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September 2014
Seagulls
"Great Pine
"
mp3
With spindly strings horning in the opening instrumental, “Dragoon” awakens Seagulls' debut LP Great Pine, seamlessly transitioning into “Swimmin’,” a song that is initially given a steady-footed beat around which a more intricate and illuminating composition is built generating a peaceful yet purposeful layered sound, setting the tone for what lies ahead. “You and Me” plays like a surf-folk love letter, developing a warm, earnest vocal confession, while fitting nicely with the tug and pull groove of the scratching guitar and persistent bass. The vocal harmonies provide a sweetness accompanied by reserved bursts of trumpet and accordion-like effects offer a tease of nostalgia.
 
“Love, Give” follows a similar theme as vocals, strings, and snap-percussion set a pleasant, pensive, strolling pace as echoing harmonies and backing vocals reinforce, “Love give your hands to me, for someday I’ll be on bended knee.” “Old Habits” maintains an up close lo-fi aesthetic and underlying 8-bit accents, but the perspective has changed, shining a light on the dark side of relationships and a groove that has a somewhat worn and dusty ascetic, enhancing the lyrics meaning - “Old habits, die hard or they never do/so keep lying til they all catch up to you.” A well-placed take on Big Star’s “Thirteen” incorporates the honest-loving sentiments of adolescence, falling neatly inline with the group’s heartfelt vocal honesty, while simultaneously acknowledging one of their potential influences.
 
The record’s title-track “Great Pine” serves as a breath-catching ambiance builder before the turbulent “Holy Smokes” emerges. Enlisting peaks of aggressive kick-in-the-door instrumentation - particularly percussion between smooth stretches of vocally dominant valleys - in essence, layering pieces of clear skies between moments of violent storms.
 
“Distracted” concludes Great Pine with an uplifting blanket of vocals, allowing the guitar to stretch its sea legs as the backend force steers the musical ship; holding the course. This album starts on the shore, and while there are moments where it seems destined to searchingly drift out there, Seagulls appropriately demonstrate an ability to reel it in, taking a beautiful inaugural voyage. - Michael Colavita

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The Deli's SXSW Issue 2014 is online!

Read it digitally here.

P.S. 10k free copies of this issue hit the street of Austin during SXSW Music week!


Spotlight on CMF artist: Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear

This week, we are highlighting some of the artists playing the 10th annual Crossroads Music Fest. For more info or ticketing information, please visit cmfkc.com.
 
Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear quietly released their first album, We Burned the Cane Field, in 2012 (recorded/produced by Joel Nanos at Element Recording). It was relatively unknown and received very little press (The Deli KC published a review in 2013). The mother/son duo of Ruth and Madisen Ward continued performing week to week in coffeehouses and smaller venues, gaining a reputation for its profound songwriting, having two intriguing powerhouse voices, and an earnest charm that connected with audiences.
 
Mostly by word of mouth, Madisen and Ruth’s music has captured the attention of many in the KC area and beyond. We talk a bit with Madisen Ward about how the band came to be and what they have planned.
 
The Deli: How would you describe your music in one sentence?
 
Madisen Ward: An organic tribute to imperfection.
 
The Deli: Give us some background on the band. Why did you and your mom decide you would play together?
 
Madisen: We have been a band for 4 years now. My mother started singing at the age of 19; living a semi-nomadic life, singing in coffeehouses throughout the US. I grew up listening to her sing in coffeehouses, never realizing the impact her music and inspirations would have on me in the future. I picked up the guitar in my later teens and started singing even later. After high school, we discovered how much we enjoyed performing together, so I began writing music for both of us to sing in coffeehouses. We've been playing wherever we can, and as much as we can ever since.
 
The Deli: Madisen, what’s it like to be in a band with your mom? And Ruth, what’s it like to work with your son?
 
Madisen: It's a very interesting and unique experience working with my mother. We were already connected as mother and son, so connecting as musicians was a very natural process.
 
Ruth: It's a great experience, and I'm learning a lot from my son while enjoying the process as well. I feel like we're tackling music in ways I never have before.
 
The Deli: Your first album, We Burned the Cane Field, came out in 2012. Do you have any new stuff in the works?
 
Madisen: We have lots of new material. Songs that we're real excited to share with everyone, but the actual recording date is undetermined at this time. We're looking forward to recording as soon as possible!
 
The Deli: What has been your biggest accomplishment as a band?
 
Madisen: We just recently announced that we'll be opening for the legendary B.B. King on October 1 at The Midland (Facebook event page). This is probably our greatest accomplishment so far. It is a humbling honor to share the evening with such an amazing blues icon!
 
The Deli: What does the future hold for Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear?
 
Madisen: Touring and recording is what we're wanting to accomplish for the upcoming months. We just recently signed on with the William Morris Endeavor Agency, and we couldn't be more excited to embark on this journey!
 
The Deli: Who are your favorite local and non-local musicians right now?
 
Madisen: A couple of Mama Bear's favorite musicians are Tracy Chapman and John Gorka. A couple of mine are Nick Drake and Tom Waits. Kansas City has a very unique and vibrant music scene; we'd rather not pick any one local musician as our favorite.
 
The Deli: Who are you looking forward to seeing at Crossroads Music Fest this year?
 
Madisen: I'm excited to see many bands, including The Philistines whom we're sharing a venue with. Me Like Bees is a band I'm excited to see as well.
 
The Deli: Where can we find you on the web?
 
 
The Deli: Always go out on a high note. Any last words of wisdom for the Deli audience?
 
Madisen: No matter what you pursue; respect others while pursuing it. With all due respect, We're all due respect.
 
 
Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear will be playing at The Tank Room for Crossroads Music Fest on Saturday. They will be playing at 10:00 pm, right after Maria the Mexican and right before The Philistines.
 
--Michelle Bacon
 
Michelle Bacon is editor of The Deli KC and plays in bands.
 
 

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Spotlight on CMF artist: Scott Hrabko & the Rabbits

(Photo by M. Krebotchnik)
 
This week, we’ll be highlighting some of the artists playing the 10th annual Crossroads Music Fest next Saturday, September 6. Please visit cmfkc.com for more information.
 
Scott Hrabko has been making music for over 25 years now, but only recently released his debut album in late 2013. The singer/songwriter composes thoughtful, reflective tunes with a backing band that provides the soul, swing, and twang that gives his music a classic country feel. We talk with Hrabko about his history and how he got back into the music scene.
 
The Deli: Down and dirty: 1 sentence to describe your music. What is it?
 
Hrabko: Singer/songwriterly, semi-autobiographical songs with rambling lyrics, played in a somewhat offbeat country/folk/blues hybrid with an emphasis on soulful three-part harmonies.
 
The Deli: How did you get back into writing and playing your own songs again?
 
Hrabko: After I moved from KC in the '90s, I had some good bands in Chicago and Austin that maybe 20 people knew about. When I came back, though, I was having trouble meeting musicians who had any interest in the kind of stuff I write. I grew kind of disillusioned about writing songs for awhile and my only connection to music was this cover band, The Original Sinners, playing semi-obscure R&B songs from the '50s a few times a year at parties. When the urge to write started pestering me again, my wife strongly suggested that I get out and play some solo acoustic shows. That was when I asked Howard Iceberg for advice and he introduced me to Elaine McMilian. Elaine booked gigs for me and helped get my music back out in public. She and her friend, the late Tom Ryan, were huge supporters early on. That helped because I was very nervous about the whole thing and had no idea how it would be received. It's not easy to go out and perform without a band, but I'm glad I did; I really learned whether my songs can stand on their own, without all of the seductive instrumentation.
 
The Deli: How did you hook up with the rest of the Rabbits?
 
Hrabko: I met Emily Tummons a few years ago at the Howard Iceberg tribute show at Crosstown Station. My old band, the Splinters, was invited to play a couple of Howard's tunes; Emily and her sister Beth sang a couple by themselves and with Scott Easterday. Their sound really knocked me out. It was very old-timey—the kind of harmonies you just don't hear these days. I thought, “I have to find a way to sing with those girls, somehow.” I figured we might run into each other eventually, but right after the show as I was loading up my car, Emily came right up and introduced herself and asked if I ever needed any backing vocals. Beth was too busy with her home life to commit to anything, but Emily wound up singing on my album and then joined the Rabbits.
 
Josh Arnold was the first musician who joined us after that. He had gone to school with Emily and played bass with the Tummons Sisters. He and Emily had sung harmonies before, as well, so they already had all this history. I knew immediately that we had a good combination. He's a great, intuitive bass player, and the two of them just have this telepathy when they sing together. With previous bands I was probably guilty of micromanagement, not letting the musicians be themselves and find a flow, but with Josh and Emily I just say, “here's the song—go to it,” with only an occasional suggestion of what they should do. They're also great people, and very funny.
 
We just lost our badass guitarist, Kirk Scott, who moved with his family to Massachusetts, so we're a trio now, but we have a fourth member lined up; it’s just not official yet. Emily sang some harmonies on my CD, Gone Places and we started rehearsing with Josh about a year ago in preparation for the CD release, which was last November at Coda.
 
The Deli: What have been your greatest accomplishments as a band?
 
Hrabko: I think it has been developing our own unique sound in a very short period of time. I always dreamed of having a band with a strong element of harmony and the first time we sang together I knew it could be something special. And, for me, personally—I was really out of the music scene for years, so getting back into it and being so warmly received is really gratifying.
 
The Deli: You released your debut album Gone Places last November. What can people expect from it?
 
Hrabko: Gone Places came out late last year. That one was me and some old friends and some guest musicians I'd just met, recorded mostly in my basement. Scott Hrabko & The Rabbits are putting the finishing touches on a new album which will be out some time this fall.
 
The Deli: Who are you most looking forward to seeing at Crossroads Music Fest this year?
 
Hrabko: There are a lot of bands I already like that I want to hear, as well as some I'm curious about. It's very nice that it all takes place within a few city blocks. After our set I think I'm just going to go wherever the wind takes me. It all sounds good.
 
The Deli: What does supporting local music mean to you?
 
Hrabko: It's about acknowledging how lucky we are to be in a small-to-mid-sized major city smack dab in the middle of the country and we're absolutely surrounded with good music. Can't swing a dead cat. I'll give you an example: we have this local, non-touring band, Dead Voices, who are making music that is just historically good, and they're like our little secret. For the time being we have them to ourselves. It's really lovely to see all this music happening here, because I can remember a time when it wasn't, aside from a handful of true believers.
 
It's not the product of hype, or a response to some kind of market pressure, either. It's just growing on its own, taking its own quirky course.
 
The Deli: What has changed about the local music landscape? Why do you think it’s growing at a rate it wasn’t before?
 
Hrabko: There seems to be a convergence of musicians who came up together in the ‘90s and early ‘00s, who are all friends and play in each other's bands. Many of the bands just seem to be part of one organism! It kind of sustains itself. It helps that the music is worth listening to.
 
Second, it seems that there are more entrepreneurs around who are musician-friendly or musicians themselves who are starting up venues and record labels, organizing festivals, etc. That infrastructure definitely wasn't around back in the day when a band like mine could play a Monday night at The Grand Emporium or maybe open for somebody at Parody Hall.
 
Third, the internet. Being able to post your music online for anybody to check out has been a godsend for socially challenged musicians like me, and all of the social media has made it much easier to get the word out. Going around, stapling fliers to telephone poles seems very quaint now. I would also add that there are more true music lovers—especially for live music—than you would think there would be in a town this size, so people do come out. And of course we have KKFI!
 
The Deli: Who are your favorite local musicians right now?
 
Hrabko: It kills me to leave so many out, but I am a huge fan of Mikal Shapiro, Dead Voices, of course -- anything David Regnier is involved in, Jason Beers, Marco Pascolini, Howard Iceberg, Brent Jamison, Kasey Rausch, Old Sound. John Greiner, but he just moved to the east coast, so he's no longer local. Emily and Josh from my own band kick my ass on a regular basis.
 
The Deli: Who are your favorite not-so-local musicians right now?
 
Hrabko: Lately I've gotten into these mysterious, English folky women, like Cate LeBon and This Is The Kit. Also digging back into the late Townes Van Zandt's early catalog and finding I really didn't know all I thought I knew about him. What a lyricist... like William Blake or something! Fred Neill, early John Martyn (a lot of dead guys, I guess!), Michael Kiwanuka.
 
The Deli: A music-themed Mount Rushmore. What four faces are you putting up there and why?
 
Hrabko: Leonard Cohen, Robert Johnson, Joni Mitchell, Jimmie Rodgers, Captain Beefheart (I know, that's five): great music that has stood the test of time. I've had so many musical heroes that I've either outgrown, disavowed, or gotten sick of, but I still get chills when I listen to these people’s songs. It still has as profound an impact on me as it did when I was much younger and knew even less.
 
The Deli: What other goals does Scott Hrabko & the Rabbits have for 2014?
 
Hrabko: Stay healthy, stay busy, stay visible, write great songs, and grow as a band.
 
The Deli: Where can we find you on the web?
 
 
The Deli: Always go out on a high note. Any last words of wisdom for the Deli audience?
 
Hrabko: If it's crap, don't be deterred.
 
Scott Hrabko & the Rabbits are:
Scott Hrabko: acoustic guitar, lead vocals
Josh Arnold: bass, vocals
Emily Tummons: accordion, ukulele, vocals
 
https://fbcdn-sphotos-d-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xap1/t1.0-9/10562953_10100267506402489_8344873471633293832_n.jpg
 
Scott Hrabko & the Rabbits will be playing at The Tank Room for Crossroads Music Fest on Saturday. Their set is at 6:00 pm, followed by Old Sound. Facebook event page. You can also catch Hrabko at Coda every fourth Saturday, where he hosts a happy hour songwriter showcase.
 
--Michelle Bacon
 
 

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The Record Machine brings a formidable lineup to Crossroads Music Fest next Saturday

This week, we’ll be highlighting some of the events and artists at the 10th annual Crossroads Music Fest on Saturday, September 6. Please visit cmfkc.com for more information.
 
This is the first year that The Record Machine will be curating its own stage at CMF. The record label, based in Kansas City, was launched in 2003, has released more than 50 albums, and has powered breakout area [and national] acts such as Cowboy Indian Bear, Minden, Soft Reeds, and Making Movies. The Record Machine also curated and has helped organize Ink’s Middle of the Map Festival each year since its 2011 inception. 
 
Today, Nathan Reusch (who co-founded TRM with Mike Russo and Richard Robinett) owns the label and works with more than a dozen indie acts, many of whom are based in Kansas City. By booking them on widely attended showcases, helping them with touring, putting out records, among other invaluable services, The Record Machine has been a viable resource for the KC/Lawrence music community. We ask Reusch a few questions about what we can expect at the fest and in the future.
 
The Deli: Do you have any surprises in store for the CMF showcase?
 
Reusch: We will be unveiling some new branding for the label and we are excited about it. We will be launching a new website and video series from footage that we’re going to be making that weekend. We will likely have a pinata or two to smash in between bands.
 
The Deli: The showcase includes five artists on The Record Machine label. Why did you choose these acts?
 
Reusch: We are excited to have Max Justus, La Guerre, The Noise FM (pictured above), Chambers, and Ghastly Menace all on one show. They all have new records that either just came out or about to come out next year. So it’s really an accurate picture of where the label is at.
 
The Deli: What are some of the label’s greatest accomplishments?
 
Reusch: We are lucky to have released great records over the last few years from some of our favorites like Capybara, Cowboy Indian Bear, Soft Reeds, Spirit Is The Spirit, and a lot more. Between the work we do with The Record Machine and curating Ink's Middle of the Map Fest, I feel like the label has hit a really great stride.
 
The Deli: Why did you decide to curate a stage at CMF? What value does it have for the KC music community?
 
Reusch: We were super honored to be asked to curate our own stage by CMF founder Bill Sundahl. I think it’s a great fest that shows a broad swath of what is going on in KC. It’s nice for us who have bands from around the region to join in the fest. A lot of our bands call KC a second home with The Record Machine being here.
 
The Deli: What else does The Record Machine have coming up that you’re looking forward to?
 
Reusch: We have an EP coming out this fall from Stolen Nations. It’s KC native Jon Terrey (The Chariot, The James Dean Trio). It’s really cool and fun to have Jon back on the label; he was in The James Dean Trio back in 2003 when we first started the label and was part of our first release. We also have new records coming out from Ghastly Menace, La Guerre, and Max Justus that we hope to have release dates for soon.
 
We’re currently starting work on 2015’s Middle of the Map Fest, which is always an exciting and fun event to plan but takes a lot of time for everything to come together. We also always try to throw a pretty sweet free Christmas party/winter showcase and looking at doing that in early December.
 
 
Be sure to make The Record Machine’s showcase one of your CMF stops on Saturday night. It takes place at Czar, with Ghastly Menace (6:00), La Guerre (8:00), Chambers (10:00), The Noise FM (12:00), and Max Justus (1:00). Facebook event page.
 

--Michelle Bacon

 

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Artists on Trial: Doby Watson

(Photo by Alison Claire Peck)
 
Doby Watson has been writing songs since he was a child. His songwriting invites—or rather, pulls the listener in to the miserable but beautiful world in his mind. Though sparse in instrumentation, his music is poetic, shrouded in a dense fog of melancholy and pain. A young but seasoned songwriter, Watson has gone on numerous US tours and released several albums. With his next album, Live-In Son, being released in October, we asked him a few questions about what he has happening.
 
The Deli: Down and dirty: 1 sentence to describe your music. What is it?
 
Watson: One of the only things keeping me from killing myself.
 
The Deli: You mainly work solo, but do you collaborate with other musicians very often?
 
Watson: I’ve historically avoided accompaniment (with the occasional exception of my dear friend Austin Swearengin). However, lately I have been lucky enough to play alongside Adam Brumback (guitar, vocals, percussion), Grant Buell (keys/piano) and Chad Toney (bass) live. And on record Grant Buell (My Oh My, Kansas City Bear Fighters), Jerad Tomasino (Everyday/Everynight), Chad Toney (Hidden Pictures, Leering Heathens), Lennon Bone (Ha Ha Tonka), Ryan Brewer (Hank., Good Night & Good Morning), Richard Gintowt (Hidden Pictures), Austin Swearengin, Matt Dill, Margo May, and a multitude of others have joined me. There are countless other folks I’d love to work with, as well.
 
The Deli: What is the heart of your songwriting all about?
 
Watson: Just a beer-soaked, privileged white guy complaining about his relatively nice life, I suppose.
 
The Deli: You're releasing Live-In Son on October 17. What can we expect from this?
 
Watson: Imagine the emotional equivalent of locking yourself in your parents’ bathroom for 5 years, filling the tub with terrible beer, getting in said tub while chain smoking, occasionally letting loved ones in and asking them to hold your head down in the tub until you drown in beer, but instead of helping you drown (or lifting you up from the tub), they simply walk away in disappointment and shame.
 
I recorded the songs live in Ross Brown’s basement about a year ago here in KC. The following day, Grant Buell (Rhodes) and Jerad Tomasino (vocals) came in and improvised over the live recordings, having never rehearsed with me or each other. Hannah Jensen added some viola drones at Ross’s, and Richard Gintowt added additional vocals at his home in San Francisco. The songs sat for some time until Ryan Brewer was kind enough to mix them and add some electric guitars, field recordings, and auxiliary percussion, etc., in Champaign, IL. Finally, Cory Schulz has been kind enough to beautifully master the results in Milwaukee. Essentially, I’ve been riding on the backs and good will of my talented friends to piece together a slow, creepy, sob-fest about some of the most unpleasant years of my life (so far).
 
Not to mention the visual side of the record, which has been/is being put together with help from Alison Claire Peck, Adam Brumback, Tim Williams, Megan Inghram, as well as my parents.
 
The Deli: You are releasing the album on Error Records and Double Shift.
 
Watson: Error Records is an amazing record store, venue, and DIY label based in Champaign, all masterfully run under the ironclad beard of Nathan Landolt. Double Shift is a new label based in Queens, NY, operated by Cameron Matthews (as fantastic a journalist as he is a musician) of which I am lucky enough to be the flagship artist. The two labels are working together to release a cassette and digital version of Live-In Son.
 
The Deli: You're kicking off an extensive tour soon. What are you looking forward to most?
 
Watson: Seeing all of the wonderful friends I’ve made over the years and miss dearly. At that, making new wonderful friends as I get back on the road.
 
I’m also thrilled to be accompanied by Adam Brumback on this tour. He brings a lot to the songs, so much so that I wish he was around for the recording sessions. I’m equally excited to be joined by ZXO on this tour, a new solo project from Ryan Brewer, who was also heavily involved in the completion of the record.
 
The Deli: What does supporting local music mean to you?
 
Watson: That’s a hard question for me to answer. I don’t feel like I’m very involved in much “local” music or go to enough shows in KC. I should fix that.
 
The Deli: Who are your favorite local musicians right now?
 
Watson: There are so many. I feel like Kansas City is in a bit of a renaissance. I have so many amazingly talented friends and am introduced to countless wonderful performers I was previously unaware of every time I go to a show. So, really, anyone who is trying and cares about what they are doing is my favorite. That being said…
 
Manipulator Alligator (Matthew Hoppock). He doesn’t play much, if at all anymore. But he’s one of the only artists I have ever covered and has remained one of my greatest influences. I sincerely believe he is one of the greatest songwriters to have ever lived. It amazes me that I am able to call someone so talented a friend as well. Honestly, that goes for all of my musical friends, local or not.
 
The Deli: Who are your favorite not-so-local musicians right now?
 
Watson: Again, there are so many. I will simply list what I’ve most recently listened to: Mandarin Dynasty, Pill Friends, What Moon Things, Blood Orange, Shahman, Gem Club, Stars Of The Lid, Temple, Year Of Glad, Inc., Nevada Greene, The Body, Portraits Of Past, CJ Boyd, Brambles, FKA Twigs, American Football, ZXO, Scott Walker, Olive Drab, and Grouper.
 
The Deli: What is your ultimate fantasy concert bill to play on?
 
Watson: Well, considering I don’t want to shatter the deity-like status I have attributed to most of my favorite artists... I would love to play a show with myself from 10 years ago and myself 10 years from now. I guess I could also just masturbate in front of a mirror while holding up old pictures of myself. That would probably be more entertaining.
 
The Deli: A music-themed Mount Rushmore. What four faces are you putting up there and why? 
 
Watson: John Prine. Just four giant sculptures of John Prine’s face. Listen to John Prine and you’ll know why.
 
The Deli: What other goals do you have for 2014?
 
Watson: Not die. Get sad about more sad stuff. Make more sad songs about being sad. Repeat.
 
The Deli: Where can we find you on the web?
 
 
The Deli: Always go out on a high note. Any last words of wisdom for the Deli audience?
 
Watson: Don’t talk during anyone’s set. Ever. They worked very hard to share something very important to them with you. It means a lot if you pay attention. If what you are talking about is so important you can’t shut up long enough to watch a set, go outside. If you simply don’t like what you’re hearing, leave. Don’t be the asshole who fucks up the show for everyone else.
 
Also, fuck the police.
 
 
The next time you can catch Watson will be this Friday, September 5, at Prospero’s Books. The show starts at 8 pm. He’ll be performing with Shahman (Toronto), Nevada Greene (Columbia), and Not Like Igor. Facebook event page. Then, on September 13, he’ll be at Art Closet Studios with Temple (Milwaukee) and Riala. Facebook event page.
 

--Michelle Bacon

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Coming up: the 10th Annual Crossroads Music Fest

Next Saturday, September 6, the 10th annual Crossroads Music Fest will be held in the Crossroads Arts District in Kansas City. The annual event, presented this year by KKFI 90.1 FM, will feature over 30 performers on seven stages. Visit cmfkc.com for a complete schedule and ticketing info.
 
These musical acts will be featured at Crossroads KC at Grinders, The Brick, Czar, The Tank Room, Mercy Seat Alley, Collection, and Green Lady Lounge. Highlights will include a reunion set from Onward Crispin Glover, who has not performed since 2003; showcases curated by The Record Machine and Money Wolf Music; and a diverse collection of rock, jazz, roots, and indie sounds representative of the Kansas City music scene.
 
From noon to 5 pm, the Kansas City Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts (KCVLAA) will present the third annual Legal Bootcamp for Musicians at Czar. Topics will include copyright law, licensing agreements, band agreements, and other essential topics for the business-minded musician.
 

Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the gate. Individual venues will charge a lesser fee. Tickets can be purchased at Vinyl Renaissance (the 39th St or Overland Park location), Crossroads KC or Grinders, The Bottleneck, or at this link. Facebook event page.

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Album review: Diverse - Our Journey

If you’re looking for a Thelonious Monk reincarnate jazz style, you’ve found it in Diverse’s Our Journey.
 
Hermon Mehari’s raw trumpet, Ryan Lee’s toe-tapping drums, and Ben Leifer’s soulful bass all create a groovy, vibrant experience. This album is a serene soundscape of honest-to-roots swing jazz, while incorporating a soulful Kansas City 18th and Vine roots heritage. It’s a technical collection and in some ways experimental. Also on the album are pianist Tony Tixier (from Paris) and alto saxophonist Logan Richardson. It was recorded by Andre Charlier in Paris, mixed by Brendan McReynolds, and mastered by Mike Nolte. Our Journey is a follow up to Diverse’s first self-titled album released in 2009.
 
Take a breath and listen to this wise and prophetic classical jazz journey. It’s like walking into true legendary jazz at The Blue Room or Green Lady Lounge, a more recently opened downtown hot spot. So while you’re at home cleaning the dishes, playing with the cat and relaxing, take the dazzling ride and listen to this album. Let it take you. It begs to be seen live. Before you know it, you’ll be sitting at the back of the Foundation catching a whiff of Kansas City tradition. 
 
Because I wanted to get a sense of how the album was recorded, I asked McReynolds what direction Mehari gave him when mixing the album. According to McReynolds, his motivation was “to just mix it like it was a jazz club in Kansas City. Very intimate and very tight. It’s like walking into a place you have never been before and feeling comfortable.”
 
Whether it’s the time signature changes and beautiful technical work, or the sometimes wildly manic nature of jazz itself, each track is an imminent adventure. “Motherland” is a spirit awakening exploration. It’s a night dressed to the nines at a martini bar probably, having the time of my life, or maybe a night spent writing by the light of the moon. The final track on the album, “Rest in Peace,” offers a unique two-stick lassoing of the beat and melancholic trumpet. A funky groovy bass line bathes the soul with a warm dance to permeate the senses.
 
Our Journey is a testament to Kansas City’s rich jazz and blues culture and connects with a wide range of audiences. Choose your own journey with this album. It is a must listen.
 
--Chris Wenske
 

You can catch Diverse at The Riot Room on Thursday, September 4. Reach will be DJing the first set, followed by Diverse, and then New Orleans duo Hildegard, led by Cliff Hines. Doors open at 7:00.

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Album review: The Sluts - Loser (EP)

(Photo by Todd Zimmer)
 
Lawrence, Kansas (affectionately to be referred to henceforth as LFK) continues to be a source of the kinds of music that I want to hear more of and know more about. One band in particular has really caught my ear of late with a sound that’s raw, dirty, energetic, and undeniably attention-grabbing: The Sluts, a bare-bones twosome consisting of Kristoffer Dover on drums and Ryan Wise on guitar and vocals. Two musicians, no more, no less … but as the sounds you’ll hear on their new EP Loser will demonstrate, two musicians is plenty when it comes to making a substantial sonic statement.
 
Their mix of garage, punk, and grunge kicks things off with the opener, “Let Me Go,” as The Sluts tear things up with a grimy bounce firmly entrenched in 4/4 time. “Loser” starts with a tip of the cap to upbeat new wavey rhythms, but 25 seconds into the track, the boys re-establish the power presence that is their raison d’etre (how’s THAT for some damn NPR-speak, kids?). “Green” and “Linger” wrap up the four-track, barely-more-than-ten-minute EP with the sound that I’ve most commonly described as “Nirvana without Krist Novoselic,” as Wise’s sneering vocals and snarling guitar combined with Dover’s relentlessly on-point percussion give the music just a bit of Bleach-era homage while sounding very much of the present day.
 
I had the honor of introducing The Sluts during this year’s Midcoast Takeover at SXSW; they were on the roster of the I Heart Local Music / Whatever Forever day-party that featured more examples of LFK’s finest (Black on Black, Shy Boys, Josh Berwanger Band, and Oils/CS Luxem). After a couple long days of music and food truck fare and drinking, the abrasive grind of The Sluts was a much-needed Brillo pad to the brain. Give Loser a listen, and keep an eye out for this band.
 
Love me some dirty, filthy, nasty The Sluts. Awwww yeahhhhhh.
 
-Michael Byars
 

Michael can use the phrase “raison d’etre” in the same review as the phrase “awwww yeahhhhh,” because that’s how he rolls. 

 

 

 

 
Editor’s note: Loser was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Joel Nanos at Element Recording. Photos taken at Element by Todd Zimmer.
 
 

Catch The Sluts this Friday at Liberty Hall; they’ll be playing #ASSJAMZ: Bands That Will Make You Dance, along with Approach, Paper Buffalo, and Spencer Brown. Show starts at 8 pm. Facebook event page. If you’re in KC, see them this Sunday at Vandals. They’ll be joined by fellow LFKers Mr. and the Mrs., Mannequin Pussy (NYC), and KC’s Anson the Ornery. Facebook event page. 

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