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The Go! List: 41 things we love about St. Louis right now

The Go! List: 41 things we love about St. Louis right now

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As with a lot of other things, the Go! List is back this year — our ninth — after a bit of a pandemic break. It’s a chance for our writers and critics to highlight what’s great about St. Louis. There’s a lot to love, but here are a few dozen people, places and things we’re eager to celebrate right now.

By Daniel Durchholz, Ian Froeb, Gabe Hartwig, Jane Henderson, Kevin C. Johnson, Colleen Schrappen, Valerie Schremp Hahn and Calvin Wilson

🎭 ARTS, CULTURE

Pulitzer Arts prepares Spring Church shell for public use

The Pulitzer Arts Foundation renovated the shell of a historic church at 620 Spring Avenue that burned in 2001. The structure, now fortified and illuminated, is known as Spring Church.

Favorite artistic ‘ruin’

Spring Church • Although a fire took the Gothic Revival-style church’s roof, its limestone walls remained. Now, the “Spring Church” (620 North Spring Avenue) near the Pulitzer Arts Foundation still looks like a ruin, but one that won’t injure those who love to use it as a place for photos or to have a quiet lunch. The Pulitzer shored up the walls, added electricity and landscaped the Spring Avenue site so art installations or community gatherings can still use the lovely remains. (pulitzerarts.org) JH

Most St. Louis example of ‘the show must go on’

The Muny • The Muny’s first full season since 2019 was not without its own challenges. With COVID still a concern, the outdoor theater in Forest Park relied heavily on understudies and swings to keep the shows going. Then came record-breaking rainfall in the early hours of July 26, after the opening night performance of “Legally Blonde,” causing what president and CEO Kwofe Coleman called “shocking damage.” Workers spent the day drying out the soaked backlot, orchestra pit, rehearsal spaces, offices and other affected areas of the recently renovated campus. Performances resumed July 27, with restaging and other alterations because of damaged equipment. Indeed, there’s no people like show people. (muny.org) GH

Banned Books

Some of the books that have been challenged in school districts in the St. Louis area

Favorite beleaguered librarians

Wentzville school librariansSchool librarians, especially those in Wentzville School District’s high schools, have been struggling this year as conservative activists have made their lives miserable with unnecessary book challenges. A lawsuit by the ACLU and negative press helped restore “The Bluest Eye” to library shelves early this year, but now Wentzville librarians are under threat of arrest if they offer sexually explicit graphic novels to students. That they haven’t quit their jobs is a small triumph. JH

Best ‘let’s put on a show’ book lovers

Missouri Book Festival • Starting a new book festival takes a lot of work — and maybe some new ideas. For organizers of the Missouri Book Festival in Washington, Missouri, that meant adding wrestling, a soap box derby, circus performers and a cooking monk. Giving readers, especially young ones, a little something extra with their book festival may indeed be the key to keeping it going next year. (missouribookfestival.com) JH

"Much Ado About Nothing"

Claire Karpen (left) and Stanton Nash in the 2022 St. Louis Shakespeare Festival production of "Much Ado About Nothing" in Forest Park stars 

Event that most beautifully demonstrates audience open-mindedness

St. Louis Shakespeare Festival in Forest ParkAmong the best things about summer is the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, which showcases one of the Bard’s many works in an outdoor setting. It’s a good bet that some folks in the audience are unfamiliar with the play and are perhaps intimidated by the dialogue, which at times may be hard to understand. But those who turn out for these theatrical gems consistently demonstrate the kind of open-mindedness and patience that’s all too rare these days. (stlshakes.org) CW

Anna Maria von Phul

An oil portrait of Anna Maria von Phul by Matthew Harris Jouett

Best little-known female artist from the past

Anna Maria von PhulAnna Maria von Phul drew and painted scenes of St. Louis life, including its mounds and Creole residents, in the early 19th century. She wasn’t a professional, although she’d had art training. The Missouri Historical Society holds most of her known work, and it is not only showing reproductions in its museum, but it also produced an award-winning book, “More Than Ordinary,” about von Phul. Curator Hattie Felton won a gold medal in “Best Regional Nonfiction” from the Independent Publisher Book Awards. JH

Zoo Story

Joel Moses (left) and William Roth in the 2021 St. Louis Actors' Studio production of "The Zoo Story" 

Best place to see nonmusical plays

Gaslight Theater • Sure, the stage is small, and if the cast is large enough, the possibility that an actor might fall off it does come to mind. But on the plus side, there’s not a bad seat in this theater that’s home to St. Louis Actors’ Studio. And the plays on display, by writers from Lillian Hellman to Harold Pinter to frequent collaborator Neil LaBute, range from the fearlessly provocative to the downright hilarious. (358 North Boyle Avenue; gaslighttheater.net) CW

Best library service during a pandemic

St. Louis County Library • Many libraries valiantly offered curbside service for book borrowers and worked hard to help patrons during the pandemic. But the St. Louis County Library also distributed more than 2 million drive-thru meals, provided emergency diapers and period supply kits, and issued thousands of Chromebooks and Wi-Fi hot spots to help students learn virtually. Their work with community organizations for these and other efforts meant the library was one of only six U.S. winners this year of a National Medal for Museum and Library Service. (slcl.org) JH

Most promising new theater company

Moonstone Theatre Company • In any theater scene, there’s always room for fresh voices. And with the Moonstone Theatre Company, artistic director Sharon Hunter is well on the way to becoming an essential player. The company has already demonstrated impressive range with first-rate productions of Neil Simon’s “Jake’s Women” and David Auburn’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Proof.” (moonstonetheatrecompany.com) CW

Interpretive panels installed next to statue of Thomas Jefferson at Missouri History Museum

Missouri History Museum employees Nicole D'Orazio (left) Matt Speckhard (center) and Thomas Sleet install interpretive panels April 26, 2022, at the base of a statue of Thomas Jefferson.

Best effort to re-address the past

Missouri History Museum’s Jefferson Memorial • It didn’t give Thomas Jefferson the boot, but the Missouri History Museum this year added interpretive panels around its huge lobby statue of the third president, grappling with his controversial life and work. The museum, which after all has the Founding Father’s name engraved on its building, reinterprets the man’s slaveholding past and the Louisiana Purchase. (5700 Lindell Boulevard, Forest Park; mohistory.org) JH

Beyond Van Gogh in St.Louis

Visitors watch the swirling projections of "Beyond Van Gogh" on Oct. 1, 2021, inside a tent on the St. Louis Galleria parking lot.

Most immersive artistic experience in a shopping mall parking lot

“Beyond Van Gogh” • Vincent Van Gogh died 132 years ago. But his giant white tent that went up in October 2021 on the St. Louis Galleria parking lot? Immortal. Well, not really — it’s gone now, but for months, it stood proud as the home of the immersive “Beyond Van Gogh” exhibition. Visitors couldn’t get enough, and organizers say 250,000 spectators paid to walk among the swirling, morphing floor-to-ceiling projections of starry nights, sunflowers and the artist’s face. The exhibition was extended a few times, and the tent — branded by organizers as the Starry Night Pavilion — finally came down in late May. Meanwhile, another tent will go up Sept. 22-Oct. 2 for the Cirque Italia Water Circus. An immersive exhibition of Claude Monet’s work is expected to come to a tent next, though dates haven’t been set. (1155 Galleria Parkway, Richmond Heights) VSH

The Missouri History Museum's 'Coloring STL'

Lisa Kimble of St. Louis colors a portion of a house in the interactive "Coloring STL" exhibition Aug. 20, 2022, at the Missouri History Museum.

Best new place to self-soothe

“Coloring STL” • The adult coloring craze arrived well before the pandemic, and undoubtedly many of us dusted off our old coloring books while we stayed inside. The newest exhibition at the Missouri History Museum, “Coloring STL,” takes the soothing activity to a new level. St. Louis artist Rori! created line drawings of more than 50 local buildings and structures, which the museum crew installed on dry-erase walls that wrap the 6,000-square-foot exhibition. Hundreds of dry-erase markers are on hand so you can add your own pop of color to everything from the Fox Theatre and the Cathedral Basilica to water towers and Gilded Age mansions. On coloring breaks, visitors can check out interactive displays about local architecture and the people who created it. (5700 Lindell Boulevard, Forest Park; mohistory.org/exhibits) VSH

Missouri Botanical Garden set to open new visitor center

Inlaid terrazzo floors at the Jack C. Taylor Visitor Center at the Missouri Botanical Garden 

Coolest design feature that we want to DIY at home

Floor at Jack C. Taylor Visitor Center, Missouri Botanical Garden • Inside the new Jack C. Taylor Visitor Center at the Missouri Botanical Garden, you might first look up and notice the 50-foot-tall “lantern” that filters dappled light into the vast hall. But look down to see another work of art: about 24,000 square feet of terrazzo flooring. Missouri Terrazzo, based on the Hill, worked with the garden and architect Ayers Saint Gross to create the dazzling floor. Designers looked at garden specimens before creating 800 brass leaves that represent 20 different native Missouri woodland trees. Each leaf was placed on the floor by hand, along with slices of Missouri cobblestones. Artisans took several weeks to plan, lay out and place the floor in layers before grinding it and polishing to a shine. Another 4,000-square-foot design is planned for the event center next door, which will be finished soon. (4344 Shaw Boulevard; mobot.org) VSH

⚜️ AROUND TOWN

Steinberg Monday skate

Lex Christian (right) skates in her dinosaur costume as T-Lex on June 7, 2021, at Steinberg Skating Rink in Forest Park. 

Most potentially transformative facelift

Steinberg Reimagined • Ice skaters have frequented Forest Park’s outdoor rink for more than half a century, but no one has quite known what to do with the oval expanse in the off-season: Sand volleyball has been tried, along with shuffleboard and Rollerblading. In August, the nonprofit Forest Park Forever joined with the city parks department to present a plan to buff up winter programming to include curling and ice-car bumping and add warm-weather options like roller skating, concerts and movie nights. At an open house (4-7 p.m. Oct. 8), Steinberg Rink will show off a sampling of potential programs and activities and gather feedback from the public. (400 Jefferson Drive, Forest Park; steinbergrink.com) CS

Big Muddy Adventures

Big Muddy Adventures leads canoe and kayak excursions with a focus on the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. 

Most cardio-friendly way to view the Gateway Arch

Paddling on a Big Muddy AdventureClimb into a canoe with other intrepid explorers and let Big Muddy Adventure guides navigate your vessel along the mighty Mississippi. The outdoor outfitter schedules excursions from hourlong “micro” trips to overnight campouts. But its signature expedition, the Full Moon Float, includes a river island stop-off, dinner next to a campfire and a return trip that paddles past St. Louis’ famous inverted catenary, glinting under the moonlight. If you’re not quite ready to make like Huck Finn, though, kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddleboards are available for rent at the Forest Park Boathouse and Simpson Park Lake in Valley Park. (4662 Washington Boulevard; 2muddy.com) CS

Fans enjoy concerts Saturday at World Wide Technology Raceway

Nelly performs June 4, 2022, as part of the Confluence Festival at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison. 

‘Rising from the ashes’ award

World Wide Technology Raceway • Sign that I’m getting old: As a Post-Dispatch intern in 1997, I wrote about the Gateway International Raceway when it first opened in Madison. In the 25 years since, the raceway had its day and then its downfall, almost going to scrap before Curtis Francois bought it about a decade ago and renamed it World Wide Technology Raceway. In June, about 57,000 spectators showed up for the NASCAR Cup Series Enjoy Illinois 300 and the new Confluence Festival, a mix of music by Nelly and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, along with fast cars and trucks. Organizers aim to make it an annual event. Francois has invested about $50 million in the raceway and plans to put another $50 million toward improvements in the coming years. (700 Raceway Boulevard, Madison; wwtraceway.com) VSH

Most pie-in-the-sky animal welfare dreamers

St. Louis Zoo WildCare Park • The renderings were pretty compelling: visitors standing at railings feeding giraffes, a safari truck driving past white rhinos and elands, and brave occupants of an 11-story observation tower marveling at the vista below. After years of searching for land, the St. Louis Zoo in 2018 bought a 425-acre property in the Spanish Lake area for its WildCare Park. The dream finally made the drawing board, yet the projected 2027 opening seems eons away. Zoo officials hope the park will be an economic boon for the area, and they also hope to help save many species of endangered animals who will live there. Our selfish side hopes we can hop aboard a safari truck sooner. (12385 Larimore Road; stlzoo.org/about/wildcare-park) VSH

Best place for people who are intimidated by buying plants to buy plants

Flyleaf Succulent & Tropical PlantsOn the fourth Saturday of every month, the Flyleaf pop-up garden center takes over Watson Terrace Christian Church (4205 Watson Road) in the Lindenwood Park neighborhood with thousands of plants. Waxy-leaved hoyas and rosette-shaped echeveria crowd tables alongside string-of-pearls and burro’s tails. Not sure what those names mean, much less what they need to grow? Perennially patient Flyleaf owner Andrew King, a longtime landscape designer, will walk you through all the plant-care steps: water, sun and soil. He’ll even help you pot your new little housemate. (flyleaf.market) CS

Bar K, a combination bar, restaurant and dog park, has something for everyone

Laura Perez of Clayton and Julian Mena of South City sit under an umbrella with 2-year-old Zoe at Bar K in the Forest Park South East neighborhood of St. Louis on July 16, 2022. 

Best place for a puppy play date — puppy not required

Bar K • Dog parks are nice, but what are we humans supposed to do while our furry friends burn energy? Bar K, just south of the Grove, combines a huge indoor-outdoor dog park with bars, drink stands, food, private event space, grooming and boarding facilities, and more. Dogs can play “soccer” on an AstroTurf pitch sponsored by St. Louis City SC. The weekly calendar includes live music, trivia nights and adoption events. If you’re hesitant to turn your dog loose, you can rest assured that employees roaming the grounds will make sure everyone is on their best behavior. (4565 McRee Avenue; barkdogbar.com) GH

Revelers march and dance to the Ancient Order of Hibernians St. Patrick's Day Parade

The Ancient Order of Hibernians St. Patrick's Day Parade heads south on Tamm Avenue on March 17, 2022, in Dogtown.

Mightiest Irish comeback

St. Patrick’s Day parades • In March 2020, the reality of the pandemic hit with the cancellation of every local St. Patrick’s Day parade — Dogtown, downtown, Belleville, all of it. It certainly wasn’t easy being green. In 2021, celebrations returned, but they were drastically scaled down. This year, the Irish took to the streets with fuller force: Traditional parades returned in Dogtown, downtown, Belleville and Pacific, a parade and festival in Defiance came back for a second year, and St. Charles and Florissant added parades and celebrations. Fighting Irish, indeed. VSH

Boldest check

Sautron Chess Club in France • You can’t help but nod in acknowledgement at the photos from across the pond: a giant king chess piece, standing tall on the lawn of the Sautron Chess Club in France. The club boasts the piece is 6.3 meters (about 20 feet 8 inches tall) — an impressive height. That is, until the World Chess Hall of Fame (4652 Maryland Avenue) in St. Louis reminds you that its giant king is 20 feet tall, certified by Guinness World Records in 2018 as the world’s tallest. Certification can be a long process, so St. Louis players will claim the title until told otherwise. Besides, they’ll probably have to call in a crane to lay down the giant king. (worldchesshof.org) VSH

Fair Saint Louis returns to downtown

Beth Heinen and her 9-year-old son, Finnegan, enjoy music July 3, 2022, at Fair St. Louis at Kiener Plaza. 

Favorite festival relocation

Fair St. Louis • I’ll admit I groaned when organizers announced that Fair St. Louis would move in 2022 from Gateway Arch National Park to Kiener Plaza. July Fourth under the Arch is a St. Louis tradition! Well, except for two pandemic years. And those four years the fair moved to Forest Park during Arch renovations. Actually, maybe we can deal with change after all. This year’s relocation opened up the festival footprint and made its attractions more accessible, with stages and vendors arranged throughout Kiener Plaza and along the surrounding streets. No pushing through crowds on narrow sidewalks or schlepping up and down all those riverfront steps. And nearby Ballpark Village allowed for even more entertainment options. GH

🍕 FOOD, DRINKS

Wally's gas station and food

Sarah Rice greets customer Vince Vanwalleghen of Jerseyville on June 16, 2022, at Wally's in Fenton.

Best place to get gas with your food

Wally’s • What is Wally’s? The simple answer is a gas station with a larger-than-usual convenience store — QuikTrip on a cocktail of anabolic steroids and human growth hormone, if you like. But once you walk inside Wally’s and see the vintage camper parked inside the retail shop packed with Wally’s souvenirs and vacation conveniences (oh, damn, you did leave your cast-iron pan at home), which itself accounts for about a third of Wally’s interior footprint, you know description fails the experience. In the central food court, you can order a slice of pizza or a whole pie; a brisket sandwich and a pulled pork sandwich, too; a bag of popcorn and some truly excellent beef jerky. Don’t forget to fill up your tank while you’re there. (950 Assembly Parkway, Fenton; wallys.com) IF

Shorty's Smokehouse

A brisket platter at Shorty's Smokehouse in Waterloo

Favorite dining road trip

Waterloo • Waterloo is a roughly half-hour drive from downtown St. Louis but repays a trek from there or even farther afield with some of the best barbecue and pizza in the metro area. You’ll find the barbecue at Shorty’s Smokehouse (121 South Main Street, Waterloo; shortyssmokehouse.com), where business partners Anthony Hassler and Brandon Bauza are serving the region’s best Texas-style brisket as well as exceptional ribs, pulled pork and turkey. (Seriously, don’t sleep on that turkey.) For pizza, head around the corner from Shorty’s to Pie Hard Pizzeria (122 West Mill Street, Waterloo; piehardpizza.com), the brick-and-mortar home of Michael and Megan Pastor’s now-retired food truck. The pizza is wood-fired, not exactly Neapolitan and excellent whether you favor straightforward pepperoni pies or more creative toppings. IF

Best brewpub-in-a-park

Rockwell Beer GardenTechnically, Rockwell Brewing Co. is not making its beer in Francis Park, but the 15-barrel brewery expanded from its flagship pub in the Grove to the heart of St. Louis Hills last October. The spacious patio catches a nice breeze even on the hottest summer nights, and the people-watching opportunities are vast: pickleball matches, playground high jinks and a parade of dogs. The dress code is casual, the pizza is hot and the beer cold. And every other Thursday, you can peruse a farmers market, sponsored by Rockwell, to pick up fresh produce, handmade jam and locally harvested honey. (5300 Donovan Avenue; rockwellbeer.com) CS

City Foundry Food Hall: Poptimism

From left: Danielle, Jude and Evelyn McKay of Kirkwood enjoy ice pops from Poptimism on Aug. 11, 2021, opening day of the Food Hall at City Foundry. 

Project that not only lived up to but exceeded expectations

Food Hall at City Foundry • What did I expect when the Food Hall at City Foundry opened in August 2021? The project boasted admirable ambitions, but also the sort of delays and vendor reshuffling that can spell trouble. What I found was a success pretty much from day one, thanks to such appealing kitchens as Chez Ali, Buenos Aires Cafe, Sub Division Sandwich Co., Kalbi Taco Shack and Poptimism. Since then, the lineup has expanded and grown even more impressive, welcoming Chicken Scratch, Sureste, Fordo’s Killer Pizza and 4 Hens Creole Kitchen, among others. A year later, if I feel any disappointment when I visit the Food Hall, it’s knowing the physical footprint will eventually be filled, and there will be no more sensational new ventures to discover. (3730 Foundry Way; cityfoundrystl.com/food-hall) IF

The London Tea Room

Oliver Sweeley, 10, sips his spearmint lavender tea Jan. 27, 2022, at the London Tea Room. He saved enough money to treat his mother, Anna, to a special day.

Most affordable way to feel like you’re in England

The London Tea Room • Eager to toast the new king but can’t afford the overseas airfare and highway-robbery hotel prices? Anglophiles need look no further than the quaint shop opened by owner Jackie James’ emigre parents in 2007, where a bite of a homemade currant scone is best washed down with a spot of Naughty Vicar tea. The Tower Grove South location is closing Oct. 9, but we’re chuffed to tell you the London Tea Room is reopening the following weekend at 1900 Locust Street in a building four times its old size, just a block and a half away from the new football (what you Yanks call soccer) stadium in downtown west. Cheers! (3128 Morganford Road; thelondonteamerchant.com) CS

Jalea brings Peruvian food to Historic St. Charles Main Street

Samantha and Andrew Cisneros, siblings and co-owners of Jalea

Breakout chef of the year

Andrew Cisneros, Jalea • When Andrew Cisneros opened Jalea in December, he boasted the sort of resume that demands attention. He had cooked at Ben Poremba’s Elaia, Mike Randolph’s Privado and Dia’s Room, the tasting-menu restaurant within a restaurant at Gerard Craft’s Cinder House. His debut restaurant is more casual than those restaurants, but the cooking is no less delicious. Drawing on his Peruvian heritage, Cisneros serves deeply flavored versions of lomo saltado — the version I ate used rib-eye as the steak and substituted fingerling potatoes cooked confit-style in beef fat for the traditional french fries — and the fried-seafood plate from which Jalea takes its name. The signature dish is ceviche, painterly in its presentation, thrilling in its interplay of seafood, leche de tigre marinade and garnishes. (323 North Main Street, St. Charles; 314-303-1044) IF

The Kitchen Food Review

Sisters Mary Nguyen (left) and Kristin Liu, co-owners of the Kitchen in Florissant

Most fitting tribute to a family restaurant legacy

The Kitchen • Sisters Mary Nguyen and Kristin Liu grew up in the restaurant business. Their parents opened Chinese Gourmet Restaurant in Florissant after immigrating to the United States from Vietnam. Their mother, Tram Nguyen, knew customers by name or by order, and she operated Chinese Gourmet until she retired in 2017; she also opened Bamboo Bistro downtown. Tram Nguyen died in 2020. Her daughters decided to reinvent the former Chinese Gourmet Restaurant space into the Kitchen, featuring their mother’s recipes (and her longtime chef, Tony Le) and even some of her plants among the decor. The Vietnamese, Chinese and Thai fare is appealing across the board, from fragrant pho to the area’s best version of that familiar favorite, General Tso’s chicken. (14065 New Halls Ferry Road, Florissant; 314-831-9292) IF

🎤 MUSIC, CONCERTS

Nikki Glaser throws out fist pitch

Nikki Glaser talks to fans April 28, 2022, before throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at the Cardinals-Diamondbacks game at Busch Stadium. 

Funniest St. Louis homecoming

Nikki GlaserMoving back into her parents’ Des Peres home early in the pandemic ultimately proved to provide the biggest boost of comedian Nikki Glaser’s career. Since returning home (she has her own place now, in the Central West End), Glaser has hosted two seasons of the HBO Max dating series “FBoy Island”; starred in her own HBO stand-up special, “Good Clean Filth”; starred with her charming family in “Welcome Home Nikki Glaser?,” an E! reality series; hosted “Jimmy Kimmel Live” multiple times; and started her successful “Nikki Glaser Podcast” with pal and former roommate Andrew Collin. She also threw out the first pitch at a Cardinals game and received a mayoral proclamation in her honor. Glaser clearly should have moved back to St. Louis sooner. KCJ

Most welcome (if overdue) return to live performance

New Music Circle • After going two years without live performances — its 2020 season was wiped out by COVID, and (better safe than sorry) last year’s concerts were recorded and made available for streaming — New Music Circle is returning to normal, in-person programming. Of course, “normal” is not a word usually associated with NMC, whose challenging, experimental and sometimes purposefully outré concerts often defy expectations and sometimes even description. This is nothing new, of course. The 2022-23 season is the organization’s 64th. Look for its concerts at various venues including Joe’s Café, Off Broadway, the Schlafly Tap Room and others. Welcome back at last! DD

Most anticipated album anniversaries

The Urge, Chingy • The St. Louis rock and hip-hop acts, respectively, have key album anniversaries on the way. The Urge’s “Master of Styles” (with “Jump Right In”) turns 25 on April 21; Chingy’s hit debut, “Jackpot,” turns 20 on July 15. It’s not too late to plan those album anniversary concerts. KCJ

Alexis Tucci

DJ Alexis Tucci

Most overdue acclaim for St. Louis music artists

Female DJs • DJ’ing has always been a male-dominated field, but we’re saluting the women making marks in St. Louis. Among them are Alexis Tucci, whose spinning on the worldwide gay party circuit led to an online profile by NBC’s “Today,” and budding, bubbly DJ Nico Marie, the hottest rising turntablist on the St. Louis scene. And we can’t forget super-solid names including DJ Agile One, Makeda Kravitz and Rico Steez. Tucci can be heard at the high-fantasy costume rave Faeded, Oct. 1 at Crack Fox with Maxi Glamour, 18andCounting, Rico Steez and Saylor. Catch Nico Marie on Sept. 24 at Rhythm & Brunch at the Marquee; Park Jam with the Soulition on Sept. 24 at Strauss Park; Procure STL on Sept. 25 at City Foundry; and Sage with Makeda Kravitz on Sept. 30 at Sophie’s Artist Lounge. KCJ

Most anticipated renovation

Powell HallAnnounced in March, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra’s planned $100 million renovation of Powell Hall won’t break ground until next year and likely won’t be completed until 2025. But it’s hard not to get excited about the plans that will greatly expand the venue, providing better access, facilities and opportunities for the SLSO, which — as one of the finest orchestras in the land — deserves it. And its patrons could certainly do with more leg room in the seats, more elevators and restrooms, better ADA accessibility and a better overall experience. The plans aren’t expected to affect any of the 2022-23 season’s concerts. DD

First day of Music at the Intersection festival

Murphy Lee and Kyjuan perform Sept. 10, 2022, on the Washington Avenue Stage at Music at the Intersection. 

Best reason to leave the house the second weekend in September

Music at the Intersection • We can’t stop talking about Music at the Intersection — and do we have to? The event returned this month for a second year (though we barely count the first year), with all kinds of national and St. Louis headliners on four stages. True, the majority of the shows failed to run on schedule for a variety of reasons. But it’s the multigenre music festival St Louis needs now. (musicattheintersection.org) KCJ

Dave Grelle's Playadors at City Foundry STL

Emily Wallace performs with Dave Grelle's Playadors on May 28, 2021, at City Foundry.

Sweetest St. Louis sounds

Emily Wallace • Fresh off a couple of Music at the Intersection sets — with Adam Maness and as part of the Allen Toussaint tribute — singer-songwriter Emily Wallace released “My Little Girl” this month on Blue Lotus Recording, with the likelihood of more to come. Wallace, a consistent favorite on the St. Louis music scene who is also one half of Sleepy Rubies, will remain busy. She’s also been working on duets with St. Louis soul man Roland Johnson, and there’s a Johnson single coming in October with Wallace and River Kittens on background vocals. KCJ

NandoSTL at City Foundry STL

NandoSTL performs May 21, 2021, at City Foundry. 

Best come-up after coming in second

NandoSTL • Hip-hop artist NandoSTL has been one to watch ever since he released his “Bamboo” EP, featuring “Outside,” in 2020. Since then, the Wells Fargo corporate worker by day and rapper at night has appeared on stages regularly, including at Music at the Intersection, STL Fest, and an opening slot for Talib Kweli. This year, the St. Louis artist entered T-Pain’s national hip-hop competition, riding it all the way to the finals, where he was runner-up. Though he came in second, he maintained a connection with T-Pain, who is involved with NandoSTL’s upcoming album, “Year of the Ape,” to be released Oct. 13, his grandmother’s birthday. (nandostl.com) KCJ

They’re virtuosos — it’s time you know so

St. Louis Classical Guitar • Unlike some of rock’s famed shredders, you won’t find the guitarists hosted by St. Louis Classical Guitar on some of the city’s biggest stages, but rather in the friendly confines of the 560 Music Center and the Sheldon. That’s not for lack of talent on the guitarists’ part, however. Indeed, the artists populating this season’s schedule are all six-string virtuosos more than worthy of the kind of attention their amped-up brothers and sisters command. Upcoming programs feature the likes of Duo Noire, Jason Vieux, the Salzburg Guitar Trio and David Russell. (stlclassicalguitar.org) DD

Biggest new steps into the big time

Kam “Balenciaga” Saunders • We can’t keep our eyes off dancer and choreographer Kam “Balenciaga” Saunders. Working under the motto “bigger and better,” it seems, the St. Louis native went from being a teaching assistant and rehearsal director at COCA to being onstage at the BET Awards and MTV Video Music Awards, where he danced for Lizzo and rapper Saucy Santana, respectively. We expect much more from Saunders, who is clearly on his way, and on his way to a city near you. He’s booked to tour with Santana, who is opening for Lizzo. Saunders also has a new Princess Grace Award win for choreography under his belt. KCJ

NUP_197168_00815.JPG

From left: Andy Cohen, Dionne Warwick and Chris Redd on March 13, 2022, on "Watch What Happens Live" 

Most anticipated comedy special

Chris Redd • Funny guy Chris Redd — who sadly won’t return for a sixth season at “Saturday Night Live” — spent his earliest years in the St. Louis area before moving with his family to Chicago. But he never forgot his time here. When it was time for Redd to film his first stand-up special, “Why Am I Like This?” for HBO Max, he chose to do it in St. Louis. He recently filmed two back-to-back shows over one night at the Grandel, where laughter definitely ensued. We’re eager to see what his post-”SNL” future holds. KCJ

Isley Brothers at J. Scheidegger Center for the Arts

Ronald (left) and Ernie Isley of the Isley Brothers perform Feb. 15, 2020, at the J. Scheidegger Center for the Arts in St. Charles.

Best proof that classics never go away

The Isley Brothers • You have to go back to 2017 for the last Isley Brothers album, the underappreciated “Power of Peace” with Santana — not exactly an eternity, especially for a legacy act that has been around as long as this one. Sept. 30, the Isley Brothers (who have lived in the St. Louis area for a long time) will release “Make Me Say It Again, Girl.” The album leads off with the Beyoncé duet bearing the album’s title (a remake of an Isley Brothers classic), which is beyond exciting. Coming out of the gate like that implies the album could be full of all sorts of surprises. KCJ

Editor's note: This has been updated to include the correct address for the new London Tea Room location.

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