Friday, April 28, 2006

As If You Had Something Better to Do

Posted By on Fri, Apr 28, 2006 at 4:10 PM

FRIDAY

OK Jones and Red Guitar at the Hurricane.

OK Jones' album Push/Pull would have easily made my top 10 local releases of 2005, the year it came out — except I didn't get a copy until 2006. Singer and guitarist Richard Gintowt, who writes music features for Lawrence.com, has a voice like a young John Hiatt (but without that Muppety croak) and brags about being a "Mean Guy." Also, he knows how to write a good melody. The style is mostly alt-country, but without all that self-pitying bullshit. I haven't seen Red Guitar, another local band, but their latest album is tuneful as well. This will be an evening of song.

Blackpool Lights get a leg up this weekend.

SATURDAY

Billy Brimblecom Benefit at the Record Bar.

I first met the drummer for the Blackpool Lights not long after he'd begun chemotheraphy treatments for Ewing's sarcoma. The first thing that struck me about him was how positive and energetic he was, despite being, well, weak and bald. If rock and roll really does have a spiritual dimension to it, then Billy's got a direct line to the Light Side of the Force. That's why, when he lost his leg to the cancer last summer, he still never gave a thought to quitting the band — and this is a drummer, remember. Now, Billy needs a $60,000 prosthesis, and he needs our help paying for it. At 7 and 10 p.m. tonight, 15 of your dollars can help him reach his goal and also buy yourself some maximum rock and roll courtesy of the Blackpool Lights and the Architects. Read our calendar blurb here.

Or, if you're in the mood to relive the parts of the '90s you thought you wanted to forget, check out this band.

Also, the most excellent Namelessnumberheadman is playing with the Ants, Black Christmas and Cantus Firmus at the Sleeper Cellar.

SUNDAY

The Litigators and the Bad Ideas at Fred P. Ott's.

The Litigators haven't been playing around much lately, but this Sunday they're in one of the best venues for their freak-out soul rock. If you've ever wished you'd been a teenager back in the fever-pitch early rock days of Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis, then you can get pretty close to that feelin' off any given show by the 'gators, one of KC's most exciting bands to watch and slosh beer on and get tackled by.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

It's All in the Beard

Posted By on Thu, Apr 27, 2006 at 2:11 PM

Credit: Chris Strong

Appleseed Cast.

I fucking love Cris Crisci's beard. That thing is more than impressive. It could scare the beard right off Lincoln's face were Cris to go anywhere near Mount Rushmore, and a rock-beard avalanche would crush the elk, backpackers and lonely watercolor artists communing with our national history in the valley below. Stay away from the Black Hills, Cris!

Crisci's beard, with its wiry black chin growth flanked by patches of white pouring down like rivers of limestone from under the sides of his ever-present baseball cap, is the number one reason to see Appleseed Cast play the Record Bar tonight with White Whale. Reason number two is the Cast's new album, Peregrine, a noisy, dynamic, inspired record possessed of a driving madness that's in good part due to the mastery of the band's new drummer, Nate Richardson, formerly of the Casket Lottery and hardcore legends Coalesce.

In my coverage of SXSW, I wasn't able to work in a mention of the Appleseed Cast's show at midnight on Friday of that weekend (at least, I think it was Friday; my chronological memory of that event is not rock solid. I do remember I got tacos before the show, and the tacos had raw jalape�os in them, and I nearly vomited out my flaming tonsils but felt refreshingly sobered up almost immediately afterward). There was a surprisingly large crowd with surprisingly few Kansas Citians in it, and the kids were crowding the front of the stage, singing along with Crisci and genuflecting before his beard. As with past AC shows I've attended, that one didn't blow me away, despite the combined band-crowd energy. I think they're better on record. Live, they seem to strive for an inspirational build, drawing on the old anthems to work the fans into a varsity-basketball-like sense of hope and glory. Peregrine, fortunately, shows the band venturing away from its Midwestern-emo-influenced roots and experimenting with sounds that aren't always "soaring." You won't be disappointed if you like the Cast's trademark desparate, tidal surges. But you won't be disappointed, either, if you didn't really dig that overwrought stuff.

Opening the show is fellow Lawrence band White Whale.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Gossip from the Scene

Posted By on Tue, Apr 25, 2006 at 3:51 PM

Be/Non engages in pre-show ritual cleansing.

TONIGHT! Be/Non and El Ten Eleven at the Hurricane

Be/Non is currently in the studio working on a new album. Bassist Ben Ruth has compared the musical interplay of the band's current lineup to locking into some kind of ecstatic spiritual plane via the top of his head (in other words, it's like getting high). The album's engineer, Paul Malinowski, also says the recording process is going amazingly well. But what amazes me the most is that for drummer Adam Phillips, who joined the group directly before its gig at SXSW, Be/Non is only the third band he's ever been in, and the first two, the Gadjits and the Architects -- both being bands he founded with his two brothers Zach and Brandon -- practically count as the same group. Nostradamus predicted that when one of the Phillips brothers joins another band full-time, an unusually good harvest of oranges will follow, after which seven years of famine will strike the land. But if we were to have a really good Be/Non album to listen to during those years of strife, we might be able to get by with a little less grain for our cattle.

Devin Blair has gotten a job in Dallas, which means he'll be leaving the Monitor and Seaside Riot, and Kansas City will lose one of its only devoted mods. Monitor member Cody Wyoming declined to name Blair's replacement, so I had to feed him to my reticulated python.

In even sadder news, one of the friendliest, happiest, all-around-best bartenders in Kansas City is moving to Houston at the end of the month, leaving us all behind. He was given to us for a short time, to shake our hands across the bar, to anticipate our drink needs with astounding accuracy, and, above all, to make us fell welcome. Trieu, the Record Bar won't be the same without you.

Plans are still underway for Golden Republic frontman Ben Grimes and his wife to open their clothing store in the Crossroads in June, immediately before the band goes on a tour of France. Also, Ben has shaved off all his hair. It looks pretty good.

Now this is how you do a local gangsta rap Web site.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Trannies & Trotskyites

Posted By on Mon, Apr 24, 2006 at 3:41 PM

Andrew Connor from Ghosty drinks on in disbelief.

While in Austin for SXSW, I saw multiple stickers, hats, etc., bearing the slogan "Keep Austin weird." The value of weirdness to a community should not be underestimated. As John Stuart Mill brainily said, "Eccentricity has always abounded when and where strength of character had abounded; and the amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor, and courage which it contained."

Lack of clean laundry doesn't keep Automatic Westy from his DJ duties.

Although I can't speak for the collective strength of character, genius, mental vigor or courage of the people who partied down at Ron Megee's loft in the West Bottoms last Friday, I definitely say that there were plenty of eccentrics. For one thing, the party was in celebration of Lenin's birthday. There were people dressed like Soviets and there were men in drag. Take away all the people in normal clothes and you would have had a Trannies & Trotskyites party.

I'm a lousy photographer, but I snapped some photos of the shindig, all here for your vicarious viewing pleasure. The Monitor organized the event and provided the evening's live music, setting up a closed-circuit TV system using ancient, UHF-knob TVs to enhance the band's Big Brother shtick. They had two bass guitars and some keyboards and the three guys in the band wore army fatigues and black armbands and acted like fascists and sang how Scott Weiland would have sounded if he'd grown up in the Eastern Bloc. They closed their set with a cover of the Stooges' "Now I Wanna Be Your Dog," during which singer Cody Wyoming stripped off his shirt and jumped in the crowd. Sadly, I failed to capture a photograph of this moment. Rest assured, it was weird.

John and Cody tickle the keys.

Cody and Devin direct a partygoer to the nearest fire escape.

What? You never seen Jay-Z dancing on a bar before?

Billy Smith and Steve Tulipana get serious at the bar.

The queens do their thang.

Devin Blair used to be a Marine; now he's just a weirdo like everyone else.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Yeager's ready, even if KC isn't

Posted By on Fri, Apr 21, 2006 at 1:06 PM

http://media.newtimes.com/id/21627/

Jon Yeager

"Safely"

That's what I like about this guy, man, he owns it! You know, it's pop, man. But this dude can sing, and he just owns it!

Jon Yeager wants to rock you - safely.

Not these words, exactly, but words to this effect were spouted drunkenly in my ear late one Friday night at the Brick. On stage was Jon Yeager, and he was playing "Safely," a song off his original solo demo. My drunken interlocutor was a guy who plays bass in various rock bands and one jazz outfit — not the sort who would typically dig Yeager's brand of gentle, reassuring, sincere singer-songwriter pop, all full of Beatles chords, carefully crafted melodies and falcetto coos. Not too many folks on the scene are fans of that kind of music, either, which makes Jon's local success not only rare but a bit of a puzzle. Since the disbanding of his previous group, the Daybirds, Yeager has recorded two or three solo EPs, become the flagship artist of a startup local label called Polyrhythmic Records, picked up a backing band (a bassist and drummer from Arkansas) and made his rounds on the Midtown club circuit. He's certainly productive, but is Kansas City into his sound?

Despite his confidence, consistency and good stage presence, Jon Yeager may be too soft for the town's rock-hungry bar crowds. In a way, it's unfair, but when it comes to playing for the drunk-and-disorderly scenester majority, it's a matter of survival of the loudest. However, I've noticed at a couple of Jon's shows, when it comes time for him to set down his guitar, sit at his Fender Rhodes and launch into the exquisitely melancholy "Safely," people quiet down and take notice. That's because it's a textbook-perfect pop ballad. The song decides for you precisely how you're going to feel and how your body's going to move: (1) you'll feel content with a tinge of bittersweet longing and (2) you'll start either bobbing your head or tapping a heel on the 2 and the 4. Then, when the song's over, whether you grab a seat closer to the stage or return to your conversation at the bar, you're going to feel better, and that's what matters.

Yeager has recently posted four brand-new tunes on the Myspace page for Polyrhythmic . You can — and should -- download them all for away-from-the-computer listening.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

It's Good to Be Shirtless

Posted By on Thu, Apr 20, 2006 at 4:27 PM

Oz and Joe

On a recent trip to Lawrence, I discovered a magic superfast insta-recipe to get Lawrence kids dancing faster than you can say Gumby in the hizzouuuuse! Take two McGuires, preferably of the Ozgood and Shirtless Joe varieties, mix them with a John Brewer-brand jazz pianist, throw in a couple decks, a couple dudes on bass and drums, drop 'em in a club, and watch the roof get raised. That's what the scene was like when Se�or Oz McGuire and his little brother Joe debuted their Afrolicious African-Latin-funk dance party at the Continental Club (upstairs at Louise's Downtown) in Lawrence a couple weeks ago. On this very special 4/20 night and for the next few Mondays at the Record Bar, Afrolicous travels to KC and becomes Beat Sanctuary, which features much the same lineup but brings a sound more tailored to get our town's dance-reluctant crowds shaking a leg. EPs by Joe's instrumental outfit Pleasuremaker will be for sale. If you like what you hear live, definitely pick up the recording. And if you like what you see, grab ahold of Joe, throw him in the trunk, take him home, put him in a giant Mason jar, throw in some grass and twigs, poke holes in the lid and keep him for a pet.*

*I will not accept liability if some crazy chick actually does this.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Less Depression

Posted By on Wed, Apr 19, 2006 at 3:14 PM

George Jones is one of this local blogger's heroes.

There's a new old kid on the blogging block. His name's David Cantwell and his blog is called Living in Stereo. Check it out. Cantwell is a local English teacher and he's also a senior editor at No Depression, the classy, nationally distributed country, rock and alt-country mag. Actually, Cantwell's site is more of a culture 'zine than a blog. His mission: "I plan to focus on country music, particularly the country music of the Nashville Sound era, but I'll wind up writing about whatever interests me whether that turns out to be soul music, hip hop or situation comedies; the dangers of fundamentalism or the nature of human freedom." Or, to paraphrase for him — I'm going to start in Nashville, but I might end up in Baghdad.

Cantwell has written for the Pitch in the past. His last longish piece for us was a definitive essay on Uncle Tupelo, which is worth reading, even if you think you hate, uh, "pre-Wilco" Jeff Tweedy.

It's a pleasure to add Living in Stereo to my list of links, and I take comfort just knowing that Cantwell's somewhere out there in these wide city limits, keeping his wizened eye on things.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

My Hometown: Not as Lame as We Thought

Posted By on Tue, Apr 18, 2006 at 4:27 PM

Things are better in Abelene.

I'm home sick today, beaten down by the clouds of oak pollen lumbering about in the air outside, and being thus disconnected from the local scene here in my convalescence (and not a little prone to narcissism when under the weather), I'm going to talk about myself.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have been cited.

Not by the police, no, but by another writer, one Joe Specht, the greatest living record collector and local historian in my hometown of Abilene, Texas. Joe was my musical guide while I was in college. Weekly, he would mail me photocopies of cool articles from music mags I'd never heard of and send me cassette tapes full of outre free jazz. (You can't imagine what Sun Ra, playing at full blast on a car stereo on a boiling summer day, can do to the heat-addled brain.) Joe has recently published a book called The Women There Don't Treat You Mean: Abilene in Song. In folksy (but not too folksy), intelligent prose, Joe, who is the director of a university library, documents half a century's worth of songs that mention or deal directly with "the Key City" of West Texas. In a particularly good part, Joe talks to the great Dave Alvin, whose song "Abilene," which is actually about a real-life stripper Dave knew, is available on the jukebox at Harry's Country Club, last time I checked.

(Aside: We are aware there is an Abilene in Kansas, which evidently was founded before the one in Texas, but is far less, well.... Anyway, all the songs in Joe's book are about the town in Texas, and I won't infuriate any of you Kansans by explaining, in a necessarily curt tone, why that is.)

West Texas' good George.

The most well-known of the songs is George Hamilton IV's "Abilene," with its chorus: Abilene, Abilene, prettiest town I've ever seen/The women there don't treat you mean in Abilene. On iTunes, you can find recordings of this song by George H IV himself, Waylon Jennings, Uncle Fucker, The Moody Brothers, Brian Gale, Sonny James, Po' Girl, Bill Rhyne and the Coronados, The Highwaymen, Robin O'Herin, the Taylor Grocery Band and a bunch of other original songs titled "Abilene," most of which are discussed in Joe's book. Plus, you can get Waylon's album Abilene, but it doesn't have "Abilene" on it. I could go on about the other Abilenes on iTunes, but you get the idea.

You're eager to hear about my citation, I'm sure, so here it is. In the chapter Beyond the Red and Rio Grande, Joe writes:

England's Humble Pie, formed by Peter Frampton and Steve Marriot in the late 1960s, offers its own brand of Texas six-gun logic in "The Sad Bag of Shaky Jake." This song is on the Pie's 1969 album Town and Country (which also includes a multi-voiced, rollicking cover of Buddy Holly's "Heartbeat"), and writer Steve Marriott doesn't waste any time placing things in a West Texas setting.

"When I was a kid in Abilene . . . I shot a man down when I was eighteen." The Texas Rangers quickly appear on the scene: "Shaky Jake, boy, what you gonna do/Texas Rangers coming after you." His fate sealed, it seems only a matter of time before Jake will end up in a grave of his own making.

This passage has an affectionate endnote, which reads: Jason Harper, also a connoisseur of Brit beat music, clued me in to the Abilene presence on "The Sad Bag of Shaky Jake." And how can one not be taken with a song described by young Mr. Harper "as a southern boogie singalong that evokes a primitive American version of the theme song from COPS." (e-mail from Harper to Specht, November 14, 2003)

Thanks, Joe!

The best part about the book, however, is the CD that comes with it, featuring six specially recorded songs for the book. Slim Chance and the Survivors -- now that's a band name you could easily imagine seeing on a flyer at Knuckleheads — perform a classy, lilting version of the GHIV original. Victoria Moore, who sounds a hell of a lot like Neko Case, sings "The Road to Abilene," by Jeff & Vida, and a hero of mine from my adolescence, a blues guitarist named Happy Fat wails "Way Out in Abilene" by the legendary Lightnin' Hopkins, who don't need no goddamn hyperlink stuck on his name. Track 4, "The Jewel of Abilene" by Grey DeLisle, is definitely the purdiest on the disc. It's sung by JamisonPriest, who also sang at my friend's wedding (Brandon Carr of UK/Texas band the Earlies). This CD fuckin' made me cry. Beautiful.

If you're interested in owning this great piece of Texas music history, go here.

Monday, April 17, 2006

What it's like to Rock

Posted By on Mon, Apr 17, 2006 at 3:15 PM

King Freddie

My will is broken. I have just spent over an hour watching the commercials people sent in to 98.9 the Rock in hopes of winning $20,000 and getting their creation on TV. There are a whopping 300+ commercials on the site as of today. I watched, I don't know, I quit keeping track after the 19th one I saw — not number 19, mind you, but number 143, in which a longhaired guy in a baseball cap demonstrates what it's like listening to the Rock by doing a bunch of generic stupid shit, like sticking keys in an electrical outlet and dropping a stereo into the tub while taking a bubble bath. Another "what's it like to listen to 98.9 the Rock?" ad is 164, in which a guy in a speedo crawls into a box, a bomb is dropped into it with him, it explodes, and the guy crawls out all sooty and removes his googles and gives an "oh yeah" with his eyes look. It's actually fairly well produced. There's a pretty good one involving stick figure violence and Metallica at 306. In fact, I'm so dazed by the experience that all I want to do is listen to Metallica. Oh, God, I've got to have it now! Metallica— master of puppets —mmrph—and justice for all!!! Sandman! ...ruaaagh!

I just tried to tune in 98.9 to get my Metallifix, but I overshot and landed at 99.6 — whatever that is -- and it was playing "Another One Bites the Dust" by Queen. Whew, thank God. I'm gay again -- and yet still rockin'!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Another F.L.O.-case

Posted By on Fri, Apr 14, 2006 at 3:07 PM

Remember that badass hip-hop open-mic showdown I wrote about a couple weeks ago? Of course you do, suckas. Well, tonight is Round 2 of that event, called Tell It 2 Da Mic, hosted by the very large and very genial F.L.O. and starting at 8 p.m. at the Vietnam Veterans Hall at 30th and Walnut. It's too late to sign up to compete tonight, but you can sign up for Round 3, coming up on May 26. I forgot to ask permission to post F.L.O.'s number, so if you want to get ahold of him for questions, shoot me an email.

Don't get it twisted — I realize that the majority of the crowd for this type of event (open-mic hardcore rap in a VFW hall) probably doesn't have regular Internet access. Or if they do, they ain't lookin' at my blog for info on these type of events. But if you, Mr. or Ms. reader, want an eye-opening experience in hip-hop that has nothing to do with the trendy goings on at the Peanut Downtown on Sunday nights but has everything to do with the streets of East Kansas City and KCK, then I suggest you check this out. Only 15 or so artists will perform this time (rather than last time's roster of 40), so it'll be over with around 10 p.m., and you'll have time to reflect upon your experience over a few drinks at your usual hangout. Go on, step out — comfort zones are jail cells with open doors.

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