local music

Little Hatch, a.k.a. Provine Hatch, Jr., was Kansas City’s premier blues musician during a popular resurgence of the form in the 1990s. Born in Mississippi in 1921, the harmonica player, vocalist and bandleader died in 2003.

Why we're listening to him this week:

The Best Kansas City Music of 2016 ... So Far

Jun 17, 2016

We're only about half way through 2016, but Kansas City artists haven't been wasting any time. That means area music lovers have had plenty to see and hear.

KCUR's Up To Date continues its tradition of reviewing new local music with area music critics. This time, our panel is:

Under the Big Oak Tree

Under the Big Oak Tree
Local Honey (MudStomp Records)

Some albums take a while to tell their secrets.

Local Honey was released by a St. Joseph-based band called Under the Big Oak Tree back in February. Kristin Hamilton and multi-instrumentalist Simon Fink alternate songs, blending brittle, delicate harmonies, all of which are confidently anchored by Doug Ward’s bass.

Cliff Schiappa/HMC

Dustin Cates was a young teenager when he watched Maya Angelou on television reading "On the Pulse of Morning," the poem she’d written for President Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993. It left an impression.

“In high school English class, anytime we would study something she wrote, I was always excited to engage with that,” he says. “The command she has with the spoken word just draws you in — I was drawn into what she was saying and how she was saying it.”

The Gospel Scene

Jun 9, 2016

We visit with local gospel musicians to find out what it takes to make a living in KC’s gospel music industry.

Matt Needham Photography

Red Kate
unamerican activities (Black Site Records)

As an impressionable teenager with blue liberty spikes, I cut my teeth on the Kansas City punk rock scene, practically living at El Torreon on the weekends. I was the chick in the pit, dodging elbows and mashing around with steel toes. It wasn't an evening if I didn't have a new bruise.

Courtesy of The Grisly Hand

Story of a Song is a monthly segment on KCUR's Central Standard, in which Kansas City area musicians tell the story behind a recent song, and explain how it was constructed musically.

The Composer: Jimmy Fitzner, singer and guitarist

The Band: The Grisly Hand

The Song: “The Picture I Keep,” to be released on the forthcoming album Hearts and Stars

Matt Hopper is a staple of Kansas City’s jazz scene. A leader of his own bands, he's also a valued accompanist for other musicians. Besides the jam session he hosts every Tuesday at The Phoenix, Hopper plays from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the Green Lady Lounge on Thursday, June 9.

Why we're listening to him this week:

Matthew Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

A decade ago, lovers of soul and hip-hop in Kansas City would gather on Sunday nights at a greasy downtown dive bar to listen to DJ’s and eat hot wings. MCs would spit rhymes and pretty soon a break-dancing circle would form.

Fast forward to 2016, and some of those people, plus a whole new crew, have joined in on a similar event. But now it’s in the afternoon and involves a lot more crayons.

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:

Krizz Kaliko
Go (Strange Music)

Genius, the title of Krizz Kaliko’s 2009 album, wasn’t hyperbole. The visionary Kansas City musician’s contributions have been essential to the remarkable commercial success of his longtime collaborator, Tech N9ne. Kaliko’s new release, Go, his sixth solo album for the locally based Strange Music record label, is another impressive showcase of his luminous talent.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

Folk Alliance International reaffirmed its commitment to Kansas City on Tuesday and announced that British folk musician Billy Bragg will be the keynote speaker for its conference in February 2017.

Greg Anderson

Golden Groves
Ideas

Debut EPs are tricky. By definition they are first impressions, but they only capture a band’s earliest efforts, which makes them fragile. They’re also small-serving packages, just the barest of tastes, and often unsatisfying, even at their best. The members of Kansas City’s Golden Groves obviously understand those pitfalls, and they’ve artfully stacked their debut, Ideas, with a little bit of everything they can do.

Courtesy Dawayne Gilley

The Kansas City Kansas Street Blues Festival has had a hard life. In fact, fans of the scrappy two-day concert featuring all-local musicians probably thought it was dead, since it hasn't graced the corner of 13th and State with baleful riffs and barbecue smoke since 2009.

But like the characters in its performers' songs, it's found a way to survive. After seven years of silence, festival founder Dawayne Gilley says he's bringing it back this summer.

We hear a lot about the challenges and benefits of the internet for musicians trying to make a buck off their music?  What's the dynamic for local bands? Is a digital presence -- songs, promotion, social media -- a bane or boon?

Guests:

Chris Dennis

Chris Meck and the Guilty Birds
It’s 4 A.M.
Somewhere

The power of Chris Meck and the Guilty Birds’ debut comes from several places at once, but is exerted with a devastating focus.

First, there’s the precision of its fine power trio. Calandra Ysquierdo’s prowling, menacing bass and agile backing vocals explode off Michelle Bacon’s relentlessly pounding drums and splashing cymbals. They bolster lead singer Chris Meck’s more fragile bravado and provide ample space for his sharp, clean, ever-reaching guitar.

Courtesy Ida McBeth

The American Jazz Museum celebrates two Kansas City musical acts this weekend with Lifetime Achievement Awards for the McFadden Brothers and Ida McBeth.

McBeth's musical memories go all the way back to when she was five years old at church, singing the solo on a song called “It’s In My Heart.”

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

An electronic soundscape greets visitors to the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art on a recent Sunday afternoon. Some carry yoga mats as they walk into the main gallery, and settle in on the floor. Musician and composer Paul Rudy stands in front of a large-scale collage of rice paper, and wooden shelves lined with ceramics.

Rudy is tall, and dressed all in white, with a golden scarf. He chooses an instrument — and the musical meditation experience begins.

Courtesy of Tim Harte (photo by Ruby Sue Hanson)

When some people think about a conservatory of music, they might conjure up images of students playing the violin or piano and studying the works of Mozart and Beethoven.

That's about to change.

For the first time, the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance has admitted a student whose instrument is a computer. Tim Harte will be starting in the Conservatory’s composition program this fall.

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.

Courtesy Dom Chronicles

Dom Chronicles
Reality Makers (IndyGround)

The cover of rapper Dom Chronicles’ latest album is like a 1980s neon dream in which he's driving through a fantasy vision of the Kansas City skyline.

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

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."

Paul Andrews Photography

For the past six years, Victor & Penny — aka Jeff Freling and Erin McGrane — have traveled the country performing original music, as well as jazz and pop standards. Starting as a duo, playing tight harmonies on guitar and ukulele, they’re now backed by their Loose Change Orchestra.

Fish Fry host Chuck Haddix talked to Victor & Penny about their latest album, Electricity, and the creative process:

https://iknowdwill.files.wordpress.com

Blk Flanl is what happens when rapper Barrel Maker — that's Morgan Cooper — meets producer Conductor Williams, née Denzel Williams. The two may be familiar, not just to fans of local rap, because they've immersed themselves in the community. Cooper makes his living as a cinematographer, and Williams helped coach track at North Kansas City High School. In Blk Flanl, they tackle contemporary social issues with smart lyrics and bold beats, all served with a healthy dose of soul samples, and jazz- and R&B-inspired horns.

Paul Andrews

Victor and Penny
Electricity

Victor and Penny’s latest gambles aren’t obvious when the curtain rises on their newest release, even for fans who’ve loved their “prohibition-era” music from the start. But with this one, Jeff Freling and Erin McGrane have taken big risks — and made them work.

Friday was the fifth annual International Jazz Day, celebrated at the the White House with a star-studded event hosted by the Obamas. We talk with saxophonist and UMKC Jazz Director Bobby Watson about playing at the event and catching up with some musical friends.

Brian Rogers

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 Musicians: Emcee Morgan Cooper (aka Barrel Maker) and producer Brian Rogers (aka Lion)

Courtesy Blk Flanl

Blk Flanl
Blk Flanl II

If you like to learn about the inner lives of musicians, as though they're the friends or older siblings who are way cooler than you, then music podcasts might just be your thing. This show compiles great music podcasts with an emphasis on the musician-interview approach, plus a handful of new, non-music podcasts to refresh your general playlist. Timed in anticipation of KCUR's upcoming Podcast Party featuring Central Standard and The Grisly Hand. 

Guests:

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