It's just over a year since I took over as music editor down here at 1701 Main, but I've been writing for The Pitch on and off since the mid-aughts. I like to think that I possess a certain amount of institutional knowledge about our newspaper — about the writers and bands and stories that have passed through these pages over the years. But I was humbled a few months back when I received a voice mail from a man seeking press coverage for a show he had put together. He had been out of the promoting game for the last decade, he said, but now he was back, and he had some new artists he thought The Pitch should check out. "I've always loved what The Pitch does," he said, "covering local music, drawing attention to important musicians in this town, the Klammies, all that."
The Klammies? What the hell are the Klammies? I wondered. I hung up the phone and resumed my joyous and terrifying daily task of writing words about music. Then, a few weeks later, I got curious again and did some Googling, asked around. It turns out that The Pitch Music Awards used to be called the Klammies: the Kansas City-Lawrence Area Music Awards. For what now seem like obvious reasons, the name was changed, in 2003.
I can't explain why, but something about this discovery lifted my spirits. There is a lot of work that goes into planning The Pitch Music Awards and The Pitch Music Showcase, and though we do it happily, it can be a bit of a thankless gig. Bands thinking they should be nominated aren't nominated. Bands don't like the category they're nominated in. The really cool bands talk about how they don't care about The Pitch Music Awards, or The Pitch, at all. (Humans are very predictable animals, particularly when matters of pride are at stake.) I suppose learning about the Klammies, which started all the way back in the 1990s (imagine!), made me feel like I was part of something bigger — not just an annual event but a tradition to be celebrated.
And so celebrate we will. (DMB forever, y'all!) But seriously, you guys, the party starts this weekend, Saturday, August 4, with The Pitch Music Showcase in Westport — 30 acts, six venues, all kinds of genres, all local everything — and culminates with the awards ceremony August 12. We've spent the last few weeks tracking down our nominated acts and asking them what's new in their world, what life as a musician is like here in Kansas City, why they do what they do. Read through the many pages that follow for those answers. Then come on out Saturday and see some of those folks perform — and join me as I pour one out for the Klammies.
The Blackbird Revue
We've really been enjoying performing as a three-piece band. In the past, we've played with as many as six band members but decided to streamline after our drummer moved out of state last year. It's been a really fun challenge to come up with creative ways (we've all become multi-instrumentalists) for us to maintain our driving folk-rock sound. We recently returned from Nashville, where we recorded a new four-song EP with producer Don Chaffer. It will be titled Glow and will be released in the next two months.
In a perfect world, how would music critics describe your band?
Honestly. I'd personally label us under the "Americana" moniker and say, above all, we try to write great songs. We hope that a music critic, and anyone who listens to our music, would be both entertained and edified.