Do y'all like rockabilly? Would you like to get more acquainted with the rock that is billy? Then head to Aftershock (5240 Merriam) any Wednesday evening for KC Jamboree and take in the genre's local talent.
We recently spoke with DJ Hepkat, the host of Aftershock's rockabilly night, to see what it's all about.
The Pitch: When and how did the rockabilly night start, and why Aftershock? I know Aftershock has always had rockabilly shows and events.
DJ Hepkat: The Kansas City Rockabilly Group started Rockabilly Night at Aftershock over three years ago -- initially, we were giving weekly dance lessons at the Chop Tops Hair Salon location in Merriam, and then one of our group started bartending one night a week over at Aftershock in Merriam. Shortly thereafter, the Aftershock owner, Steve Wilson, asked us if we wanted to have the dance lessons at his club on Wednesday nights. And because I had been putting on occasional rockabilly shows at Knuckleheads Saloon, as well as co-hosting the Rockabilly Mood Swing radio show (I did that for five years, before leaving a couple years ago), it kind of just evolved into where a couple times a month, we'd bring bands in, and soon thereafter we were bringing local and touring bands in every week.
We've always called it Rockabilly Night, just because the KC Rockabilly Group sponsors the night, and initially, we were bringing in mostly rockabilly bands, but Kansas City doesn't have that many straight-up rockabilly bands. But we do have a lot of very talented bands and musicians here in KC that fit into the general genre: honky-tonk, outlaw country, western swing, hillbilly, punkabilly, etc., and we had the opportunity to give them all a chance to play, get some exposure, and make some money in the process. So, basically, if you're a local band that somehow fits what we're doing on Wednesday nights, we're glad to give you a place to play.
I knew from the start that I wanted to give folks something to do on a weekly basis that was free, somewhere they could come every week and listen to good music and be with their friends. So, unless there's a special circumstance, there's never a cover charge for the night. The nights have been very successful -- again, we're well into our third year doing the nights. Of course, some nights are better than others ... but big thanks to Aftershock and their crew for letting us do this every week!
Any reason behind the name KC Jamboree?
Last fall, we decided to change the name of the nights from Rockabilly Night to the KC Jamboree, just to make it a little more welcoming to the non-rockabilly bands and folks - and it's a good catch-all name for all kinds of music. So now we call it the KC Jamboree, presented by KC Rockabilly ... of course, there's still folks that call it Rockabilly Night, and that's fine, too.
Where can people find more information about your events, and what other types of events do you guys do?
Folks can go to our website at kcrockabilly.com or visit our Kansas City rockabilly Facebook page for a calendar listing of events we've got coming up. We've had a lot of local and regional bands, as well as more than a few national bands come through and play.
In addition, the KC Rockabilly group puts on a number of charity/benefit shows throughout the year, primarily for abused women and children (the last one was for TLC), a pet charity benefit every year (this year's charity was No More Homeless Pets KC), and our annual Alzheimer's Association Benefit. In addition, KC Rockabilly is a sponsor of a number of other events put on by other entities here in Kansas City. Basically, we're just a group that has the opportunity to put on shows and help sponsor other music-related events.
Shows are at Aftershock Bar and Grill (5240 Merriam Drive, in Merriam) and start around 8 p.m. and are generally over by 11 p.m. Always free.