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.

Ways to Connect

Jerry Moran / Native Orleanian Fine Photography

Samantha Fish
Wild Heart (Ruf Records)

“Turn it up!”

Samantha Fish’s demand to crank the volume during a song of the same name on her new album “Wild Heart” reflects her general orientation. Although she’s invariably classified as a blues artist, “Wild Heart” reveals that Fish is actually a first-rate rock-and-roller.

Local Listen: Be/Non

Jul 22, 2015
Be/Non / Facebook

Brody Rush has alternately delighted and confounded Kansas City’s rock community for 20 years. As the primary visionary behind his band, Be/Non, Rush has crafted a compelling catalog of psychedelic rock.

This week’s edition of Local Listen features Spark 22, a typically adventurous track from Be/Non’s 2009 concept album “A Mountain of Yeses.”

Local Listen: Jeff Black

Jul 15, 2015
Michael Wilson / jeffblack.com

Singer-songwriter Jeff Black emerged from the same Kansas City open mic scene that produced Iris Dement in the 1990s. The subject of this week’s Local Listen continues to craft sturdy songs from his base in Nashville.

Members of the rock band Wilco accompanied Black on the title track of his 1998 debut album, "Birmingham Road," a gritty song that evokes the industrial thoroughfare in North Kansas City.

Jeff Black performs at Knuckleheads at 8 p.m. on Friday, July 17.

Tech N9ne
“Special Effects” (Strange Music)

Cultural, racial and musical barriers crumbled when the Kansas City rapper Tech N9ne performed for tens of thousands of hard rock fans at Rockfest on May 30.

Local Listen: The AM Trio

Jul 1, 2015
The AM Trio / Facebook

The young pianist, songwriter and bandleader Alyssa Murray is another noteworthy alumnus of Bobby Watson’s Jazz Studies program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She and her band, The AM Trio, have a stated mission of "combining jazz with the narrative elements of contemporary folk."

This week’s edition of Local Listen features “In the Evening,” a track from The AM Trio’s new EP “As of Now.”

The AM Trio will perform at 8 p.m. Friday, July 3, at Take Five Coffee + Bar.  The Blue Room will host the ensemble at 7 p.m. Monday, July 6.

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