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Thursday, June 9, 2005 09:44 pm

now playing 6-9-05

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The Bottle Rockets

The Bottle Rockets have a new bass player. And what’s so special about that, you ask? Well, the newest member of the critically acclaimed and fan-appreciated alt-country group from Festus, Mo., is Keith Voegele of Springfield. Mr. Voegele — or Stingray, as I like to call him — came our way from St. Louis in 1994 to play bass for They Came in Droves. He quickly became a fixture on the music scene, singing and playing with the Love Hogs, Black Magic Johnson, the Moonlight Rhythm Rangers, the Notorious Hired Hands, and Park. Last year his full-time band, the Phonocaptors, appeared on a St. Louis-produced Chuck Berry tribute CD (Brown Eyed Handsome Man, Undertow Records) along with the Bottle Rockets. The two groups used the same recording engineer for their selections, and, on the engineer’s recommendation, the Bottle Rockets contacted Jason Hutto of the Phonocaptors, looking for a bass player.

“Jason said he knew I’d get the gig if I auditioned and I shouldn’t pass it up,” says Voegele of his former bandmate. “We had worked hard on the Phonocaptors, but this was perfect for me.”

He quickly learned 13 Bottle Rocket tunes and was offered the job immediately after the May 9 audition.

The Bottle Rockets, with founding member Brian Henneman as the mainstay, have been around since 1992, when they sailed into the music world in the wake of alt-country band Uncle Tupelo. After years of ups and downs in show business, they recently hired a new manager and agent and re-signed with their former label, Bloodshot Records of Chicago.

Voegele’s first gig with his new group is at the Pageant, back in his hometown of St. Louis, on the final night of Twangfest, one of the most popular and respected Americana-music festivals in the country. Then it’s off to Europe for shows in England, Spain, Germany, and other exotic locales.

“Our last show of the tour, we play in Amsterdam with Lucinda Williams,” says an elated Voegele. “My wife, Heidi, is flying over for that show; then we’re going to spend a week and a half as tourists.”

Finally Voegele and his fellow Bottle Rockets will take off for an American tour in August and September and land in the recording studio by October.

Good luck, Stingray. We’ll miss you, and we wish you the very best.

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