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The Deli KC

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Artist on Trial: Bad Wheels

If you desperately seek more rock ‘n roll in your life, Bad Wheels provides an unapologetic, unrelenting dose of it. With members of notable KC groups ranging from Abracadabras to Cretin 66 to Tenderloin to Circle of Trust, Bad Wheels was created out of their mutual love of classic rock. Accented by the impassioned wail of frontman Bobby Topaz, the band unleashes a roaring two-pronged guitar attack and a mighty low end. Topaz tells us about what the guys have coming up.
The Deli: Down and dirty: one sentence to describe your music.
Bobby Topaz: Classic and loud freedom Rock and Roll!
The Deli: Give me some background on Bad Wheels. How did the band come to be?
Topaz: Bad Wheels came about a few years ago when I moved back into the area from St. Louis. Paul and Ryan Marchman were two guys I'd previously played with in a band called Crazy Talk and we decided to get together and jam and see what was there. Thankfully, we still had great chemistry and decided to make it an actual band. Brock Ginther happened to live in the space we were practicing in, and liked what we were doing and decided to come on board full-time as bass player. So, that was pretty much how it all started.
Since then, Chip Sage has taken over for Ryan on drums, but the overall sound/vision for the group really hasn't changed. That's what I've always loved about this group is that we have very diverse backgrounds...I was in Abracadabras and Antennas Up, Chip was in Cretin 66, Paul was in Circle of Trust and The Shaker Hoods...and Brock was in Tenderloin and the Homestead Greys. So, we all come from different styles but we all have one thing in common, and that is our love of classic rock and roll. So, that's what we play!
The Deli: What inspires your music and songwriting? What’s up with the Subway song?
Topaz:When it comes to songwriting, we like to keep it pretty simple, honestly. We will write about anything and everything. I'll usually come in with a riff or maybe a finished chorus and not much else, and the guys will tell me if they like it or not. If they do, we flesh it out over some Miller Lite tallboys and find out where the song is. We just want people to see us, rock out a bit, and have some fun.
The infamous “Subway” song is I think something that shows we love what we do, but don't take it super seriously. When our drummer was trying to learn the songs we sent him, he thought I was actually saying… “Gimmie Some Subway”...which I wasn't. But, we all thought it was hilarious and decided just to keep it.
However, in light of the recent allegations, we obviously don't think it's that funny anymore. We can't be associated with all that mess. Thankfully, we recorded the original as well because we didn't know if we were even going to release the other one. So, the Subway song is never going to be played again and we now are forever Goodcents men.
The Deli: What have been your greatest accomplishments as a band?
Topaz: So far I'd say just staying true to our sound, even though it's not a sound everyone always likes to listen to. Now, after almost 4 years we're finally starting to get some traction and it feels pretty great!
The Deli: What can we expect from your upcoming EP?
Topaz: The new EP will be a 7-song rock and roll record. We're doing a cassette tape release, which I know can be divisive, but it's cost effective and there will be download cards in the tapes for people to get the records from.
Also, Jud Kite from Killer Kite Productions designed us an absolutely killer logo and I'm just so stoked for everyone to see it. So, I think it will be pretty rad! Also, we'd been talking to a small label out of San Francisco called Ripple Music and they’d agreed to distribute and review our little EP. At this time, we've not heard back on the masters we delivered to them, so we don't really have a timetable for anything yet. Hopefully, we will hear back soon. If not... Well... We'll just keep doing what we've always done: enjoying freedom.
The Deli: What does supporting local music mean to you?
Topaz: I think it's super important. I try whenever I can to support my local brothers and sisters! I know that people might think that's not true since I'm not always seen out and about. But, with two little kiddos at home and a full-time job...sometimes it's hard to get out to everyone I want to see. But I always support locals when I can. KC has some great bands right now too!
The Deli: Who are your favorite local musicians right now? Non-local?
Topaz: Favorite local musicians? Well, this is just me speaking but I'll list a few of my favorites right now: Doby Watson, JAENKI, Death Valley Wolfriders, Federation of Horsepower, ElectroPossum, Ha Ha Tonka, Circle of Trust, Hössferatu, Drew Black & Dirty Electric, basically the whole High Dive Records roster and I'm also a fan of your band The Philistines.
Non-local: I'm super into The Darkness right now, and I really love Royal Blood. As a group, we love Saxon!
The Deli: What is your ultimate fantasy concert bill to play on?
Topaz: Oh man... for me, it would be us and Queen, circa 1985.
The Deli: A music-themed Mount Rushmore. What four faces are you putting up there and why?
Topaz: Basically the four faces of Bad Wheels members because I just couldn't pick four other musicians I love that much since my mood is always changing. But, I would love for someone to capture my current hairstyle in stone forever.
The Deli: What goals do Bad Wheels have for 2015, and beyond?
Topaz: Our goals haven't changed that much and probably never will. Keep writing music that's true to the sound we want, have plenty of Miller Lite tallboys available at all times, and keep carrying the torch of freedom!!!
The Deli: Where can we find you on the web?
The Deli: Always go out on a high note. Any last words of wisdom for the Deli audience?
Topaz: Don't listen take advice from anyone named "Tad", listen to plenty of loud rock music, always have a tall boy handy, and juat because you can play the accordion, doesn't mean you should.
Bad Wheels is:
Bobby Topaz: vocals, guitar
Paul Marchman: guitar
Brock Ginther: bass
Chip Sage: drums
Head over to The All Star Rock Bar this Saturday, July 11 to see Bad Wheels, along with Federation of Horsepower and The Devil’s Marmalade. Facebook event page.
--Michelle Bacon

Michelle Bacon is editor of The Deli KC and plays in bands. She likes Planet Sub. 

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Boulevardia hosts touring bands and showcases local talent

In only its second year, Boulevardia has experienced exponential growth as a music, food, and beer festival, curated by Boulevard Brewing Company and located in the historic West Bottoms district. Though its first year boasted a musical lineup of touring acts like The BoDeans and Catfish & the Bottlemen, this year exceeded expectations with J. Roddy Walston & the Business, Mayer Hawthorne, Atlas Genius, and more.
The festival also highlighted a bevy of local musicians on two stages, curated by Ink and 90.9 The Bridge. Among several others, the Greenville Acoustic Stage featured a Delta blues/gospel-inspired set from Kris and Havilah Bruders, one-man folk troubadour Nicholas St. James, and newly formed trio Lovelorn. Meanwhile, the Chipotle Homegrown Stage presented a diverse swath of artists, many of whom—such as The Architects, Hembree, and Making Movies—performed to a large, eager crowd singing along to their music.
Local groups also dotted the Boulevard Main Stage throughout the weekend. Outsides kicked off Boulevardia on Friday with a danceworthy set that warmed up the audience for In the Valley Below, MS MR, and The Mowglis. On Saturday, Captiva, Chris Meck & the Guilty Birds, and The Clementines endured strong sets in the sweltering heat before the evening’s headlining acts, which welcomed Boulevardia’s first sold-out day of 20,000 patrons. On Sunday, Sara Morgan and Hearts of Darkness warmed up a Father’s Day crowd for The Grisly Hand—who brought in a horn section to augment an already fully formed country sound—and Big Head Todd & the Monsters.
--Michelle Bacon
Here are some photos of the festival from Jaime Russell of Anthem Photography. To see more of Jaime’s shots from Boulevardia, visit her Flickr page.
The Architects
Making Movies
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Song premiere: "Bad To Me" by Margo May

(Photo by Hannah Lavenburg)
The Deli KC is excited to premiere the latest track from Margo May, “Bad To Me,” off her forthcoming album I’m Not Coming Home.
May credits much of her songwriting to Elliott Smith, whose voice comes through on this track’s melodic arrangement and its stripped-down, heart-rending honesty. She wrote “Bad To Me” as a result of a relationship gone wrong: “I really had to question my intention if I was a good or bad person,” she says. “A week later with no phone or Internet and I got ‘Bad To Me’ on my self reflection.”
The raw delivery of the song mirrors the intimate tone of the album, a departure from May’s polished pop tunes of the past. Recorded/produced in Kansas City by Tim J. Harte (Mother Russia Industries), its lo-fi sound lends more poignancy and sincerity to her subtle, breathy vocals and Doby Watson’s sublime, tasteful fingerpicking.
I’m Not Coming Home will be co-released on Mother Russia Industries and Double Shift Music and was mastered by Cory Schultz in Milwaukee. May and Watson will be embarking on a short tour in July, which includes an official album release show at Prospero’s on July 19.
--Michelle Bacon

Michelle is editor of The Deli KC and plays in bands. 

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Artist profile: Various Blonde

(Photo by Todd Zimmer)
The version of Various Blonde I saw live at Czar in 2011 is very different from the band playing this Thursday at Lawrence Field Day Fest. The 2011 iteration, led by guitarist/vocalist Joshua Allen, moved through a set that dabbled a little in the psychedelic while adhering to a heavier rock and punk-based sound. It was a solid set, though I remember thinking the vocals needed something and the melodies hinted at something more. What exactly? I didn't know.
The release of Summer High a few years later illustrated the elusive what hinted at back at Czar years before. I caught up to a very different live band back in November at Apocalypse Meow, and again last week at The Riot Room.
The only element that remained from the band was Allen. His guitar and vocals were still there, but now different from what I remember. There was a new bassist, EvanJohn McIntosh, a new drummer, Mark Lomas, and the addition of keyboardist Eddie Moore. The three-piece had grown, shifted, and mutated into a very different band creating a very different sound.
There is a seriousness to watching this four-piece perform. Like any professionals at work, it is obvious they enjoy what they do. But, also evident is that they are on stage to work, put on a great show, and hone their craft. A lot of the songs they perform create a serious reflective mood, but they cut that stoicism nicely with soulful grooves and melodies that manage to conjure a very difficult thing: movement. I tried to fight the urge to move along with the tunes, but, damnit, I happily failed.
Joshua Allen can sing. His voice shifts effortlessly from an easy tenor to a smooth falsetto that avoids piercing metal clichés. That he is a solid guitarist is as advantageous as it is necessary to VB's sound. He could easily get away with just singing, moving to the music and fronting the band, but thankfully he doesn't. Without him, songs like "Savage Children" would fall into the trap of being a "jam" song. Which is fine I guess, but I wouldn't know, I've never made it through an entire "jam" song. Allen's guitar and vocals dice tunes like “Savage Children” into succinct, building well-rounded songs. While the vocals help guide on "Savage Children,” they truly shine on the danceable, rocking tune “Indigo Children.” The first time I heard that song was literally a WTF moment. A perfect illustration of the elusive what:familiar, yet totally different and new.
The consistent blues infused groove created by McIntosh is unstoppable. Good luck not moving some part of your body. McIntosh's bass lines lead without overstepping, cyclical but never simple. I've been a fan since his days in Cherokee Rock Rifle and am selfishly happy he's found another outlet for his formidable skill set.
I don't know how long McIntosh and Lomas have been playing together (I'm just that thorough a correspondent) but the sound they produce belies whatever actual time they've spent working together. Their styles align perfectly. Nicely complementing each other as the foundation of the tone and mood of this band. Lomas' playing seems unflashy, until you take a moment and try to keep up with what he's doing. Seeing and hearing this guy live as he holds down patterns and changes that would make a drum machine pass out is mesmerizing. And again, good luck not dancing.
The addition of keyboardist and local jazz standout Moore adds depth and changes things drastically for this group. From a songwriting perspective alone, Moore's instrument and playing allows for a myriad of new directions, from sonic to classical to his specialty, jazz. As a musician, Moore's jazz sensibility and musical intelligence lend themselves perfectly to McIntosh’s and Lomas’ rhythmic foundation. Moore knows how to create his own distinctive musical plots and subplots within the framework of the sound already set in motion by his bandmates; he does so effortlessly, and without overplaying.
Obligatory comparisons? You should make your own... while dancing.
With the excellent full-length Summer High already out, I can't wait to hear what these guys build next. Until then, they play at Lawrence Field Day Fest this Thursday, June 25, at the Replay Lounge before taking a little Summer Hiatus.

Video and story by Chris Nielsen 

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June Artist of the Month: Brooklyn Rye

Congrats to our June Artist of the Month, Brooklyn Rye! This new blues-influenced rock/pop group is fairly to the KC/Lawrence scene, making its live debut earlier this year. Find out more about the band and see what they have coming up.
The Deli: Down and dirty: one sentence to describe your music.
Brooklyn Rye: Time warped rock & roll best paired with a good whiskey.
The Deli: Give me some background on Brooklyn Rye. How did the band come to be?
Brooklyn Rye: The band started nameless in the dormitories of a small junior college in southeastern Kansas. Zach Dodson, Branden Moser, and Steven Bauer passed the time by creating simple progression songs with melodies that usually piqued the humor of the group. Bauer and Moser continued writing songs in this fashion before forming their first band in summer 2014. Kyle Babson had played with a group of friends in college and had toured the Midwest before meeting Bauer, Moser, and Dodson. On the search for a female vocalist Moser found Grace Griffin, who had been a solo singer-songwriter looking to collaborate with other musicians around the Kansas City area. Then we started jamming and haven't stopped.
The Deli: What inspires your music and songwriting?
Brooklyn Rye:Life, love, loss, hope, sex. We write about what everybody feels and goes through in their life. We just tell our side of the story. We try to always push each other out of our comfort zones and try to create something that has parts of all of us. A Frankenstein of music roaming the streets of Kansas City.
The Deli: What have been your greatest accomplishments as a band?
Brooklyn Rye: We feel that being able to play music everyday with your best friends and share that music is our greatest feat. We are just lucky enough to have the opportunity. But we are honored to receive the Deli KC’s Emerging Artist of the Month.
The Deli: Do you have any recorded music or anything in the works? What can we expect?
Brooklyn Rye: We have released two demo tracks (“Demon Shake” and “Hangman”). We have an EP in the works without a release date at the moment but probably winter/spring . In the meantime, we are branching out later this summer/fall to continue pushing our own boundaries and road test new songs for the record. We adore playing live so we just try to work sessions around that.
The Deli: What does supporting local music mean to you?
Brooklyn Rye: In Kansas City alone, there are hundreds of bands that go unnoticed that have a great deal of talent. This city has so much to tell the world, and Kansas City's choice of medium just happens to be song, which is pretty damn cool. We like to believe in the underdog and that you can make music and be seen and heard no matter where you're from.
The Deli: Who are your favorite local musicians right now?
Brooklyn Rye: Grand Villanova, Me Like Bees, Scruffy and The Janitors, Radkey, and the other bands in the poll with us.
The Deli: What is your ultimate fantasy concert bill to play on?
Brooklyn Rye: The ‘69 Woodstock bill would be pretty rad.
The Deli: A music-themed Mount Rushmore. What four faces are you putting up there and why?
Branden Moser: That's impossible. I'd put the other four members of our band on there. They're pretty good looking and would provide great overseers for the people of South Dakota.
The Deli: What goals does Brooklyn Rye have for 2015, and beyond?
Brooklyn Rye: Recordings, festivals, gigs—anything we can get our hands on. We want to fully immerse ourselves in music.
The Deli: Where can we find you on the web?
Brooklyn Rye: www.brooklynrye.fm
The Deli: Always go out on a high note. Any last words of wisdom for the Deli audience?
Brooklyn Rye: Stay hydrated and ration the use of selfie sticks, people.
Brooklyn Rye is:
Steven Bauer: vocals
Kyle Babson: bass, guitar
Zach Dodson: drums
Grace Griffin: vocals
Branden Moser: guitar
--Michelle Bacon

Michelle Bacon is editor of The Deli KC and plays in bands.


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