It's possible we don’t mention it enough, but Kansas City is a pretty special place to be a music fan, and at no time during the year is that more apparent to me than at the annual Pitch Music Showcase. This year was a great one, and what made it so exceptional was the caliber of musicians who came out to help celebrate the scene with us.
My evening started at the Beaumont Back Yard with the B’Dinas, who are tagged in this year’s Showcase ballot as a blues band. While indeed well-accomplished in that genre, the band also effortlessly wades into pop, rock, funk and soul. Their breezy, sunny mix fit well with the relaxed atmosphere and perfect weather (we have almost forgotten what tolerable weather is like) of the Beaumont’s Back Yard. Katy Guillen is particularly impressive on guitar, wailing through the band’s originals as well as a great cover of the Beatles' “Don’t Let Me Down.” The band, along with a watermelon beer and some sort of puffy bread/spicy meat food truck fare that I picked up, could have made for a good night all in itself. But, of course, there was more in store.
Inside at the Beaumont, the Blue Boot Heelers honky-tonked to a steadily growing crowd. Frontman Marty Smeller has a bold, loud voice and inspired a handful of hipsters to two-step, seemingly for the first time, all clumsy feet and smiles. The band played both kinds — country and western — with a whiskey grin and enough slick guitars to make country and rock kids happy.
Outside at the Riot Room, the Soul Servers had to deal with some unfortunate sound issues, which made their slick beats veer crunchy. The crowd didn’t much care, dancing and waving their arms to Deuce Fontaine, Louiz Rip and and Smoov Confusion, backed up by DJ Approach. Deuce’s speed was the biggest standout of the evening, but the overall performance, bad sound and all, was a good indicator of why the Soul Servers are one of the biggest games in town in hip-hop.
Over at McCoy’s, tucked into the vintage photo-clad performance area, Amy Farrand growled and yelped her way through a short set, competing both with the Olympics playing on the sports bar’s TVs as well as a very bro-heavy birthday party. She didn’t betray knowledge of all of the distractions, however, and like a true performer she played to the small but appreciative crowd as though she had reign of the entire place. Farrand is a hell of a guitar player, doing the work of two old hard blues singers with the power of one mohawk.
There was so much I did not see, but thanks KC, for putting out great blues, rock, country and hip-hop, all within a block, all on one night. Let’s do it again next year.