rock

James T. Lundie

Julia Othmer is an art-rock musician in the vein of Tori Amos and Peter Gabriel. Although she currently lives in Los Angeles, Othmer claims Kansas City as her hometown and returns to visit her parents and friends several times a year.

Othmer says she intends to "be on the road a lot" in 2018 to promote her forthcoming album "Sound. That includes a stop at Knuckleheads this weekend.

Kansas City's music scene has a long tradition of hardworking artists who turn out great, original songs. Last year was no different. Today, Playlistplay.com co-creater Savanna Howland, Judy Mills of Mills Record Company, and KCUR contributor Bill Brownlee offer a sampling of their favorite 2017 releases from Kansas City and around the world.

Courtesy Edison Lights

The members of Edison Lights are battle-scarred veterans of Kansas City’s rock scene.

The primary vocalist, guitarist and songwriter, Chris Doolittle, was a founding member of the Front, a local hard rock band that achieved a modicum of mainstream success in the late 1980s. Edison Lights marks his return to the rock scene after dedicating himself to raising a family for the past 20 years.

Courtesy Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear

Madisen Ward and his mother Ruth Ward of Independence went from complete obscurity to a modicum of international celebrity in 2015. Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear were playing at open-mic nights in area coffeehouses when they signed with Glassnote Records, home of superstar acts including Mumford & Sons.

Courtesy Edison Lights

The history of rock and roll is littered with lurid stories about the abhorrent behavior of male musicians. Chris Doolittle, who set aside a promising music career to help provide for his wife and children, is one of the good guys.

Courtesy Truck Stop Love / Black Site Records

For Truck Stop Love, the early ‘90s were a magical rock and roll blur.

Some things the band does remember: recording their major label debut for Scotti Brothers records in Santa Monica, California, just down the hall from Weird Al Yankovic, who was working on Alapalooza; and making a record produced by Jody Stephens of Big Star at Ardent Studios in Memphis, playing in the same room where The Replacements once recorded.

Courtesy Katy Giullen and The Girls / Facebook

By adding a contemporary twist to the straightforward blues-rock that’s long resonated among area audiences, guitarist Katy Guillen, bassist Claire Adams and drummer Stephanie Williams have become one of the most reliably entertaining groups in Kansas City.

On Saturday, Katy Guillen & The Girls celebrate the release of their third album, "Remember What You Knew Before." It's not simply more barroom boogie.

Courtesy Wick and the Tricks

It’s a Saturday night at Davey’s Uptown, and a white sheet is tacked on the north wall, catty-corner to the stage, a makeshift projection screen. The crowd is busy at the bar fending for the bartender’s attention as the night’s third band clears out. Next up are Wick and the Tricks, celebrating the release of their first record with a music video premiere.

Courtesy Freight Train Rabbit Killer

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.

Courtesy Roman Numerals / Facebook

One of the region’s most notable indie-rock bands a decade ago, Roman Numerals were Ryan Shank on drums, Shawn Sherrill on keyboards and bass, Billy Smith on guitars and vocals, and Steve Tulipana on bass, guitars and vocals.

Tulipana and Sherrill went on to open the highly successful RecordBar in Westport. Their band's last recent performance was the penultimate show at the venue's original site on January 1, 2016. RecordBar has since re-opened at 1520 Grand Boulevard, which is where Roman Numerals reunite on Saturday.

Courtesy Wick and the Tricks

Aligned with the riotgrrrl and queercore punk movements, Kansas City's Wick & the Tricks celebrate the release of a new four-song, 7-inch limited edition vinyl "Not Enough" at Davey’s Uptown Rambler’s Club on Saturday.

Courtesy Fred Wickham

Fred Wickham has clearly absorbed the spirit of the Hadacol Caravan.

Back in the early ‘50s, the Caravan, named for an alcohol-laden “medicine” designed to ease good country people through dry county weekends, needed as many as train cars to tour the country. Originally hosted by Hank Williams, the Caravan featured performers as varied as Roy Acuff, Minnie Pearl, Milton Berle and Judy Garland.

Bobnjeff / Flickr - CC

Despite passing away 25 years ago, Marjorie Powell Allen's life works continue to impact the Kansas City region. Today, we recall the businesswoman, educator and philanthropist, chronicled in a new biography. Then, we speak with two-time Grammy winner and Leavenworth native Melissa Etheridge, and learn how and why she continues to advocate for the environment and the LGBTQ community.  

Courtesy Melissa Etheridge

Grammy- and Oscar-winning singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge was moved to hear how her music had affected fans during a conversation on KCUR's Up to Date on Friday before a weekend of performances with the Kansas City Symphony.

Tory Garcia / Courtesy of Kemet Coleman

The Phantastics describe themselves as “dance floor activators.”

For the last six years, they’ve been activating local dance floors with songs that meld rap, jazz, gospel, funk and more.

“We definitely try to incorporate as many genres as possible to create not chaos, but a winding river of music,” rapper Kemet Coleman told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard.

Courtesy Ryan Heinlein

Individual jazz musicians regularly hit multiple spots in a single night, but it’s far less common for an entire band to play three venues in a 12-hour span. But that's what The Project H, led by trombonist Ryan Heinlein, is doing in different parts of town on Saturday.

Courtesy Mike Dillon / Facebook

An heir to the legacy of Frank Zappa, Mike Dillon is a musical satirist and acerbic provocateur.

Dillon's work has been documented in an extensive discography of unconventional jazz, rock and funk albums as a titanic figure in the outsider music scene. Currently based in New Orleans, Dillon — who performs at the Brick on Friday — once lived in Kansas City while performing in bands including the experimental jazz collective Malachy Papers. 

Fantasy Records / Heinrich Klaffs / Creative Commons

Songs like Proud Mary and Midnight Train to Georgia are well-known and much-loved, but the versions that got radio play went through multiple iterations on the part of numerous song writers, musicians, and producers, whose names you may not find in the liner notes. Today, we hear the evolution stories of iconic American pop, rock, and R&B anthems with music writer and critic Marc Myers.  Then sports reporter Greg Echlin updates us on Missouri and Kansas Olympians.

Chad Onianwa / KCUR 89.3

At some point, everyone dreams of being a rock star. But even for people who aren't musicians and don't aspire to be rock stars, there can be something attractive about being in front of an audience and having a voice that's heard.

For girls and people who don't fit gender norms, that's a bit harder to achieve.

Lawrence musicians Angie Schoenherr and Monica George recognize this issue. Wanting to see more women and trans people in the city's music scene and fewer "bro-fests," as George puts it, they decided to do something about it.

Courtesy The Philistines

A seasoned collective of Kansas City musicians who make psychedelic rock together as The Philistines perform at one of Kansas City's most interesting bars, a hidden West Bottoms gem called The Ship, on Saturday.

Brian Slater / Courtesy Making Movies

One of Kansas City’s most accomplished rock bands, Making Movies tours extensively and collaborates with prominent artists — but this weekend they're part of a free concert in downtown Lawrence.

That free show comes as the band — brothers Diego and Enrique Chi, who are Panamanian immigrants; and brothers Juan-Carlos and Andres Chaurand — is enjoying a wave of national attention.

Paul Andrews

My Brothers & Sisters is a large Kansas City collective that adds psychedelic flourishes to rock, funk and soul. In characteristically purple prose, the band refers to itself as “the ascetic bloodhounds of immortal sonic ecstasy.”

They deliver a powerful live performance. The nine or more musicians who squeeze onto stages during My Brothers & Sisters shows induce wide smiles and uninhibited dancing.

Courtesy Hembree

Hembree is one of Kansas City’s most popular indie-rock bands, and has an opening slot for Elvis Costello & the Imposters at Crossroads KC on Friday.

In spite of Hembree’s popularity, the band isn’t an obvious candidate to open for Costello. The British star is a dazzling lyricist, while Hembree’s appeal is rooted in its moody sound.

The band rose from the ashes of the defunct Americana band Quiet Corral, but Hembree’s polished sound bears little resemblance to Quiet Corral’s folk-rock.

Brian Rozman Photography

It’s easy to imagine a teenage Samantha Fish standing in the mulch at Crossroads KC, dreaming about playing up on the stage.

“I’ve been going to that venue since I was a teenager,” Fish, a Kansas City native, confirms. “That and Knuckleheads were my two favorite places to go see live music.”

Jason Gonulsen

For a few years, it was an autumn tradition: Wrap up the turkey and pumpkin pie, wash up the dishes, then head down to the Record Bar for a Ha Ha Tonka show.

But it’s been awhile since Ha Ha Tonka came to town — long enough that a whole new RecordBar awaits their return. The band, with Springfield, Missouri, origins and a name borrowed from a state park at the Lake of the Ozarks, has gone through a few changes.

Alicia Solo

As the dynamic singer of the now-defunct Beautiful Bodies, Alicia Solombrino was a whirlwind front person, displaying as much energy with her free-spirited stage antics as any contemporary Kansas City musician.

Courtesy Katy Guillen & The Girls

Katy Guillen & the Girls — the blues-rock trio of guitarist Katy Guillen, bassist Claire Adams and drummer Stephanie Williams — is one of Kansas City’s most accomplished bands, touring regularly throughout the country.

United States Mission Geneva / Wikimedia Commons--CC

The Band's legendary final performance was over 40 years ago, but their fame lives on. The hit group's lead guitarist, Robbie Robertson, shares stories from the time he wrote "The Weight" in one night to jamming with Bob Dylan.

Courtesy The Elders

The Kansas City based Celtic-rock band The Elders has long been one of Kansas City’s most popular bands, performing regularly at prominent civic gatherings including the Plaza Lighting Ceremony on Thanksgiving.

On Saturday, the band oversees another annual tradition: The Elders’ 15th annual hoolie.

In honor of their featured status this week, we're playing "Meetings of the Waters," off of the band's seventh studio album, 2014's Story Road.

Wikimedia Commons

The Vietnam War didn't end silently, it went out to the loud riffs of rock n' roll. Revisit the songs that shaped the 1960s and '70s, and captured the moods of soldiers overseas and civilians at home. We also find out how the electric guitar became the international symbol of freedom, danger and rebellion.

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