Bill Brownlee

Music Critic

After spending two decades as a Midwestern sales representative for independent record labels, Bill Brownlee shifted his attention to music and culture criticism in 2006.  His work appears weekly in The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.  He blogs about Kansas City’s jazz scene at plasticsax.com.

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Courtesy Oleta Adams

A popular lounge singer in Kansas City in the 1980s, Oleta Adams had a massive pop hit in 1991 with the heartfelt ballad “Get Here.” She's back in town on Sunday for a main-stage performance at the Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival.

Julian Vaughn

The smooth-jazz bassist and Kansas City native Julian Vaughn joins respected smooth-jazz guitarist — and retired New York Yankees slugger — Bernie Williams at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum on May 20, in an event billed as Jazz & Jackie: A Monarchs Salute to Jackie Robinson.

Courtesy Ensemble Iberica

Ensemble Ibérica, a Kansas City based ensemble dedicated to “the music of Ibéria (Spain and Portugal) and the colonial Americas,” interprets the music of southern Mexico and South America at Monday’s Tierra del Sol concert.

Alicia Solo

As the dynamic singer of the now-defunct Beautiful Bodies, Alicia Solombrino was a whirlwind front person, displaying as much energy with her free-spirited stage antics as any contemporary Kansas City musician.

Courtesy Eddie Moore

Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle, a youthful group of forward-thinking jazz-based musicians, is one of Kansas City’s most accomplished ensembles.

The core Outer Circle band currently consists of keyboardist Moore, guitarist Adam Schlozman, bassist DeAndre Manning and drummer Zach Morrow. The band occasionally tours (it has a gig in Austin later this month) and Moore hosts a weekly jazz jam session every Wednesday at Californos and a monthly showcase at the Tank Room, in which he collaborates with hip-hop artists.

Courtesy Katy Guillen & The Girls

Katy Guillen & the Girls — the blues-rock trio of guitarist Katy Guillen, bassist Claire Adams and drummer Stephanie Williams — is one of Kansas City’s most accomplished bands, touring regularly throughout the country.

Courtesy Second Hand King

Working as Second Hand King, the locally based Joe Stanziola is a self-described “doo-wop rap” artist.

Courtesy Victor & Penny

The delightful vocalist Erin McGrane and the accomplished guitarist Jeff Freling lead the Kansas City ensemble Victor & Penny.

They once described their music as “antique pop,” but now they say it's "swing-infused folk-jazz" — based on the gypsy jazz tradition, it's a nostalgic sound more closely rooted in styles associated with Paris and New Orleans than Kansas City.

Courtesy Everette DeVan

Hammond B3 organist Everette DeVan is a beloved dean of Kansas City’s jazz scene.

Though the popularity of DeVan’s good-time, organ-based jazz peaked about 50 years ago, the throwback style gets revived several times a week at the Green Lady Lounge. Organist Chris Hazelton and guitarist Matt Hopper are among the younger Kansas City musicians DeVan has mentored.

Courtesy The Elders

The Kansas City based Celtic-rock band The Elders has long been one of Kansas City’s most popular bands, performing regularly at prominent civic gatherings including the Plaza Lighting Ceremony on Thanksgiving.

On Saturday, the band oversees another annual tradition: The Elders’ 15th annual hoolie.

In honor of their featured status this week, we're playing "Meetings of the Waters," off of the band's seventh studio album, 2014's Story Road.

Courtesy Mello Music Group

Stik Figa
Central Standard (Mello Music Group)

Central Standard, the latest release by the Topeka-based rapper Stik Figa, chronicles the struggles of a man begrudgingly beginning to accept that his musical career is unlikely to yield fame and fortune.

Courtesy Momma's Boy/Facebook

Momma’s Boy is a new addition to the area’s thriving garage-rock revivalist scene, one that includes notables like the Conquerors and Psychic Heat.

3 reasons we're listening to Momma's Boy this week:

1. The band celebrates the release of its debut EP, Liquid Courage, at two shows this weekend.

2. Three of the four members of Momma’s Boy played together in high school.

Wikipedia Commons

The Ozark Mountain Daredevils started playing together 45 years ago in Springfield, Missouri, but Kansas City has always been the band’s secondary base.

3 reasons we're listening to the Ozark Mountain Daredevils this week:

1. On Friday, the Daredevils play a concert with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band that's a benefit for the Medicine Cabinet, a charity that provides "short-term emergency medical assistance for those in need in the metropolitan Kansas City area."

Courtesy A La Mode

A La Mode is a Kansas City hot jazz ensemble led by guitarist Clayton DeLong and vocalist Jesica “Baby J” Poell, with performances this weekend.

3 reasons we're listening to A La Mode this week:

Kristi Yarcho

The Blackbird Revue is a Kansas City based folk-rock ensemble led by the husband-and-wife team of Jacob and Danielle Prestidge that headlines a show at RecordBar on Thursday, January 19.

3 reasons we're listening to the Blackbird Revue this week:

1. The Blackbird Revue is relocating to Los Angeles.

Courtesy Dino Massa

The Dino Massa Kansas City Quintet
Echoes of Europe (Artists Recording Collective)

Echoes of Europe, a collaboration between the Italian pianist Dino Masso and jazz musicians based in the Kansas City area, is the result of a chance encounter in Naples in 1990.

Courtesy Lincoln Marshall / Facebook

Lincoln Marshall is the Kansas-based rap duo of Approach (Sean Hunt) and MilkDrop ( John-Alan Suter). They're on the bill for this weekend's Sound Machine concert, a monthly event that's envisioned as a miniature version of the annual Middle of the Map Fest.

3 reasons we're listening to Lincoln Marshall this week:

Courtesy Isaac Cates

Isaac Cates is a Kansas City native who studied at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance. Since he co-founded Ordained in 2004, it's become one of the most prominent gospel groups in Kansas City.

3 reasons we're listening to Isaac Cates & Ordained this week:

1. They've shared stages with gospel greats like Marvin Sapp and Shirley Caesar.

cdbaby.com

It's tradition that every year Up To Date brings you, the best music from the Kansas City area and around the world. But unlike holiday sweaters and fruitcake, our music experts have something everyone can enjoy.

This year's panelists are:

Courtesy The Show Globes / Facebook

The Snow Globes is a Kansas City trio of multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Lindsey Jones, guitarist/vocalist Barclay Martin and bassist Rick Willoughby. They specialize in performing traditional Christmas carols and original songs about the holiday season.

3 reasons we're listening to the Snow Globes this week:

1. The trio’s gentle folk-pop might sound insufferably precious and exasperatingly twee in July, but its approach matches the sentiment of the holiday season.

For two years now, Chris Hazelton’s septet Boogaloo7 has performed every Friday at the Green Lady Lounge. This Friday, they release a record documenting the sound of that residency.

3 reasons we're listening to Chris Hazelton's Boogalo 7 this week:

1. Hazelton, 31, a soul-jazz organist based in Kansas City, was mentored by the elder statesman Everette DeVan.

Andrea Canter

Karrin Allyson is one of the most notable jazz musicians to emerge from Kansas City in recent decades. She returns to her former stomping grounds for a benefit concert at the Folly Theater on Friday.

3 reasons we're listening to Karrin Allyson this week:

1. Allyson was born in Great Bend, Kansas, and honed her chops in Kansas City clubs before moving to New York.

Courtesy Calvin Arsenia

Calvin Arsenia, an arty singer-songwriter and harpist, has been a panelist on Up to Date's "Best Kansas City Music of 2015" and "Best Kansas City Music of 2016 ... So Far" shows. This week, however, Arsenia releases his own record.

3 reasons we're listening to Calvin Arsenia this week:

Paul Andrews

When Emmaline Twist debuted earlier this year, the self-described "post-punk shoegaze" quartet was embraced by area indie-rock tastemakers. The seasoned members of Emmaline Twist were previously in bands including the Latenight Callers, Onward Crispin Glover and the Silver Maggies.

3 reasons we're listening to Emmaline Twist this week:

Courtesy Berwanger

Berwanger, a Kansas City rock band led by Josh Berwanger (a founding member of the recently reunited Lawrence-based emo-rock band The Anniversary), celebrates the release of its new album Exorcism Rock this week.

3 reasons we're listening to Berwanger this week:

1. According to a press release, Exorcism Rock "was recorded in seven straight days of early mornings and late nights" and was "inspired by nightly viewings of ‘Apocalypse Now’ and fueled by red wine mixed with tequila."

Courtesy Facebook

Kansas, the most successful rock band to originate from its namesake state, marks the 40th anniversary of Leftoverture by playing the hit 1976 album in its entirety on its current tour, which stops at in Kansas City on Saturday.

Three reasons we're listening to Kansas this week:

1. Kansas has always incorporated classical elements into its rock, making its appearance at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts less incongruous than it might seem.

Courtesy The Conquerors

The Conquerors
Wyld Time (High Dive Records)

A remastered version of the Beatles’ Live at the Hollywood Bowl was recently released in conjunction with Ron Howard’s new documentary The Beatles: Eight Days a Week. While the reissue of will satisfy avid fans of the Fab Four, Wyld Time, by Kansas City’s The Conquerors, is a more arresting demonstration of the Beatles’ enduring legacy.

Courtesy Various Blonde

Led by guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Joshua Allen, Various Blonde is one of Kansas City’s most daring indie-rock bands, incorporating funk and electronic dance music elements into the startling new sound showcased on its new record.

3 reasons we're listening to Various Blonde this week:

1. The band's new All Bases Covered was released last month by the The Record Machine, a Kansas City label.

Courtesy Mudstomp Records

As a child prodigy on harmonica back in the 1990s, Brody Buster was once one of Kansas City’s most notable musical exports. He appeared on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and on an episode of the sitcom “Full House.”

But Buster's fame was as fleeting as his youth. The disturbing 90-minute documentary "How Did This Happen" documents Buster’s decline from child star to relatively obscure bar band musician.

3 reasons we're listening to Brody Buster this week:

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