi nights was closing, and last Friday night it was finally put down like a faithful dog that the family just couldn't find a use for anymore. I didn't go, there was no reason to, because the memory is far sweeter than any last ditch effort to create for ten dollars could.

The sad fact is that it is one more nail in the coffin for the music scene in St. Louis.

The Rocket Bar left us some time ago and will always live fondly in my head, though wearing your Tevas was apparently an inferior second when there is a guy dressed as Sgt. Pepper (don't ask if you don't know the story).

The Galaxy went the way of the Dodo some time ago after the Rocket Bar. For me Galaxy will forever remain as my favorite experience with The Bottle Rockets. Growing frustrated with the club's poor quality sound equipment lead singer Brian Henneman finally gave up with a clear "F*** it!" threw down the mike stand unplugged his Pevy and with band mates in tow left the stage and stormed out the back into the alley. I wonder if they will ever remember the three guys who went with them.

Then when no was looking someone did a drive by on us all when Frederick's Music Lounge quietly departed. This place was maybe the most unique of all in having the distinct appearance of looking like a bar in the basement of a house, or maybe it was because it was a bar in the basement of a house. The stage that had to be no bigger than a saltine cracker but for $5-$8 you could see Diesel Island, Hydacol, Oat Soda (whatever happened to them) squeeze in and play. "Buy my book!"

Then my heart break happened last fall. The Hi-Pointe closed. Where PBR was expected, girls had tats and pig tails, a pair of corporate khakis were forbidden and there was always some old guy who probably never knew he was at Wood Stock sitting at the bar that everyone talked to and showed respect to just because it was proper to do so. The best bachelor party ever was thrown there, Brian Henneman's Christmas show reminded you that you had survived the year somewhat intact.

Now Mississippi Nights has walked the green mile. Though I saw a few bands there two nights in particular stand out. When the Wife and I were still dating, I took her and her closest confederate down the river of frozen springs in July and after nights of sleeping in the back of the old Cherokee, floating at least 3 or 4 hundred miles in two days we shot back to town, hitched a ride on the Metro and saw Nickel Creek. There I learned it was indeed possible to sleep standing up in front of a live band.

But the best concert experience I ever had was May 9th, 2003. Dwight Yokam came to 914 N. 1st street and played.At the time I was broke, I mean the real kind of broke, but Bahr not wanting Meers and I or himself to miss the experience took tax refund money and showed up at the old 6041 Waterman Roost with three tickets. Life had changed for me a lot between 2002 and 2003 as God took me to some uncomfortable places and made me reevaluate my decision making paradigms, but He also gave me a gift through a friend's good grace that I'm not sure can be repaid.

Dwight played the way you would want him to. Hat low and guitar held high, talking to the crowd in the Kentucky/Backersfield drawl swiggin a beer. Then when the band left the stage he stayed with just a guitar and a stool and played unplugged for a good forty-five minutes. Why the three of us never thought to make a boot leg will forever escape me.

Friday nights are different lately, when we do get to head out to hear some little band its left to Cicero's or the Duck room, and we leave the Courtesy Diner at 1am instead of arriving.

My heart breaks for some north county white guy in his early twenties who is beginning to see the music world outside of Best Buy and the Pageant for there are no good dives left.

All the frontiers are closing and we ain't the better for it.


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