Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Ooh! My Head


People keep asking me what I think of the latest release by my nemesis Drake.  They don’t like hearing that I’ve been too busy attending shows to listen to much new music.  My reviews and/or notes, listed in the order of how much I enjoyed each event of the past eight days:
1. Merle Haggard at the Uptown Theater
2. Blackberry Smoke, the Temperance Movement and the Ben Miller Band at the Uptown Theater
3. The Hot Sardines at the Folly Theater
4. Hellyeah and a handful of forgettable bands at the Midland
5. Thursday’s offerings at the Music Fair portion of the Folk Alliance International Conference.

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Clark Terry has died.  I believe a 2010 concert at the Gem Theater was his final performance in Kansas City.

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Leslie Gore has died.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Concert Review: Guy, K-Ci & JoJo, El DeBarge and Doug E. Fresh at Municipal Auditorium


While I’ve been to worse concerts, the disparity between the high quality of artists’ recorded output and embarrassingly inept performances has rarely been greater than it was at Municipal Auditorium last Friday.

Even after Bobby Brown canceled due to a well-reported family tragedy, I wasn’t about to miss a show that included appearances by grown-and-sexy hit-makers Guy, K-Ci & JoJo, El DeBarge and Doug E. Fresh.

Fresh's opening set with the Get Fresh Crew was the highlight of the evening.  While billing himself as “the world’s greatest entertainer” is a laughable conceit, “the original human beatbox”’s old-school presentation was a lot of fun.

El DeBarge is one of the most under-appreciated artists in popular music.  His career may have been derailed by personal problems, but every time I see him perform I feel as if I’m witnessing a man with talent commensurate to that of Michael Jackson.

K-Ci & JoJo was a mess.  Cedric "K-Ci" Hailey dominated the proceedings like a deranged preacher of a sinister church.  His voice remains powerful, but the presentation was downright creepy.  Even renditions of the wonderful songs from the Jodeci catalog were off-putting.  How did the guys behind great hits like ”Wanna Do You Right” go so wrong?

Guy's headlining performance was so incompetent that members of the audience of about 2,500 were booing even before the duo hit the stage. 

The pioneers of New Jack Swing repeatedly missed their introductory cues.  When Guy finally arrived it was immediately apparent that Teddy Riley- the group’s primary creative force- was absent.  Not only were a third of the harmonies missing, the backing tracks were also muddled.  (DeBarge’s keyboard and the Get Fresh Crew’s turntables were the only instruments performed on Saturday).  Adding insult to injury, Aaron Hall kept mistakenly insisting that he was in Kansas.

People walked out in droves.  I captured the embedded image the moment the lights went up at the show’s conclusion to document the fiasco.


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I reviewed Todd Snider’s appearance at Knuckleheads on Saturday.

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Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Bird Calls is the leading candidate for my favorite album of 2015.  I hail the recording at Plastic Sax.

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My Local Listen feature on the Bon Ton Soul Accordion Band aired on KCUR last Friday.

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Kansas City organist John Obetz has died.

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Jazz drummer Richie Pratt​ has died.

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I've been woefully negligent in addressing the recent passing of Don Covay.  A trip to my basement  The Museum of Dead People reminded me of his enormous significance.  An out-of-print 1994 compilation ($170 at Amazon and worth every penny) opens with ”Bip Bop Bip”.  The unhinged 1957 raver recorded with the Upsetters is everything that’s been missing in musical diet of late.  Covay went on to write or co-write hits including “Pony Time,” “See Saw” and “Mercy Mercy.”  In his liner notes, Billy Vera suggests that Mick Jagger based his singing on Covay’s style.  I think he’s right.  The excellent 1973 hit ”I Was Checkin’ Out While She Was Checkin’ In” demonstrates that Covay kept up with the times through the early 1970s.

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Steve Strange has died.

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Danny McCullough of the Animals has died.  (Tip via BGO.)

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Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear performed on The Late Show with David Letterman.

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Admirers of the blues mural at BB’s Lawnside BBQ will be interested in a reception with the artist on Sunday, February 22.

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Monta At Odds created a video for “Android Dreams.”

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Gary Shindler reviewed a concert that featured Vinnie Appice, Kofi Baker, Ripper Owens and Uli Jon Roth.

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After spotting Africa Express Presents’ In C Mali on Big Steve’s playlist, I cued up the project on a lark.  I had it pegged as an amusing novelty.  I was hooked after five minutes.  At the 20-minute mark I was on cloud nine.  I had an out-of-body experience around the 30-minute juncture.

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Insane Clown Posse knows what’s up.  (Not kidding.)

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The Rez Abbasi Quartet plays acoustic versions of jazz fusion classics on Intents and Purposes.  I’m all about it.  RIYL: John McLaughlin, remixed nostalgia, Chick Corea.

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Eddie Henderson’s Collective Portrait is lovely.  RIYL: Gary Bartz, Sextant, George Cables.

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The Paradox of Independence, a new live album by Tisziji Muñoz and Marilyn Crispell, is RIYL: James “Blood” Ulmer, skronk, Arto Lindsay.

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The Cursive-like rocker “The Ideal Husband” aside, I don’t have much use for Father John Misty’s I Love You, Honeybear.  Even so, I’m glad so many people like it.  The value of my dusty crate of overwrought 1970s folk albums just went up.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, February 09, 2015

Concert Review: Timbers at Coda


A few minutes before Timbers performed at Coda on Saturday afternoon, I thought it’d be amusing if the alt-country band dared to cover the Pitbull and Ke$ha hit “Timber.”  I didn’t have to wait long.  As soon as the pedal steel player began riffing at the top of the set, I realized that Timbers would open with the novelty song.  The band’s ability to mock its name allowed me to forgive its occasional forays into tepid folk.  Although the capacity audience of more than 50 included lots of children, the band’s toughest songs inspired a friend to suggest that the matinee show had a “Davey’s at 2 a.m.” vibe.


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I reviewed Tesla’s concert at the Midland theater.

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I contributed a Local Listen segment about Marcus Hampton to KCUR.

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Joyce DiDonato sang a Henry Purcell composition at the Stonewall Inn.

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The Prism Quartet’s Heritage/Evolution features contributions by the likes of Dave Liebman, Rudresh Mahanthappa and Greg Osby.  RIYL: The World Saxophone Quartet, skronk, the 29th Street Quartet.  The group features the Kansas City based Zach Sherman.

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New Riddim’s Second Sight is RIYL: the Blue Riddim Band, 2 Tone, the Slackers.

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Essiet Okun Essiet’s Shona displays a few interesting variations on mainstream jazz.  RIYL: Bobby Watson, all about that bass, Ron Carter.

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I have yet to hear Bob Dylan’s homage to Frank Sinatra, but I have played Hiss Golden Messenger’s Southern Grammar EP a couple times.  It’s a spot-on homage to Planet Waves.

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I’m mystified at the backlash directed at Sam Smith by viewers of the Grammy Awards.  His duet with Mary J. Blige was the highlight of the broadcast.  Besides, I’m a fan of “Stay With Me.”

(Original image of Timbers at Coda by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

The Jacka, 1977-2015


The Jacka was killed in Oakland last night.  A television news program reported the murder.  I last saw the underappreciated rapper perform at the Uptown Theater in 2010.  Here are my notes about the show.  D-Boy Era, the Jacka’s throwback hip-hop collaboration with Lee Majors, was my #12 album of 2010.  His most recent release What Happened to the World was my #21 album of 2014.  In spite of his salty persona, the Jacka was very personable when I met with him in a Midtown bar a few years ago.


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I reviewed Dominique Sanders’ astonishing new album at Plastic Sax.

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I contributed a feature about Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle to KCUR.

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La Guerre’s Sapphires is RIYL: Hospital Ships, yearning, Regina Spektor.

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The FlooziesDo Your Thing is an invigorating dance party.  RIYL: Zapp, disco, Daft Punk.

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I loved John Doe’s recent appearance at Knuckeheads.  Tim Finn reviewed the show.

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Vinyl Community noteworthy Teddy Dibble pays tribute to his late brother.

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I’ve yet to select my favorite new jam on Charlie Wilson’s Forever Charlie. RIYL: The Gap Band, romance, the Commodores.  Here’s ”Me and You Forever”.

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I questioned what I’m doing with my life after I ingested all 153 minutes of the new live album documenting John Scofield’s collaboration with Gov’t Mule.  It’s more in line with the Allman Brothers Band than with Miles Davis. 

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Gehenna, the latest release by Danish band By the Patient, hits the spot.  RIYL: Behemoth, riffs, Vader.

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If neither Hand Over Fist’s “Prize Fight” nor any of the stunning songs on P.O.S’s Never Better failed to break through, it’s unlikely that the latest Doomtree album All Hands will alter the crew’s fortunes. 

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My high hopes for Mohammed Fairouz’s Follow, Poet were dashed when I finally heard the bloated project.  RIYL: high concept, Leonard Bernstein, sociology.

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Dawn Richard’s Blackheart is a compelling variation on post-Beyoncé R&B.  Here’s ”Blow”.

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I have yet to watch the archived performance by Our Point Of View, the all-star group featuring Robert Glasper, Ambrose Akinmusire, Marcus Strickland, Lionel Loueke, Derrick Hodge and Kendrick Scott.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Album Review: Viet Cong


Maybe Bela Lugosi isn’t dead.  Viet Cong has crafted one of the best albums of its type since the likes of Bauhaus roamed the earth.  When I saw goth giant Peter Murphy perform at the Riot Room last year, I sensed that he was desperately searching for an interesting variation on the sound he helped create decades ago.  His backing band wasn’t about to accommodate him.  Viet Cong has the answer. 


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I contributed features on The Kansas City Bear Fighters and Bob Bowman to KCUR.

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Bo Dollis has died.  The Wild Magnolias’ 1988 release I’m Back... at Carnival Time was a formative album for me.  Here’s ”Carnival Time”.

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Edgar Froese of Tangerine Dream has died.

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Demis Roussos of Aphrodite’s Child and “Forever and Ever” has died.

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Joey Bada$$’s B4.DA.$$ is an enormous disappointment.  The advance singles are easily the strongest tracks on the album.

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The Intimate Truth, Ledesi’s new acoustic EP, is a tossed-off affair.  I like anyway.  RIYL: Leela James, coffeeshops, .M.J.

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Belle and Sebastian’s Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance is excellent.  While I hope to catch the band for the first time on their  current tour, the Scots' music just isn’t my thing.  RIYL: fops, Donovan, high tea.

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I’ve long been tempted to characterize Enter Shikari as the British version of Linkin Park.  While its earnestness is easy to mock, I admire the band’s goofy new concept album The Mindsweep.  RIYL: Rage Against the Machine, The Wall, Queensryche.  Here’s ”The Anaesthetist.

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Moonlight, the latest effort by Hanni El Khatib, is decent.  RIYL: Arthur Brown, angst, Jack White.  Here’s ”Moonlight”.

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Lupe Fiasco’s dopey lyrics are the most insufferable aspect of his wretched album Tetsuo & Youth

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In an alternate universe, the Decemberists would be my favorite band. Alas, I didn't major in medieval history and I don't have an open relationship with a clove cigarette-smoking and Spanish wine-drinking barista. One more thing- my awareness of the music of James Brown hinders my enjoyment the otherwise admirable new album What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World.

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The recycled Americana on Ryan Bingham’s Fear and Saturday Night is impressive.  RIYL: Lucero, intoxication, prime Joe Ely.

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The video for Fantasma’s ”Shangrila” is delightful.  Tip via Big Steve.

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You’d think I’d adore Sleater-Kinney.  You’d be wrong.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, January 19, 2015

Album Review: Mark Ronson- Uptown Special


When What Up, Dog? was released in 1988, I was employed at a record store.  Many of my colleagues and customers lost their minds over the high-concept collision of soul and rock orchestrated by Don Was of Was (Not Was).  I didn’t appreciate it quite as much as most listeners.  In Uptown Special, however, I hear everything people claimed to love about What Up, Dog?.  Mark Ronson’s mind-bending combination of pop, rock, hip-hop and R&B is elevated by outstanding features from Bruno Mars, novelist Michael Chabon, Mystikal, Steve Wonder and a dude from Tame Impala. The project tops the best work of Don Was. ”Feel Right” is my favorite track. 



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I reviewed a concert by Earl Klugh.


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I reviewed a concert by the Black Lillies.


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I document the latest live and recorded work of the Paul Shinn Trio at Plastic Sax.  


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Kim Fowley has died


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A$AP Yams has died.


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Kansas City’s She’s a Keeper has released Westside Local.


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Swamp Dogg’s fine The White Man Made Me Do It came out a couple months ago, but it came to my attention only recently.  RIYL: Barrence Whitfield, music by music geeks, Sly Stone.


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Justin Townes Earle writes good songs, but I can’t tolerate the flat production on Absent Fathers.  RIYL: Lyle Lovett, psychotherapy, Jason Isbell.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, January 12, 2015

Concert Review: Charles Gatschet and Matt Hopper at the Dubliner


I'm fairly certain that I was the only person among the handful of listeners at the Dubliner on Sunday evening that wasn't somehow affiliated with the weekly Here's to the Roots showcase.  It's a shame.  The performance by Kansas City guitarists Charles Gatschet and Matt Hopper was exquisite.  Squarely in the duet tradition of Herb Ellis/Joe Pass and Bucky Pizzarelli/Ed Laub, the pair traded leads on standards and compositions by the likes of Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk.  Following an awkward interview with the tasteful guitarists, Havilah Bruders added impressive vocals to beautiful renditions of "Come Rain or Come Shine" and "Georgia."


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I reviewed the Kansas City Symphony and Yefim Bronfman on Friday.

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I contributed a Local Listen segment about Vinson Cole to KCUR's Up to Date.

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I admired Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle's appearance at Take Five Coffee + Bar on Saturday.

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Andraé Crouch has died.

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Elena Obraztsova has died.

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Anthony Saunders sings on "Dreaming", a track from Dominique Sanders' forthcoming album.

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I had to lie down for a bit after watching Henry Threadgill, Roscoe Mitchell, Muhal Richard Abrams, Larry Gray and Jack DeJohnette discuss their forthcoming ECM album.

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Kassé Mady Diabaté's Kiriké is wonderful.  RIYL: Toumani Diabaté, life, Habib Koité.

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"Recognition", a track from THEESatisfaction's forthcoming album, is RIYL: Dirty Projectors, funkateers, Shabazz Palaces.

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Daniel Herskedal's Slow Eastbound Train seems promising.

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A new release featuring Anna Netrebko served as my introduction to Tchaikovsky's "Iolanta."  I'm in love.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)