Building on metal

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Heavy metal music has been played in the nightclubs since the City of Roses Music Festival began seven years ago, but the festival this year gave the genre its own venue for the first time. Part of the reason is that some club owners don't want to be hosts to the defiantly loud heavy metal bands.

But the four Cape Girardeau heavy metal bands that played at the Wall of Fame Stage Friday night attracted the largest crowd early on the first night of the festival. Each had a slightly different take on heavy metal: Drivin Rain's affinity with bikers; the youthful exuberance of Frogsweat; the traditionalism of Tribal Dust; and finally Emaciation, which calls its music "black metal."

"It's super heavy," says lead singer Kirby Lee.

The seventh City of Roses Music Festival began with Jennifer Noble chirping heartfelt songs at the Courthouse Gazebo, Barry Bernhardt leading the 18-piece Southeast Missouri State University Studio Jazz Band through sweet Ellington and Pat Matheny tunes at the Main Stage on the river and Frogsweat insisting to be listened to two blocks away at the Wall of Fame Stage. Other bands played at eight different downtown clubs.

Friday's opening night of the festival drew a small early crowd -- perhaps 100 on the river and 200 at the Metalfest -- and a threat of severe thunderstorms. But the crowd traditionally grows with the lateness of the hour at the City of Roses Festival, and Cape Girardeau veteran bands Acme Blues and Mid-life Crisis were due to follow the university musicians.

The music resumes at 2 p.m. today and continues until 10 p.m. at the Courthouse Gazebo. Music begins at the Main Stage at 5:30 p.m.today with the art rock band Dead Musicians Society from Carbondale, Ill. Headliner Christopher Cross, best-known for the singles "Sailing," "Arthur's Theme" and "Ride Like the Wind," begins performing at the Main Stage at 7:30 p.m. He and his band will be followed by Dennis Stroughmatt and Creole Stomp.

This afternoon, a Battle of the Bands begins at Port Cape restaurant at noon. At the Wall of Fame Stage, the Regional Idol competition will begin at 2 p.m., the winner receiving an opportunity to try out for the "American Idol" TV show.

The contest will be followed by Nashville musician Brandon Giles at 5:30 p.m. and by the country band Neon Nights at 10 p.m.

Bands will begin playing at eight downtown nightclubs at 8 p.m., with a second shift of bands taking the stage at each club at 11 p.m.

Watching grandson

Susie and Leroy Hoosier of Dexter, Mo., were at the City of Roses Music Festival Friday night to see their grandson, Frogsweat lead guitarist Chase Wright, perform. While a group of heavy metal fans crowded around the stage, they stood at the back of the Metalfest roped area.

They were noncommittal about the music. "For the young group, it's great," Susie said. "I've heard him play other kinds of music."

Two Frogsweat members, David and J.J. Seabaugh, are brothers of Drivin Rain lead singer Timexx "Nasty" Seabaugh. Drivin Rain is the grandfather of the bands, having been around for 10 years. The group travels extensively and recently opened for the Steppenwolf and Head East, two longtime national acts, at biker rallies.

People are drawn to heavy metal because they're tired of pop music by the likes of Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears, Timexx Seabaugh said.

"It's kind of the roots rock 'n' roll of the old days," he said.

Kirby Lee says black metal crosses classical music and modern heavy metal. Many of Emaciation's songs have paranormal themes, but they are not satanic, said Lee, who is a radio disc jockey.

"They have positive lyrics," he said.

The music in the nightclubs ranged from singer-songwriter Dale Haskell at Buckner Brewing Co. to the moody noodlings of the four-piece band Otto Modest at Mollie's to hard driving Electric Shag at the Rude Dog Pub to the female vocalists in Little Sister belting out Alanis Morissette's "You Ought to Know" at Our House.

sblackwell@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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