A major music showcase

Friday, July 20, 2007

So you think rock musicians can't live in Southeast Missouri and make a name for themselves?

Well, you may be right, but not if Malcolm Springer has anything to say about it.

Faithful readers of this column may recognize Springer's name -- he's been mentioned briefly in this space on a couple of occasions. For those who don't know, here's a primer: Springer is a music industry insider (as in sound tech and producer) with quite a resume, having worked with big names like Matchbox Twenty, Faith Hill and Collective Soul.

But it's not just big music names Malcolm has worked with. He's from Southeast Missouri (Portageville, actually), where he still lives. As a Southeast Missouri guy, Malcolm seems to have a real pride in his home region, and he says he sees a wealth of talent here just waiting to be tapped.

So what is Malcolm doing about it? He's started his own recording company, AngelCrush Records, out of his home studio to produce some of that young talent. A quote from his MySpace page, when asked who he'd like to meet: "Unsigned bands or signed bands looking for a producer that kicks major tater!" There you are, folks.

Malcolm has already produced albums for at least a couple of local pop-rock outfits, The Matchbox-inspired Mika Evans Project and radio-friendly Promise To Burn. But obviously he's looking for more.

And you'll get a chance to see what he's up to, if you so please, on Aug. 4. at 55 North in Miner, Mo.

I may not be a fan of the kind of musicians Springer likes -- they're a little too mainstream for my taste. But that doesn't mean these groups aren't good, or that there aren't plenty of local music fans out there who think these guys and girls really have a nice future in music ahead of them.

The one Springer has the biggest praise for is a 20-year-old blond singer named Ashley Reed. Her act is simple -- acoustic guitar and vocals, something for you folks that aren't into the loud rock -- but Springer says she's the best singer he's ever heard. That's not light praise coming from a guy who's seen a lot of singers in his time. The best part is she's from right here in Cape Girardeau. Check her out on MySpace if you're interested.

Reed, PTB and Mika Evans are only a small part of the 10-act show that will start with the group November performing at 2:50 p.m. (doors open at 1 p.m.). Modern Day Zero will headline.

Other acts include Reform the Resistance, Catatonic, Finding Jimmy Hoffa, Nova Red and (intheclear).

Even if you've never heard of these names, I recommend you catch the show, your best chance to see some young local talent all in one place.

Keep in mind, though, not all these bands are local, and many of them are polished touring acts. It should be fun.

And you can bet these bands are going to be at their best. They'd better, if what Springer's telling me is the truth. The whole point of this Aug. 4 showcase is for Springer to show off some of the talent he's recruited for his AngelCrush Records label -- a label he wants to turn into a major without being bought up and folded into a major label.

"It's not really a battle of the bands, but it is," Springer says.

Springer tells me representatives from Atlantic, Warner Brothers and Republic will all be on hand to check out the talent. So will investors Springer is courting to get his label up to major status.

"All of us are getting together to have a big old bash," Springer said. And the more people there to take part in the bash the better, he says.

We almost lost Springer -- just a couple of months ago he was considering a move to Nashville. But since then he's changed his mind, deciding he'll keep his home there in Portageville and try to do some great recordings without having to leave (though he'll probably have to mix his records in St. Louis, he said).

So if you're a music fan, please check out this show and see what's happening right here in Southeast Missouri. The chance doesn't come along every day.

If you're not interested, maybe you will be in another show coming up at 55 North, David Allen Coe. The raunchy troubadour is playing the venue Aug. 17. And owner Josh Gowan said there are more shows on the way (like a showcase of current Americana touring acts).

Right now there's no venue around that can get those acts that can't sell out arenas but that are too big for bars, other than 55 North, that is. As a live music fan, I couldn't ask for anything more.

"We're going to do big shows every couple of months," Gowan tells me. "I made this place to be a live band venue."

I'll keep you informed about all the shows coming up there, but Gowan said as long as it's not screamo or gangsta rap, you can see it at his place.

Thanks, Josh.

Matt Sanders is the Arts & Leisure editor for the Southeast Missourian.

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