With local sales taxes hitting all time highs and my property taxes going up even in non-assessment years, I am always looking to save some money, even with an address in affluent West County.
I often look to save money on entertainment. Matinee movies or waiting for NetFlix is one way I save. When it comes to live music, I have another way.
On Wednesday nights, my wife and I go to Clayton, spend under $20 for dinner at Jimmy's on the Park and listen to the Charlie B Trio with Jim Manley on trumpet for three hours. I will see the great Dean Christopher at a casino lounge or a restaurant in Dog Town or on the Hill for far less than his shows at a nightclub.
My secret in Chesterfield and west St. Louis County is Anita Rosamond. Tickets for an Anita Rosamond performance at the Bistro or The Sheldon can be rather pricey. As good as Anita's voice is, the best way to experience her for me is when she is performing at a West County restaurant or bar.
In a small room, you can see the twinkle in her eyes and the sudden flash of a smile that never seems phony. There is no admission or cover; for the cost of a sandwich or a couple of drinks you can get three hours of non-stop entertainment.
With fewer and fewer nightclubs offering work for singers who perform standards from the American Songbook and popular songs from the '60s to the '90s, Rosamond has found steady work in West County.
She just completed a year of Friday nights at on Chesterfield Parkway. She's done a Saturday matinee show at Smitty's on Clayton Road once a month for years. She recently played at the in Chesterfield Valley and she currently plays the bar at Il Bel Lago on Olive Boulevard in Creve Coeur twice a month.
The best part of the Anita Rosamond experience is the extra performers who take the mic during her solo shows. When she takes a break, the music doesn't stop.
Over the years, Rosamond has developed a loyal following of performers. Sunny Friedman, who owned the Playboy Club on Lindell in the 1960s with her late husband, is a regular. Friedman will belt out a Barbara Streisand medley while grabbing everyone's attention.
Jerry Moser is another standby. The athletic director at Hancock Place High School in Lemay, Moser will do a couple of Dean Martin hits and follow that up with a Cole Porter or Gershwin duet with Rosamond.
On a recent Friday night, Rosamond started out playing the keyboard and signing. Within 30-minutes, her sister Lisa Elrod joined her to sing harmony. They were joined on saxophone by Lisa's husband Bill, a professional musician.
Later Gina Fernandez, a 20-something bartender, was handed the mic and sang a number while mixing a drink.
"I always try and order a mix drink just as she starts to sing, figuring she will not pay that close attention to the pour," one customer said.
Next, Jerry Moser came up to the chant of "Jerry! Jerry!" He sang the Dean Martin favorite "Kick in the Head" from the movie "Ocean's Eleven," followed by the Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields' classic "The Way You Look Tonight." Before you knew it, three hours had flown by.
"I once went to hear Anita sing and there was supposed to be a guy doing Sinatra songs with her who didn't show up. She asked me if I wanted to sing one and I have been coming back for seven years now," Moser said.
"I don't look for them. They find me," Rosamond said. She got her start in the St. Louis music scene more years ago than she cares to remember, working first at Noah's Ark and then the piano bar at Al Baker's on Clayton Road and Brentwood Boulevard.
"I'll give someone a chance to sing one song and if they don't do well they won't come back up. I give more attention to the people I like and who can sing," she said. "I feel so fortunate to be able to do a solo act that really isn't solo. I love doing the solo act with the people that have become my friends over the years.
"Honestly, the businesses that book my solo act end up getting a lot of bang for their buck."
It can be more fun to go see Anita for free in West County than it is to go to the Fox for a big show. Every time you see her it is a little different. You can find where she is playing next at anitarosamond.com.