live music

Sven Mandel / Wikimedia Commons

Which matters most: The mind or the body? Or to put it another way: Albert Einstein or Marilyn Monroe?

The question (at least the first one) has echoed through the ages. Yet it may be ultimately a false dilemma, since ideally both the physical and the metaphysical are needed to max out human potential. Hey, I didn’t get a C in philosophy for nothing.

LitFestKC

Today, Jon Scieszka and Javaka Steptoe, heavy-hitters on the kid's lit scene, talk about promoting literacy and how the environment for fostering it has changed since they were little. They also reveal the creative processes behind some of their best-known works.

Victoria Morse / Flickr — CC

Most folks manage to find some comfort in the inevitable routine of daily life. Call it a survival skill. Or perhaps a self-imposed prison of the mind?

OK, that’s a little scary. So here’s your chance to break out from the humdrum – if only for the weekend – by experiencing the exotic pull of relatively unusual or even outlandish things to do.

Caution: Don’t get too carried away, unless you don’t want to go back. Now that would be scary.

File Photo / Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Giving the people – the folks, the general population, basically everyone – what they want can be challenging. Especially since everyone these days seems to want something different.

Yet the inclusive notion of pleasing the masses may be a little easier this weekend with a folksy lineup of experiences grounded in proven public predilections, from time-tested musical entertainment to the timeless appeal of dinosaurs.

Remember, the common bond of folksiness is where you find it. So start looking!

Lance Cheung / U.S. Air Force / Wikimedia Commons

Jazz musicians have always gotten together to “jam,” but at some point the term also became a synonym for partying or any collective endeavor committed to cutting loose.

It goes at least as far back as the late 1970s, when I attended a couple of Summer Jam stadium rock extravaganzas that promised to blow my mind. They must have worked, because I can hardly remember a thing!

David Bickley

Hungarian composer Béla Bartók was a pianist. But some of the music Bartók wrote for strings, inspired by folk music, is considered among his most expressive and inventive. 

This weekend, Kansas City Symphony concertmaster Noah Geller will be the featured soloist in Bartók's Violin Concerto No. 2. 

Courtesy Kansas City Irish Center

The Kansas City Irish Center begins 2017 with much to celebrate. After almost a decade in the lower level of Union Station, last year the Center bought historic Drexel Hall, in Midtown at the corner of Linwood and Baltimore, and moved into its new home in September. 

“It’s in a location that we really want in the heart of the city, where a lot of the cultural activities are happening, and where the history of the Irish is in Kansas City,” says Nancy Wormington, the center’s executive director.

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.

You know Chuck Haddix as host of KCUR's Fish Fry, but his day job is director of UMKC's Marr Sound Archives. He finds truly surprising audio clips while working there, and he shares some with us in this edition of Up to Date. "It's like Christmas everyday," he says.

Michael Byars / KCUR 89.3

Taryn Miller is a musician from Winfield, Kansas, who plays under the moniker Your Friend. She was signed to Domino Records, home of Animal Collective and Blood Orange, in 2014, and the label re-released Miller's first self-produced EP, Jekyl/Hyde. After graduating from the University of Kansas, she jumped straight into working on a full-length album and touring internationally. 

Boy George wasn’t just known for his flamboyant look. The Culture Club front-man also made headlines with his drug use and run-ins with the law. We’ll find out how a sober Boy George approaches his addiction, his music and his fame.

KCUR 89.3

Kianna Alarid and Jared White are the songwriters for the band Yes You Are. Alarid spent her early 20s as the front woman for  Tilly And The Wall, a band from Omaha, Nebraska that toured internationally. The band broke up after two of the members married and started having kids, so Alarid moved to Kansas City.

Here, her music took an about face from lo-fidelity indie to polished pop. She met White through Facebook while the two were separately toiling over songwriting; in 2013 they joined forces to form Yes You Are. 

Mike Russo / KCUR 89.3

Morgan Cooper is a Kansas City hip-hop emcee and cinematographer who has been making music for about two years. Under the name Barrel Maker, he collaborates with local producers Conductor Williams and Lion to create intricately layered songs about struggling, but always remaining positive and diligent to achieve his goals as an artist and citizen.

The folk-rock duo Brewer & Shipley, an act with deep ties to Kansas City, is still together more than 40 years after achieving a few international hits. They perform with the Ozark Mountain Daredevils at Crossroads KC on Saturday, July 2.

Three reasons we’re listening to Brewer & Shipley this week:

1. Brewer & Shipley’s relaxed, folk-rock sound is back in style. You can hear echoes of it in the music of young musicians such as Dawes and the Avett Brothers.

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 musicianKristie Stremel, singer-songwriter

The song: "Orlando (Keep Dancing)"

Hannah Copeland / KCUR

About 7,000 volunteers and patrons traveled to a pasture on Saturday, June 11, near Cottonwood Falls, Kansas to listen to the Kansas City Symphony perform at the 11th annual Symphony in the Flint Hills.

As the sun began to set Saturday evening the crowd's attention was diverted to the co-stars of the outdoor concert: cows. Volunteer ranchers on horseback herded brown, white and black cattle across the bright green grassy hill behind the Symphony stage.

Steve Kraske caught up with Béla Fleck, who's on tour with the original Flecktones, to talk inspirations and collaborations. When it comes to music Fleck says, "It's just more interesting to explore the edges of things than it is to just sit in the center and do what's already been done."

Béla Fleck and the Flecktones perform at 7:30 p.m., June 14, in the Muriel Kauffman Theatre at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.  

Annual Jazz Festival Planned For Kansas City

May 22, 2016
americanjazzmuseum.com

Kansas City jazz fans take note: The executive director of the American Jazz Museum says we will have a world-class jazz festival and it will debut in just one year.

A City Council committee this week approved a renewal for the museum to continue to manage the 18th and Vine project. Jazz Museum Executive Director Cheptoo Kositani-Buckner used the occasion to tout the accomplishments of the district she has managed since January.

Barbara Haze

When things don’t necessarily go together, that doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t put them together.

Like a weekend mix tape. What do all those songs have in common? Maybe nothing, except they’re all on the same weekend mix tape.

See how this works? With or without a pre-selected soundtrack this weekend, try mixing up a combo of asymmetrical activities, a potpourri of divergent diversions – you know, a bunch of stuff. It’s your weekend. You should do what you want.

1. Planet Comicon

http://americanjazzmuseum.org/

After decades on the scene, Ida McBeth's dusky voice and emotional delivery have reached legendary status in Kansas City. It's not just her soulful combination of blues, jazz and gospel styles that delights audiences, either; she's made a habit of surrounding herself with a band that knows how to really dig into a groove. Go on, we dare you to find someone who has seen McBeth perform and doesn't love her music.

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

Krystle Warren's "To the Middle" is a song that sounds a little like a carnival ride, but it's actually her love song to Kansas City. Written when she lived in New York, the lyrics express a deep longing for the mainstays of her hometown: toothy smiles, tree-lined avenues and Gates barbecue. In the chorus, the chanteuse demands to know, over and over, Why you wanna go away, Why you wanna go away, again?

"I missed my hometown and it felt like Kansas City was kind of scolding me for leaving."

As Sue Sylvester on Glee, actress Jane Lynch delivered some of the best zingers ever written for television. Lynch has built a portfolio portraying what one media outlet called, "full-throttle, sexed-up, hyper-confident female wack jobs.” We catch up with Lynch as her musical tour gears up to come to Overland Park, Kansas. 

Aleksi Ollila / Wikimedia Commons

Keeping it real has its limitations.

Pretend your way out of them this weekend by encountering the ardent make-believe of ambitious air guitarists, the living legacy of a legendary animator and the unquenchable pursuit of assorted paraphernalia associated with the most famous fizzy water in the world.

Need more? Wow, you do need a break. Ready… set …pretend!

1. U.S. Air Guitar Contest

She was touring Europe in her teens, plays fluently in genres from jazz to Baroque, and her music was launched with space shuttle Atlantis. We speak with multiple Grammy Award-winning guitarist Sharon Isbin, and sample some of her music.

Sharon Isbin will be performing with mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard at the Folly Theater on April 15 as part of the Harriman-Jewell performing arts series. For more information, go to hjseries.org.

mariathemexican.com

Maria Elena Cuevas calls her sound "roots music." In her case, roots have special significance. Her grandmother founded one of the first all-female mariachi bands in the country. That's where Cuevas and her sister/bandmate, Tess, got an early start. Hear songs from Maria the Mexican's new album, including a live in-studio performance.

  • Maria Elena Cuevas, frontwoman, Maria the Mexican, out with a new album called South of the Border Moonlight

Takahiro Kyono / Flickr-CC

Sometimes you’ve got to take a stand.

This weekend may or may not be one of those times – really, how should I know? But, perhaps, you can be prepared to take charge with the following bold suggestions for decisive weekend action.

Did I say perhaps? To be honest, a little wiggle room never hurts. Even when you’re not messing around!

1. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band: ‘The River Tour’

Michel Martin is the host of NPR’s Weekend All Things Considered. Next week, she’ll come to the Gem Theater at 18th and Vine for a conversation about food and how we eat. 

Michelle Martin will host an evening of conversation on Tuesday, April 5 at the Gem Theater. For tickets and information visit nprpresents.org.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James gave his fifth State of the City address Thursday, with particular focus on the city's earnings tax, education and violence.

The Fish Fry, KCUR's blues, jazz, soul, R &B and zydeco program which airs every Friday and Saturday night, turns 30 this year. We talk with host Chuck Haddix about how he got his start and what it takes to party, public radio style, week in and week out.

Blue Springs-based David Cook became a hometown hero when he won the 2008 season of “American Idol.” His latest album features sincere, melodic rock with a familiar feel. This week's Local Listen features "Better Than Me," from Cook's 2015 album, Digital Vein.

David Cook performs Friday, March 18, at the VooDoo at Harrah’s Casino.

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