After three years, NOCO says goodbye…

NOCO fans, as you’ve undoubtedly noticed, things have gotten pretty slow around here lately. As my real estate career has taken off, I’ve had less and less time and energy to devote to this blog. And the truth is, I’ve simply run out of steam.

Three years ago this week, I launched NOCO with the intention of celebrating all the wonderful things that I love about North County. I’ve told the stories of this diverse, historic community to the best of my ability, and in the process, I’ve been able to visit some of the most beautiful and interesting places in the area and meet literally thousands of amazing people.

For much of its run, NOCO has had about 30,000 unique visitors every month – a number that still blows me away! And though some might think it’s crazy to abandon such a successful venture, the fact is I’ve invested way more time than I was ever compensated for, and more importantly, I’m just not the kind of person who continues to do something when my heart just isn’t in it.

I still love North County and my home here in Ferguson, and I’m extremely proud of the positive publicity and renewed sense of community spirit that I’ve brought to the area. I’ve decided that now is the right time to step down, but I will forever be grateful for this experience and the many, many things that I’ve learned as a result of it.

I am also hugely thankful to the advertisers who have supported my efforts, especially CORK, Vincenzo’s, Hendel’s, and Commercial Bank, who have been with me since the very beginning. Ferguson Brewing also deserves a shout-out.

Some have asked me if I plan to sell NOCO or pass it along to someone else, and the answer is no, probably not. But it’s my sincere hope that I’ve inspired somebody in the community to step forward with their own creative endeavor, because just as it was three years ago when I started this blog, we need someone out there fighting for us, letting the rest of St. Louis know that our dear NoCo is still an awesome place to live, work and visit.

Over the next few weeks, this site will gradually be converted into a directory-style archive, which means you’ll still be able to access the old articles but I won’t be adding anything new. I will also continue blogging, but on my unique real estate website, STL Homes with Soul.

I’ve spent months thinking about how I should end this great adventure, and it just makes sense to go back to the beginning, to the original North County treasure that sparked this idea in the first place: Kuhs Farm.

I grew up hearing about this magical old sunken garden in Spanish Lake, and I figured if I could ever get in there and see it for myself, it would make a fantastic story to share with others. Of course, it took nearly three years to actually post an article about Kuhs Farm, and I didn’t even write it! (The fabulous Jo Batzer did.) But to me, nowhere represents the unique charm, natural beauty, creative spirit and rich history of North County better than this 1920s gem overlooking the Missouri River.

In Kuhs Farm, I see the wonders of the past meeting the bright potential of the future, and it makes me very happy. So here, NOCO fans, is my final gift to you: a delightful photo tour from my beloved husband, Keith.

THANK YOU to all the readers and contributors who made this blog possible! I hope I have enriched your life as much as you have enriched mine! It has been an honor and a joy to represent our North County community!

Best wishes,

Shannon Howard

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UMSL’s Breakfast Series to focus on China hub


Could St. Louis soon be a cargo hub for China? What would this mean for the region?

Tim Nowak, executive director of the World Trade Center St. Louis, will discuss “The Midwest Cargo Hub Update” at 8 a.m. Oct. 4 at World Trade Center St. Louis in Clayton, Mo.

For more than four years, the St. Louis region has been working on deepening ties with China and Southeast Asia, through efforts to establish international cargo operations at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. Nowak will provide an update on current negotiations.

The discussion is part of the monthly Breakfast & Business Series sponsored by the College of Business Administration at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. The World Trade Center St. Louis is located at 121 South Meramec Ave. (63105).

Breakfast and networking will begin at 7:30 a.m. The discussion will follow. The event is free and open to the public. Reservations are required. To register, visit or call 314-516-5883 or e-mail

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Who’s ready for Ferguson Streetfest?

NOCO fans, I’m headed on vacation soon but I wanted to give you a heads up on this year’s Ferguson Streetfest, which is scheduled for September 21 & 22. You can see complete details on the event website, but here’s a preview of the live music schedule…

Cee Cee James: Friday – 5:00-6:30

Raw and Real – Roots Rock and Blues 

Take a lifetime of heartache and loss starting at birth and gift it with a lyric writing style that is filled with an honesty so vulnerable that it catches the most hardened heart off guard, knocking that back with a shot of WHISKEY DRENCHED VOCALS and a sweat dripping, take no prisoners performance, and you have one hell of a Blues Woman.

This is no slick performer but a very real ‘every-woman’ who reveals her humanity, her strengths and weaknesses, her deepest secrets and inner emotions to the audience. Some performers wear their hearts on their sleeves, Cee Cee James tears out her heart on stage to give a little piece of it to the listener.

– Linda Cain, Chicago Blues Guide

Cee Cee James is the GREATEST FEMALE BLUES SINGER since Memphis Minnie.

– Delta Frank – The Blues Doctor, WGLT Blues Illinois

NIKKO SMITH: Friday – 7:00-8:30

R&B, Pop – Finalist Season Four American Idol 

Osborne Earl “Nikko” Smith is a singer-songwriter who was the ninth-place finalist of Season 4 on American Idol. Smith, the son of Baseball Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith, is currently working on an album entitled The Revolution.

Smith auditioned for American Idol in 2005 with the song “All I Do” by Stevie Wonder. Smith made it to the third round of the semi-finals, but was voted off on March 9 along with Travis Tucker.

Days later, Smith got a phone call from the producers asking him to come back in place of Mario Vazquez, who left for “family reasons”. After returning, Nikko was dubbed “The Comeback Kid” by judge Paula Abdul after a performance of “One Hand, One Heart”.  Today Nikko Smith continues to write, record and perform.

That 80′s Band: Friday – 9:00-11:00

Music from the 1980′s 

Rubik’s Cubes, Pac-Man, skinny ties and leg warmers. “That 80′s Band” is bringing back the sound of the 80′s pop/new-wave era. Comprised of Valerie Girl (Lead Vocals/Guitar), Mick Fly (Bass/Vocals), Dan Duran (Keyboards/Vocals), Izzy Furreel (Lead Guitar/Vocals) and Johnny Swatch (Drums), “That 80′s Band” is a fun, high-energy recreation of the 80′s music scene.

This is not a modern version of everyone’s favorite 80′s tunes…this is as close to going back in time as humanly possible without a Flux Capacitor and plutonium.

The experienced line-up have the capabilities (and gnarly wardrobe) to cover the most popular (Madonna, Rick Springfield) to the nostalgic one-hit wonders (Aha, Tommy Tutone). So dig out your parachute pants and glove, jackets with lots of zippers, practice your moonwalk and check out this band…they’re tubular.

Plastic: Saturday – 3:00-4:30

80′s & Pop 

Voted St. Louis’ #1 in your face party band!!

Plastic is a five piece 80′s to Todays band made up of professional musicians with years of live performing experience in every type of establishment and venue. They take you back to a time when New Wave was taking off, Rock was melodic, Rubik had his cube, and MTV was the only channel to watch, then taking you to the hottest hits of today. Plastic specializes in recreating a live 80′s sound, while also throwing in a taste of some modern classics to take their audience on a journey like no other. Playing everything from Duran Duran, Flock of Seagulls, The Cars, and Billy Idol to David Bowie, Rick Springfield and Kajagoogoo – Plastic brings the music back to life with the trademark sounds of the 80′s. To ensure their audiences don’t get too stuck in the past, you’ll also find Plastic incorporating music from the 90′s and 2000′s.

Marquise Knox: Saturday – 5:00-6:30


Marquise Knox was honored by Living Blues Magazine with their Best Debut Award for his album, Man Child, which was also honored by the Blues Foundation with a nomination for their Blues Music Award for Best New Debut Release. Knox was also nominated for two Blues Blast Awards – Best New Artist Debut Release And the Sean Costello Rising Star Award. STL Bluesweek also honored Marquise with its Rising Star Award in 2012. Knox’s third album, Here I Am, was also nominated by STL Bluesweek for Recording of the Year.

Just 21, Marquise has already toured Europe, played major festivals across America and has recorded his third album for APO Records, Here I Am. The reviews are all positive, Marquise has proven that a young man CAN play the blues!

…already poised, confident, and brandishing an arsenal of powerful, no-nonsense vocal and guitar skills that projected not only way beyond his years, but way back to the spirits of the blues masters of yore.

– Jim O’Neal- Founding Editor of Living Blues Magazine

Joe Dirt & The Dirty Boys: Saturday – 7:00-8:30

Classic Rock from the 70′s & 80′s 

Joe Dirt & The Dirty Boys is a tongue-in-cheek, mullet sporting rock cover band consisting of an all-star cast of musicians from other popular St. Louis bands including The Urge, Stir, Celebration Day, El Monstero Y Los Masked Avengers and Tobi Kai and the Strays.  They’re fun and they’re good.  Darn good.  Heck they play some songs better than the original!

Butch Wax & The Hollywoods: Saturday – 9:00-11:00

Oldies, Motown, 60′s & 70′s Music

BUTCH WAX & THE HOLLYWOODS celebrate their 27th year together in 2012 with one of the hottest shows around. The 10 member band from St. Louis features 2 keyboard players, 3 female singers, horns, and a fabulous rhythm section that is funky, soulful and fun — and second to none.

Butch Wax & The Hollywoods have been main stage performers during most of those 27 years, sharing the stage with the likes of Johnny Rivers, Chuck Berry, The Young Rascals, Lou Rawls, Johnnie Johnson, The Kentucky Headhunters, The Guess Who, The Association, The Romantics, Billy Peek, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and countless others. Members of the band also wrote, produced, and recorded several tracks with Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Johnnie Johnson on his last album, which included performances with Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Hornsby, Johnny Rivers, and John Sebastian.

Butch Wax & The Hollywoods have a brand new show for 2012. You’ll hear great Oldies, the Motown classics, and the very best of the 50?s, 60?s, & 70?s. Butch Wax & The Hollywoods are regular performers at concerts, corporate events, fairs, festivals, wineries, and private parties, and continue to bring their good times and great oldies dance music to sold out crowds throughout the United States. Hear the classic songs from the 50′s, 60′s and 70′s with hits from Martha & The Vandellas, Elvis, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, Four Tops, Johnny Rivers, Chuck Berry, Tina Turner, Sam Cooke, Al Green, The Supremes, Jackie Wilson, Aretha, Mitch Ryder, The Rascals, Sam & Dave, Rick Nelson, Fats Domino, The Righteous Brothers, and more!

Contact: Friday – 4:00-4:30

Local Talent – Hip Hop

Local hip hop artist, Antowne Clower, a.k.a. Contact, has been making music since he was 12 years old.  A song from his first CD was used in a television episode on Fox.  He has several CD’s for sale.

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