The Volo Bogtrotters hit the ground running somewhere near Chicago in the mid-1980s. They quickly gained a reputation around the Midwest and across the country for their hard-driving, twin-fiddle renditions of songs and tunes collected from older musicians and rare 78 rpm recordings. Thirty-five years later, after picking up one more band member, that combination of drive, virtuosity, and authenticity remains as vital as ever.
So, come prepared for an evening of high energy old-time dance music, comic and sentimental songs from the era of 78 RPM records, and perhaps a few surprises from the Midwest’s premier old-time string band.
Steph Plant returns to the Focal Point to perform live and in person with a band! As a longtime member of the popular local folk duo “The Leonas” Steph has already made her mark on the StL music scene with her powerful vocals and captivating stage presence. Fans of Regina Spektor, Ani DiFranco, and Van Morrison will connect with her spirited and gutsy performance. Steph has been involved in the local scene for more than a decade, winning mentions in the Riverfront Times, appearing on local radio stations, and performing at esteemed venues such as The Sheldon Concert Hall. Now she embarks on sharing her new sound that stimulates the subconscious mind and deeply touches the spirit, bringing healing tones and soaring vocals, full of light and color and life.
While LAVENDER COUNTRY in 1973 was little known outside the Pacific Northwest and only released one self-distributed album, they created a genuine cultural milestone; the first openly gay country album. After sitting stagnant for four decades, indie label Paradise of Bachelors discovered the album, reissued it, and shot Lavender Country into the stratosphere. With a new rotating lineup of musicians, Patrick Haggerty began performing to a brand new generation of Lavender Country fans drawn to the band’s timeless message of queer liberation and revolution. Haggerty, now approaching age 77, is stronger than ever. His shows are a unique combination of good country music, sharp Marxist political critique, and a huge lineup of incredible backup musicians across the country. Poignant emotions leave his audience laughing, dancing, and crying all at once. The current emergence of fascism and the deep political divisions in American culture are making Lavender Country a critical component of progressive and radical politics. The St. Louis Lavender Country band will feature returning Focal Point performers Ryan Koenig and Jack Grelle.
Griffin Reed, Holly Laws, and Ashby Laws (also of Keltic Reign and the Laws Sisters) have been playing Irish music together since they were children attending St. Louis Irish Arts. After many years of competing and performing in Ireland and across America, in 2019, they formed the group Lore. Lore weaves together traditional Irish tunes and songs with contemporary arrangements and an American folk song tradition; more recently, they’ve also begun composing tunes of their own. Lore has played venues throughout St. Louis including Tigin, Pat Connolly’s Tavern, the Skinker-Debaliviere Porchfest, the Missouri River Irish Festival, and more.
Since 1971, Bob Bovee has traveled the country taking old-time music to audiences of all ages at festivals, fairs, coffeehouses, schools, libraries, and radio and TV prorgams. His performances feature rural music of an earlier era as played in homes, at dances, on live hillbilly radio shows and 78 RPM recordings.
Along with a repertory including dance tunes, ballads, cowboy songs, humorous and sentimental numbers, blues and rags, Bob spices up his shows with stories, history, and folklore of the western states. Bob sings [and yodels, too!] and accompanies himself on guitar, harmonica, banjo, and autoharp.
Diesel Island makes a triumphant return to Focal Point on Saturday, November 20th! The band performs American country music from the ’40’s through the ’80’s with an emphasis on ’70’s Outlaw country. Founded by Brian Henneman and Mark Ortmann of the Bottle Rockets, Diesel Island has been entertaining audiences throughout the St. Louis regions for going on 18 years now.
For this concert, band personnel will include Kip Loui, Richard Tralles, Mark Ortmann, Carl Pandolfi and Jon Ferber. C’mon down and bring your dancing shoes.
The Bottlesnakes are Ethan Leinwand on piano and Nick Pence on guitar. As a band they started out with a specialty in 20s and 30s blues from St. Louis and beyond. They would then grow to perform original music which is a unique combination of styles and influences that has been thoroughly crafted over the years. A true folk product of the current times and the St. Louis environment with a sound that is timeless and internationally accessible. We are happy and excited to have them back in our listening room!
Tom Hall has been undisputed occupant of first chair in every band hes played in, whether its the Geyer Street Sheiks, River City Rhythm, The Illusions, The Fighting Molly McGuires, or any of the others.
Of course, the respect he now enjoys didn’t just fall into his lap; in the thirty-plus years hes been a working professional, Tom’s paid his dues with interest, playing on street corners, festivals, bars, and concerts across the continent, Ireland and Europe. Tom’s playing has brought him acclaim from appearances on National Public Radios Good Evening America with Noah Adams to the stages he’s shared with The Neville Brothers, Count Basie, Lightin Hopkins, Albert King, Guy Clark, and many others.
Tom’s music was originally based on blues mentors Mississippi John Hurt, Robert Johnson, Blind Blake, and Rev. Gary Davis, to name only a few. He has since broadened his repertoire to include eclectic finger-style guitar, clawhammer banjo, and Irish tenor banjo alongside his mastery of resophonic guitar.
*Presented by Focal Point Friends of Old-time Music
**Presented by Focal Point Friends of Traditional Jazz, Blues & Ragtime