Music | KCUR


Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Every once in a while, a Kansas City band releases an original Christmas song. But it’s unusual for area musicians to put out an entire album of holiday standards.

That’s what the bluegrass band Old Sound did this year, but making it happen involved something like a Christmas miracle.

“This is one those instances where the universe starts kind of opening up and giving you signs,” says guitarist Chad Brothers.

Courtesy The Floozies

The Floozies, a Lawrence based electro-funk duo, are one of the region’s most popular party bands. Their celebratory, dance-oriented concerts, accentuated with colorful lighting and video displays, have made the band a fixture on the summer festival circuit.

Brothers Mark (drums) and Matt (guitar) Hill have been honing their self-described “future funk” for more than a decade. In September they released their most fully realized album, the irreverently titled "Funk Jesus."

Aleksey Kaznadey /

Kevin Mahogany, the versatile and velvet-voiced vocalist who became one of the Kansas City jazz scene's more well-known exports, died Sunday. He was 59.

Mahogany had been living in Miami, but moved back to Kansas City in August after the sudden death of his wife, Allene Matthews Mahogany, over the summer, says Mahogany's sister, Carmen Julious.

The two had been married for 25 years, and Julious says Mahogany's grief had aggravated longer-term health issues.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

As always during this season, Kansas City musicians are booked for holiday gatherings.

"Christmas is the busiest time of year. We all have a million gigs," says Johnny Hamil, an area bass player and teacher (among his efforts to promote his instrument, Hamil lures esteemed bass players from around the world to town for his annual Kansas City Bass Workshop).

Courtesy Kansas City Jazz Orchestra

The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra is the region’s most prominent big band, dedicated to preserving and advancing the tradition of iconic Kansas City jazz ensembles led by William “Count” Basie, Andy Kirk and Bennie Moten. Guest vocalist Marilyn Maye, after all, performed at the band's debut concert in 2003.

Courtesy Loaded Goat / Facebook

When The Matchsellers’ Julie Bates sent out the word that she was organizing Cover Me, Kansas City Folk, an evening of local roots and acoustic songwriters covering each other’s songs, nearly every songwriter leapt at the chance.

“People were really excited about it,” she says. “If they could make it, they signed up right away.”

Courtesy Andrew Schwartz / Veritography

A Thanksgiving feast in a Scottish castle was the cherry on top when Kansas City’s Fountain City Brass Band toured the United Kingdom last month as America’s highest-ranked brass band.

Fountain City is one of Kansas City’s strongest musical ambassadors, with a second-place finish at the prestigious Brass in Concert competition at Gateshead, England (placing ahead of top-ranked Cory) and a third at the Scottish Open in Perth. On their own turf, our homegrown ensemble held its own against bands with traditions dating deep into the 1800s.

Mathias Kang

Andrew Morris, a guitarist and vocalist from Indiana, and Julie Bates, a fiddler and vocalist with roots in the Kansas City area, have released two albums as The Matchsellers.

They're an old-timey, folk and country duo whose between-song banter is as entertaining as their music. Among their two shows in upcoming days is the “Cover Me, KC” benefit for the Midwest Music Foundation, which Bates organized, with a roster of well-known area musicians covering one another’s compositions.

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 Joe Darling

Remember sitting by the Christmas tree, peeling back the wrapping on what could only be an LP – but which one? And by which of your favorite bands? Then listening for days, flipping that record from the A side to the B side, memorizing the lyrics on the liner notes, devouring the graphics.

Admittedly, some of you might be too young for those kinds of memories. But take it from someone who’s collected John Denver records since she was seven: A new album pressed on vinyl is a gift you receive several times over, every time the music plays.

Joe Darling agrees.

courtesy: Reference Recordings

The nominees for the 60th annual Grammy Awards were announced on Tuesday, and the Kansas City Symphony performs on a record nominated in two categories.

The recording is Adam Schoenberg: American Symphony; Finding Rothko; Picture Studies, and it features the Kansas City Symphony conducted by music director Michael Stern

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.


Son of the blues legend Johnnie Taylor, the Kansas City-based T.J. Hooker-Taylor performs at the annual Thanksgiving breakfast dance at the National Guard Armory in Kansas City, Kansas.

Organizers claim this year's party is the 68th annual Thanksgiving blues dance in Kansas City. Many of the revelers wear their holiday finest and sip on premium liquor (libations are B.Y.O.B.; a breakfast buffet is included with the price of admission).

Courtesy Michael McClintock

When Michael McClintock and Dálida Pupo Barrios met, it was not love at first sight.

Pupo Barrios was doing her job, working for the Cuban minister of culture, accompanying McClintock's tour group when he first visited the country.

Courtesy Stevie Stone / Facebook

Stevie Stone, a Kansas City-based rapper signed to the Strange Music label, is a regular presence at Tech N9ne concerts. But his show on Saturday is the final date of a 28-city tour he headlines in support of his new album "Level Up."

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.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City is among more than 60 cities around the world that earned "Creative City" distinction from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on October 31. Along with cities in Cabo Verde, Chile, Czechia, India, Kazakhstan, Portugal, Sweden, Kansas City was recognized as a music city. 

Brandon Cale / Courtesy The MGDs

The sharp-dressed MGDs are one of Kansas City’s most accomplished party bands, strongly influenced by New Orleans groups such as the Radiators, the Iguanas and the Neville Brothers.

Much of the MGDs repertoire features vocals, but soulful grooves and joyous instrumental solos are the group’s strength.

Keyboardist and vocalist Damon Parker fronts the band, which also includes guitarist Scott Middleton, trumpeter Teddy Krulewich, saxophonist Rudy Vasquez, bassist Greg Bush and drummer Matt Davis.

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.

Isaac Cates

The group: Isaac Cates and the Ordained

The song: "Hold On"

The story: Kansas City gospel singer Isaac Cates grew up hearing his grandparents hum to the traditional gospel song, "Hold On." 

"It's birthed out of the African experience of singing a story of encouragement," Cates says.