Monday, June 20, 2016

The Bourgeois Bumpkin


When Michael Stern began his defense of the placement of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 2 on the program to the audience of about 1,400 at Helzberg Hall on Sunday afternoon, I was embarrassed for the Music Director of The Kansas City Symphony.  I felt that his apparent need to justify the presence of the occasionally jarring and overtly Leninist composition amid the “Beethoven sandwich” of “Meersstille und glückliche Fahrt” and Symphony No. 9 was patronizing.  Then I heard the piece for the first time and loved every minute of it.  Stern’s conciliatory spiel enhanced my appreciation of the work.  I suppose that makes me a bourgeois bumpkin.


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I reviewed a concert by Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz, Tech N9ne, Rich The Factor and Stevie Stone.

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I reviewed a concert by Fantasia and Anthony Hamilton.

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I reviewed a concert by Béla Fleck & the Flecktones.

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I selected songs by Krizz Kaliko, Logan Richardson, Psychic Heat, Kanye West, Carrie Rodriguez and Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom for my appearance on Best Music of 2016 (So Far) show on KCUR’s Up To Date.

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I write weekly music previews for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

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I documented my visit to SoJo Summerfest at Plastic Sax.

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"If You Ask Me Again (I Do)", the new single by Soul Revival, the Kansas City duo of Derick Cunigan and producer Desmond Mason, is lovely.  RIYL: John Legend, marriage, Chrisette Michele.

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The Kansas City rapper Farout’s new song “Guns” is shocking.  And I like it.

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Attrell Cordes of P.M. Dawn has died.

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Gojira’s Magma is RIYL A Perfect Circle, French metal, Lamb of God.  Here’s ”Silvera”.

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Death Grips’ Bottomless Pit is RIYL El-P, true punk, Karlheinz Stockhausen.  Here’s the title track.

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Brandy Clark’s Big Day in a Small Town sounds like money.  Almost every song could have been a hit for Miranda Lambert or Kenny Chesney.  Here’s ”Girl Next Door”.

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I’m not on the Car Seat Headrest bandwagon.  Teens of Denial leaves me cold.  I’ll stick to my dusty collection of albums by Pavement and the Fall.

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I’m pretty sure I can find the perfect theme song for my next podcast on The Odd Tape.  Oddisee strikes a winning balance between jazz and hip-hop on his latest effort.  Here’s ”Brea”.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, June 13, 2016

This Is a God Dream: Music Midway in 2016


I’ll share my enthusiasm for the best music released so far in 2016 on KCUR’s Up To Date program on Friday, June 17.  The following lists of my favorite albums, songs and performances will provide my detractors with fresh ammunition.  I hope that that everyone else will make a few gratifying discoveries.


Top Albums
Even though it’s Kanye West’s weakest album, The Life of Pablo is a revelation.  (Spotify playlist.)

1. Kanye West- The Life of Pablo
2. Chance the Rapper- Coloring Book
3. David Murray, Geri Allen and Terri Lyne Carrington- Perfection
4. Logan Richardson- Shift
5. Savages- Adore Life
6. Hélène Grimaud- Water
7. David Bowie- Blackstar
8. Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom- Otis Was a Polar Bear
9. Walker Family Singers- Panola County Spirit
10. Kendrick Lamar- Untitled Unmastered

11. Willie Nelson- Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin
12. Exmortus- Drive Forth
13. Adrian Younge- Something About April II
14. Volbeat- Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie
15. Céu- Tropix
16. Pat Metheny Unity Band- The Unity Sessions
17. Charles Lloyd & the Marvels- I Long To See You
18. Lecrae- Church Clothes 3
19. Conflicts- The North Slope
20. A$AP Ferg- Always Strive and Prosper

21. Anthony Hamilton- What I’m Feelin’
22. BJ the Chicago Kid- In My Mind
23. Psychic Heat- Sunshower
24. Babymetal- Metal Resistance
25. Kevin Gates- Islah


Top Songs
Chance Bennett has been reading my mind.  (Spotify playlist.)

1. Chance the Rapper- “Same Drugs”
2. Anderson Paak- “Come Down”
3. Parker Millsap- “Heaven Sent”
4. Kanye West- “Ultralight Beam”
5. Tedeschi Trucks Band- “Anyhow”
6. BJ the Chicago Kid- “Church”
7. Agoraphobic Nosebleed- “Not a Daughter”
8. Krizz Kaliko- “Didn’t Wanna Wake You”
9. Boosie Badazz- “Cancer”
10. Steve Gunn- “Ancient Jules”

11. Anthony Hamilton- “Ain’t No Shame”
12. A$AP Ferg- “Strive”
13. Regina Belle- “He’s Alright”
14. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis- “Bolo Tie”
15. Mount Moriah- “Precita”
16. Deftones- “Doomed User”
17. Margo Price- “Hurtin’ (On the Bottle)”
18. Rihanna- “Love On the Brain”
19. Keys N Krates featuring Ouici- “Love Again”
20. The Philistines- “Radiation Drive”

21. French Montana, Kanye West and Nas- “Figure It Out”
22. Kvelertak- “1985”
23. Carrie Rodriguez- “Z”
24. Sturgill Simpson- “Breakers Roar”
25. Josh Hoyer and Soul Colossal- “Parts of a Man”


Top Shows
I've attended about 200 individual performances since January 1.

1. Lee Fields and the Expressions- The Granada
2. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band- Sprint Center
3. Exmortus- Aftershock
4. Florence + The Machine- Providence Medical Amphitheater
5. Tortoise- The Granada
6. The Who- Sprint Center
7. Lamb of God- The Midland
8. Christian McBride Trio- Folly Theater
9. Goddamn Gallows- Riot Room patio
10. Be/Non- Scottish Rite Temple

11. Maarja Nuut- Westin Kansas City at Crown Center
12. Tedeschi Trucks Band- The Midland
13.  Logan Richardson- Blue Room
14.  Dwight Yoakam- Uptown Theater
15.  UFO- VooDoo
16.  Pablo Ziegler and the Quartet for New Tango- Polsky Theatre
17.  Les Arts Florissant- Helzberg Hall
18.  Fantasia- Starlight Theatre
19.  Roy Ayers- Blue Room
20. Matt Villinger- Orion Room at the Green Lady Lounge

21. Ebony Tusks- The Midland
22. Avant- Uptown Theater
23. Group of the Altos- The Brick
24. Midori with the Kansas City Symphony- Helzberg Hall
25. R. Kelly- Sprint Center

Top Five Opening Acts
1. A$AP Ferg, for G-Eazy- The Midland
2. Tombs, for 1349- Riot Room
3. Deafheaven, for Lamb of God- The Midland
4. OMD, for Barenaked Ladies- Starlight Theatre
5. Elle King, for Vance Joy- The Midland

(Original image of my 38th favorite performance of 2016- the Calamity Cubes at the Riot Room patio- by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, June 10, 2016

Concert Review: Fishbone at Crossroads KC


I attended my first Fishbone concert at the Outhouse in Lawrence, Kansas, on November 1, 1986.  During the influential band’s free show at Crossroads KC last night, I realized that I’d changed a lot more than Fishbone in the last 30 years.  Older but not wiser, Fishbone remains gloriously raw.  Partly because I had yet to absorb Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain, I felt as if I’d been transported to a different planet at the 1986 show.  On Thursday, I couldn’t stop analyzing song structures. I recall ducking for cover as Angelo Moore swung from the wiring on the ceiling of the Outhouse.  As the front man showed off with cartwheels and roundhouse kicks last night, I evaluated the troubling new ache in my right ankle.


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I reviewed a concert by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.

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I wrote an extended preview of A$AP Ferg's return to the Midland.

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I write weekly music previews for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

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Fishbone, Montgomery Gentry and KT Tunstall headlined free concerts in the Kansas City area last night.  The perpetually beleaguered owners of live music venues have it rough.

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The Kansas City garage rock band Psychic Heat released a video for ”Elixir”.

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Steve Gunn’s Eyes On the Lines is RIYL Richard Thompson, indie-rock guitar heroes, Television.  ”Ancient Jules” is pretty great.

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The Brad Mehldau Trio reminds listeners that it can play mainstream jazz with exquisite nuance on Blues and Ballads.  RIYL: the Bill Evans Trio, beauty, Ahmad Jamal Trio.  Here’s ”Little Person”.

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Peter Bjorn and John’s Breakin’ Point is RIYL Paul McCartney, unadulterated pop circa 1975, Paul Carrack.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Album Review: Volbeat- Seal the Deal & Let's Boogie


The boy can’t help it.  I just can’t get enough of Volbeat’s Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie.  The Danish band’s sixth studio album gives me the same sort of cheap thrills I get from big dumb rock albums ranging from ZZ Top’s Tres Hombres and Def Leppard’s Hysteria.  It’s as unchallenging as it is gratifying.  ”The Bliss” is representative of the simple-minded fun.


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I reviewed Roy Ayers’ appearance at the Blue Room.

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I discussed the Kansas City jazz guitarist Matt Hopper on KCUR.

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I analyzed M83’s concert at the Midland.

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I reviewed the incongruous triple-bill of Barenaked Ladies, OMD and Howard Jones.

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I write weekly music previews for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

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I put my faith in Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner of the American Jazz Museum in an essay at Plastic Sax.

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I examined the work of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis in an extended preview of the duo’s return to Kansas City.

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Dave Swarbrick has died.

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The Kansas City rock band the Philistines made a video for ”A Twitch of the Death Nerve”.

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The Kansas City duo Tidy Hippy has a video for ”French American Spanish Whatever.

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William Bell’s This Is Where I Live is a nice late-career statement by the soul veteran.  RIYL: Solomon Burke, made in the U.S.A., Charlie Rich.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Speaking to God in Public


My two favorite albums of 2016 are by Chicago rappers.  Here’s the kicker: Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo and Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book are gospel albums.  West insists that “this is a God dream.”  Chance avers that “I speak to God in public.”  Their testimonials aren’t negated by the inclusion of raps about inebriation, pride, lust and avarice.  The name of this site indicates that I’m sympathetic to their imperfections.  As a person of faith, I neither seek nor require categorical spiritual validation from artists.  Nevertheless, the praise songs on The Life of Pablo and Coloring Book inspire me.


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I reviewed a Florence + The Machine concert.

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KCUR published my review of Go, the new album by the underappreciated Kansas City musician Krizz Kaliko.

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I reviewed Andrew W.K.’s concert on Saturday.

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I logged eight hours at the Westport Roots Festival.  Here are my notes for The Kansas City Star.  I also wrote a preview of the annual event.

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I write weekly music previews for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

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I admire Logan Richardson’s momentous homecoming concert at Plastic Sax.

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The Kansas City rapper Gee Watts created a video for ”Hallelujah”.

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The eponymous album by the young Tuareg band Imarhan is exciting.  Here’s a video for the title track.

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I’ve long appreciated David Bazan.  Blanco is RIYL: despair, the Magnetic Fields, lo-fi synths.

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Black Mountain might be trolling on IV.  RIYL: Dio, ‘80s nostalgia, the Tubes.  Here’s ”Mothers of the Sun”.

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I don’t enjoy playing the role of a fussbudget, but Robert Glasper's revision of Miles Davis’ music on Everything’s Beautiful is a bummer.  RIYL: Erykah Badu, jokers who like to shout “remix!”, Marcus Miller.

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A Love Electric’s exciting Psychmonde is RIYL Chris Whitley, drugs, Ziggy Stardust.

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I’ll cop to liking Otep’s dystopian pop-metal.  Generation Doom is RIYL: Nine Inch Nails, Hot Topic apparel, Korn.   Here’s ”Down”.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Whale Songs


Even in the age of unlimited streaming sounds, inspecting a physical library of prerecorded music thrills me.  The property I rented on the coast of Oregon last week was equipped with a fine library of classical, jazz and folk CDs.  I thoroughly enjoyed playing selections by Yo-Yo Ma, Dave Brubeck and Leonard Cohen on the cliff-side cabin’s excellent stereo as I looked for the gray whales that occasionally caroused several hundred yards below.


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I previewed a Florence + The Machine concert for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

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I write weekly music previews for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

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Two of the four most recent posts at Plastic Sax extol new recordings by Pat Metheny.

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Guy Clark has died.  The Texan was extremely shaky during an appearance at the Folly Theater a couple years ago, but I named a 2005 concert at the Uptown Theater as one of the best shows of the decade

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Joe Temperley has died.  I last heard the Scottish saxophonist perform with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra at Helzberg Hall in 2011.

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Bluegrass musician James King has died.

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Until I learned of his death today, I didn’t realize that Nick Menza of Megadeth also played jazz fusion.  Here’s footage of Menza with his band OHM.

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Emilio Navaira has died.  According to my records, the Tejano musician last performed in Kansas City 12 months ago.

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Theo Croker’s Escape Velocity may be the culmination of what so many young jazz musicians have been driving at in recent years.  The album possesses an up-to-date groove without forsaking tradition.  RIYL: Herbie Hancock, the now, Roy Hargrove.

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Musiq Soulchild successfully catches up to Drake, Miguel and Frank Ocean on Life On Earth while retaining his old-school sound.  Here’s ”I Do”.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Concert Review: Tortoise at the Granada



I attended my first Tortoise concert last night.  More than 25 years into the Chicago collective’s career, I finally understand what all the fuss is about.  The songs that had always struck me as theoretical post-jazz abstractions came to life during Tortoise’s 90-minute performance at the Granada.  The paltry crowd of about 150 (including at least 20 women!) didn’t dampen my enthusiasm.  I drove to Lawrence and purchased a $25 ticket on a whim.  My impulsive act may have permanently transformed the way I think about music.


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My five favorite performances at Ink’s Middle of the Map Fest were by Group of the Altos, Ebony Tusks, Gallant, Jorge Arana Trio and Manchester Orchestra.  I contributed to The Kansas City Star’s reviews of the event on Friday and Saturday.

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I discussed Ida McBeth with Steve Kraske on KCUR yesterday.

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I ponder cultural appropriation in my preview of Disclosure’s concert at Crossroads KC.

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I write weekly music previews for The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine.

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The new incarnation of recordBar at 1520 Grand Blvd. reminds me of the Slowdown in Omaha.  That’s a good thing.

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I felt like a proper German as I swooned over Robert Schumann’s third symphony during the Midwest Chamber Ensemble’s concert at the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection on Sunday.

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The bawdy blues artist Candye Kane has died.

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The Kansas City rapper Young Devi D has a video for ”Don’t Judge Me”.

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I’m pleased by the critical consensus for Sturgill Simpson’s A Sailor's Guide to Earth.  The solid album deserves much of the acclaim.  Weeks before the release of Simpson’s album, a friend insisted that I’d love Shooter Jennings’ Countach (For Giorgio).  He was right.  The completely bonkers project opens with a sample of Waylon’s "Don't You Think This Outlaw Bit's Done Got Out of Hand."  The track gradually morphs into a disco/techno banger in the vein of Giorgio Moroder.  Jennings also transforms the warhorse I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone into a throbbing electro-twang dance track and a fiddle battles Marilyn Manson for supremacy on a delightfully campy version of David Bowie’s “Cat People.”  That's what being an outlaw is all about.

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I’m always surprised when people tell me that they’ve never heard the song “There Stands the Glass.”  TSTG pal and honky tonk authority BGO thought that this site’s readers might enjoy David Ball’s rendition of the standard.

(Original image of Tortoise by There Stands the Glass.)