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Left Bank Books

BookFest St. Louis publishes schedule/seeks volunteers

Nicki's Central West End Guide Books, Dance, Music, Theater Events, Sightings For Children  Sonali Dev Mary Engelbreit Left Bank Books Joshilyn Jackson James Brandon Elizabeth McCracken Daniel Wiseman CWE North Community Improvement District BookFest St. Louis 2019 Aaron Coleman   Organizers of 2019’s BookFest St. Louis—the staffs of CWE North Community Improvement District and Left Bank Books —have just released the exciting line-up of authors for next weekend’s 3rd annual book lovers’ event in the Central West End. Be sure to check the list out. There’s a lot packed into Saturday, September 21.

If you have a couple of hours to spare, there is need for a few more volunteers (sign up info, where to pick up your BookFest tee, etc, here).

Authors include two-time National Book Award nominee Elizabeth McCracken, St. Louis-based fan favorite Mary Engelbreit, LGBTQ+ activist and artist James Brandon, poet and Fulbright Scholar Aaron Coleman, children’s book author Daniel Wiseman, acclaimed Bollywood-style romance writer Sonali Dev, and NY Times best selling author Joshilyn Jackson.

Left Bank Books at Euclid and McPherson is action central, though authors will be appearing in a variety of nearby locations. Those include the McPherson Tent, above, The Vino Gallery, Mahler Ballroom (where Friday night’s Whitmania will be presented by the St. Louis Poetry Center), Schlafly Library, TechArtista Co-Working Environment (4818 Washington), and 510 N. Euclid (between Evangeline’s and Cocina Latina).

Nicki's Central West End Guide Books, Dance, Music, Theater Events, Sightings For Children  Sonali Dev Mary Engelbreit Left Bank Books Joshilyn Jackson James Brandon Elizabeth McCracken Daniel Wiseman CWE North Community Improvement District BookFest St. Louis 2019 Aaron Coleman

Left Bank Books’ Kris Kleindienst above right, is shown introducing two of last year’s authors, Sarah Kendzior and Michael Isikoff. Kleindienst will be in conversation with Mary Engelbreit next Saturday starting at 2 p.m. under the McPherson Tent. Nicki's Central West End Guide Books, Dance, Music, Theater Events, Sightings For Children  Sonali Dev Mary Engelbreit Left Bank Books Joshilyn Jackson James Brandon Elizabeth McCracken Daniel Wiseman CWE North Community Improvement District BookFest St. Louis 2019 Aaron Coleman

The intersection of McPherson and Euclid will be closed east of Euclid to Walton, and at Euclid just north of McPherson to the parking lot. That area is designated as the Festival Zone.Nicki's Central West End Guide Books, Dance, Music, Theater Events, Sightings For Children  Sonali Dev Mary Engelbreit Left Bank Books Joshilyn Jackson James Brandon Elizabeth McCracken Daniel Wiseman CWE North Community Improvement District BookFest St. Louis 2019 Aaron Coleman

There will be live music, and an assortment of vendors and organizations in attendance. A list those participating can be found here.

Don’t miss BookFest St. Louis which starts on Friday evening September 20 with a poetry event at The Mahler Ballroom. Saturday’s events begin at 10:30 a.m. at Schlafly Library with the appearance of children’s book author Daniel Wiseman. The day ends with St. Louis Youth Slam Team Champs scheduled for 7 p.m. under the McPherson Tent.

You’ll love meeting the authors and hearing them interact with each other during panel discussions. In the last couple of years, BookFest St. Louis has gone from being an unknown quantity to recognized among nationally-known authors and their publishers as the place to be.

What’s new in the commercial district

It’s been a while since I’ve assembled information about shop and restaurant news in the neighborhood. There have been occasional comments on the nextdoor website that the neighborhood seems to have lots of vacancies. Yes some shop windows have been covered in brown paper, but that doesn’t mean nobody’s home. In fact, there is lots going on. Here’s the good news:

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Food and Drink Shop News  The Vino Gallery Salt & Smoke Left Bank Books East and West Cocina Latina Bluemercury

For instance, The Vino Gallery closed last Friday, August 9th, for “a mini-makeover” that included a few repairs, some fresh paint, and a little rebranding. Proprietor Alex Head also mentioned that they will be adding small plates to pair with their stellar selection of wines. The new art on a post at the entry is a sign of what’s to come. There is a soft opening tonight, but the big reveal is in full bloom tomorrow, Saturday the 17th, starting at 1 p.m.

The Vino Gallery, 4901 McPherson.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Food and Drink Shop News  The Vino Gallery Salt & Smoke Left Bank Books East and West Cocina Latina Bluemercury

East•West. at 387 N. Euclid closed in July for some renovations and rebranding after the business sold to Roy Brady, a customer of the original owner, Brian Simpson. Simpson opened the upscale men’s clothing and furnishings shop in August 2016.

Brady said that as he and Simpson chatted during his visits to the store to shop, they discovered that each was looking for a change in career. Brady wound up purchasing the business. Simpson remains in the background as an advisor.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Food and Drink Shop News  The Vino Gallery Salt & Smoke Left Bank Books East and West Cocina Latina Bluemercury

Owning a shop is quite a switch for Brady, right, who moved back to St. Louis from California and was working with his sister Nora at Blueprint Coffee. Brady said that the transition was seamless, thanks to Trevor Kirkland, left, who had worked for the previous owner.

Brady will be adding more brands over the next couple of months but said he envisions East•West. as much more than a clothing store. He is bringing local designers and makers into the merchandise mix and wants the shop to be a welcoming space for the community, hosting events to attract an eclectic group of people.

The event aspect got off to a great start when the shop reopened earlier this month. A former St. Louisan brought his line of clothing called Huey Lewis USA from LA for the celebration. A Huey Lewis USA design is featured on the mannequin above.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Food and Drink Shop News  The Vino Gallery Salt & Smoke Left Bank Books East and West Cocina Latina Bluemercury

East•West. stocks home goods too, including Boda Clay  pottery created by Brady’s girlfriend, Molly Svoboda. Prices for spoon rests, mugs, bowls and colanders range from $18 to $54.

Branding for the shop, including a new logo and website design, is by CWE-based Visitor Assembly.

East•West. , 387 N. Euclid, Tues.-Sat. 11 to 7, Sun. 12 to 5

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Food and Drink Shop News  The Vino Gallery Salt & Smoke Left Bank Books East and West Cocina Latina Bluemercury

After months of speculation regarding who would succeed Coffee Cartel in the prime corner location at Euclid & Maryland, construction has begun in preparation for a fall opening of bluemercury, a national make-up and skin care chain that has 30 locations around the Midwest and Texas.

There’s been a cry for more retail businesses in the CWE for years, so I was a little surprised when a male neighbor asked, “Do you think this ‘blue’ thing is going to work?”

My response: “Are you kidding? You’ve obviously never had to drive to the Galleria for a lipstick. Make-up in the CWE? I know I’m not alone when I say I can’t wait!”

There are more openings on the horizon. News is expected soon about Barrett Barerra’s (projects+gallery) latest projects on McPherson, where they are re-purposing the former Shelton Davis Gallery at 4724, and Arlene Lilie’s building at 4739, which most recently housed Selkirk until the auction house moved downtown to Washington Avenue last fall. Cocina Latina, a Peruvian restaurant, has opened at 508 N. Euclid. Balaban’s is returning to the CWE and opening on the second floor across from its original location, now Up-Down. Salt & Smoke is opening next to Mission Taco. And Commerce Bank Connect has opened a fully automated facility at 54 S. Euclid, next to Shake Shack.

Good news indeed!

With all the hustle & bustle evident in the neighborhood, it’s refreshing to stumble across a scene like the one that follows. At its essence, it’s the people who live here that make the CWE such an interesting neighborhood. It was early one Sunday morning when I was delighted to find a dressed-up mother and daughter peering in the windows at Left Bank Books.  Simple pleasures are the best.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Food and Drink Shop News  The Vino Gallery Salt & Smoke Left Bank Books East and West Cocina Latina Bluemercury

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Food and Drink Shop News  The Vino Gallery Salt & Smoke Left Bank Books East and West Cocina Latina Bluemercury

Have a great weekend.

A little rain couldn’t spoil this RUSH

Nicki's Central West End Guide Books, Dance, Music, Theater Events, Sightings  Rush Left Bank Books Geddy Lee's Big Beautiful Book of Bass Geddy Lee

Days before Canadian rocker Geddy Lee, Rush’s bassist and lead singer signed the first copy of Geddy Lee’s Big Beautiful Book of Bass  at Left Bank Books Monday, the bookstore had posted a “sold out” notice on its event website.

Fans—800 of them—waited for hours, umbrellas in one hand and a copy of the book in the other, for a chance to meet the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Famer.  Tickets, $100, included a copy of the hardcover book and admittance for up to two people to the signing line which opened at 5 p.m..

The book is billed as “the ultimate compendium for the consummate collector, musician, Rush fan, and anyone who loves the bass guitar.” It features “Geddy Lee’s personal collection of vintage electric bass guitars, dating from the 1950s to the 1980s.”

Nicki's Central West End Guide Books, Dance, Music, Theater Events, Sightings  Rush Left Bank Books Geddy Lee's Big Beautiful Book of Bass Geddy Lee

The line, above and below, stretched from Left Bank Books at the corner of Euclid & McPherson south to Pershing Place.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Books, Dance, Music, Theater Events, Sightings  Rush Left Bank Books Geddy Lee's Big Beautiful Book of Bass Geddy Lee

Nicki's Central West End Guide Books, Dance, Music, Theater Events, Sightings  Rush Left Bank Books Geddy Lee's Big Beautiful Book of Bass Geddy Lee

Nicki's Central West End Guide Books, Dance, Music, Theater Events, Sightings  Rush Left Bank Books Geddy Lee's Big Beautiful Book of Bass Geddy Lee

Nicki's Central West End Guide Books, Dance, Music, Theater Events, Sightings  Rush Left Bank Books Geddy Lee's Big Beautiful Book of Bass Geddy Lee

A further indication of how popular Geddy Lee and Rush are in this area is the license plate on a fan’s car that was parked on Euclid, above.

While the vibe was relaxed outside on Monday, take a glimpse of what the day was like for staffers inside Left Bank Books. Visit them on Twitter or Facebook.

Geddy Lee’s Big Beautiful Book of Bass , $90, at Left Bank Books, 399 N. Euclid.