That'll be quite enough from you, 2008. The collapsing economy, the escalating wars, the rise of Sarah Palin, the virulent spread of Auto-Tune throughout mainstream pop — you nearly killed us. Fortunately, folks in Kansas City had plenty of good music to turn to for comfort. For our year-end wrap-up, we caught up with a few prominent locals to see how they fared in this year of the rat.
Tim Gutschenritter, Riot Room proprietor
Christmas wish: Oasis playing Kansas City
The wrap-up: "We opened in Febuary 2008, and it's pretty much been super kick-ass ever since. A lot of good people, a lot of good bands, a lot of good vibes here.... The fact that we have opened up our doors to pretty much anybody and everybody, locally and nationally, has created a new subculture here in Kansas City of, like, people who just want to be comfortable and see something cool on a daily basis. I think we have been responsible for the success of the metal and underground hip-hop scenes here in Kansas City. Those shows have been huge. They have been a blast. We are super easygoing, too, and have eclectic minds."
Mark Lowrey, jazz pianist
Christmas wish: gift certificates to iTunes
The wrap-up: "It's been really interesting. I've had to grow up as a businessperson, as just making my living playing music. You learn really quick that you have to know as much about business as about your instrument. In the last 12 months, I've taken more of a bandleader role than in previous years. Maybe that's the Leo thing actualizing itself.
"The new Phoenix is hip.... They're going back to a lot of the staples of Kansas City jazz. It really sucked that Bar Natasha had to close — this whole counterculture was displaced. It was a fun place for musicians to hang out.
"I'm learning more and more the rewards of playing at locally owned venues. I do play at corporate restaurants, do corporate parties all the time, and I have positive experiences, but nothing beats places like the Phoenix, Bar Natasha, the Record Bar, Jardine's, JP Wine Bar.... It's just a different kind of mentality. The locally owned places seem to care about the music and the bottom line."
Terry Taylor, Hammerlord bassist and president of Hunt Industries
Christmas wish: more G.I. Joe Street Fighter toys for his collection
The wrap-up: "I think surviving as a promoter in one of the hardest economic years I have had in 20 years in the music biz was a big hill to get over. I know there is still a long road ahead, but I have been staying optimistic. Besides keeping my head above water in this economy, joining Hammerlord is the best thing that happened to me in 2008. It is uplifting to be back playing in a band for the love of the music with no pressure to sign to a label or be the next big thing.
"There were a lot of exciting things that happened in the local music scene this year: Seeing some of the local homies on national TV was awesome — Rob Pope [Spoon] and the Republic Tigers. The opening of the Riot Room has definitely helped fill a void in KC that seemed to be missing. Mac Lethal's signing and finally getting the national exposure he has always deserved — he has been one of my faves since I moved here five years ago. And Dri, the Lawrence singer-songwriter, put out a CD called Smoke Rings earlier this year, and it was one of the most refreshing CDs I have heard in a long time. If you do not own a physical copy of this CD, go to your local record store — I know Love Garden in Lawrence always has it — and buy it immediately."