Felabration at Record Bar

Saturday, Oct 18th marked the official celebration of the birthday of musician and activist Fela Kuti across the country known as “Felabration”.  The Kansas City edition at Record Bar, featured local afro-beat group Hearts of Darkness and Cincinnati, Ohio’s Baoku and the Image Afrobeat Band.  Hearts of Darkness opened the show with a set of original tunes with a couple of Fela Kuti covers including: “Zombie”, and “Water” among others.  For the performance of “Water” Baoku Moses and Image Afrobeat joined HOD on stage for a collaboration.  The energy was incredible and the lively crowd danced and shook to the music.

Baoku Moses, the Image Afrobeat band leader, hails from Kuti’s home country of Nigeria.  On this evening he stated it was the first time in over 15 years studying and performing afrobeat music that he performed a Kuti number live out of respect for the musician.   It was an excellent rendition of “Water” one of Kuti’s more recognizable pieces.

For the Image Afrobeat set, the band was on point.  The horns were incredibly crisp with a rhythm section that was absolutely locked in.  Moses primarily plays a collection of hand drums with large mallets set up near the front of the stage and sings.  For other numbers he plays various cowbells, shakere and sings.  Moses’ incredible energy and enthusiasm is infectious and really makes for a great performance.  We hope to see them again in the near future.

Here’s some images from the show (clicking the ‘back’ button on your browser will return you to this page):

Click to start Hearts of Darkness slideshow

 

This set features images from the performance of Kuti’s “Water” featuring both HOD and Baoku and Image Afrobeat. Click to start slideshow

 

Click to start Baoku and Image Afrobeat slideshow

For more coverage of other local music events, head over to KC Live Music Blog!

Katy Guillen and the Girls at Westport Saloon

 

A little while back we caught a fantastic rockin’ bluesy set from Katy Guillen and the Girls at Westport Saloon.  Here’s some of what we saw:

Click image to start slideshow

 

Head over to to KC Live Music Blog for complete coverage of other great local music events!

 

 

Dr. John at the Crossroads

Dr John - KKFI Feature 01

Back on Friday, September 26, Mac Rebennack aka Dr. John filled the Crossroads air with the sounds of New Orleans soul.  Conjuring up the ghosts of Professor Longhair, Louis Armstrong and others, Dr. John drew from his extensive catalog of over forty years of music.  Backed by a four-piece band his 1 1/2 hour set featured many of the classics Dr. John has grown to be known for as well as New Orleans standards.

Opening support was provided by locals Blue Orleans, and Louisiana natives the Honey Island Swamp band.

Follow the link here to KC Live Music Blog for more images from the show!

Filthy 13 at Coda

Filthy 13 - KKFI - Feat Img 01

About a week and a half ago, we caught local blues act the Filthy 13 over at Coda.  The Filthy 13 is a 4 piece outfit features Amaretto Slim on guitar and vocals backed up by bass, drums and harp.  The sound is very fuzz heavy, deep blues sound.  Slim’s voice is dark and gravely reminiscent of Howlin’ Wolf.  His guitar style is part delta, part Texas.  

Generally wielding any number of Stratocasters, he keeps things lively with his macabre humor and banter.  The rest of the band fills out the tunes with great energy and crisp punchy sound.  These guys should be on your short list of blues acts around KC to catch.

KC Live Music Blog – Head over here to see more images from Filthy 13′s set.

Crossroads Music Fest 2014

Not a Planet performing at CMFKC 2014

Not a Planet performing at CMFKC 2014

Crossroads Music Festival 2014 edition is in the books.  It was a fantastic night of music at several venues throughout the popular neighborhood known for art studios, music venues and trendy living.  Featuring around 40 bands and performers, the festival covered nearly any genre of music this town has to offer from country to hip-hop to rock and folk.  It was a truly diverse group of performers and a great sendoff to our unseasonably cool summer.  We made it out to the Money Wolf showcases, Not A Planet, Me Like Bees, Bacon Shoe, Mark Lowery and Drums, Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear, and Noise FM.  I’m probably forgetting someone in that list because this was a two day marathon editing session. I do clearly recall seeing drunk people eating bacon off the floor of the Brick. Other than that, my brain is fried.

Follow the link below to see all the images from this excellent event!

KC Live Music Blog – Crossroads Music Fest 2014 – So Many Bands

Willie Nelson Live at Starlight Theatre

 

Aside from the house lights fading down and cheers erupting into the cool summer night air, country legend Willie Nelson’s on-stage entrance at Kansas City’s Starlight Theatre was gloriously unceremonious. Coming after a riveting set from rising alt country artist Jason Isbell and Alison Krauss’ nostalgic bluegrass affair, Nelson’s work was austere from the start. Opening with “Whiskey River”, he firmly stood in place with his weathered guitar Trigger and nasally sang “whiskey river don’t run me dry” before his Family Band had set up on stage. Rather than dwell on the slinky vamp of “Still is Still Moving to Me”, he spit out lines like they were last rites. At 81 years old, Nelson has every right to play up his legend. He could coast on past glories and no one would blame him. But not once in his near two-hour show to a sold-out crowd did he kick up his cowboy boots.

When classics came, Nelson never lingered on them for long. Most artists would anchor sets or close with a song like “Funny How Time Slips Away”, not Willie. He has enough songs for 20 shows and is blessed with the luxury of tossing out greatest hits like they were garbage. He didn’t afford the bluesy ballroom number its proper denouement; choosing instead to leapfrog into the aching “Crazy”. I personally prefer Nelson’s effort to the Patsy Cline affair and last night reminded me why. His punctured whine fully conveys the desperation of “I’m crazy for trying” and live the line is devastating. But even “Crazy” wasn’t allowed to luxuriate at Starlight. Nelson and the Family obliterated it into dust with the walloping “Night Life”. Mickey Raphael’s harmonica wailed and Nelson soloed with the steely-eyed intensity of a contract killer. The admission “it ain’t no good life” would’ve been toothless without their full-committal.

While Nelson and the Family’s allegiance to the material was mesmerizing throughout, the show’s middle was the most spellbinding. “Georgia on My Mind” brought the crowd to a reverent hush with just the wobbling incantations of “Georgia, Georrrgia.” Bobbie Nelson’s work on the keys was punctuated, affording Willie room to sweetly sing his old song. In the right hands the number has the power to stop anyone in their tracks and it was clearly in the right hands with Nelson.

It was “Always on My Mind” though that truly won the night. If the phrase “hindsight is 20/20″ didn’t exist before Nelson cut his version of the Brenda Lee song in 1982, it would’ve been invented shortly after. Few song narrators have ever sounded as wrecked as Nelson in “Always on My Mind”. Everything he should’ve done was blindingly obviously, but he ignored all of it. Watch Nelson in the song’s rudimentary video. Around the 1:40 mark his eyes repeatedly look away after he confesses “I just never took the time.” It’s the look of a man who knows he’ll never get her back. She had every right to leave and fully executed said right. Despite the song being set to a slightly slower tempo live, Nelson kept in that nervous flitting. More than his defiant soloing in new track “Bring It On” or picking in the eerie border town tune “I Never Cared for You”, his nervousness was the most bone chilling. For a master wordsmith, it’s oddly hilarious that what left the biggest mark was a simple action.

“Odd” is what has best described Nelson since the beginning though. Crossing over from Nashville songwriter to singer in the early 1960s was “odd.” Releasing an insular concept album about a murderous preacher and having it go double-platinum is “odd.” Ending the night with the one-two punch of goofy pot ode “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” and Hank Williams country gospel standard “I Saw the Light” is “odd.” He’s not “The Red Headed Stranger” as has long been suggested. He’s genuinely strange. And without his peculiarities, country music would be far less interesting.

(Originally posted on AllFreshSounds)

‘Small Victories’- Chris Shelton

Post-rock isn’t an easy genre to carve out your own niche in. Too pulverizing and you’ll immediately be lumped in with Swans’ apocalyptic racket. If you opt for a tense, jittery sound you’re bound to be thrown into the same abandoned quarry Slint floats in. Attempting to conquer death with skyward guitars and voluminous drums will put you right in line behind Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Even mellowing out and doing some inward exploration risks unfair Tortoise comparisons. In short, there’s no winning when it comes to operating in the post-rock genre.

Which is precisely what makes Kansas City artists Chris Shelton’s Small Victories EP so revelatory. I think of every one of those aforementioned bands when I see “post-rock” as a genre tag, but the music itself doesn’t force me to make comparisons. In fact hearing “Homework”‘s limpid guitars lines appended to a calm drum pattern, makes the comparison game nearly impossible. I can’t or don’t want to think about anything. Instead I’m far more comfortable kicking my feet up and staring endlessly out my window. The song’s dulcet background woos mirror the sigh of contentment you let out while enjoying something simple.

Not that Small Victories can be defined solely by its simplicity. As leisurely as Shelton’s guitar playing in the closing title-track sounds, it’s actually an involved latticework of tremulous runs and reverbed hiccups. Not unlike Real Estate’s sun-drenched “Talking Backwards” from earlier this year, it proves how much work goes into relaxation. A truism equally applicable to “Indigo Folds”‘ desert crawl. Though the guitar does considerably more sidewinding and the drums splay across the track, you get the sense that soon enough they’ll lay back down on some rolling hill and peer up at the stars.

If the nature references come across as trite or navel-gazing, they’re not meant to. There’s just an ease to this EP that could rarely be found in urban sprawl. Nothing, not even the flitting solo of “Parachutes” sounds anxious or confused. With Small Victories, Shelton has paved his own lane and taken his time doing it.

(You can find Small Victories as a “Name Your Price” album on Bandcamp.)

Angel Olsen Live at the Riot Room

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Angel Olsen’s set at Kansas City’s Riot Room in Westport was one of blissful contradictions. Before the show even began, Olsen asked for “a little more vocals,” as if her spring-loaded cannon of a voice needs extra amplification. In between tales of lost time and vacant lovers, she warmly asked for a beer with an “appreciate ya” attached to the end. Fuzzed-out brawlers and barely strummed wailers managed to coexist in the same intimate space. Similar to her terrific second LP Burn Your Fire For No Witness, Olsen’s set was both bristly and tender.

It was the tenderness that captivated the crowd first. Soft splashes of tambourine accompanied opener “Free”, which found Olsen keep her fingers tightly crossed for “pure love.” While “Hi-Five”‘s rural trod picked up a few paces, Olsen continued to ruminate on making a lasting connection. “All I ever need is someone out there to believe,” she lonesomely sang as the tightly packed crowd nodded along. Whatever dark alley she wandered down, the audience was eager to follow. And few roads were as pitch-black or rocky early on as “Drunk And With Dreams.” Olsen nearly shred her voice to promise “I’ll be the one, I’ll be the one,” each facial shiver making the promise seem more real.

For someone so frequently guarded in song, Olsen’s on-stage presence was remarkably candid. She gave tips on fiscal beer drinking: the higher the alcohol content the less you have to drink and offered Duchess Sour is “how I feel about myself some time.” As the night continued, that openness spilled over into the band’s songs. Rather than whisper what song should come next, Olsen half-yelled “you wanna do “Forgiven/Forgotten”?” to her guitarist. Even with the cat out of the bag, the Burn Your Fire For No Witness-highlight still bulldozed the enthusiastic crowd and wracked Olsen’s voice as she screamed “I don’t know anything, but I love you.”

Such transparency is what allows for a song like “Miranda” to exist. Whether or not it’s an autobiographical tale is irrelevant, constructing a song around a partner’s knowledge their other half is with another is devastating enough. Throughout the course of the entire night, the 2012 track came closest to pure country. When Olsen asks “what lover is waiting up for you tonight,” the question keeps up the embattled tradition of Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn. Further clawing, she slowly realizes every nice thing that was said may have been a white lie.

Songs such as foot-stamper “High And Wild” and “Sweet Dreams” helped to temporarily ease these sobering realizations. The latter stole into a world of reverie, a world where warped, flanging guitar was more mushroom-fed than whiskey gulping. In “Tiniest Seed”, brushed drums painted Olsen’s tortured references to time in a warmer light.

But some things can only be avoided for so long and by the time her band left her alone on the dark stage, it was becoming clear which half of the contradiction had won out. Save for one lone wolf, everyone in the audience looked dead ahead as Olsen delivered an astounding version of “Unf***theworld”. When she warbles “I wanted nothing but for this to be the end,” it’s one of the most arresting musical moments of the year. An old manner insists “begging is undignified,” though Olsen imbues the indignity with tremendous courage. In that instance, the breathless crowd wasn’t intently focused on Olsen because she was the last one standing. Like Olsen, they were praying for peace of mind.