Monday, August 30, 2010

Review: Marty Stuart at The Roots Festival

"Have you ever seen a crowd that needed a gospel song any worse than this bunch?" Marty Stuart asked his band Saturday. "Especially them boys over there." (Here's fan footage of the moment.)

I happened to be surrounded by "them boys." What a bunch of knuckleheads! The annual Roots Festival in Paola, Kansas, has a ten dollar cover charge but allows people to bring in as much alcohol as they can carry. Talk about your mixed blessings. It was easy to sidestep the scuffles that regularly broke out around me but the inappropriate bromance revelry during Stuart's gospel material was a major distraction.

Other than the boorish behavior of a few dozen people in the crowd of over 4,000, I loved everything about the night.

I hadn't seen Stuart and The Fabulous Superlatives- guitarist "Cousin" Kenny Vaughan, bassist "Apostle" Paul Martin and drummer "Handsome" Harry Stinson- since 2005. I'd almost forgotten that they might be the world's best honky tonk band. They cand do it all- gospel, rockabilly ("Luther Played the Boogie"), classic country ("Can the Circle Be Unbroken," "Ring of Fire" and "Long Black Veil"), bluegrass, a protest song ("Hard Working Man") and Stuart's own hits ("Tempted," "The Whiskey Ain't Working," "Burn Me Down", "This One's Gonna Hurt You," "Hillbilly Rock" and "Now That's Country.")

I loved it. So did Grace Potter & the Nocturnals. They were obviously awestruck as they watched Stuart from the side of the stage. I've already picked on Potter a couple times in 2010, but I have newfound respect for her. At the end of the day, she's just another music geek.

Here's Tim Finn's review of Alejandro Escovedo's show the same night. It sounds as if it was great, but I'm still glad I drove to Paola.

Kansas City Click: She & Him play the Uptown Theater on Monday.

Everette DeVan is at The Phoenix on Tuesday.

(Original images of Marty Stuart and Grace Potter by There Stands the Glass.)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The 2010 Charlie Parker Gravesite Memorial Service

About 75 people, not including the six musicians in my embedded video and a large contingent representing the Dirty Force Brass Band, were present at the annual Charlie Parker gravesite service at Lincoln Cemetery on August 29, 2010. Dennis Winslett led a rendition of "Now's the Time." The event marked the 90th anniversary of Parker's birth. (Cross-posted from Plastic Sax.)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Review: Mike Farris- The Night the Cumberland Came Alive

Free three-song Mike Farris download.

I don't begrudge Tom Jones the critical acclaim he's received for his new gospel-themed album. It's good. Mike Farris, the former vocalist of the Screamin' Cheetah Wheelies, is no less an unlikely gospel singer than Jones. Shout! was my #20 album of 2009. (Here's my review.)

On the new 6-song The Night the Cumberland Came Alive, Farris fronts a band that includes Sam Bush, Kenny Vaughan and two members of Old Crow Medicine Show. Played in a "pre-war American music" style, the impeccably soulful songs are a response to the flood that struck Nashville a few months ago.

From a press release: A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the EP will be used to benefit the Downtown Presbyterian Church's ministry to the homeless in Nashville, which seems fitting as the record was recorded in less than a day at that historic building. Autographed copies of the recording are available for $10 here.

Jason Crane of The Jazz Session provides Plastic Sax readers with an advance preview of his podcast featuring guitarist Steve Cardenas.

Outsiders interested in the look and feel of Kansas City need to see the newly-released video for "Sunstorm", Mac Lethal's profane love letter to our town.

Here's the money line of an excellent interview with Robert Glasper: "I'm not really married to the craft of jazz- I'm married to me, and my style, and whatever I produce."

My feelings will be hurt if the Jay-Z/Eminem tour doesn't stop at the Sprint Center.

Kansas City Click: The Good Foot play The Record Bar on Friday.

The cool kids are in a dither about Alejandro Escovedo's Saturday show at The Record Bar. I love the guy too, but I'll be at Marty Stuart's concert at the Paola Roots Festival. Grace Potter & The Nocturnals and Anthony Gomes open.

Sunday is the 90th anniversary of Charlie Parker's birth. You'll find me at his grave in Lincoln Cemetery at 1 p.m. Here's my video of the proceedings in 2008.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

70 Songs For Driving On I-70

I became apoplectic as I scanned NPR's "95 Songs For Driving On Interstate I-95" list on Tuesday morning. Rather than mocking individual selections and the list's general aesthetic, I spent a couple hours compiling an alternate list late last night.

I made two ground rules. I decided not to repeat a single artist or song on NPR's list. That meant no Chuck Berry, Junior Brown (good one), NRBQ (nice call) or Bruce Springsteen. Secondly, I ruled out jazz.

Because I live in the Kansas City area and spend a lot of time driving east toward St. Louis and west toward Denver, I used I-70 as a benchmark. Most of the songs I listed are related to cars. Midwestern artists make up over a third of my picks.

Every one of these songs sounds good with your hands on the wheel. So while NPR's list features Arcade Fire, Richard Thompson, Cheryl Wheeler and Yo La Tengo, mine makes room for Kiss, Rich the Factor, Tech N9ne and Van Halen.

Head East's anthem may not be cool, but trust me, it sounds incredible while flying through Russell, Kansas, at 80 miles an hour. And I don't know much about I-95, but out here many of my friends drive to Ludacris, Snoop Dogg and Van Halen. NPR provides a soundtrack appropriate for a visit to a college professor. My road trip leads to a tavern in Columbia, Missouri, to catch The Bottle Rockets.

Pick a car. Are you riding with me or NPR?

Gary Allan- Songs About Rain
The Bel Airs- Need Me a Car
Big Star- In the Street
Birdman and Lil Wayne- Stuntin' Like My Daddy
Jeff Black- Birmingham Road
Bloodrock- D.O.A.
The Bottle Rockets- Radar Gun
Brooks & Dunn- Red Dirt Road
Glen Campbell- Wichita Lineman
Cash Image- In My Chevy
Chamillionaire- Ridin' Dirty
Alice Cooper- Under My Wheels
E-40- Tell Me When To Go
Eddie & the Hot Rods- Quit This Town
Dave Edmunds- Crawling From the Wreckage
Fat Tone- We Ride
The Game- Let's Ride
Gorilla Zoe- Lost
Head East- Never Been Any Reason
The Hold Steady- Multitude of Casualties
Jim & Jesse- Lonesome Feeling
Mike Jones- Still Tippin'
Judas Priest- Heading Out To the Highway
Kansas- Carry On Wayward Son
Robert Earl Keen- Amarillo Highway
Bill Kirchen- Truck Stop at the End of the World
Kiss- Detroit Rock City
Mac Lethal- Walking On Nails
Little Feat- Willin'
Nick Lowe- Heart of the City
Ludacris- "Move B*tch"
Marshall Tucker Band- Take the Highway
James McMurtry- Choctaw Bingo
John Mellencamp- Rumbleseat
Minutemen- D's Car Jam/Anxious Mo-Fo
Missouri- Movin' On
Mister Fab- Ghost Ride the Whip
Modest Mouse- Dashboard
Molly Hatchet- Flirtin' With Disaster
Nelly- Ride Wit Me
Ozark Mountain Daredevils- If You Wanna Get To Heaven
Parliament- Flashlight
Gram Parsons- Return of the Grievous Angel
Pendergast- Gone For Good
The Rainmakers- Downstream
Del Reeves- Girl On the Billboard
Replacements- Takin' a Ride
Rich Boy- Throw Some D's
Rich the Factor- Flip Flop
Smokey Robinson- Cruisin'
Tom Robinson- 2-4-6-8 Motorway
Rick Ross- Maybach Music 2
Shooting Star- Hang On For Your Life
Sniff & the Tears- Driver's Seat
Snoop Dogg- Gin and Juice
Son Volt- Tear Stained Eye
George Strait- Amarillo By Morning
Kristie Stremel & the 159ers- Love Survive and Drive
Styx- Renegade
Sweet- Fox On the Run
Tech N9ne- Midwest Choppers
Three 6 Mafia- Swervin'
Randy Travis- The Storms of Life
T-Rex- Jeepster
Van Halen- Panama
Joe Walsh- Rocky Mountain Way
Westside Connection- Bow Down
X- Johnny Hit and Run Pauline
XTA-C- So Heavy
ZZ Top- Jesus Just Left Chicago

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Review: Chase Baird- Crosscurrent

What's up with all the outstanding jazz kids? My town teems with technically impeccable and refreshingly energetic young jazz musicians. The debut album by California-trained tenor saxophonist Chase Baird indicates that it's a national trend.

Don't guys like Baird, 22, understand that they're deliberately opting for a life of economic hardship? No matter how good they are- and Baird is very good- there's just not much call for jazz musicians in the new millennium.

Practical misgivings aside, Crosscurrent is extremely impressive. The album races out of the gate with "Fifth Direction." Baird's mad torrent of notes is jarring, but it's also precisely how a young man should open his debut album. The project's sole fault, in fact, is Baird's unchecked enthusiasm. It's not hard to picture Baird jumping up and down and pumping his fists as Crosscurrent was being recorded.

Baird is balanced by a strong band that includes Julian Waterfall Pollack. I recently reviewed Infinite Playground, the keyboardist's new album, at There Stands the Glass. I also conducted an interview with Pollack in 2007.

Baird's obsession with the music of Michael Brecker and Gato Barbieri is cited in the extensive liner notes. I also hear some Joshua Redman in his playing. Sturdy original compositions like the seemingly Horace Silver-inspired title track show that Baird has done his homework.

Crosscurrent not a game-changer nor does it leave me awestruck. But it's incredibly listenable and very few moments are less than pleasing. There's no reason to believe that Baird and his band mates won't be producing excellent music for the next several decades. Here's hoping they develop an audience along the way.

Here are my thoughts on the musical legacy of late Kansas City saxophonist Alaadeen.

"La la la la la la la la." Here's the video for Fourth of July's "Self Sabotage." (Via Wayward Blog.)

I'm working on acquiring The Rub and Spare Change, the new album by the Michael Formanek Quartet.

This excellent fan footage of a recent Boris concert in Lawrence makes me regret missing the show.

Kansas City Click: Slayer, Megadeth and Testament perform Monday at Sandstone.

Stan Kessler's "TV" project returns to Jardine's on Tuesday.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Review: Cypress Hill & Slightly Stoopid at Crossroads

My friend Chris' same-show video footage.

I've never watched Jersey Shore- a trait that surely disqualifies me from participating in the national dialogue- but I'm pretty sure that the freak show that accompanied last week's concert by Cypress Hill and Slightly Stoopid qualified as its Kansas City equivalent. I don't recall ever seeing so many bros at a concert. The audience of 2,500 made Tech N9ne's fans look like intellectuals.

"We have a smoke-filled house," Crossroads spokesman Stretch shouted as he looked at the sea of preppy stoners.

Cypress Hill were worth the trouble. A juvenile obsession with marijuana aside, they were excellent. Not only are they intact- B-Real, Sen Dog and DJ Muggs were in good form- their new single features Tom Morello. Their Latin-infused sound was greatly enhanced by the presence of percussionist Eric Correa, son of the great Willie Bobo. That's dope.

And as I wrote here, Slightly Stoopid are far better than any reasonable person might expect. Take away song titles like "I'm So Stoned" and sporadic thrash elements, and an undiscerning onlooker could easily mistake the instrumental segments for The Budos Band. Slightly Stoopid is... good. There- I said it. Even so, I didn't stick around for all of their headlining set. With "How I Could Just Kill a Man" still ringing in my ears, I had to get out of there before another brah stumbled into me.

Jazz vocalist Abbey Lincoln has died.

Drummer Richie Hawward, a longtime member of Little Feat, has died.

Steve Jordan, the "Jimi Hendrix of the accordion," has died.

Jazz photographer Herman Leonard died August 14. He was 87.

Richard Lopez of Cannibal & the Headhunters died July 30.

Michael Been of The Call died Thursday.

My friend BGO insists that Cee-Lo Green's new song is "the single of the year." Who am I to disagree?

I caught Rufus Wainwright earlier this week. Here's my review.

Brandi Carlile and Katie Herzig made for a terrific double bill last night. Here's my review.

Hot Panda are Hot Hot Heat. The comparison is a compliment.

I consider my friend Tom's fan video of Sarah Borges an homage to There Stands the Glass.

Kansas City Click: Anders Osborne and John Mooney are on Friday's bill at Knuckleheads.

Kristie Stremel & the 159ers play The Record Bar on Saturday.

Lo-Key will be featured on the Power & Light stage Sunday.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ahmad Alaadeen, 1934-2010

Kansas City jazz saxophonist Ahmad Alaadeen died Sunday. He was 76. Here's the notice in The Star.

I have yet to see any mention of his work with The City Light Orchestra, so I'll start there. I included the band's 1984 release Raised Spirits in my listing of "The Ten Best Kansas City Jazz Recordings". The selection was partly sentimental. When I moved to Kansas City's Waldo neighborhood in the 1980s, the group was serving as the house band at City Light Restaurant. Alaadeen, the eldest member of the group, was the primary draw for me. I've been a fan ever since.

I shot the embedded video at the annual Charlie Parker gravesite service at Lincoln Cemetery in 2008. Alaadden is wearing a white hat and dark suit. Here's the best performance video online. This interview footage is also wonderful.

In my review for of Alaadeen's final public performance in April, I wrote "The saxophonist was also presented with the museum's Lifetime Achievement Award. His heartfelt acceptance speech was touching, but Alaadeen was even more eloquent during his stirring solo on "Full Moon At Midnight." The effort reminded the audience of about 200 of Alaadeen's lyrical gift. (The Star review is no longer online.)

Of the in-print Alaadeen albums I've heard, the post-Coltrane sound of New Africa Suite most appeals to me.

Alaadden has, of course, been referenced dozens of times at Plastic Sax. Here's a compilation of mentions at this site.


*Joel Francis eulogizes Alaadeen.

*Andrew Zender shared his thoughts on Alaadeen's passing.

*Here's The Pitch's notice. The publication also took pictures at a May 1 tribute to Alaadden at Salaam Cafe.

*Here's Alaadeen's Wikipedia entry.

*Details on this morning's service are here.

(Cross-posted from Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Review: yOya- Nothing To Die

Free MP3 download of yOya's Gary Jules/Radiohead mashup

Of the several video mashups Los Angeles duo yOya has created, none provide better insight into the group's approach than their twining of Radiohead and Gary Jules. It's an immaculately tasteful blend of indie rock and the classic singer-songwriter tradition. Their new album, Nothing To Die (available at CD Baby and iTunes), contains eleven imaginative variations on that theme. "Fireworks" is so immediately familiar that I was compelled to ask the duo if it's a cover song. I'm told that all of the album's songs are original compositions. A few of them sound like can't-miss hits. I can't imagine that yOya will remain my little secret much longer.

I finally saw Gogol Bordello earlier this week. Guess what? I'm a believer. I also liked Primus and The Dead Kenny G's. Here's my review.

Here's "Dumb Luck", the new single from Kansas City's mainstream metal band Red Line Chemistry.

Color of Stars, the new album by Kristie Stremel & The 159ers, is streaming at Bandcamp. I highly recommend it to old-school fans of Tom Petty, Dwight Twilley and John Mellencamp's Scarecrow.

Kansas City Click: I'll be the disgruntled sober guy at Thursday's Slightly Stoopid concert at Crossroads KC. Collie Buddz and Cypress HIll open.

The Friday listing for Government Cheese at Kelly's has me rattled. Surely, it's not the classic Government Cheese featuring Tommy Womack. Or is it? A little help, please!

The freaks will come out Saturday for the Whodini, Cameo and Tevin Campbell show at Ameristar Casino.

The wonderful Rufus Wainwright performs Sunday at The Midland.

Monday, August 09, 2010

TKO! Jackson Browne Over Bob Dylan

As a longtime Bob Dylan apologist and lifelong Jackson Browne detractor, I'm deeply pained to acknowledge the truth- Jackson's Browne's performance Sunday at Starlight Theater was far superior to Bob Dylan's effort Saturday on the same stage.

While under Dylan's spell Saturday, I convinced myself that I was actually enjoying the burly blues settings that haphazardly framed Dylan's songs. It was fun not recognizing a rendition "Ballad of Hollis Brown" until the song was almost over. Right? (Here's same-show fan footage and here's a proper review.)

I'd rather listen to Dylan's Saved than Browne's Running on Empty. At least that's what I'd always thought. "Take It Easy"? No thanks. Several people have tried to help me overcome my aversion to Browne. A friend in Amarillo even made a mix tape for me years ago.

The tape didn't work. But Sunday's show did what the tape could not. I'm finally converted. Browne's sterling performance was undeniably excellent. The presence of David Lindley helped, as did the sweltering heat. It was too hot to move, so I immersed myself in songs like "Late for the Sky." Imagine my surprise when I discovered that I loved them. (Here's same-show fan footage and here's a proper review.)

I'm not completely cured. I've seen Dylan almost ten times and as long as his never ending tour continues, I'll still throw good money after bad to see him. But the next time I hear "Doctor My Eyes" I'll tear up rather than roll 'em.

Brooks & Dunn and Gary Allan drew about 15,000 people to the Sprint Center last Friday. Here's my review.

Wayward Blog reports that Kansas City rapper JP Tha Mex was killed over the weekend.

Salina's Analogue Productions is referenced in a New York Times article about jazz reissues on vinyl.

Kansas City Click: Primus and Gogol Bordello play the Uptown Theater on Tuesday.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Reassessing Slightly Stoopid

Maybe it's because I don't touch marijuana. Perhaps it's because I bought Survival while Bob Marley was still alive. Or maybe it's because I still willfully endure "reggae time" to catch the likes of Lee "Scratch" Perry and Barrington Levy perform live. Whatever the reason, one of my most grating pet peeves is spotting a stoner wearing a Bob Marley t-shirt. The dude probably loves Marley's music- who doesn't?- but in all likelihood he mostly identifies with Marley's use of marijuana.

Accordingly, acts like Cypress Hill, Kottonmouth Kings and Pepper that go out of their way to affiliate themselves with marijuana annoy me. I don't care how much people smoke- I'm just not terribly interested in hearing about it. Grow up already.

Still, I complied when a publicist for smoke-oriented Slightly Stoopid recently asked for my mailing address. I'm glad I did. The band is much better than I thought. In terms of sixth-generation American reggae bands, I'll take Slightly Stoopid over 311 or Sublime. At their best, they're as good as Tim Armstrong's work in the same vein.

Reggae aficionados will never mistake Slightly Stoopid's version for the real thing, but it's not bad. Not bad at all. Chronchitis (ugh!) is the solid album that convinced me that the band is more than a dopey gimmick act. Just listen- please don't watch, but listen- to "2am" to hear for yourself. Slightly Stoopid is in the midst of their "Cauzin' Vapors: Legalize It 2010 Tour" (ugh!) with Cypress Hill. They stop in Kansas City on Thursday, August 12.

Oh, one more thing. The publicist sent me the large-size t-shirt pictured above. I'd keep it for myself if I was ten pounds slimmer. The first person to ask for it at happyinbag(at) can have it. I'll either mail it to the winner or hand it to him/her in person.

I finally got around to catching Soft Reeds live last night. I'm very impressed.

Tech N9ne's The Gates Mixed Plate entered Billboard's Top 200 album chart at #13 and the R&B/Hip Hop album chart at #5.

Kansas City Click: Savoy Brown brings the boogie to Knuckleheads on Friday.

Saturday presents mind-bogglingly tough choices for concertgoers, but Bob Dylan's in town, so I'm obligated to mention his return to Starlight Theater. Here's rough fan footage from Wednesday's show in Austin.

Sprint Center hosts Wisin y Yandel on Sunday.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Review: Los Lobos' Tin Can Trust

Video of Los Lobos performing "Cinnamon Girl" (just because I like it)

Los Lobos was once my favorite band. These days Los Lobos is just my favorite jam band. During Los Lobos' amazing run from 1982 to 1992, they could do no wrong. And even now they couldn't make a bad album if they tried. Unfortunately, parts of Tin Can Trust sound as if they actually toyed with that notion. Their live rendition of the Grateful Dead's "Bertha" used to be so fun partly because it served as a brief respite from their own superior songs. The Dead's "West L.A. Fadeaway" is actually one of the better tracks on Tin Can Trust. But who am I kidding? Even if they're not what they used to be, I'll always love these guys. And I'm sure I'll still be playing Tin Can Trust twenty years hence.

I reviewed the debut album by Alaturka at Plastic Sax.

I still don't know if the person who died at Monday's Warped Tour in Bonner Springs, Kansas, was one of the people I saw pass out in the extreme heat. Here's my review of the music.

Here's ECM's audio player for the new album by bandoneonist Dino Saluzzi. Magnificent!

Mitch Jayne of Missouri bluegrass legends The Dillards has died. He was 80.

Mitch Miller died July 31. Ahem...

Kansas City Click: The New Vintage Big Band performs Wednesday at B.B.'s Lawnside BBQ.

Mouth is one of many bands performing at The Pitch's showcase Thursday in Westport.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)