Middle of the Map Fest – Day #3

Middle of the Map Fest Day #3 featured another great lineup especially in the Kansas City music department.  The night started off with a bang at Riot Room on the patio where the Jorge Arana Trio was playing one of the loudest jazzy sets in recent memory.  Their music is fairly complex but still very accessible to the average music fan.  It’s great to listen to how their songs progress from one place to the next.  Where the end up is often light years away from where they started.  It’s a really refreshing sound.

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Listen to the Jorge Arana Trio on the Riot Room Patio

Inside the Riot Room, the Phantastics led by Kemet Coleman were tearing the roof off with a heavily 70’s funk and soul inspired sound that had quite a crowd and dancing aplenty.  Coleman’s presence on the mic and dance moves kept the crowd going while the band laid down solid funky sounds.

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After the Phantastics finished up, we hiked over to the Westport Saloon to catch Lauren Anderson.  Lauren Anderson and her band are a Chicago-based bluesy 4-piece outfit featuring Lauren on guitar on vocals.  The soulful tunes with a solid rhythm section and great guitar work make for a really balanced, well-executed set.

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Listen to Lauren Anderson performing “Shame”

Back over to the Riot Room, we caught Various Blonde.  The Joshua Allen led group features funk, rock, and dance tunes.  A couple times Joshua Allen joined the crowd while singing setting the stage perfectly for the next group, St Louis’ Illphonics.

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Listen to a clip of Various Blonde at the Riot Room

The Illphonics are pretty easy to draw comparison’s to early Roots albums but the band executes the hip-hop with a backing band very well. Socially conscious lyrics and neo-soul sounds create a show that’s virtually impossible to stand still for.  But while it may be neo-soul inspired, the Illphonics are clearly their own band with something to say.

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Listen to a track from the Illphonics set

Finishing up our night at the Westport Saloon, we caught Katy Guillen and the Girls playing a blues inspired set that is decidedly rocked out. All the members of the group have a great level of musicianship and instinct that allows them to really lock in a put on a show.  At this point in the night, the bar was packed, the crowd was moving and it the perfect time for an act like KG and the Girls.

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Listen to Katy & the Girls performing “I Can’t Live Here Anymore” and “Quiver

Then there was the final day/night…check back for more on that later this week.

The Clementines, Katy Guillen and the Girls at Coda

Back around Christmas, we caught a great show full of blues, rock and soul from a couple of great local bands at Coda.  Miry Wild opened the show, but we didn’t make it down until the Clementines set.  The evening finished with Katy Guillen and the Girls. It was a packed house that had to be pushing capacity in the cozy pub.  Check it out:

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Apocalypse Meow Night One in Review

We headed out to the Record Bar for the first night of the seventh annual Apocalypse Meow.  Meow is a fundraiser for the Midwest Music Foundation to provide assistance to local musicians in need of healthcare.  Besides being a great organization with a noble cause, they also put on great shows. If you’re a musician or fan of local music, you should really consider supporting MMF.  Maybe gift a membership to your favorite music fan? It’s only $25 and comes with some great benefits including free entry to select MMF events and discounted food and beverages at venues around town.

The groups on tap for the evening included Katy Guillen and the Girls, Chris Meck and the Guilty Birds.  Katy Guillen opened the show up with a blistering set of hard-rockin’ blues tunes.  While the excellent play of each member on their is to be noted, something I think that is overlooked are the vocal harmonies between bassist Claire Adams and Katy Guillen.  It really adds a nice contrast to the otherwise high energy uptempo tunes.

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Chris Meck and the Guilty Birds closed the evening out with a more straight-ahead rockin’ set. In addition to tunes that have become staples of the band over the last 1 1/2 years, they threw great covers of Tom Petty’s “Honey Bee” and the Rolling Stones’ “Shine A Light”.  For “Shine A Light”, Cody Wyoming joined the band to sing vocals on the chorus.  It’s a particularly touching song for Meck and many musicians who were close with Abby Henderson.  She was one of the primary founders and driving force behind MMF and Apocalypse Meow over the years until she lost her battle with cancer in 2013. The song served as a nice tribute and reminder of why Apocalypse Meow is so important in KC.

Click to see more of Meck and the Guilty Birds

Gear news: This was the first night I got to break out the fancy new camera rig. I recently upgraded to a D7000.  It’s a pretty dramatic improvement over the truly entry-level D3100 I was using the first few years of the blog.  The extra dynamic range really helps in the low-light situations I so often find myself in especially because my budget prevents me from having the fastest glass. It’s really a nice upgrade that makes it easier to focus on taking pictures and less on missing shots due to jacking with inadequate gear.

One last note, we’ve got lots of shows coming up in the future posts.  Currently, I’ve got about five shows backed up so check back because we’ve got lots of new content coming your way.

Head over to KC Live Music Blog for complete coverage of other music events and news!