Lo-Fi Cherokee returns this Saturday for its final year

Whether you’re a longtime fan of Lo-Fi Cherokee or you’ve been meaning to check it out, plan to be on Cherokee Street this Saturday for the final iteration of the beloved event.

Lo-Fi Cherokee is a one-song, one-take music video shoot of a bunch of bands (usually around a dozen or so) at a variety of locations on Cherokee, and this year is slated to be its last. “It’ll be a good year, a good finale, a good final video shoot,” says event organizer Bill Streeter, who runs video production company Hydraulic Pictures. “Nobody has really done anything like this anywhere else,” he says. “It’s totally unique to St. Louis. It’s unique to us.”

The event, which began in 2012, captures local musicians at locations that might not be the first to come to mind when you think about a music video, such as a grocery store, an elevator, or a garden shop. With its lack of big-box presence, Streeter says, Cherokee was the perfect location for the video series. The small businesses are open to both experimentation and the exposure that the series brings, he says.

“Some of the businesses are really loyal to the event,” Streeter says. “If they don’t get signed up in time, they’re disappointed. They’re as much fans of the event as anyone else is.”

No cataclysm is ending the event, Streeter says; it’s just been 12 years and 120 acts, and he’s ready to do something else—maybe video-forward live music pop-ups at unusual locations across the city, though nothing’s solid yet. (Look for videos from the archive on Instagram.)

Lo-Fi Cherokee has always basically broken even, Streeter says, though he was never looking for it to be a moneymaker. It was also never quite intended to be the party that it became. “When we started, it was just a one-off event,” Streeter explains. “It was literally just an experiment to see if we could pull it off.”

Folks noticed Streeter and his crew moving along Cherokee Street with video equipment, however, and followed him around, curious to see what was going on. “A few people were like, ‘You should make this a regular event,’” he recalls. “It’s evolved and grown and become more organized over the years. It sort of took on a life of its own. If I had planned it, it wouldn’t have worked out so well.”

Most every year, says Streeter, there’s been one act with a national presence, such as Son VoltBottle RocketsPokey LaFargeSinister DaneYowie, and Beth Bombara. “Up until this year, we’ve never repeated an act,” Streeter says, citing a 10-year rule for repeats. Bombara, who played the first iteration, will be back for the final one—a nice bit of symmetry for a singer-songwriter who didn’t have quite the profile in 2012 that she does in 2024.

The final Lo-Fi Cherokee starts at 11 a.m. at Flowers and Weeds with Playadors, and the plan is for a new shoot every 30 minutes. Look for the Red & Black Brass Band at La Vallesana at 1:30 p.m., Tawaine Himself at 5 p.m. at Clement’s Lock & Security, and Beth Bombara closing out at City Mouse Vintage at 6 p.m. Streeter says there’s also a block party planned afterward.

Afterward, see the results at a premier party on May 19 at Off Broadway. “I think it’ll be a bigger party than usual,” Streeter says.

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