Jeremy D. Goodwin | KBIA

Jeremy D. Goodwin

 

 

Jeremy D. Goodwin joined St. Louis Public Radio in spring of 2018 as a reporter covering arts & culture and co-host of the Cut & Paste podcast. He came to us from Boston and the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, where he covered the same beat as a full-time freelancer, contributing to The Boston Globe, WBUR 90.9 FM, The New York Times, NPR and lots of places that you probably haven’t heard of.

 

He’s also worked in publicity for the theater troupe Shakespeare & Company and Berkshire Museum. For a decade he joined some fellow Phish fans on the board of The Mockingbird Foundation, a charity that has raised over $1.5 million for music education causes and collectively written three books about the band. He’s also written an as-yet-unpublished novel about the physical power of language, haunted open mic nights with his experimental poetry and written and performed a comedic one-man-show that’s essentially a historical lecture about an event that never happened. He makes it a habit to take a major road trip of National Parks every couple of years.

 

It’s opening night for “Hip Hop Hamlet” and more than 200 women dressed in baggy, khaki-colored clothes have packed into the gymnasium at the women’s penitentiary in Vandalia, Missouri. They’re eager to watch fellow members of the prison population perform a beat-filled, rap adaptation of the Shakespeare text.

Shakespeare scholars say his work offers ways to get in touch with what makes a person fully human. For the women participating in this show, that plays out at a very basic level.

New Zealand-born conductor Gemma New is on a roll. She’s on the cover of the October issue of International Musician and will make her debut with New York Philharmonic in November. In St. Louis, she made history on two fronts in September when she led St. Louis Symphony’s opening-night concert. She was the first woman and the the first resident conductor to do so.

New, 31, spoke with Cut & Paste in Powell Hall after leading the orchestra through its first rehearsal for opening night.

The jazz world has lost a giant. World Saxophone Quartet founder Hamiet Bluiett died Thursday. He was 78.

A native of Brooklyn (Lovejoy), Illinois, Bluiett was an internationally admired innovator who frequently returned to the St. Louis region as a performer and educator. He was known as a master of the baritone saxophone.

His sound on the horn was unmistakable, said trumpeter George Sams, a friend for more than 50 years.

Famed Broadway lyricist and composer Stephen Sondheim dismissed complaints that white actors should not be cast to portray people of color.

He made his remarks as a guest on Thursday’s episode of St. Louis on the Air.

The issue is freshly in the news with the cancellation last month of a student production of the 1957 musical “West Side Story” after Latino cast members complained that the director cast white actors to portray key Puerto Rican characters.

Opening night at the symphony has a special buzz and a once-a-year chance for the orchestra's artistic leader to welcome back the musicians and the audience. If an orchestra happens to be between leaders, the occasion also offers a plum spot on the calendar to invite a guest-star conductor with a pedigree.

St. Louis Symphony Orchestra took a different route this year. With the seat of music director technically unfilled — French conductor Stéphane Denève takes over that job next season — the orchestra’s leadership turned to the rising star in its ranks.

Gemma New, 31, led the orchestra’s annual kickoff concert in Forest Park and then held onto the baton for opening night at Powell Hall. She made history on two fronts: as the first woman to lead SLSO’s opening night concert, and as the first resident conductor to do so.

Paul Crane was scouting sites for an assignment in a photography class in 2010 when he came upon an encampment of homeless people living in tents by the St. Louis riverfront, not far from the Four Seasons hotel. He befriended one of the leaders of the community, and soon set up his own tent there while he shot footage for a documentary film.

The result is “Living In Tents,” which became available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video in August and will be shown at the St. Louis International Film Festival in November.

The Regional Arts Commission envisions a more ambitious agenda for the St. Louis area’s cultural community. In a plan released late last week, the grant-making organization set out a series of priorities for the immediate future of the region’s arts scene.

Among the plan’s recommendations is that arts groups work with local organizations to help solve community problems. Arts groups can play a role with efforts to build affordable housing, improve public safety and other civic initiatives, RAC executive director Felicia Shaw said.

When the organizers of LouFest canceled the event, the news came as a shock to many, though signs of the festival’s distress had been apparent. The festival’s promoter, Listen Live Entertainment, insisted that everything was fine until the moment it pulled the plug.

The announcement identified several causes including the loss of key sponsors, debt and expected rain. Organizers insisted the festival had been on target “until a bit of unfortunately timed media coverage caused many of our vendors and artists to demand up-front payment.”

Updated Sept. 5 at 5:30 p.m. — Music fans, vendors and service providers startled by the cancellation of this weekend’s LouFest in Forest Park are shifting from disappointment to worry as they try to figure out how to recoup the cost of tickets, fees and other expenses.

Festival organizers early Wednesday called off the ninth annual event, three days before it was set to begin. Last year the two-day festival was at full capacity, drawing 32,000 fans each day.

Update: Sept. 5, 3 a.m. — LouFest 2018 is cancelled. Organizers officially cancelled the festival early Wednesday morning in a letter citing money troubles and a rainy forecast. Listen Live Entertainment says the ticketing company Front Gate Tickets will be responsible for refunds “while we work to repay our debts.” Visit our website for more coverage as we continue to cover this breaking story.  

Original Story - A week before the annual LouFest music festival in Forest Park, some contractors who were booked to provide essential services have begun pulling out.

Some local firms scheduled to handle stage lighting, sound and additional musical instruments have informed the event’s producer, Listen Live Entertainment, that they will not participate. The firm scheduled to remove trash said it will not be available if it does not receive an overdue deposit. Some cite persistently delayed payments from the promoter.

A new St. Louis hip-hop festival will go beyond the music and celebrate the culture that surrounds it, including art, film and dance.

The four-day series of events dubbed Hip Hop Week will coincide with Paint Louis, an annual gathering of hundreds of graffiti artists from around the world who will paint murals on the flood wall by South Wharf St. downtown.

“If I say Hip Hop Week, most people will think of it as: ‘Oh, it’s a music festival.’ And [they’re] not thinking of other elements of hip-hop — such as the fashion, such as the film, such as the culture of hip-hop,” said Dwight Carter, a local event promoter who is the festival’s creative director.

Nine arts groups in Missouri and Illinois will share $45,000 in grants announced Wednesday by Arts and Education Council, a nonprofit agency funded by private donations.

The money is split between two programs, each funded by Monsanto Fund. One offers general, organizational support to established arts organizations in rural areas; the other funds smaller groups planning new programs or events.

St. Louis native Daria Finley was focused on her career, working in the information technology department of the Department of Defense, when one day she woke up blind. She'd been diagnosed with glaucoma the year before, but her sudden onset of blindness was a shock for her and her doctors.

Finley used this life-changing experience as an opportunity to pursue things she had only daydreamed about doing before. They include modeling, acting in a short film and writing and performing a one-woman play about her experiences.

An after-school meal program in St. Louis county that feeds hungry children in public libraries is expanding.

St. Louis County Library and the nonprofit group Operation Food Search began the effort as a summer program in 2014. They expanded it in January 2018, serving 6,200 meals at three library branches between then and May.

A teenager from Democratic Republic of the Congo  finds himself on the other side of the world, starting a new life in St. Louis. A young Bosnian woman whose family fled their country when she was little more than a toddler now finds herself looking for ways to connect to her past.

Their stories, while shaped by the particulars of war and of history, are like single voices in a larger chorus: refugees who re-settled in the United States and now use music as a way to understand the past and make their way forward.

When actors in the play "Forget Me Not" take the stage tonight at the Grandel Theatre in St. Louis, they’ll have an important mission. They aim to raise awareness that African-Americans have a higher incidence of Alzheimer’s disease than whites, and to provide tips about how to recognize the symptoms of the brain disease.

Playwright Garrett Davis, who heads the North Carolina-based theater troupe Gdavis Productions, wrote the play — produced by African-Americans Against Alzheimer’s — as an educational aid. The group is part of the national advocacy organization Us Against Alzheimer’s.

A few years ago Shayba Muhammad started making jewelry for herself, and was inspired to start a business, Mahnal, to sell her work.

Now she wants to help other artists and artisans who would like to do the same. The Makers Program, which she started with help from a $10,000 prize from Arts and Education Council, will offer guidance to help participants navigate the business end of their craft.

Students at the University of Missouri-St. Louis will soon have access to a beefed-up jazz studies program due to a $1.3 million donation by the Steward Family Foundation.

Though the school currently has student ensembles and offers instrument instruction and related courses — including one on jazz improvisation — students will now be able to earn a degree in jazz studies from UMSL’s newly christened David and Thelma Steward Institute For Jazz Studies.

Married couple Danielle and Kevin McCoy are used to being treated differently based on the color of their skin — not only because they are each African-American, but because her skin tone is lighter than his.

“Dani being fairer-skinned, wavier-textured hair,” Kevin McCoy said, “and me darker, more coarse, as we say nappier hair — I was not the ‘safe’ black person.”

He said people they encounter, both “in the black community and outside of the black community,” appear comfortable with Danielle but view him as “aggresive.”

This led them to create the work in “Color-ism,” an exhibition that opens at the Gallery at the Kranzberg Arts Center on Friday and remains on view through Sept. 3. Put simply, colorism is the preference for lighter-colored skin, even within communities of color.

The Peabody Opera House has a new name.

For the next decade, the downtown St. Louis venue will be called Stifel Theatre.

Stifel Financial Corp. signed a 10-year agreement for naming rights at the 3,100-seat venue, which opened in 1934 as the Kiel Opera House.

The Regional Arts Commission will award $3.8 million in grants to 125 arts organizations in St. Louis, the organization announced Wednesday.

But a shift in the commission’s priorities means many established groups are now shut out. The commission, which receives a portion of the city’s occupancy tax on visitors to hotels and motels, will not fund 40 arts organizations that received RAC grants in 2017.

Tonina Saputo speaks several languages — both musically and otherwise. She’s not very far past the beginning of her career, but the diversity of her musical interests can already be heard in projects ranging from alternative R&B to Latin jazz.

The St. Louis-based vocalist, songwriter and bassist, who performs under her first name, has a global vision. “I really want to bridge the gap between American music — I put that in air quotes, because what is American music? — and world music. And what is world music?” she said. 

The boos launched by a group of protesters mid-show at the Muny two weeks ago are continuing to reverberate. Actors and directors of color in St. Louis say it’s time for theaters to stop casting white actors to portray people of color.

Owen Ragland is a musician on the move. In the last year, the 17-year-old pianist, producer and bandleader has played the LouFest in support of local artist Mvstermind, released a debut album plus follow-up EP and launched a monthly residency at the Dark Room

Some of the next items on his agenda include a performance with his quintet at this year’s LouFest and graduating from Webster Groves High School.

He spoke with Cut & Paste about his path to music, which he started at age 3 — and his efforts to fuse elements of jazz, hip-hop and electronic music into a style all his own.

St. Louis-based artist Damon Davis works in many forms, from visual art to hip hop records. His profile has grown steadily in recent years. He's now showing a deeply conceptual, richly realized exhibition at the Luminary, on Cherokee Street, that he calls the culmination of his years of art-making collaborations.

The show, called "Darker Gods in the Garden of the Low-Hanging Heavens," is built around a series of myths and fables Davis wrote, featuring black deities.

Updated on June 18 at 1:50 p.m. to include the Muny's written response — A group of theater artists visiting St. Louis for a professional conference staged a demonstration during the performance at the Muny on Friday night, objecting to what they described as offensive elements in “Jerome Robbins’ Broadway,” a revue of scenes from famous American musicals.

The group, which numbered about 15, booed in unison during an excerpt from the musical “The King and I.” Muny employees quickly led the protesters away and and ejected them from the venue.

Demonstrators objected to the portrayal of a character from Burma (now called Myanmar) by a white actress. They also decried other parts of the show as displaying inappropriate cultural appropriation.

The Muny is one step closer to extending its stay in Forest Park. The Board of Alderman’s Parks Committee voted 4-0 Thursday to extend the outdoor theater’s lease to 2071 and make other changes. The full board is expected to give final approval before its summer recess in mid-July.

The Muny’s lease with the city had been set to expire in 2031. The early extension will help the organization secure donors for its $100 million capital campaign,  Dennis Reagan, Muny president and CEO, told board members.

Directly behind the stage at the Muny on a recent morning, workers were hammering, sawing and welding together sets that will appear onstage this season, in some of the theater’s seven productions.

“As we’re performing one show at night we’re actually building two to three other shows during the day,” said Sean Smith, the operations director for the outdoor theater. “We’re finishing up sets for the opening on Monday but then we’re also looking at the next few shows, building for ‘The Wiz,’ which is coming up next.”

As it begins its 100th season this week, the Municipal Theater Association of St. Louis has one eye on the past. But it has another on the future, in the form of series of planned renovations due to be completed after this summer season and before the 2019 campaign.

Songwriter Benjamin Clementine calls himself a nomad, and with good reason. Born in London to Ghanaian parents, he left home as a teenager to live and play music on the streets of Paris.

His low profile changed dramatically when his debut album, “At Least for Now,” earned him an international following and won the Mercury Prize in 2015 for best album of the year by a British artist. He has since moved to the United States, where his travels inspired his latest album, “I Tell a Fly,” released last year. He’s on a U.S. tour to promote his new recording, and opens for David Byrne at Peabody Opera House on Friday.