KDHX Live Performance Review: San Fermin, 5/14/15

San Fermin is an infectious eight-piece baroque pop ensemble that grabs your attention with its charm, talent and storytelling abilities.

Lead by classically trained musician and Yale graduate Ellis Ludwig-Leone, the band includes vocalists Allen Tate and Charlene Kaye, trumpeter John Brandon, saxophonist Stephen Chen, violinist Rebekah Durham, guitarist Tyler McDiarmid and drummer Michael Hanf.

San Fermin’s sound could easily be part of a film score with the sweet usage of their over-the-top style for a dramatic scene. Seemingly influenced by a wide variety of music genres, the band’s gift to weave emotive stories with melodies that are appealing is a great feat. What began as a vision for Ludwig-Leone in Brooklyn in 2012 is now a full-on touring act that has opened for the National, the Arctic Monkeys and St. Vincent. Ludwig-Leone is still surprised by the octet’s success: “There were all these new possibilities and gray areas. It was a shock to the system–out in the world, barely at home, constantly in a state of semi-crisis.” San Fermin released their self-titled debut in September 2013 via Downtown Records.

Stopping by KDHX studios for a live performance of 3 tracks from their new album “Jackrabbit,” it’s hard not to be reeled in by the elaborate and vibrant arrangements of a group that is still growing, still learning and still inspiring.

Album Review – Kenny Lattimore: Anatomy of a Love Song

Kenny Lattimore's Anatomy of a Love Song

Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter Kenny Lattimore shares his heart on his fifth solo album, Anatomy of a Love Song. Lead single “Love Me Back” is already number 16 on Billboard’s Adult R&B airplay charts.

According to Lattimore, the album “is about all of the components that make up a great love song.” With 14 tracks expanding every realm of love from courtship to falling and staying in love, to getting back to love, Anatomy of a Love Songwill touch listeners with its sweet and kind ways. The music can be reminiscent of great artists like Marvin Gaye and Donny Hathaway with its relevancy and smoothness yet it remains current in sound and style.

Featured artists on the album include: singers Lalah Hathaway, Kelly Price and Shanice, as well as Christian rapper Da T.R.U.T.H. Favorite tracks are: “You’re My Girl,” “Blood, Sweat & Tears,” “Back 2 Cool,” “Find a Way” and Look of Love.”

Event review: Music and entertainment abound at KDHX’s Midwest Mayhem 2015 at City Museum, Thursday, May 7

The Provels
The Provels

Because of the whimsical feel of the City Museum, it was the perfect spot for Midwest Mayhem 2015 and a great place to indulge your inner kid, listen to an array of local acts and dance like nobody’s watching.

With a backdrop of abnormally high slides, indoor caves, a beetle display and a plethora of large-scale sculptures, the first band to hit the third-floor stage was the Provels, a soulful and funky five-piece crew that blended instrumental grooves with a hard-hitting rock-inspired aura. They performed a sweet number called “Hex” that got the small crowd grooving. The instrumental “Cookie Mouth” was another great track to enjoy.

The timing between acts was perfect because you could catch a band for half an hour, stop and get a drink and move onto the next artist to see — thus creating your own live music playlist of soul, funk and R&B, or classic rock, folk and New Orleans brass beats.

Generally, I don’t get spooked easily, but “The Silhouette Man,” a live statue and magician donned in all black from head to toe standing by one of the drink stations, changed all of that. Walking around with my bestie I saw him: not thinking he was real I decided to get super close, and then he jumps at me. Scared the beer right out of my hands.

With a nice size crowd already forming by the Skate Park Stage area, we caught KDHX’s DJ Needles spinning classic hip-hop, soul and R&B. There were actual skate ramps surrounding us. However, the Feed, a bluesy, rock and soul trio caught my attention on the same floor. They were fun; had great energy. But upon re-entering the room where Needles was on deck, there was now a swarm of people. Why? Van Ella Productions’ Show-Me Burlesque show was about to begin. Watching the combination of strip tease, variety theatre and mischief, the audience of guys and gals cheered the ladies on.

As I am a new transplant to the city, until recently, I was unaware roller-skating was a hobby for many black kids in St. Louis and East St. Louis in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. As someone who has loved skating since she was eight-years old, I was most excited to see the STL Rollers, a roller-skating crew that performed later in the night. As they did spins and kicks, weaving and crossing and bending their legs to the tunes of soul and hip-hop music, I knew I wanted a pair of roller skates by the end of their set. DJ G-Wiz provided the soundtrack to an amazing show.

Closing out the night was the Funky Butt Brass Band, a New Orleans-style brass outfit that reminded me of summers with my family in Louisiana, where everyone is smiling and laughing and having a sweet old time — which I’m sure was the goal of the event. Can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2016.

May is National Pet Month in the U.S.

Nick and I at Queeny Park, St. Louis, MO.
Nick and me relaxing at Queeny Park, St. Louis, MO.

National Pet Month is a way to promote responsible pet ownership. It started in England over 20 years ago. While it is celebrated in April in the UK, in the U.S. we honor our pets in May. Whether you adopt, rescue or foster a pet, it is really about helping a homeless pet find a forever home.

So this month is essentially about celebrating the benefits that pets bring to our lives. Nick, my four-year old dachshund mix, goes most everywhere with me. We go to the park (a lot) together, we’ve gone on short hikes together; I bake organic dog treats for him and sweet treats for me. To increase his social skills, he attends doggie daycare a few times a week. He’s gone with me on road trips, as well as to local festivals. We take naps together. Bringing him along not only keeps me active, but makes him a more well-rounded dog.

Here are a few ways to help and promote responsible pet ownership:

Adopt: Consider adopting through your local humane society or rescue group. If going through a breeder, ensure that it is a reputable source.

Donate: Be it donating your time, resources, skills or supplies, every little bit helps.

Educate: Pet homelessness is an ongoing social issue. The more we understand the more we can help. Follow rescue organizations on social media, share articles, write letters to your local paper and volunteer at adoption events in your community. Even better, if you know of animal in need of a forever home, share a photo of the cat or dog on your social media profiles. We can all help.

Train: Do you have skills with teaching your dog to sit, stay, lie down or fetch? Share your knowledge with a rescue group or shelter. Dogs that know basic commands are more adoptable.

Foster: Temporarily foster a pet until the right home is found. It’s a short-term commitment but it’s a great way to give back.

Volunteer: Most shelters are volunteer-operated. Giving a few hours a month during adoption events can help immensely with organizing and more.

Promote Responsible Pet Ownership

Most important is to understand the health needs of your dog or cat. Diet and exercise should be a big concern. Are they eating right? Getting enough exercise? Are they bored? Due for a vet visit? All are important questions to ask and answer when deciding to care for an animal.