Thursday, August 16, 2018

Aretha Franklin, 1942-2018



















I’ve never not known Aretha Franklin’s voice.  She’s been a constant presence in the life of every committed music lover of my generation.  Yet I only began truly appreciating her as a distinct entity rather than as a omnipresent piece of the cultural firmament when I went on a deep soul dive in the early ‘90s.  I was reduced to a puddle when I first encountered “My Song” on one of the many soul compilations I purchased while on my single-minded pursuit.  Talk about being “in my feelings”!  I never took the Queen of Soul for granted again.  Franklin died today.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, August 10, 2018

In Defense of Kenny Chesney


Mocking Kenny Chesney is easy.  I’m guilty of clowning on the country star’s flair for corny melodrama.  My otherwise positive review of his concert at Arrowhead Stadium contained an unhealthy heaping of snark.

Not only do I admire Songs For the Saints, Chesney’s 43-minute meditation on the aftermath of the storms that have ravaged the Caribbean, I’ve repeatedly listened to the new album for pleasure.  Chesney’s platitudes may be trite, but they’re reassuringly sincere.

When I was younger, I often made the mistake of conflating an artist’s fan base with his or her art.  I know better now.  The staggering number of red MAGA hats and vomiting miscreants at Chesney’s appearance at Arrowhead Stadium doesn’t diminish my appreciation of songs like “Better Boat”.


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Charlie Puth obliterated my modest expectations at Starlight Theatre on Thursday.  I reviewed the concert for The Kansas City Star.

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I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.

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I reviewed the Myers Swingset’s The Instrumental One at Plastic Sax.

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Tommy Peoples of the Bothy Band has died. (Tip via BGO.)

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Lorrie Collins of the Collins Kids has died.  (Tip via BGO.)

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Jack Williams, a musical Zelig, has died.  (Tip via BGO.)

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Travis Scott’s crass crossover attempt Astroworld is tediously generic.  RIYL: consumerism, Young Thug, celebrities.

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Where We Come From (Chicago x London Mixtape) exemplifies everything I love- as well as everything I loathe- at the burgeoning intersection of jazz and hip-hop.  RIYL: bragging about lack of preparation, Nubya Garcia, jam sessions.  Here’s an explanatory video.

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I’m fully aware that music nerds like me are supposed to rave about Kaveh Rastegar’s Light of Love, but the preciousness of his fusion of jazz, funk and indie-rock irritates me.  RIYL: Kneebody, nerds, Chris Dave.

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What fresh hell is this?.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Concert Review: The S.O.S. Band and Avery Sunshine in the Jazz District


Doggone it!  The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum’s Heart of America Hot Dog Festival fundraiser was a massive disappointment.  I made my way to the Jazz District to hear Cameo, The S.O.S. Band and Avery Sunshine on Saturday.  The festival grounds on the spacious median of Paseo Boulevard north of 18th Street were packed.  Attendance appeared to be well over 5,000. 

I was glad the entertainment lineup ran about an hour behind schedule.  I stood in line 20 minutes to pay $20 admission at the gate and 30 minutes in another line to purchase cold drinks.  I strained to hear the jazz-tinged funk of Marcus Anderson as I waited. 

The faint sound was a big problem.  When I finally made my way to the closest spot to the stage the hoi polloi were allowed, I saw that only the few hundred people in the cordoned-off V.I.P. section were able to properly hear the performances.  It wasn’t all good for them- the fortunate few had to endure the glad-handing of at least one Kansas City councilman.

The clamor of the crowd and the aggressive policing that prevented music lovers from sidling up to the edge of the V.I.P. section caused the event to resemble a massive political rally more than a concert.  Even though I’m familiar with Sunshine’s repertoire, it was often difficult to discern which song she and her band were playing over the constant commotion.  I couldn’t even say if the setlist included “Call My Name”.

The din of the crowd and the inadequate amplification compelled me to take desperate measures.  I abandoned the festival grounds to watch the S.O.S. Band play hits like “Take Your Time (Do It Right)” from behind a chain link fence about 50 yards from the side of the stage.  The vantage point was an improvement, but not good enough to compel me to stick around for Cameo.  Maybe that’s a blessing- at least I didn’t get shot.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)