With more than 3,000 records and 12 years of experience comfortably tucked under his conservative belt, Powers knows his shit. He has opened for Sharon Jones and the Dapkings, Peanut Butter Wolf and Blackalicious, and two years ago he rolled out his debut, Scenebooster Soundsystem Presents ...Volume One.
The Pitch met with Powers in front of Love Garden Sounds — Lawrence's quintessential record-geek hangout — on the first warm afternoon in two weeks. Passing an enormous goth and a pair of pretty young women with brown paper bags of records stowed under their arms, we made our way up the neon-green flight of stairs and into the second-story record shop. Then the Scenebooster set to work educatin' our ass.
Actuel #6: Africanasia by Claude Delcloo and Arthur Jones: On this 1969 classic, Delcloo plays drums and Jones blows the flute. "This record's filled with all kinds of sounds — hardcore louds, soft softs," Powers says. "It's so well-mixed, it can be difficult to separate the sounds out, but this album is beautiful free jazz. And I'm all about the flutey flute, that mellow flute action ... that's my show."
Let My Children Hear Music by Charles Mingus: Powers plays string bass, so he appreciates these hall-of-fame beats. "Mingus is impenetrable. Nobody's pushed it like this since," he says. "He and Miles and Coltrane — all those guys were, like, five steps ahead of everyone else." Plus, this gem from 1971 includes "The Shoes of the Fisherman's Wife Are Some Jive Ass Slippers." Say no more.
Band of Gold by Freda Payne: Scenebooster salutes the classic hip-hop drums that rage on tracks such as "The Easiest Way to Fall" and the "crazy distorted guitar" that opens "Unhooked Generation." "Shit, that guitar sound's been sampled a million times," he says. This rare funk from 1970, Powers adds, is the kind of sample that makes people on the dance floor "freak way out."
Ruff Draft by J Dilla: "I was late to appreciate this — it was way over my head, and I was sleeping," Powers admits. "The way Jay Dee [Dilla] heard music, the way he mixed samples ... it was like no one else. He revolutionized the game." Filled with swagger and swank, this 2003 collection by the late J Dilla, Powers says, is "unclassifiable." If you're looking for one album to pick up, he advises, this is the one.
Dorando and the Ice Picks of Soul by Joc Max: Released on Kenny Dope's imprint Sure Shot, this hip-hop, funk-feeling 45 is the kind of record "you should run, not walk, to buy right now," Powers says. Being a native Kansas Citian, Joc is a booster himself. "He's crucial to the scene around here," Powers says. Remixing the classic "Why Can't We All Get Along," this record is full of the sweet funk vibe that makes Powers' knees wobble. "You feelin' me?" he asks.
Before departing, Powers pulls out at least 10 more records, laying them gently on the glass surface of the vintage-records showcase before unpacking and examining each. And this is a mere fraction of the record-handling powers does during any given week. Last Saturday, he joined forces with Ian Frost (from KC's Beat Drop) in a gig at the Bottleneck called Meltin' Pot, which they plan to make regular. This weekend, Powers spins dirty funk, continuing his Saturday Night Soul Clap at the Eighth Street Taproom.
"It's just a dark room, a bunch of dancers and heavy funk," Powers says.
Knowledge is Powers, folks.