Music

Courtesy Ramy Essam

What’s the future of protest music?

That was a reasonable question for the hundreds of musicians who came to Kansas City in mid-February for the Folk Alliance International Conference, the theme of which was "Forbidden Folk." Given political developments over the last year, plenty of “old guys with banjos” — as one musician put it — were fired up, but I wanted to see what younger musicians thought about one staple of their genre.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

On Sunday, shortly before 11 a.m., British singer-songwriter Billy Bragg declared he was "itching to do a gig." It was day five of the Folk Alliance International Conference, and, as of that morning, Bragg had yet to play. 

Courtesy Momma's Boy/Facebook

Momma’s Boy is a new addition to the area’s thriving garage-rock revivalist scene, one that includes notables like the Conquerors and Psychic Heat.

3 reasons we're listening to Momma's Boy this week:

1. The band celebrates the release of its debut EP, Liquid Courage, at two shows this weekend.

2. Three of the four members of Momma’s Boy played together in high school.

Ed Boulter Photography

At first blush, Olathe doesn’t immediately come to mind as one of the primary refuges for folk music in the region.

But starting about two years ago, the Olathe Public Library became a surprisingly frequent go-to place for folk, bluegrass and roots music.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Kansas City musician Julian Davis is known for his championship flatpicking on the guitar. Young Davis and his bluegrass trio the Hay-Burners have regular gigs in Kansas City, and they recently competed on a national stage on "America's Got Talent."

Over the summer, Davis started playing mandolin.

Fally Afani

If you went out in the late 1990s and early 2000s, you probably heard Matt Pryor in venues around town.

He was the lead singer of the indie pop-punk band, The Get Up Kids, and he was also the front man for its spin-off, The New Amsterdams.

Now, the Lawrence-based musician is making solo records, and his new album, Memento Mori, takes a different turn.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

When Folk Alliance International decided last spring on "a clenched fist of resistance against the struggle," as executive director Aengus Finnan described the poster art for its 2017 conference, organizers couldn't have predicted how relevant the theme Forbidden Folk, "celebrating activism in art," would resonate almost a year later. 

Three musicians discuss the influence of protest music — the theme of this weekend's annual Folk Alliance International conference in KC.

Guests:

Wikipedia Commons

The Ozark Mountain Daredevils started playing together 45 years ago in Springfield, Missouri, but Kansas City has always been the band’s secondary base.

3 reasons we're listening to the Ozark Mountain Daredevils this week:

1. On Friday, the Daredevils play a concert with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band that's a benefit for the Medicine Cabinet, a charity that provides "short-term emergency medical assistance for those in need in the metropolitan Kansas City area."

Courtesy John Goolsby

John Goolsby
The Midwest

For the past few years, John Goolsby’s performances at places like Knuckleheads' Gospel Lounge have generally been solo — a singer-songwriter with country leanings, carrying shows with his pure-but-burly voice, a guitar, and a growing stack of songs with heartfelt, honest stories behind them.

Strange Music

Big Scoob
H.O.G. (Strange Music)

Years before Tech N9ne became internationally known, before his Strange Music empire dominated Kansas City hip-hop — and the hip-hop label world in general — there were the 57th Street Rogue Dog Villains. Big Scoob was the group's “street-hustler,” his fellow rapper Txx Will told The Pitch in 2002.

Courtney Williams

Julie Bennett Hume knows her voice is unusual.

She describes it as gravely, brassy at times. It can go low. Sometimes, she says, it's almost a yodel.

"It can do a lot of things, but it isn't as if people say, 'Oh, that's so beautiful.' But I can do justice to a song, and that's what I like about it," she says. "That's what folk music is about."

3 Reasons We're Listening To Erica Joy This Week

Feb 1, 2017
Courtesy Erica Joy

Erica Joy plays her first high-profile show on Friday to celebrate the release of her debut record, a five-song EP called Erica Joy, Introduction.

3 reasons we're listening to Erica Joy this week:

1. Whether by accident or design, Joy is a mysterious figure. The artist from Springfield, Missouri, hasn't released much biographical information, which adds a layer of intrigue to her music.

Paul Andrews

The Grisly Hand
Hearts & Stars

Since 2009, The Grisly Hand has been a band that’s comfortable in its own skin, equally content and holding its own whether it’s the next band up in a punk rock lineup, showcasing at the Folk Alliance conference, or opening for Lee Ann Womack. It’s not that the band doesn’t fit anywhere: Its musicians keep pushing their own limits, so they fit everywhere.

Courtesy Through A Glass Productions

The Kansas City Symphony has released an album of music it commissioned from one of America's most promising composers. We learn about that collaboration, and about the composer's creative process. Then, Langston Hughes lived in Lawrence until just after high school, but still managed to leave a legacy of activism there.

Courtesy A La Mode

A La Mode is a Kansas City hot jazz ensemble led by guitarist Clayton DeLong and vocalist Jesica “Baby J” Poell, with performances this weekend.

3 reasons we're listening to A La Mode this week:

Chris Meck and the Guilty Birds

Story of a Song is a monthly segment on KCUR 89.3 in which local musicians tell the story behind a song they have written or are performing. This is a special installment to coincide with a song deliberately released on Inauguration Day, 2017.

The band: Chris Meck and the Guilty Birds

The song: "Destination Revolution"

Kristi Yarcho

The Blackbird Revue is a Kansas City based folk-rock ensemble led by the husband-and-wife team of Jacob and Danielle Prestidge that headlines a show at RecordBar on Thursday, January 19.

3 reasons we're listening to the Blackbird Revue this week:

1. The Blackbird Revue is relocating to Los Angeles.

The Missouri State University Chorale is anxiously anticipating January 20—the day millions of eyes will turn to the nation’s capitol for the inauguration of the 45th U.S. president.  The 50-member choir will be part of the ceremony and has commissioned a new piece for the event.  KSMU’s Michele Skalicky has the story.

Courtesy Dino Massa

The Dino Massa Kansas City Quintet
Echoes of Europe (Artists Recording Collective)

Echoes of Europe, a collaboration between the Italian pianist Dino Masso and jazz musicians based in the Kansas City area, is the result of a chance encounter in Naples in 1990.

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 Lincoln Marshall / Facebook

Lincoln Marshall is the Kansas-based rap duo of Approach (Sean Hunt) and MilkDrop ( John-Alan Suter). They're on the bill for this weekend's Sound Machine concert, a monthly event that's envisioned as a miniature version of the annual Middle of the Map Fest.

3 reasons we're listening to Lincoln Marshall this week:

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