Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Don't Come On Up To The House: Tom Waits and St. Louis

Tom Waits has emerged from his Northern California pod to announce a brief tour of the South and Midwest, in true I'm-cooler-than-you fashion. "We need to go to Tennessee to pick up some fireworks, and someone owes me money in Kentucky," Waits said in a press release. The brief tour will stop in Atlanta, Asheville, Memphis, Nashville, Louisville, Chicago, Detroit, and Akron (Akron?). So for those of you keeping score at home, that's eight cities, three of which end in "ville." Somehow I doubt that's a complete coincidence.

Too bad someone doesn't owe him a Buick carburetor in St. Louis. A Waits tour is a rare thing indeed, and it looks like Chicago or one of the Tennessee shows will be the closest Waits comes to St. Louis. Which in itself is not a surprise. St. Louis is not exactly a hot stop destination for artists with a, um, scattered, devoted following. St. Louis is primarily a radio airplay tour stop, with the occassional non-radio-friendly musician making an appearance at either the Pageant, Duck Room, Mississippi Nights, or one of the other smaller venues (Elvis Costello, Lucinda Williams, and Vic Chesnutt have all made stops in St. Louis in the recent past).

But St. Louis is first and foremost a Top 40 And Aging Rock Dinosaurs city, especially in the summer. It's a city where current hot ticket acts go to get a bump in sales and where aging musical icons brush off their dusty corpses and give it one last fling. This summer's concert list reads like a musical sh-tstorm nightmare, with Kelly Clarkson, Def Leppard, Journey, Sammy Hagar, and Earth, Wind, and Fire all bringing their particular brand of torture to the city this summer. There is some relief though, with yet another Built To Spill show at Mississippi Nights and a truly rare Silver Jews show at the Duck Room at the end of July.

But Tom Waits in St. Louis would have been the true keeper. Granted, the show would have probably attracted the usual crowd who talks during the entire concert, drinks Vodka laced with Red Bull, and leaves during the encore. But for the concert-starved fans in St. Louis who aren't thrilled with the mainstream music scene (and there are many), a Waits show would have been quite a memory.

My brother and I once vowed that if and when Waits toured, we'd take vacation time from work and hit the road, one last wild musical ride before we grew old and possibly grew up. Waits was one of the few artists we swore we would see in concert at some point, at any cost. But we knew it would most likely not happen. We both now have too many commitments, bills, and, gasp, steady employment, with responsibilities.

Today at the gym my iPod seemed to be mocking me. Every fifth song on Shuffle mode was a Tom Waits song. "Come On Up To the House," "Gun Street Girl," "Tom Traubert's Blues," and "Black Market Baby." On and on and on.

And then it hit me. "In Moberly, Missouri/at the Iroquois hotel/She checked in with the President/and ran up quite a Bill." If a city like Akron can score a Waits tour, certainly a city that was mentioned in a Tom Waits song could. Get me the Moberly City Government on line 1 and Tom Waits' publicist on line 2. Forget Tennessee. I hear the Iroquois is great this time of year.

I'll bring the fireworks. And the carburetor.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You couldn't drive from St. Louis to Chicago to see him? I know people who bought tickets today who are elated to get to see Tom Waits, even if they have to drive halfway across the country for it.

Dude, Tom Waits doesn't come to you. You go to Tom Waits.