Kip Loui Lets His Songs Take The Spotlight

 In Culture

Over the past three decades, Kip Loui has been a key member of some of St. Louis’ most interesting and eclectic bands. Loui’s first band, the Heebie Jeebies, formed in 1990 and was influenced by new wave and pub rock. A few years later, he started the roots rock-oriented Stone Cutters; the group soon changed names to Belle Starr and released three fine albums over a strong 10-year run.

Photo by Marc Chechik

Photo by Marc Chechik

Loui then moved on to form the acclaimed alt-country band Rockhouse Ramblers before changing direction a few years later with a move to pop-rock with the Transmitters.

But the common denominator across all these musical genres was always Loui’s skill and craftsmanship as a songwriter. All these bands focused on original music, and Loui wrote almost all the tunes.

Now Loui is showcasing his songwriting talent with his first effort as a leader: “The Hill Recordings.” With a CD release concert set for the Focal Point Saturday, July 9, Loui sat down at a Webster Groves coffeehouse last week to talk about how what started as demo recordings back in 2012 turned into what already sounds like one of the best releases of 2016 by a St. Louis artist.

In your liner notes to the new CD, you mention the songs were originally meant to be demos.
My wife, JJ, and I were expecting our first child in a few months, and frankly, being a father at age 49 was a shock to the system! I was trying to think of ways to make extra money, and I thought maybe I could finally get serious about song-publishing and get something going in Nashville with some song demos. So I called up Dave Torretta, who has a recording studio on the Hill and recorded all the Belle Starr albums. He carved out some recording time and I got Mark Spenser, Richard Trailes and Spenser Marquart to come in and play.

The recording sessions were back in 2012. Now you’ve decided to release them as a recording. Why?
Life became pretty hectic once our son, Max, was born. I finally got around to pulling out those demos and listening to them again last year, and I really, really liked it. The music sounded spontaneous and not overthought. Every part was in its place. It was definitely a “less is more approach,” and I like that vibe a lot. So JJ added harmonica and harmony vocals, and that was it. That’s why I’m releasing it under my solo name. It’s not my opus, but I think it’s a nice collection.

Knowing in advance this was meant to be demos, I still think it just sounds organic and complete. It just feels right.
Thanks! It seems everything that gets released now is so hyped and there’s so much niche marketing and social media around it. I’m just trying to quietly release this and not lose some the organic nature of the music.

What can we expect to hear at the Focal Point concert July 9th?
I got all the players on the record together again including Mark, who’s driving in from New York City. He’s a world-class touring musician, and he’s played with Son Volt, Laura Cantrell and Lisa Loeb.

For the first set we’ll recreate the album. Then for the second set, Brian Henneman of the Bottle Rockets is coming up to join us. Who knows what we might play; some of my other songs, some of my wife’s songs, and maybe we’ll end with some epic Neil Young jam!



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