Thursday, January 19, 2017

Album Review: Noah Preminger- Meditations On Freedom


Noah Preminger is tilting at windmills.  Few artistic statements are more quixotic in 2017 than jazz protest albums.  Twitter rather than tonality is the order of the day.  Yet even if the New York based saxophonist fails to engage the new president in a war of words on social media, he’s made jazz great again with his sixth album Meditations On Freedom.  The project is slated for digital release on Friday, January 20, to coincide with the presidential inauguration.  Trumpeter Jason Palmer, bassist Kim Cass and drummer Ian Froman join the saxophonist on instrumental interpretations of familiar material including Bruce Hornsby’s “The Way It Is” and striking original compositions like “The 99 Percent.”  Performed in the liberating free jazz style associated with Ornette Coleman’s classic quartet, the appropriately named Meditations On Freedom is terrific, tremendous and very, very strong.


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I wrote a nasty review of a desultory concert by Lloyd and J. Holiday.

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I reviewed Ramsey Lewis’ concert at the Gem Theater.

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I reviewed Echoes of Europe, the new album by the Dino Massa Kansas City Quintet, for KCUR.

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I chastised a misguided Kansas City artist at Plastic Sax.

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I wrote an extended preview about Atmosphere’s return to the Granada.

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I write weekly music previews for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

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I discussed Blackbird Revue on KCUR this week.

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Posted here, for the first time anywhere- my response to the contemporaneous teen albums meme:
1. The Clash- London Calling
2. Michael Jackson- Off the Wall
3. Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson- Waylon & Willie
4. Bob Marley- Survival
5. Prince- 1999
6. Ramones- Ramones
7. Bruce Springsteen- Darkness on the Edge of Town
8. Talking Heads- Fear of Music
9. Hank Williams, Jr.- Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound
10. Stevie Wonder- Songs in the Key of Life
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Buddy Greco has died.  I thought about goofing on the late lounge lizard, but I genuinely like this ish.

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Tommy Allsup has died.

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Greg Trooper has died.

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William Onyeabor has died.

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Yukmouth’s JJ Based On a Vill Story is an unexpected triumph. RIYL: The Game, Oakland gangsta rap, E-40.  ”Thank You Lord” may be the album’s worst song.

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Systema Solar’s Rumbo A Tierra is a party-starter.  RIYL: Bomba Estéreo, a sense of surprise, Julieta Venegas.

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The XX’s I See You is an adorable homage to 1980s synth-pop artists like Alison Moyet and the Human League.

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I’m glad for my friends who are excited about Radiohead’s return to Kansas City on April 5.  An even more promising performance of forward-thinking sounds will take place at the Folly Theater on April 7.  The quartet of Donny McCaslin, Jason Lindner, Tim Lefebvre and Mark Guiliana act as convincing jazz ambassadors in a recent Tiny Desk Concert.

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Bonobo updates smooth jazz on the impressive Migration.  RIYL: Bob James, hot tubs, John Klemmer.

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Sepultura’s Machine Messiah isn’t just another perfunctory genre exercise.  RIYL: Pantera, rage, Kreator.

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Who needs the parody act Steel Panther when Grave Digger is still producing unironic gems like ”Healed By Metal”?

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Hale Mary


Either I’m suffering from a severe case of Stockholm syndrome or a band I once loathed has dramatically improved.  Halestorm’s 2009 breakout hit “I Get Off” turned my stomach at the time.  The first few of the six or seven times I worked their concerts were dismal experiences.  Things have changed.  Not only would I now gladly purchase a ticket to a Halestorm concert with my own money, I’ve been listening to the group’s new covers EP for pleasure.  Whitesnake never sounded so good.  (Send help.)


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I touted Lincoln Marshall on KCUR this week.

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I write weekly music previews for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

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I documented my visit to a cocktail lounge on the Plaza at Plastic Sax.

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Nat Hentoff has died.

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I’m glad No Plan exists, but most of the new David Bowie EP isn’t nearly as good as Blackstar.

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Renée Fleming's Distant Light is a lovely adventure.

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Dale Watson and Ray Benson’s new duet album is charming.  RIYL: Willie Nelson’s countless duet albums, old coots, Texas.

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Spotify’s bots earned their keep when they tipped me to Courtney Marie Andrews’ Honest Life.  RIYL: Iris Dement, The Last Waltz, Mimi Fariña.

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Robert Glasper is featured in what may be the  best episode of “What’s In My Bag?”

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Concert Review: Pure Disgust at the Encore Room


I was out for blood on Wednesday.  Not having attended a proper all-ages punk event since last summer, I wanted to taste danger and smell teen spirit at the show at the Encore Room headlined by the consequential Washington D.C. based hardcore band Pure Disgust

During its best moments, the abrasive jamboree looked and sound a lot like this. Shuttlecock documented the evening with a photo set.

After paying the $8 cover charge, I joined a distressingly meager audience of about 75 (including the members of the five bands and their significant others) as Agent made a racket on the low-slung stage of the venue adjacent to the Uptown Theater.  The band’s defiant slovenliness and the blood smeared on the face of the front man put me in mind of Sex Pistols.  The amateurish insolence of The Drippies evoked Sorry Ma-era the Replacements.

Incomprehensibly loud, Blindside’s set sounded like a plague of locusts descending on a bowling alley.  With my ears blown out by Blindside, I only managed to track Pure Disgust’s surprisingly nimble rhythm section during the quintet’s exciting but abrupt set.


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I yakked about Isaac Cates & Ordained on KCUR yesterday.

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My selections are among The Kansas City Star’s compilation of Top Albums of 2016 lists.

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I previewed Andy McKee’s concert at the Bottleneck for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

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I write weekly music previews for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

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I reviewed a concert by the Floozies, Autograf and Linear Symmetry in December. 

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I felt thousands of brain cells dying horrible deaths as I listened to Chief Keef’s Two Zero One Seven- and I enjoyed the sensation.  I won’t argue with anyone who insists that the first important rap mixtape of 2017 is infantile trash, but a willingness to get stupid has long been an integral component of the form’s history.

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The late George Michael was the Justin Timberlake of the late 1980s.  The pop star’s unexpectedly wonderful album Faith received an inordinate amount of spins in my home in 1987 and 1988.

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The jazz fusion giant Alphonse Mouzon has died.

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Bobby Previte’s Mass is recommended if you like Bill Laswell, noble but failed experiments, Black Sabbath.

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I like what J. Cole is trying to do.  I just wish he did it better.  4 Your Eyez Only is RIYL thoughful hip-hop, Big Sean, maudlin raps.

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Quality control is an issue on Whale Mafi 2, Rich the Factor’s fifth album in nine months.

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Kindred the Family Soul’s Legacy of Love is RIYL the Isley Brothers, love, Ashford & Simpson.

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Hey!  Van Der Graaf Generation releaseed a new album last year.  RIYL: Soft Machine, lovable geezers, Kevin Ayers.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, December 29, 2016

I'm Trying To Keep My Faith: The Top Albums, Songs and Concerts of 2016


I made only one music-oriented trip in 2016.  I traveled to Atlanta to attend an ill-fated Kanye West concert.  Yet as these lists indicate, my ears weren't jilted at my home in Kansas City.

The Top 50 Albums of 2016

1. Kanye West- The Life of Pablo
2. Chance the Rapper- Coloring Book
3. Hélène Grimaud- Water
4. Logan Richardson- Shift
5. Rich the Factor- Smile
6. Rihanna- Anti
7. Jóhann Jóhannsson- Orphée
8. David Bowie- Blackstar
9. David Murray, Geri Allen and Terri Lyne Carrington- Perfection
10. Miranda Lambert- The Weight of These Wings

11. Maxwell- BlackSUMMERS’night
12. Nels Cline- Lovers
13. Danny Brown- Atrocity Exhibition
14. Childish Gambino- Awaken, My Love!
15. Pat Metheny Unity Group- The Unity Sessions
16. Kevin Gates- Islah
17. Amina Claudine Myers- Sama Rou
18. Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle- Kings & Queens
19. Savages- Adore Life
20. Joyce DiDonato- In War & Peace: Harmony Through Music

21. Adrian Younge- Something About April II
22. Kendrick Lamar- Untitled Unmastered
23. Leonard Cohen- You Want It Darker
24. Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom- Otis Was a Polar Bear
25. The Conquerors- Wyld Time
26. Walker Family Singers- Panola County Spirit
27. Kvelertak-Nattesferd
28. Rokia Traoré- Ne So
29. Anderson Paak- Malibu
30. Céu- Tropix

31. A Tribe Called Quest- We Got It From Here...
32. Willie Nelson- For the Good Times: A Tribute to Ray Price
33. Exmortus- Drive Forth
34. BJ the Chicago Kid- In My Mind
35. Corinne Bailey Rae- The Heart Speaks In Whispers
36. Shirley Collins- Lodestar
37. Sumac- What One Becomes
38. Elliot Galvin Trio- Punch
39. Run the Jewels- 3
40. The Weeknd- Starboy

41. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds- Skeleton Tree
42. Kandace Springs- Soul Eyes
43. Ingrid Laubrock- Serpentines
44. A$AP Ferg- Always Strive and Prosper
45. Young Thug- Jeffery
46. Volbeat- Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie
47. Drake- Views
48. Willie Nelson- Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin
49. YG- Still Brazy
50. The Grisly Hand- Hearts & Stars


The Top Five Reissues and Archival Releases of 2016
1. Charlie Parker- Unheard Bird: The Unissued Takes
2. Urgent Jumping: East African Musiki Wa Dansi Classics 1972-1982
3. Soul Fever: Afro Funk, Disco And Boogie: West African Disco Mayhem!
4. Miles Davis- Freedom Jazz Dance: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 5
5. Gov’t Mule- The Tel-Star Sessions


The Top Five EPs of 2016
1. T.I.- Us Or Else
2. Sarah Borges- Good and Dirty
3. Spoek Mathambo- Badimo
4. Chris Bathgate- Old Factory
5. Vince Staples- Prima Donna


The Top 50 Songs of 2016
1. Kanye West- “Ultralight Beam”
2. Anderson Paak- “Come Down”
3. Andre Williams- “Bury Me Deep”
4. Chance the Rapper- “Same Drugs”
5. Joe- “Our Anthem”
6. Danny Brown- “Really Doe”
7. Tedeschi Trucks Band- “Anyhow”
8. Miike Snow- “I Feel the Weight”
9. BJ the Chicago Kid- “Church”
10. Krizz Kaliko- “Didn’t Wanna Wake You”

11. Anthony Hamilton- “Ain’t No Shame”
12. T.I.- “40 Acres”
13. A Tribe Called Quest- “Kids...”
14. Rihanna- “Love On the Brain”
15. Sarah Borges- “Tendency to Riot”
16. Childish Gambino- “Redbone”
17. Frank Ocean- “Pink & White”
18. Parker Millsap- “Heaven Sent”
19. The Pretty Reckless- “Oh My God”
20. Kvelertak- “1985”

21. Boosie Badazz- “Cancer”
22. 21 Savage- “No Heart”
23. Babymetal- “Karate”
24. Rich the Factor- “Got ‘Em For Cheap”
25. Schoolboy Q- “That Part (Black Hippy remix)”
26. 5 Seconds of Summer- “Girls Talk Boys”
27. Descendants- “No Fat Burger”
28. YG- “Why You Always Hatin’?”
29. Agoraphobic Nosebleed- “Not a Daughter”
30. Jamie Lidell- “I Live to Make You Smile”

31. Kevin Gates- “Thought I Heard (Bread Winner’s Anthem)”
32. Phantogram- “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore”
33. Regina Belle- “He’s Alright”
34. Miranda Lambert- “Ugly Lights”
35. 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne- “Bounce”
36. Margo Price- “Hurtin’ (On the Bottle)”
37. Mayhem Lauren- “Badmon Ting”
38. Volbeat- “The Devil’s Bleeding Crown”
39. Various Blonde- “All Bases Covered”
40. Soul Revival- “If You Ask Me Again (I Do)”

41. Josh Hoyer and Soul Colossal- “Parts of a Man”
42. Famous Dex- "I Get the Drip From My Walk"
43. Shirley Caesar and Anthony Hamilton- “It’s Alright, It’s Ok”
44. Maxwell- “Lake By the Ocean”
45. Solange- “Don’t Touch My Hair”
46. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis- “Bolo Tie”
47. Psychic Heat- “Anxiety Eater”
48. M.I.A.- “Visa”
49. Car Seat Headrest- “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales”
50. Allen Toussaint- "American Tune"


The Top 50 Shows of 2016
1. Maxwell and Mary J. Blige- Sprint Center
2. Chance the Rapper- Midland theater
3. Lee Fields and the Expressions- The Granada
4. Aida Cuevas with Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles- Yardley Hall
5. Bonnie Raitt- Midland theater
6. Florence + The Machine- Providence Medical Amphitheater
7. Marilyn Maye- Quality Hill Playhouse
8. Exmortus- Aftershock
9. Tortoise- The Granada
10. Stephonne Singleton- Tank Room

11. Adia Victoria- Riot Room
12. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band- Sprint Center
13. Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle- Tank Room
14. Twenty-One Pilots- Sprint Center
15. Goddamn Gallows- Riot Room patio
16. Dolly Parton- Sprint Center
17. Steven Wilson- Folly Theater
18. R. Kelly- Sprint Center
19. Be/Non- Scottish Rite Temple
20. The Who- Sprint Center

21. Lamb of God- Midland theater
22. Chic- Starlight Theatre (opening for Duran Duran)
23. Christian McBride Trio- Folly Theater
24. Tedeschi Trucks Band- Midland theater
25. Pablo Ziegler and the Quartet for New Tango- Polsky Theatre
26. Les Arts Florissant- Helzberg Hall
27. UFO- VooDoo
28. Logan Richardson- Blue Room
29. Lianne La Havas- Uptown Theater (opening for Leon Bridges)
30. Dwight Yoakam- Uptown Theater

31. Roy Ayers- Blue Room
32. Diana Reyes- Barney Allis Plaza
33. Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom- Blue Room
34. Elle King- Midland theater
35. Matt Villinger- Orion Room at the Green Lady Lounge
36. 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne- Sprint Center
37. Maarja Nuut- Westin Kansas City at Crown Center
38. Toni Braxton- Sprint Center
39. Midori with the Kansas City Symphony- Helzberg Hall
40. Matt Otto Septet- Blue Room

41. Fantasia- Starlight Theatre
42. Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats-Providence Medical Center Amphitheater
43. Elvis Costello- Yardley Hall
44. Avant- Uptown Theater
45. Helado Negro- RecordBar
46. Julion Alvarez- Sprint Center
47. Josh Groban- Starlight Theatre
48. Ebony Tusks- Midland theater (opening for Zhu)
49. Kevin Gates-  Providence Medical Center Amphitheater (opening for Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa)
50. Candido- American Jazz Museum

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, December 19, 2016

Album Review: Ingrid Laubrock- Serpentines


Free jazz is often deliberately off-putting.  I suspect that a lot of obtuse improvised music may be little more than self-indulgent pranks.  That’s not the case with Serpentines, a new recording overseen by Ingrid Laubrock.  The saxophonist’s adventurous cohorts include the monumental drummer Tyshawn Sorey and celebrated pianist Craig Taborn, but it’s the electronics of Sam Pluta that differentiate Serpentines from less credible noisemakers.  ”Chip in Brain” is my jam.


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I reviewed a spectacular concert by Maxwell and Mary J. Blige.

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I wrote an extended concert preview about Third Eye Blind for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

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I named Eddie Moore the Plastic Sax Person of the Year.

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I was a guest on a two-hour edition of the Eight One Sixty radio program on 90.9 The Bridge.

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I reviewed a concert by Milky Chance, Marian Hill, Banks & Steelz and Shaed.

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I write weekly music previews for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

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Joe Ligon of the Mighty Clouds of Joy has died.

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Even as an impressionable kid attending one of his first big indoor concerts, I was nonplussed by the garish drum and keyboard workouts during Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s 1977 appearance at Municipal Auditorium.  Greg Lake’s efforts have always been considerably more appealing to me.  Lake died earlier this month.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Kanye and Stanley


I fell in love with Atlanta last week.  I was smitten by the city’s Southern hospitality, collard greens, excellent public transportation and vibrant downtown.  Even so, I was unable to get past the highly publicized cancellation of Kanye West’s tour.  I had wheeled the trip around the troubled star’s concert at Philips Arena.  I settled for a Stanley Clarke show.  While the jazz-fusion legend looked and sounded amazing, I never got into his performance.   Not even keyboard whiz Beka Gochiashvili’s lovely playing on “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” allayed my disappointment.


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I reviewed The Owen/Cox Dance Group and the People’s Liberation Big Band’s interpretation of The Nutcracker.

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I wrote an extended preview of tonight’s Mary J. Blige and Maxwell concert for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

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I write weekly music previews for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

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The new compilation Doing It In Lagos: Boogie, Pop & Disco in 1980s Nigeria is an amusing diversion.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, December 05, 2016

I Can't Be Satisfied


Unless your name is Pat Metheny, I probably don’t want to hear you play a three-minute guitar solo. 

The ingratiating Marcus King, 20, did a credible impression of the late guitar hero Duane Allman at his band’s in-store performance at Vinyl Renaissance on Sunday.  I was far more impressed that he sang almost as well as Gregg Allman. 

But so what?  Blues prodigies are a dime a dozen.  Few things interest me less than a flashy blues-rock guitar virtuoso.

That’s partly why the Rolling Stones’ new rough-and-tumble album Blue & Lonesome is so impressive.  Only one song is longer than five minutes and nine selections clock in at less than four minutes. The absence of tiresome guitar solos on the informal tribute to Chess Records puts the vast majority of younger blues-rock artists to shame.


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I reviewed the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra’s concert at the Midland theater for The Kansas City Star.

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I wrote an extended concert preview about Mac Miller for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

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I discussed the Snow Globes on KCUR last week.

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I wrote an extended preview for a benefit concert featuring the Fray and David Cook for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

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I ranked my favorite jazz performances of 2016 at Plastic Sax.

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I write weekly music previews for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

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Childish Gambino’s outstanding Awaken, My Love! is RIYL: Funkadelic, wanting to get funked up, Sly & the Family Stone.  Here’s ”Redbone”.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)