All of a sudden, you can't swing an underemployed drummer in this town without walloping a music festival. In April, the first annual indie-band-centric Middle of the Map Fest was held. This Friday and Saturday, the locally organized but nationally minded Kanrocksas Music and Camping Festival comes to the Kansas Speedway, bringing with it the likes of Eminem, Muse, the Black Keys and the Flaming Lips. And next week, you can hear Willie Nelson, Dave Matthews, John Mellencamp and Neil Young at Livestrong Sporting Park, where Farm Aid has elected to hold its 2011 gathering.
Fine fests, all of them. But none offers the diverse local breadth of The Pitch Music Showcase, now in its 10th year. By wandering down to Westport and paying a measly six bucks, you're allowed to stroll from venue to venue and feast upon a hearty buffet of hip-hop, rock, country, electronic, jazz, and a number of other genres that contain hyphens. It's like going to Shoney's. Or, no, it's like eating at a buffet at Shoney's if the food were good. Wait. Is Shoney's still in business? I'm realizing now that it's been a long time since I've seen a Shoney's.
You know what? Disregard the Shoney's analogy. Here is another fact about this year's Showcase: We've added RecordBar to our roster of venues, and because it's a little hike from the Riot Room-Foundry-McCoy's hub, we've got the KC Trolley traveling back and forth between the two spots all night. The Pitch: Strongly opposed to unnecessary, time-consuming walking if it means missing dynamic local, live music performances.
Following is info about the bands playing the Showcase. We contacted every nominated act, and those that responded by deadline are quoted here. Read it, listen to the acts' Bandcamp pages, make a little itinerary for the evening if you so desire, and then show up August 4, ready to have a ball.
The Grisly Hand
What's good? "We are very close to finishing recording some new tracks. We are planning to release one or two 45s with double A-sides. Double the fun! We're also playing Livestrong Sporting Park in September. ¡Ole!"
What do you think you sound like? "I think we're comfortable with Americana. We also enjoy the country-soul label. We definitely have a little soul."
Anything else? "After a couple drinks, we decided to buy a saw and start our own sawmill."
What's good? Released self-titled EP in December 2010. Released singles for "Forest Chorus" and "Pocket Song" in spring 2011. Played Wakarusa Festival earlier this summer.
What do you think you sound like? "A six-piece rock band with elements of folk and pop."
Anything else? "We're not going to do a free-form jazz exploration in front of a festival crowd."
At The Pitch Sponsor Lot: THE COLUMNS
Bill Sundahl has been a staple of the local scene for years now, having played with popular acts like It's Over and the Afterparty. He's also a mover and shaker, organizing the recurring vaudeville variety show the Donkey Show and putting together the annual Crossroads Music Fest. These days, his primary music outlet is the Columns, an Americana act with a vibrant brass section.
The Pitch: What's new with the Columns?
Sundahl: Oh, just changing horn players like underwear. Writing some new music. Gonna do some recording toward the end of the year as soon as I get some of these new songs arranged. We've been rearranging some of our older stuff to make it more dance-y and uptempo. It'll be more horn-driven.