Arts & Culture

KCUR’s Arts & Culture Desk covers arts news from music to visual art to dance and theater, with a focus on Kansas and Missouri.

Our reporters explore the behind-the-scene stories about newsmakers and emerging artists. We also take a look at the intersections of arts and technology, science and creativity, and present profiles of creative people. 

Audiofiles: Podcasts We Love — Fall 2015

Oct 20, 2015
Photo Credit: Sascha Kohlmann

Central Standard’s podcast connoisseurs take to the mic to share what podcasts deserve your time and attention. Here’s what they recommend:

 

Jeremy Bernfeld, editor of KCUR's Harvest Public Media

Music Review: Lauren Anderson's 'Truly Me'

Oct 20, 2015
Rob Smith Photos

Lauren Anderson
Truly Me

It’s easy to miss the obvious with Kansas City blueswoman Lauren Anderson — that dangerous label after the slash after “singer.”

Lauren Anderson is a fine songwriter, too, versatile and honest. She puts her cards — and her heart — on the table, right there in the liner notes: “This CD ... includes most of what I know, who I am, who I’d like to be and where I’d like to go.”

Discover how a library connects two people across international boundaries, and see what it's like when your parents want to arrange your marriage for you. Up to Date's indie, foreign and documentary film critics have a variety of choices to spruce up your weekend.

Cynthia Haines

Sicario, R

Mike / Flickr-CC

As we have come to learn in our society, diversity is vital to achieving optimum success in the workplace. But did you know that it can also work wonders for your weekend?

Well, let me tell you. I mean, literally, right now. Yep, that’s what I’m here for.

Prepare to diversify!

1. Lenexa Chili Challenge

As Kansas City re-lives what feels a lot like last year's magical Royals post-season, one of last year's most popular expressions of fan love is back — with a charming update.

Last year everyone went nuts for the "Lorde - 'Royals' Parody|Kansas City 'Royals'" video in which a local singer named John Long performed Aaron Lage's prophetic lyrics (a rewritten version of Lorde's "Royals") in the bleak dead of a Kansas City winter, dreaming our team would be "Kings of the MLB."

Courtesy Aaron Barnhart

The story of Kansas abolitionist John Brown — the wild-eyed man who killed pro-slavery settlers in response to the sacking of Lawrence before the Civil War — has been told so many times he's now a historical figure of mythical proportions. Few people, however, know the story of August Bondi, who fought alongside Brown in less-murderous Free State skirmishes.

Photograph © Nick Vedros 2015

The lives of inmates in prisons across Kansas is a world away from the aesthetics of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art.

Kansas City photographer Nick Vedros is bringing those worlds together with his Faces of Change photo essay — inspired by a unique self-help program in Kansas prisons. The exhibition is set to open at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art next month.

 Howard Iceberg leads an unusual double life. He’s an immigration attorney by day …. and one of Kansas City’s most respected troubadours by night. Local Listen features “You and Your Hazel Eyes,” a song from the singer-songwriter’s new album…. “Smooth Sailing.”

Iceberg and his band the Titanics perform an early show at the RecordBar on Saturday.

Cristina / Flickr-CC

Fall is in full swing – and fading fast.

That’s the funny thing about fall. One moment the leaves are changing color and the next they’re on the ground. Turn away and you’ll miss it.

Don’t be left holding a rake – or, worse, a snow shovel – before taking advantage of what this fun and fleeting season has to offer.

Courtesy HMPH!

HMPH!
Headrush (Haymaker Records)

Hearing the instrumental math rock HMPH! is like watching a mastermind play an intense game of Tetris. Like blocks, notes keep coming with no indication of where they will fall, making the band’s debut album, Headrush, an unpredictable journey.

Jen Mann

Mouthy blogger and New York Times bestselling author Jen Mann is at it again.

In her latest book, Spending the Holidays With People I Want to Punch in the Throat, the Overland Park writer takes down "humblebraggers," elves and bell-ringers alike. 

Whether its her love/hate relationship with chocolate covered peanut butter balls, or her love/hate relationship with her kids being home on winter break, she's got something to say. 

Here is an excerpt from the book, in which Mann lists the things she hates most about the holidays:

Search for a Spanish serial killer or shiver at the creepy tale of a mother who comes home very different after a surgery. If you're feeling adventurous or you're ready for a few chills before Halloween, Up to Date's indie, foreign and documentary film critics have just the thing for you.

Cynthia Haines

Marshland, not rated, (Spanish with English subtitles) 

  • Detectives pursue a serial killer in southern Spain.

Phoenix, PG-13

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Anyone staging Charles Busch's play Die, Mommie, Die! is advised to cast a male actor as its lead female character. Playing the fading movie star Angela Arden at Musical Theater Heritage in Crown Center is Late Night Theatre veteran De De DeVille, whose given name is David Krom.

As part of our monthly series Actors Off-Script, Krom talks about a 20-plus year career that began on a dare. 

You grew up as David Krom. What was your journey like to becoming De De DeVille? When did that happen?

Kenneth Hagemeyer / Flickr-CC

As the Beatles posited in their pithy ditty, “Revolution”: “You say you want a revolution/Well, you know, we all want to change the world.”

Despite such lyrical caginess, John, Paul, George and Ringo couldn’t help but shake things up for all the world to see. That’s what revolutionaries do.

This weekend, the malleable ’60s mop-tops and other ground-breakers will be given their revolutionary due. Take to the streets! No, you can’t bring a torch. Nice try, though.

1. The Fab Four: The Ultimate Tribute

Kansas City comedian Brian Huther is only half surprised that the flag-dressed front-porch beer-drinking character he created has grown exponentially more famous over the last four days as the "Your Drunk Neighbor: Donald Trump" video went viral.

Local Listen: Beautiful Bodies

Oct 7, 2015
http://flysouthmusic.com/beautifulbodies

With the band Beautiful Bodies, you wind up watching them as much as listening to them. Alicia Solombrino is a dynamic front-person while Thomas Becker climbs stage scaffolding like a guitar-wielding goat. This week’s Local Listen features “Animal” from the band’s 2015 album “Battles.”

Beautiful Bodies performs at the Fed Up Fest at Crossroads KC on Saturday.

Marina Chavez

Danielle Nicole
Wolf Den (Concord Music Group)

If the blues were an amputated, gushing heart, Danielle Nicole (Schnebelen) would gladly pick it up and pin it to her sleeve for the sake of a song.

After the Schnebelen family band, Trampled Under Foot, parted ways last year, Nicole wasted no time in creating the Danielle Nicole Band. Wolf Den, her debut solo album, hemorrhages tales of pain and vulnerability from the daily trouble of finding a love that lasts.

Heather McMichael

When Grace Day enrolled in law school in 1948, it didn't occur to her she was doing anything unusual.

"I just thought, gosh you just enroll and you go," says Day, who is now 88. "If people were going to be resentful about women going into a professional school, it never dawned on me."

Until she got there.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

The air was crisp and the sun was high Friday afternoon as a small group of people assembled in the amphitheater at the athletic fields at 9th and Van Brunt in Kansas City, Mo. They’d come by bus to hear artist José Faus say a few words about his new mural, “The Sun and the Moon Dream of Each Other,” one of two new murals commissioned over the summer by the MAPIT, Mural Arts Program Inspiring Transformation.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

A love of the arts doesn’t fade as we age. But getting older – and less mobile – presents some challenges for seniors who still want to experience arts and cultural events.

For our series Aging in Place, a few local seniors shared strategies for connecting with the arts — such as looking for new sources of transportation, reaching out to arts opportunities at home and volunteering.

Getting active in the arts in retirement

Lionsgate

Fall is officially here, and along with the cooler weather — is a new array of independent, foreign and documentary films. So grab an autumnal coffee blend and head to a theater near you. KCUR's film critics share their reviews and recommendations of movies now in area cinemas.

Sleeping With Other People, R

This weekend, take a walk — on a wire thousands of feet up in the air. Or just go to a movie and experience it from your seat. KCUR's independent, foreign and documentary film critics give us the picks they deem worthy of your time. 

Cynthia Haines

Mississippi Grind, R

  • I think if they changed the title it might attract a larger audience, and it should — because Ben Mendelsohn's performance is just great. 

Learning To Drive, R

Copyright Talladega College. Photo by Peter Harholdt. / Collection of Talladega College, Talladega, Alabama

At the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Shawn Hughes is surrounded by American history depicted over the course of six murals painted in vivid colors with nearly life-sized figures.

There's a deck full of slaves about to mutiny on the Amistad, the mutinous captives on trial, an urgent scene in the woods as slaves are about to cross the Ohio River to freedom. There are students enrolling at the historically black Talladega College, bringing pigs and chickens to pay their tuition. And there are industrious workers building the university library.

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR

One of Summer Farrar's first assignments as a student at the Kansas City Art Institute was to draw the same pile of sticks every day for a few weeks.

The task, she says, turned out to be revelatory. 

"What it demonstrated was that you have to look at something over and over again until you see it differently," she told Gina Kaufmann on KCUR's Central Standard

Farrar never could have guessed then just how useful that lesson would turn out to be in a career that has taken a striking professional turn. 

Premasagar Rose / Flickr-CC

Wondering how to get your ha-ha on this weekend? Funny you should ask!

1. The Comedy Get Down Tour

Todd Rosenberg Photography

It's been a decade since Michael Stern started his appointment as the fourth music director of the Kansas City Symphony.

Stern's contract with the Symphony was up in June 2016, and it was not a given that he would choose to stay. But officials announced Wednesday that his contract has been extended through the 2019 - 2020 season.

Mark Lowrey is best known as a jazz pianist but he frequently performs in rock, folk and hip-hop settings.

This week's Local Listen features “Milonga For YJ’s,” an Argentinian-inspired track from his album “Tangos For 18th Street.”

Lowrey appears at The Majestic on Thursday, October 1, and at Broadway Kansas City on Friday, October 2.

Fidencio Martinez-Perez

When Fidencio Martinez-Perez was 7 years old, a smuggler brought him, his mother and his three brothers across the Mexican border.

Now he makes art in which the roads, rivers and boundary-markers of the United States resemble the blood vessels of human figures. His main material is simple, but significant.

The Grisly Hand

The Grisly Hand
Flesh & Gold (self-released)

A guitar lick playfully references Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” less than a minute into the opening track of the Grisly Hand’s Flesh & Gold.

It’s the first of several nods to classic rock songs on the Kansas City ensemble’s new album. Yet the six members of the Grisly Hand aren’t mere copycats. Their most potent work equals the hallowed music of their inspirations.

Gina Kaufmann / KCUR

Sculptor John Hachmeister remembers the first time he saw the Garden of Eden, a mysterious outdoor sculpture environment built in Lucas, Kansas, right after the Civil War.

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