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