Following a successful Kickstarter campaign, Blues and Trouble, the new album from old-school swing, jazz and jump-blues local act Grand Marquis, sees the light of day this week. The five-piece is celebrating twice: once with a show on the official release date (Tuesday, June 25) at Westport's excellent new record store, Mills Record Co., and more grandly on Friday, June 28, at Knuckleheads Saloon.
"The Knuckleheads show should be really big and fun," lead singer and sax player Bryan Redmond told us recently, as the band was driving to Dodgeville, Wisconsin, to play in the town's summer concert series. "Playing after us is the RUF's Blues Caravan, which has Bart Walker and some other great blues artists in it. Walker's a cat from Nashville — he's kind of a rising star in the blues world. We got to know him a few years back at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis."
Grand Marquis will be back on the road pretty quickly after the release show — the band is touring pretty hard this summer. "It's almost perpetual," Redmond said. "Omaha, Des Moines, Minneapolis, Wisconsin, the upper peninsula of Michigan are all coming up."
Are many of the gigs civic events like the one in Dodgeville? "Yeah, we do a fair amount of those types of shows," Redmond said. "It's a good fit for our music. It's clean for kids. Grandparents like it. It's kind of a unifying type of music. Plus, it's nice not to have to worry about door charges at clubs and things like that."
If you can't meet Grand Marquis out on the road, you can find the band doing its Thursday residency at Jazz: A Louisiana Kitchen on 39th Street. They've held the gig for a jaw-dropping 14 years now.
"Yeah, hard to believe," Redmond said. "I was 21 — early 1999 — when we started there. It's like home. I don't want to call it a practice because we are very much performing at those shows. But it's kind of like inviting people into our living room. Especially later in the night when it's looser and we can try new songs out. Jazz is where we cut our teeth on the new songs for this new record, for sure. Playing there is about as real as it gets with the Grand Marquis."
Speaking of residencies: the Kill Devil Club — the most non–Power & Light bar in the Power & Light District, specializing in cocktails and jazz — has been adding some to its calendar. Two are actually coming to a close this week, but there's still time to roll by and get a feel. Making Movies' Afro-Cuban, jazzy side project, the Making Movies Social Club, is playing consecutive Wednesdays, June 26 and July 3. The group invites special-guest local players, such as Hermon Mehari, Mark Lowrey and Julia Haile, to join in during its sets.
Also wrapping up a Kill Devil residency is producer-percussionist Brandon Draper. He's there this Thursday, June 27, for his final show, Bass Trap. It's a collaboration with Steve Molitz, a founding member of Particle who has toured with Phil Lesh and others. "My format has been improvisational dance music, with guests each week, including John Brewer [keyboardist], Zach Rizer [bassist] and Leonard Dstroy [turntablist]," Draper says. "I play drums, guitar, bass, vocals, percussion, and LiveLoop to create DJ-style music in a variety of genres."
He's not bothered by the P&L location. "I really like the venue," he says. "Kill Devil is a block from the P&L open mall, and on Thursday evening it's not your typical P&L crowd in there at all. The only reason I'm not continuing it [the residency] is that I'm traveling and booked most of July and August. The residency has helped me hone in on a few new details for my solo live show."
Louder Than Bombs, the Smiths-themed DJ night, has returned to the Union. The party — arguably generous language for what happens when people stand around drinking and listening to the Smiths — started at El Pueblito, the little Mexican restaurant on Southwest Boulevard. Then it moved into some warehouse spaces, into Westport, back into warehouse spaces, and is now back in Westport.
Says Iggy Romeu (also known as DJ Norrit): "We obviously play some Smiths, some Morrissey, and focus on filling out the rest of the night musically with neighboring genres of their active years: Britpop, post-punk, new wave, punk punk, as well as some anachronisms and why nots." They're only doing six this summer, and two have already happened. The next one is July 11, then July 25, August 8 and August 22. Thursdays all. Morrissey fans, note: not Sundays.
What you can do Sunday is take in a toast to the music of the Rolling Stones at the Sonic Spectrum Tribute Series at RecordBar. Participating in the hero worship are the Cody Wyoming Deal (which a few years back performed a much-loved set at Crosstown Station, where it covered Exile on Main Street from front to back); the Empty Spaces, whose pared-down '60s-rock vibe should serve them well at this show; and two groups formed for just this occasion (one includes members of Dream Wolf and Molly Picture Club; the other features members of Drew Black and Dirty Electric and the Latenight Callers). "The set lists are diverse and hitting a lot of deep cuts," says organizer Robert Moore.
In July, the theme is Dealer's Choice, an annual birthday show for Moore in which he handpicks the artists and set lists. Beyond that, final Sundays of the month at RecordBar are odes to Cheap Trick (in August), the Who (in September) and the Cramps (in October).
"I'm extremely happy with it," Moore says of the tribute series, which has been going for more than two years. "We have given a good amount of money to Midwest Music Foundation to aid musicians. And it's brought together many musicians who have never collaborated before, which is a great testament to the open support and strength of the Kansas City scene."