2014 Fall Music Guide

By Daniel Durchholz • SPECIAL TO THE LIGHT

It seems like the summer concert season has been filled with screaming teens and tweens — not onstage, mind you, but rather in the audience. Recent weeks have brought Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry and One Direction to town. Allowances, scheduled bedtimes and eardrums have been stretched to the max.

Now, can the adults have a little fun? Please?

Yes they can. The St. Louis scene boasts lots of great sounds for the fall, for all ages, really. What follows is a list of the highlights of the fall music season, starting with a few shows of special note.

The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra featuring Wynton Marsalis, Oct. 3 at Jazz at the Bistro: This show marks the grand re-opening of Jazz at the Bistro in its new, greatly expanded space in Grand Center. Who better to headline the opening show than Marsalis, who is likely the planet’s most famous jazz musician, and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.  

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Anat Cohen at The Sheldon

Merle Haggard, Oct. 7 at River City Casino & Hotel and Willie Nelson & Family, Oct. 10 at Lindenwood University’s J. Scheidegger Center for the Arts: If you haven’t seen the greatest country music artists alive, it’s certainly not their fault. Willie and the Hag are almost always on tour, and both are still very near the top of their game. 

Rosanne Cash, Nov. 20 at the Sheldon Concert Hall: She could have had a career simply for having been born the daughter of country music immortal Johnny Cash, but she has earned her place among the top echelon of folk and country acts with albums like her excellent recent release “The River & the Thread.”

The Black Keys with St. Vincent, Dec. 9 at Scottrade Center: The blues-rock sound of the Black Keys seems to be everywhere these days, while the engaging art-rock of St. Vincent sounds like it should be. These are two of the hottest acts on the road right now.   

Pokey LaFarge’s Central Time Tour, Sept. 12 at Old Rock House: St. Louis’ own Pokey LaFarge has had an immense year, including tours overseas and an appearance on “Late Show with David Letterman.” Consider this show a well-deserved victory lap at home.

Looking beyond those standout shows, St. Louis has its usual slate of festivals this fall, and once again, Loufest (Sept. 6-7) leads the way. Promising to be bigger and better once again, this year’s outing will include more than three dozen bands performing on four stages. The headliners are Outkast, back after a long hiatus, and English alt-rockers Arctic Monkeys. Other notable acts include Cake, Grouplove, Matt & Kim, The 1975, Portugal, The Man, Future Islands, and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue and many, many others. Once again, Loufest will be held at Forest Park’s Central Field. (loufest.com) 

The Big Muddy Blues Festival (Aug. 30-31) boasts 30 bands on three stages on Laclede’s Landing. National acts include Guitar Shorty, Samantha Fish, Tinsley Ellis and Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials, plus a host of St. Louis blues artists. (bigmuddybluesfestival.com)

Though it’s mostly about food and drink, the annual Taste of St. Louis (Sept. 19-21) always boasts a feast for the ears as well. In its new digs at Chesterfield Amphitheater this year, Taste’s musical menu includes Big Head Todd & the Monsters and St. Louis’ own The Urge. (tastestl.com) 

For more outdoor fun, look to Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, where there are a few more shows before the season wraps up. Appalling comments by Gene Simmons in the wake of Robin Williams’ suicide probably haven’t done the box office for the Kiss/Def Leppard double bill (Aug. 29) any good, but if you’re still a fan of Kiss, you’ve probably tuned Gene out by now. Other Verizon shows include the Zac Brown Band (Sept. 12) and the Point Big Summer Show featuring Bastille, J. Roddy Walston & the Business, Switchfoot, Bear Hands, Capital Cities, Royal Blood, Meg Myers and OK Go (Sept. 21). (livenation.com)

Chesterfield Amphitheater hosts the Eco Music Festival featuring Spyro Gyra and Mindi Abair (Aug. 30) and a pair of tribute shows; Thunderhead: The Rush Experience (Sept. 13) and Celebration Day: A Tribute to Led Zeppelin (Sept. 27). (chesterfieldamphitheater.com)

A short road trip away, Liberty Bank Alton Amphitheater, meanwhile, features the Gambler himself, Kenny Rogers, (Sept. 6), and River Jam 2014, with the Elvin Bishop Band, Wishbone Ash, Savoy Brown featuring Kim Simmonds, and Point Blank (Sept. 13). (riverfrontamphitheater.com)

Moving indoors to arenas, the big shows at Scottrade Center this fall include chart-topping country act Eric Church (Sept. 13), who gets credit for bringing along the venerable Dwight Yoakam for an opening act. Pearl Jam (Oct. 3) is also on the Scottrade calendar. (scottradecenter.com) 

Chaifetz Arena hosts an R&B bill featuring Joe, Case, KeKe Wyatt, Donell Jones, and Kelly Price (Aug. 31) as well as A Day to Remember with Bring Me the Horizon, Chiodos, and Motionless in White (Sept. 17) and country artist Brantley Gilbert with Aaron Lewis (Oct. 17). (thechaifetzarena.com)

It’s tribute time at The Family Arena in St. Charles, with Australian Pink Floyd (Oct. 4), Rocket Ride: A Tribute to KISS and Ace Frehley (Oct. 10), the very real Dennis DeYoung, paying tribute to his former band with The Music of Styx (Oct. 18); and 4 & 20: A Tribute to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (Nov. 20). (familyarena.com) 

The concert calendars of the area’s theaters are full-to-bursting with great sounds from across the musical spectrum. At The Fabulous Fox, young music fans will flock to see Austin Mahone with Fifth Harmony, Shawn Mendes, and Alex Angelo (Sept. 25), while, if they’d care to, a more, ahem, mature audience can scream at Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band (Oct. 3). Hey, he was a Beatle. Also on the Fox’s schedule are the Piano Guys (Oct. 18), and blues guitar great Joe Bonamassa (Nov.15). (fabulousfox.com)

At the Peabody Opera House, you’ll find perennially laid-back superstar Jason Mraz (Oct. 16), alt-country hero Ryan Adams (Oct. 19), jam band Widespread Panic (Oct. 21), and the supremely weird Primus (Nov. 5). (peabodyoperahouse.com) 

The Sheldon Concert Hall has outdone itself once again with an host of incredible offerings, including traditional country duo the Secret Sisters (Sept. 11), singer/songwriter Sarah Jarosz (Sept. 26), country great Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives (Oct. 3), African music greats Hugh Masekela and Vusi Mahlasela (Oct. 4), jazz titan Chick Corea (Oct. 11), and a celebration of 250 Years of St. Louis Music, with Denise Thimes, Peter Martin, Kim Massie, Billy Peek, and Alarm Will Sound and more (Oct. 17). Also at the Sheldon, you’ll find Willie Watson (Oct. 20), the Wailin’ Jennys (Nov. 7), and Bucky Pizzarelli, Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniolo (Nov. 15). (sheldonconcerthall.org)

Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center calendar includes singer/songwriter extraordinaire John Prine (Sept. 26), a cappella group Pentatonix (Oct. 4), English indie rocker David Gray (Oct. 17) and world music acts Kaissa (Oct. 17) and Jussit (Nov. 9). (touhill.org)

The Wildey Theatre in Edwardsville has a mix of tribute bands and classic rock and folk acts, including Hotel California: The Original Eagles Tribute (Sept. 12), Firefall (Sept. 26), The Brothers: A Tribute to the Allman Brothers Band (Sept. 27), Al Stewart (Oct. 3), Rare Earth (Oct. 17), Leo Kottke (Oct. 24), and Stone in Love: A Tribute to Journey (Oct. 25). (wildeytheatre.com)

Finally Lindenwood University’s J. Scheidegger Center for the Arts presents Willie Nelson. (luboxoffice.com) 

With some of the top touring acts commanding big bucks for tickets at large venues, club shows remain a good value, and St. Louis’ club scene has as much to offer this fall as ever. So much, in fact, that we can’t list all of the scheduled dates here. Go to the individual club sites for more listings.

The Pageant continues to be lauded by Pollstar and other industry sources as one of the top venues in America – indeed, the world. Among their offerings for the season are Boston ska-core band the Mighty Mighty Bosstones (Sept. 12), South African rave-rappers Die Antwoord (Sept. 16), singer/songwriter Samuel Beam, aka Iron & Wine (Sept. 17), punk-rock survivors Social Distortion (Sept. 18), the recently returned Spoon (Sept. 20), teen idols all grown up Jordan Knight and Nick Carter (Sept. 21), punks Rise Against (Sept. 23), soul thrush Chrisette Michele, British girl group Little Mix (Sept. 26), reunited nu-metalists Limp Bizkit (Sept. 30); Jewish Light favorite Matisyahu (Oct. 1), guitar great Robin Trower (Oct. 4) and, celebrating their 40th anniversary, the always bad-to-the-bone George Thorogood & the Destroyers (Oct. 8). Pageant shows of note further into the fall include d.i.y. singer/songwriter Ani DiFranco (Oct. 25), Canadian pop collective the New Pornographers (Nov. 10), and the Mavericks (Nov. 23), who have been challenging country music’s boundaries for as long as Taylor Swift has been alive. (thepageant.com) 

The Old Rock House schedule sports bluegrass acts the Steeldrivers (Sept. 6) and Sam Bush (Sept. 11), blues belter Janiva Magness (Sept. 17), Bob Mould Band (Sept. 19), led by the former Husker Dü and Sugar frontman; folk/pop singer/songwriter Brett Dennen Brett Dennen (Sept. 29), blues trio the Wood Brothers (Oct. 5), erstwhile heartthrob Aaron Carter (Oct. 14), a brace of indie rockers including Carbon Leaf (Oct. 20), David Bazan (Oct. 21), My Brightest Diamond (Nov. 19), and Stars (Nov. 18). Finally, expect plenty of guitar fireworks from the Adrian Belew Power Trio (Nov. 21). (oldrockhouse.com) 

Among the many shows scheduled at Off Broadway, you’ll find the reunited Breeders (Sept. 2), the great singer/songwriter Tom Russell (Sept. 6), Pujol – no, not THAT guy – (Sept. 12), singer/songwriter Mary Gauthier (Sept. 19), Tower of Song, a KDHX benefit paying tribute to Leonard Cohen (Sept. 20), noted low-fi pioneers Sebadoh (Sept. 23), hometown favorites Jon Hardy and the Public and Middle Class Fasioni (Sept. 26-27), soul shouters Barrence Whitfield and the Savages (Oct. 4), Dinosaur Jr. founder J Mascis (Oct. 5), indie poppers Lucius, old-time string band the Carolina Chocolate Drops (Oct. 19), Springfield, Missouri, favorites Ha Ha Tonka (Nov. 28), and the Pride of Festus, the Bottle Rockets (Nov. 29). (offbroadwaystl.com) 

A solid fall lineup at Blueberry Hill’s Duck Room includes Chuck Berry (Sept. 17), frequent visitors Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers (Sept. 18), the Fixx (Sept. 21) and Living Colour (Sept. 24), both holdovers from the Golden Age of MTV; Il Sogno del Marinaio with Mike Watt (Oct. 1), Mike Doughty (Oct. 3), the Meat Puppets (Oct. 21), and Rocco DeLuca (Oct. 23). (blueberryhill.com) 

Some heavier sounds can be found at Pop’s, notably Insane Clown Posse (Oct. 28), GWAR (minus frontman Dave Brockie (aka Oderus Urungus) who passed away recently (Oct. 29), Carcass (Nov. 2), Manowar (Nov. 14), an St. Louis’s own Fragile Porcelain Mice (Nov. 27). (popsrocks.com)

Other club shows of note include Sharon Van Etten (Oct. 15) at The Luminary (theluminaryarts.com); Joyce Manor (Sept. 5), Shabazz Palaces (Sept. 19), An Undercover Weekend 8 (Sept. 26-27), Pomplamoose – you’ve seen their totes adorbs videos – (Oct. 4), The Rural Alberta Advantage (Oct. 12), and Shonen Knife (Oct. 18) at The Firebird (firebirdstl.com); Sham 69 (Sept. 22) at Plush (plushstl.com); Noise Fest XI (Oct. 24-26) at Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center (lemp-arts.org); the Ponce Brothers (Sept. 6), Ryan Dishen (Sept. 9), and Nick Bafano & the Innocents (Sept. 11) at Cicero’s (ciceros-stl.com); Eric Lindell and the Sunliners (Sept. 3), Futurebirds (Sept. 13), Corb Lund (Spetember 14), and Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band (Oct. 10) at The Gramophone (thegramophonelive.com); Lee Fields & the Expressions (Sept. 20), a DJ set by Rob Garza of Thievery Corporation (Sept. 26), and Marco Benevento (Nov. 9) at 2720 Cherokee (2720cherokee.com). 

The future of two promising new(ish) clubs, The Demo and The Ready Room, remains in question while noise complaints by residential neighbors play out, with the clubs’ liquor licenses (and their very future) hanging in the balance. Shows booked into those venues have been moved elsewhere or canceled outright. Keep an eye on thedemostl.com and thereadyroom.com for updates.

At one time, St. Louis’ casinos offered decent odds that your entertainment dollars could be well spent on live music by national touring acts. That has changed considerably in the last few years, and the only player with a substantial fall music schedule posted is River City Casino & Hotel. In addition to the Merle Haggard date above, River City will host .38 Special (Sept. 18), former Foreigner frontman Lou Gramm (Oct. 10), country stalwarts the Oak Ridge Boys (Oct. 17), Wynonna [Judd] and the Big Noise (Nov. 7), America (Nov. 14), and the Charlie Daniels Band (Nov. 21). (rivercity.com) 

For more specialized sounds, you can find full lineups of blues acts – local, regional, and national – at BB’s Jazz, Blues and Soups (bbsjazzbluessoups.com), Broadway Oyster Bar (broadwayoysterbar.com), Beale on Broadway (bealeonbroadway.com), and Blues City Deli (bluescitydeli.com).

The Focal Point has a crowded schedule of folk shows. Among them are Foggy Memory Boys (Sept. 5), Dutch Schultz and friends (Sept. 6), Dave Gans (Sept. 7), HanaLena (Sept. 12), The Skirtlifters (Sept. 13), Michael Jonathan (Sept. 19), Jake’s Leg with Auset Music Project (Sept. 26), Leroy Pierson (Sept. 27), Sarah McQuaid (Oct. 3), Eric Lambert (Oct. 4), Finnegan’s Wake (Oct. 10), Brian McNeil (Oct. 11), Amy Lord (Oct. 18), Sins of the Pioneers (Oct. 25), and David Davis & the Warrior River Boys (Oct. 31). (thefocalpoint.org)

In addition to the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra show mentioned above, and with its new, refurbished digs, Jazz at the Bistro seems poised for one of its best seasons ever. Look for appearances by Kirkwood-born saxophone great David Sanborn (Oct. 8-11), Phil Dunlap Quintet (Oct. 17-18), John Pizzarelli Quartet (Oct. 22-25), Jesse Gannon Truth (Oct. 31-Nov. 1), Joshua Redman Trio with Reuben Rogers & Gregory Hutchinson (Nov. 5-8), Tia Fuller, Sean Jones & Warren Wolf (Nov. 14-15), Jeff Coffin & the Mu’tet (Nov. 19-22), trumpeter Jeremy Davenport, another hometown product, (Nov. 28-29), Joey DeFrancesco Trio (Dec. 3-6), and Joe Sample (Dec. 17-20). (jazzstl.org)

Happy listening!