local music

Courtesy Little Class Records

Julian Davis
Who Walks In, When I Walk Out? (Little Class Records)

With the first listen to Who Walks In, When I Walk Out? any roots fan is going to ask, “How old is this guy again?” The quesiton’s inevitable.

It’s also unfair. (He’s sixteen.) Julian Davis would be a wonderful discovery even if he were as old as Grandma Moses.

From the singular twang of a flat-picked guitar to the tight harmonies of a bluegrass band, folk music is more than a sound — it’s an essence. Local labels Mud Stomp Records and Little Class Records work not only to preserve that essence, but to show the rest of the world what Heartland artists have to offer. 

Guests:

highdivekc.com

The band name selected by the members of Organized Crimes may recall the nefarious activities that transpired in Kansas City in the first half of the last century, but the group’s music is based on the dreamy alternative rock sound associated with London in the 1980s. Local Listen features “Bel Ray Flats,” the A-side of Organized Crimes’ new seven-inch single.

Alison Claire Peck / alisonclairepeck.com

Story of a Song is monthly segment on KCUR's Central Standard, in which local musicians tell the story behind a recent song, and explain how it was constructed musically.

Artists: Hermon Mehari, Julia Haile, Brad Williams, Anthony Saunders of The Buhs

The Song: "Can't Let Go"

Madison Crabtree

Chris Crabtree
Counterfeit Heart

Chris Crabtree calls his new album “a soundtrack to the novel Zen and the Art of Killing Yourself.” I haven’t read the book and don’t feel the need to, because this set of songs stands sturdily on its own. In fact, the album’s climactic centerpiece, "At the Time of My Passing," embraces the weighty implications of death and suicide, either real or imagined, with redemptive tenderness and hope.

Local Listen: Your Friend

Jan 27, 2016
yourfriendtaryn.com

Indie-rock fans around the world will soon be able to purchase a piece of Lawrence, Kansas. “Gumption,” the debut full-length album by the Lawrence-based indie rock act, Your Friend, will be released internationally on Friday, January 29.

Local Listen features the cascading melodies of Your Friend’s “Come Back From It.”

Crystal Lee Farris

Your Friend
Gumption (Domino)

Imagine slowly submerging into a muddy Midwestern lake. Rays of light pierce the surface, illuminating bubbles and small creatures. But it’s hard to tell what’s going on as you sink deeper, losing a sense of how far you are from the surface. Lawrence, Kansas, artist Taryn Miller, who plays under the moniker Your Friend, imposes this sense of disorientation in her debut album Gumption.

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Mike Alexander is an entrenched Kansas Citian, but he expertly evokes the vintage punk sound of Southern California with his trio Hipshot Killer. “They Will Try to Kill Us All,” the powerful new album by Alexander’s band, breathes new life into the no-frills sound associated with groups like Bad Religion. This week's Local Listen features the typically no-frills Hipshot Killer song “One Good Night.”

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

As a young child growing up in South Africa, Gillian Power sang in school and church choirs.

"It was one of the things I remember from that time as so deeply joyful," Power says.

Now, Power is in her early forties. She came out publicly as transgender in early 2014. Her transition has included voice lessons.

"Many transgender people really struggle with their voice on many levels – their speaking voice, their telephone voice, their radio voice — and especially their singing voice," she says.

Jay McShann was occasionally called the “Man From Muskogee,” but Kansas City was the longtime home of the fondly remembered musician who died in 2006. The 100th anniversary of McShann’s birth in Oklahoma will be celebrated Saturday at the Gem Theater. This week's Local Listen features McShann’s 1982 rendition of “Kansas City.”

The Jay McShann Centennial Birthday Bash will be held at the Gem Theater on Saturday January 16th.

Music Review: Mike Metheny's 'Twelve For The Road'

Jan 12, 2016
Dan White

Mike Metheny
Twelve for the Road

Twelve for the Road is a confounding record.

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR

Story of a Song is monthly segment on KCUR's Central Standard, in which local musicians tell the story behind a recent song, and explain how it was constructed musically.

Artist: Johnny Hamil of Mr. Marco's V7

Kansas City’s music scene has long been associated with earthy jazz, down-home blues and abrasive guitar-based rock. Yes You Are intends to alter that perception. Local Listen features “Echo,” a glimmering slice of polished pop by the Kansas City quintet.

Yes You Are performs at the Riot Room on Sunday, Jan. 10.

Music Review: The Roseline's 'Townie'

Jan 5, 2016
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The Roseline
Townie

The word “townie” has immediate connotations, usually pejorative, for anyone who’s spent time in a college town.

The word is a badge of honor on the cover and title track of Lawrence band The Roseline’s fourth album, where singer-songwriter Colin Halliburton describes the status as “one part embarrassment and two parts pride."

Hannah Copeland / KCUR 89.3

There is a little enclave at the RecordBar called "the snug." It's not much bigger than a bathroom. It’s often mistaken for V.I.P. seating. But it’s actually more like V.I.F. seating: Very Important Family. On Saturday night, Sondra Freeman was there, dabbing her eyes with a square white cloth, while the band Your Friend performed behind her on stage.

“What I’m going to miss the most about the RecordBar is that the napkins absorb tears really well,” Freeman said.

Music Man (R)

Dec 30, 2015

In this encore edition of Central Standard: A Portrait Session with Danny Cox. He's a legendary musician, a Civil Rights activist, an actor ... and the talent behind the Grass Pad's "High on Grass" jingle.

Guest:

Courtesy Strange Music

Tech N9ne
Strangeulation Vol. II (Strange Music)

Tech N9ne once boasted, on the title track of his 2009 EP “E.B.A.H.,” that he has an “evil brain” and an “angel heart.” Those contradictory extremes have characterized the Kansas City rapper’s extraordinarily successful career, so it’s not surprising that the two albums Tech N9ne released in 2015 may be the best and the worst recordings in his extensive catalog.

Courtesy Photo / The Electric Lungs

The Electric Lungs
Don’t Be Ashamed of the Way You Were Made

A lot of churches today have a clashing musical lineup: electric-guitar-and-drums rock songs for the Lord’s newbies, and a smattering of organ and upright piano standards to please the old folks.

Heather Burton

Kansas City musicians have written three new holidays songs for 2016 (that we know of). Here they are, along with a few other gems by local songwriters dating back to the 1940s.

Fair warning: Kansas City musicians are not in the habit of writing cheerful Christmas tunes. The following songs fearlessly embrace the deeply complicated emotions so many people feel this time of year, making Elvis and his "Blue Christmas" feel like candy canes.

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The Best Kansas City Music Of 2015

Dec 18, 2015

It's becoming a year-end tradition at KCUR's Up to Date: Reviewing the year's best work from area musicians.

This year's panelists are:

Joshua Ferdinand

The Architects
Border Wars: Episode II

thecrowdedstage.com

Claire Adams was one of the Kansas City area’s most eclectic musicians even before she began collaborating with the chamber music ensemble Classical Revolution KC. Adams plays bass in the blues-rock band Katy Guillen and the Girls, and is the front person of the ornate folk-pop group, Claire and the Crowded Stage

For its 100th edition, Local Listen features “Enough,” a song that showcases Adams’ new venture with Classical Revolution KC.

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

When alcoholism and addiction landed Bryan Hicks on the streets, it wasn't a spiritual epiphany that sent him searching for help. It was the realization that if he didn't get help, he was going to die.

In those days, his view of Kansas City consisted mostly of cracks in the sidewalks because his head was always hung low, looking for change, a discarded piece of pizza or half a beer left behind by a Westport reveler. Occasional hospital stays felt like spa getaways.

He'd been having seizures. He'd started coughing up blood.

The Count Basie Orchestra
A Very Swingin’ Basie Christmas! (Concord Records)

Founded in Kansas City in 1935, the Count Basie Orchestra celebrates its 80th anniversary with the release of its first Christmas album. With delightful assists from guests including the Christmas mainstay Johnny Mathis, the ensemble upholds its reputation as the greatest blues-soaked big band in jazz on the ebullient if stodgy A Very Swingin’ Basie Christmas!

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Colin Halliburton and a rotating cast of collaborators create earnest folk-rock as The Roseline. The Lawrence-based ensemble released the quietly-defiant album “Townie” in June. This week's edition of Local Listen features “Feckless,” a song that displays The Roseline’s troubled optimism.

The Roseline performs at 8:30 p.m. at the Riot Room on Friday, Nov. 27. 

Joe Stanziola

Second Hand King
Before the Bomb Drops

In a 30-second slice from Before the Bomb Drops' opener, Second Hand King (Joe Stanziola) reminds us to “be glad [we’re] not in Baghdad,” plays a radio sample about the atomic bomb, and regrets drunkenly texting a girl he doesn’t care about. This enigmatic album gives Stanziola a platform to think through his own problems while telling the audience not to think so hard, because “nothing really matters.”

For years, people have been asking Cody Wyoming to reprise the now-legendary 2011 concert in which a long roster of Kansas City musicians played a live version of the Rolling Stones’ classic Exile on Main Street.

“As much fun as it was, I try not to repeat myself too much,” Wyoming says.

So, on Nov. 28, a long roster of Kansas City musicians will stage the Rolling Stones’ classic Sticky Fingers.

Local musicians tell the story behind a song and explain how it was constructed musically in The Story of a Song, a monthly segment from KCUR's Central Standard.

Artist: Shy Boys

The Song: Trim

The convergence of experimental hip-hop and arty indie-rock often yields compelling music. The Lawrence-based trio Ebony Tusks is one of the region’s most exciting practitioners of the hybrid style. This week's edition of Local Listen features Ebony Tusks’ signature song “Everybody Run.”

Ebony Tusks headlines a free show at the RecordBar at 8 p.m. Sunday, November 22. 

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