Friday, March 11, 2011

So What: Local News, Notes & Links

Here's the latest wrap-up of assorted links and short local news items of interest:

* In an article about Jazz St. Louis' benefit gala last Sunday, the Post-Dispatch's Deb Peterson says that JSL raised an estimated $200,000 for its education programs at the event. You can read Peterson's account of the party here.

* Jazz broadcaster Don Wolff has been uploading dozens of exclusive videos to his YouTube channel. There are a few interviews, but most of the clips are live performances from currently active musicians playing traditional jazz and swing. You can check out the contents of Wolff's video vault here.

* Brandt's Cafe (pictured), a longtime live music staple in the Delmar Loop, announced on their Facebook page that they're changing to an "ultralounge" format next month. That apparently means "VIP seating," bottle service, more DJ music and, presumably, higher prices. Though there's mention of live music continuing in early evenings, there's no calendar of events on the Facebook page, and the registered address for Brandt's website has been allowed to expire and seems to have fallen into the clutches of domain-jackers.

A bit of history: After transferring to new ownership three years ago, Brandt's abandoned its long-running jazz-centric format for a confusing mix of blues, rock, folk, karaoke, DJ spins, and the occasional jazz performer. They stopped emailing out their monthly music schedule, and updates to the website were sporadic and often incomplete. The result seems to have been that after leaving their old niche behind, they've had, at best, mixed success carving out a new one.

More recently, they announced that a new general manager had taken over, and started adding some jazz musicians back onto the schedule, but this whole ultralounge business would appear put an end to that. Is this latest attempt to cater to the trendy crowd a savvy business decision, or a desperation move? Time will tell, I suppose, but letting such a well-established business' longtime web address expire does not exactly inspire confidence that everything is well under control.

* In other semi-depressing news this week, Fair St. Louis this week announced what might very well be its whitest lineup of musical performers ever, and that's saying something. Headliners for the three-day Independence Day weekend festivities downtown will include country band Montgomery Gentry, pop-rock group Maroon 5, and 1970s hitmakers the Steve Miller Band, whose leader at least has some acquaintance with the blues.

Perhaps the Celebrate St. Louis shows (formerly Live on the Levee) yet to be announced will include some music that recognizes our city's actual cultural heritage, but given the questionable taste and abysmal past record of the organizers, yr. humble StLJN editor will not be holding his breath.

* Wondering how to get to Jazz at the Bistro, the Sheldon Concert Hall, and other Grand Center venues once the Grand Ave bridge closes for renovation next Monday? The St. Louis Beacon breaks down the alternate routes in an annotated map here.

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