KC Music

Some have started calling it "Northlandia" — the area around Highway 9 and Armour Road that's become home to cool restaurants, breweries, distilleries and more. We take a closer look at this part of NKC.

Then: the story behind the Northland opposition to tax-funded streetcar expansion on the August 8 ballot, and the new pipe organ, almost 10 years in the making, at a Prairie Village church.

Guests:

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR 89.3 FM

Getting the pipe organ Opus 22 installed and settled in its new Prairie Village home at Village Presbyterian Church was no small task.

It's a massive instrument. Standing 24 feet tall, it takes up the whole back wall of the church. It weighs 17 tons, and has 3,600 pipes inside. Some of the pipes are as tall as 16 feet, while others are just a few inches. And each pipe has been carefully voiced so it sounds just right, a process that took 40,000 hours of labor.

Jack Hummel, Western Music Association

On a sunny summer afternoon, a group of cowboys took to the outdoor stage in front of the Raphael Hotel on the Plaza and started singing in four-part harmonies.

That band, 3 Trails West, is one of the only practitioners of cowboy music in Kansas City — and has been named the band of the year by the Academy of Western Artists and the Western Music Association.

But what exactly is cowboy music? It isn’t country music. Or country-western.

Slate Magazine says it's the "The Year of the Tick." A local entomologist tells us all about these creepy-crawly disease-carriers.

Then, the city of Lawrence recently hired an African-American police chief. However, he's not the first African-American in the position. The story of Lawrence's black chief marshall from the 1890s.

Plus a new zine that covers the LGBTQ music community in KC.

Guests:

Some of the exciting stuff on KC's arts calendar this month: an artist residency at the Nelson-Atkins; a three-person, 90-minute version of Macbeth; and a chat with soul singer Julia Haile.

Haile will be performing Gen Listen KC's Stockyards Sounds on Tuesday, August 8.

Guests:

Cowboy music is not the same as country-western. A talk with some of the musicians of 3 Trails West — one of the few practitioners of true cowboy music in Kansas City.

Plus: the legendary history of the "Big Red One" (1st Infantry Division). Based at Fort Riley, Kansas, it's the longest continuously-serving division in the United States Army ... and it recently celebrated its 100th anniversary.

Guests:

The similarities between Native American and Middle Eastern cultures, as told by poets in a new anthology that was published here. Then, two of the musicians from the local band Making Movies; their new album, I Am Another You, just made it onto the Billboard and Billboard Latin Charts.

Guests:

Camille Brecht

A couple of years ago, musician Greg Wickham was on a walk with his wife when she asked what he thought was a strange question.

“‘If you were to die tomorrow, is there anything you haven’t done that you would regret?’” he recalled. “I told her the only thing that I would really regret is never having recorded a solo record.

“And it was kind of quiet for a second and she said, ‘Well, you need to get into the studio, then.’”

That conversation helped inspire Wickham’s first solo album, “If I Left This World.”

Courtesy of Gracie Schram

The artist: Gracie Schram

The song: Under The Sun

Background: Gracie Schram of Leawood, Kansas, has been writing songs since she was a little girl. She released her first album when she was 10 years old. And this past year has been busy and full of change. She graduated high school from Blue Valley North, released the album Dear Fall, and started college in Nashville, Tennessee.

The clowns are coming to town! That's right, there's a Clown Convention happening in the Northland this week. We check in with a few locals on the art and lifestyle of being a clown.

Plus, musician Greg Wickham joins us to talk about his new album "Almost to Springfield."

Guests:

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Today, we learn about two bills making their way through the Missouri General Assembly; one would place stricter rules on ride-hailing businesses like Lyft and Uber, another would create a statewide prescription drug monitoring database.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

The artist: Calvin Arsenia

The song: "Kansas City, Baby"

The album: Catastrophe

The accompaniment: Jessica Paige (vocals), Coleen Dieker (violin), Joe Donley (upright bass)

The story: Calvin Arsenia calls his music neo-classical urban folk. His signature instrument is pretty unusual – it's a harp.

The new Kansas City label Haymaker Records just released a compilation album featuring local artists. After a taste of the album, we pivot from "math rock" to straight up science, with one KU sociologist whose research sheds light on a connection between success in life and genetic makeup.

Matthew Long-Middleton / KCUR 89.3

On Ces Cru's new song "Purge," Donnie "Godemis" King and Mike "Ubiquitous" Viglione get more political than they have ever been before. Over a menacing and melodic piano, several voices say things like "friends, family, coworkers — all undocumented" and "it's genocide." 

Matthew Long-Middleton / KCUR 89.3

Ahead of the release of her new book of poetry, Striking the Black Snake​, local poet Monique Salazar joins us to share some of her personal journey, including her inspiring experience at Standing Rock, her heritage and memories of an abusive childhood.

Plus, Kansas City rap duo Ces Cru on their latest album "Catastrophic Event Specialists."

Guests:

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

She's an acclaimed singer-songwriter who has been compared to Nina Simone and Roberta Flack. Rufus Wainwright has called her "one of the greatest living singers at the moment." From her home base in Paris, she tours the world . . . yet one of her favorite spots is still the Midtown porch of her 8th grade teacher.

In this encore presentation of Central Standard, meet Kansas City native Krystle Warren.

Guest:

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

When you picture a break-dancer, or "b-boy," you may envision a skinny kid who drops to the ground and pops back up like it's no big deal. But the hip-hop culture that gave rise to break-dancing isn't getting any younger.

Now, the original hip-hop generation is bringing kids to the club for events featuring crayons. In this encore presentation of Central Standard, we ask, how is the culture of hip-hop growing up with them? Plus, profiles of three icons in Kansas City's hip-hop scene. 

Brian Chan

The band: Jorge Arana Trio

The songs: "Mammoth," "Speak Beast"

The story: "It started with a very simple riff," says Jorge Arana, of his latest album "Mammoth."

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Story of a Song is a monthly segment on KCUR's Central Standard in which local musicians tell the story behind a song they have written or are performing.

The band: Rachel Mallin and The Wild Type

The song: "White Girls"

In a time of diminishing budgets, guest host Brian Ellison learns how fine-arts program Harmony Project is helping underserved kids in Kansas City do better in school. Then, actor Bryan Cranston says a large part of his successful career has to do with hard work and good luck. This week's Local Listen features the classic rock band Kansas, touring in support of its first album since 2000.

More than a thousand of his musical works have been published, and they're performed everywhere from Carnegie Hall to your local church choir loft. We hear from Kansas City's own Mark Hayes, about his journey from playing the church piano as a teen, to becoming an internationally-known composer out of his home in KC. 

Guest:

Carlo Pascolini / thecountryduo.com

Kansas City's Kasey Rausch and Marco Pascolini are both veterans of the regional music scene. Combining their love of classic country standards with Rausch's folksy songbook, they've formed The Country Duo. The two were recently invited to Memphis to film an episode of PBS's "Sun Studio Sessions."

At the turn of the 20th Century, Kansas City was known for more than just a raucous drinking and gambling scene. The "Paris of the Plains" also served as a center for new, syncopated styles of ragtime, blues and jazz. With the music came an assemblage of composers and music publishers who called KC home.

Guest:

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

When you picture a break-dancer, or "b-boy," you may envision a skinny kid who drops to the ground and pops back up like it's no big deal, like gravity has no say in the matter. But the hip-hop culture that gave rise to break-dancing isn't getting any younger. Now that the original hip-hop generation is bringing kids to the club for events featuring crayons, how is the culture growing up with them? Bonus: profiles of three icons in Kansas City's hip-hop scene.

Guests:

Dan Brickley / Flickr

For the first time ever, a student has been admitted to the UMKC Conservatory's composition program using the computer as his instrument. How Sega Genesis, Dungeons and Dragons, math and a couple of well-worn laptop computers make music in the hands of Tim Harte, and why it's making waves in the academic music world.

Guests:

  • Tim J. Harte, student and composer, UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance
  • Paul Rudy, professor of music composition, UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Story of a Song is a 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. 

The project: Igor Stravinsky's "L'Histoire du Soldat," or "A Soldier's Tale."

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.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR

Growing up, Amanda Fish used to lock herself in her room to sing. So, her younger sister Samantha Fish would lock herself in her room and play guitar.

"We were independent experiencers," Amanda says.

"She calls it a loner thing, I call it a leader thing," Samantha adds.

Fast-forward through the days of wailing with Tom Waits and rocking out to Nine-Inch Nails, and these two musicians are, sure enough, leading their own blues bands around Kansas City and across the country.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR

Bram Wijnands has made a name for himself as a jazz musician in Kansas City.

After a performance at Carnegie Hall in New York in 1998, he received recognition as Kansas City's Ambassador of Swing from then mayor Emanuel Cleaver, who also designated April 6 "Bram Wijnands Day."

Today, he performs regularly for The Majestic, and has performed at various restaurants and venues around the city, including Kansas City Bier Company and the American Restaurant.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

If music comes as much from an instrument as from a musician, the people who build and repair instruments are invisible collaborators. The poetics of piano-tuning, the heroics of a horn-doctor and the serenade of a violin-maker.

Pages