Freight Train Rabbit Killer, the duo of Kris Bruders and Mark Smeltzer, is a unique presence on Kansas City’s music scene, performing theatrical gothic American roots music while wearing suits and masks.
Bruders is also known for his work in the roots-rock band Cadillac Flambé, while Smeltzer is one of Kansas City’s most prominent folk/old-timey musicians.
This year, in a partnership between Haymaker Records and Rural Grit Records, they're planning to release a series of four 7-inch singles on vinyl. Each single is billed as “part of a greater puzzle, assembled by the band and complete with riddles, codes, and maps. The goal of this interactive game is to eventually lead the listener to a trove of artifacts revealed with the final release in the series.”
First up is “Old Man of the Mountain,” an ominous boogie track. Its B-side is “Maybe It’s You,” a malevolent blues song made even creepier by unsettling production effects. It sounds a little like Tom Waits channeling the late blues man John Lee Hooker.
Costumes are encouraged at two record-release celebrations this weekend. A party on Saturday at the former site of the iconic Golden Ox in the Livestock Exchange Building also includes a performance by the punk band Gascan. Sunday’s show is a benefit for the Midwest Music Foundation, with the punk/rockabilly group the Haunted Creepys, the alternative bluegrass band Loaded Goat, and the retro-rock group Thunderclaps rounding out the bill.
Freight Train Rabbit Killer, 8 p.m. Saturday, October 28 at Stockyards Brewing Co. 1600 Genessee St. Suite #100, Kansas City, Missouri, 64102, 816-895-8880; and 7 p.m. Sunday, October 29, at RecordBar, 1520 Grand Boulevard, Kansas City, Missouri, 64108, 816-753-5207.
KCUR contributor Bill Brownlee blogs about Kansas City's jazz scene at Plastic Sax.