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Kansas City music

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Vandals Takeover: Punk rock prevails on Broadway

Just a stone’s throw from Westport, the space at 3740 Broadway is shaping its new identity. For years, Kenny’s News Room was a watering hole for journalists. It later became The News Room, a quintessential Midtown dive bar. In its later years, the establishment struggled to find its footing. New ownership transformed the spot into Black and Gold Tavern—an MU-themed bar—at the beginning of 2013. But like its predecessor, it failed to maintain a steady patronage and significance as a music venue. In March, the back room underwent a transformation, rebranding itself as the punk rock club Vandals.
 
I like being able to provide a space for music, and I also like being able to pay local musicians for playing,” says Vandals’ manager Michelle Wyssmann. With that approach in mind, Vandals has grown into its own entity and has become a notable spot to catch a live show.
 
From the start, the venue set out to prove that it could thrive. A stage was built, an upgraded sound system purchased, and the grand opening party was stacked with a we-don’t-fuck-around lineup of The Big Iron, Drop A Grand, and Sneaky Creeps. Since then, Britt Adair has been booking local heavy hitters weekend after weekend, building bills that have made Vandals a haven for fans of distorted guitars and high-energy performances. DJs have taken up residency in the bar, helping bring in a regular crowd. The venue has also hosted the annual Center of the City Fest in April and its first Summer Kamp Fest in August, both of which boast more than 30 bands over 3 days.
 
Less than a year after taking the venue, Vandals has announced that the entire space will become theirs. Eager to don its new punk rock threads, Wyssmann notes that the bar area will feel more like a dive, and a wall of fame for bands will be constructed, but she reveals little else about the remodel. “I don't want to give everything away, but know it will be very punk rock and that leopard print is my signature color,” she exclaims. The bar will be closing on Sunday, November 30, and reopening as Vandals on Tuesday, December 2 (Facebook event page).
 
With a lack of venues that cater to a punk rock crowd, Vandals has begun to fill a gap in the local community. “It’s really cool to see a lot of bands starting up again and sharing that history with the younger scene,” says Wyssmann, who recognizes the value of having a destination for musicians and fans to congregate. She’s also an artist who understands the need to foster music in the city. “I think it's important [that musicians] have somewhere to go that cares about their future and wants to see them succeed.”
 
And in that same spirit of community support, reopening week will feature a slew of free shows, all leading up to the Vandals Takeover party on Saturday, December 6. Sex Offenders, Wick and the Tricks, Stiff Middle Fingers, Black on Black, and will play, while DJ Pat Brown will be spinning in the bar. A canned good can be exchanged for a raffle ticket; this will support the venue’s Punk Pantry. From 7 to 10 pm, various punk and horror vendors will be on hand to sell sweaters, scarves, home decor, and art.
 
--Michelle Bacon
 
Michelle is editor of The Deli KC and plays music with The Philistines, Dolls on Fire, and Drew Black & Dirty Electric.
 
 

Vandals will be closing on Sunday, November 30 and will reopen on Tuesday, December 2. Be sure to hit up one or all of their events next week. Why not? They’re all free. Facebook event page for the December 6 show. 

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Artist of the Month: The Blackbird Revue

(Photo by Kristi Yarcho)
 
From the first moments of hearing a performance from The Blackbird Revue, you know you’re in for something special. Danielle and Jacob Prestidge have been creating music together since they started dating. Six years later, their musical and romantic collaboration has proven successful: the two have been married for 5 years, they have two acclaimed albums under their belts, and their music has been featured on national television.
 
Since then, Danielle and Jacob’s connection as artists has continued to solidify. The Blackbird Revue is a collaboration of Danielle’s upbeat pop influences with Jacob’s sincere folk approach, resulting in compositions that are simultaneously sweeping, delicate, and intriguing. The duo’s latest offerings have incorporated a multi-instrument approach, adding a momentous layer to its already purposeful music.
 
We talk with Jacob Prestidge a bit more about the duo, and find out what else they’re up to. They are also one of our November Artists of the Month!
 
The Deli: Down and dirty: one sentence to describe your music.
 
Jacob Prestidge: I might describe our music as harmony-laden, rhythmically driving folk-rock.
 
The Deli: Give me some background info on The Blackbird Revue. I inferred from your bio that your musical collaboration and relationship coincided with one another. If I am correct, how do you think that has affected your music?
 
Jacob: We began playing music together almost as soon as we began dating. Our musical relationship has been like our personal relationship in many ways. I would not say working together musically, or as a couple was easy, or natural from the start. Some relationships are like that; ours was not. We've been learning, and continue to learn how to fuse two different personalities, tastes, and styles into a cohesive, fulfilling expression. Has it been difficult? Absolutely, but I have no doubt that it's made us stronger as a couple, and better as a band.
 
The Deli: What else inspires your music and songwriting? Do you write everything together, or is there a primary songwriter?
 
Jacob: We both write. Historically, I have been the primary songwriter, but lately Danielle has been writing more and more, which I am genuinely thrilled about. Danielle is often inspired by her own life experiences. Her songs often have a cathartic effect and a deeply personal meaning. I, on the other hand, tend to tell stories. I'll generally write more of a third-person narrative, into which I'll infuse a few lines of my own heart, my own experiences.
 
The Deli: I've seen The Blackbird Revue as a full band, but more recently just the two of you. Do you plan on keeping it that way, or adding more members in the future?
 
Jacob: We both love playing with a full band, but at this point in our career the two-piece just makes a lot more sense. It allows us to travel much more, and it definitely plays to certain strengths of ours, such as our harmonies, and our songwriting.
 
The Deli: What have been your greatest accomplishments as a band?
 
Jacob: That's very hard to say. We've had some things happen that sound good in a bio, but our desire is honestly to share the gifts we've been entrusted with to bless people. If someone has been moved by a song of ours, been wakened to beauty around them, or somehow felt less alone in the world, then that would without question be our greatest accomplishment.
 
The Deli: Are you in the process of recording anything? If so, what can we expect from it? Will it be different from your previous albums?
 
Jacob: We're in the process of being in the process. We have a grand plan that involves raising money for our own home studio. My degree is in music recording. So our goal is to have the tools and the time to record a new album as we'd like, and then be able to record more at a minimal cost, and even getting into producing records with other bands that we love. At this point, we're simply trying to build our fanbase to the point where we feel like our specific financial goal is attainable.
 
I can say we do have the material for our first full-length album, and it will be both similar and different from our previous releases. Danielle is writing more, and she lends a more driving, upbeat pulse to the sound. Additionally, the electric guitar has been playing an increased role in our newer music. For a sample of what this might sound like, you can check out the brand new video for our latest single, “Blueprints” (below). That said, the album will not be a total departure from what has made us who we are; there will be plenty of acoustic guitar, and lovely harmonies.
 
The Deli: What does supporting local music mean to you?
 
Jacob: It's very important to us. It takes some effort to find the bands you really love, and it takes some effort to get out of the house and go see them. But we've personally never been sorry we made the effort.
 
The Deli: Who are your favorite local musicians right now?
 
Jacob: Our KC area favorites are (and this is incredibly hard, by the way): The Grisly Hand, Akkilles, Outsides, White Girl.
 
The Deli: Who are your favorite non-local musicians right now?
 
 
The Deli: What is your ultimate fantasy concert bill to play on?
 
Jacob: If someone asked us to open for a tour featuring Stevie Nicks (Danielle's pick) and Emmylou Harris (Jacob's pick), that'd be okay by us.
 
The Deli: A music-themed Mount Rushmore. What four faces are you putting up there and why?
 
Jacob: Hmm. Our personal musical Mt. Rushmore would include Bob Dylan, Hank Williams, Paul McCartney, and Stevie Nicks.
 
The Deli: What other shows do you have coming up?
 
Jacob: We're heading out for a short tour this week through Chicago, Columbus, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Lancaster, PA.
 
In the KC area we have some great shows coming up, including November 25 at The Bottleneckin Lawrence with Dawn & Hawkes; December 5 at The Riot Room with Nick Thomas of The Spill Canvas; December 12 at 12 Baltimore for their Emerging Artist Series; and December 18 for a Christmas House Concert at our place. We also just found out we’ll be playing an official showcase at the 2015 Folk Alliance International conference this February.
 
The Deli: What other goals does The Blackbird Revue have for the rest of the year, and beyond?
 
Jacob: We want to get better. Better as songwriters, better as singers and musicians. Better at getting the sounds we want in the studio. Improvement is our constant goal. We will get a new album out in 2015, and it will be our best yet.
 
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?
 
Jacob: Thank those who help make you aware of good local and regional music. It's too often their hard work goes unnoticed, or underappreciated.
 
Next Tuesday, November 25, you can catch The Blackbird Revue at The Bottleneck, where they will be supporting Americana duo Dawn & Hawkes from Austin. Facebook event page.
 
--Michelle Bacon
 
Michelle Bacon is editor of The Deli KC and plays in bands.
 
 
 

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Spotlight on KC PsychFest artist: El Rey-Tones

(Photo by Todd Zimmer)
 
This week, we’ll be highlighting some of the artists playing KC PsychFest from Thursday through Saturday nights at recordBar.
 
Recently changing their name from The Ray-Tones and forming a new lineup, El Rey-Tones has a surfy garage rock influence, dipped in a warm psychedelic groove. We talk with songwriter Bryan Koehler about the band and what we can look forward to from them.
 
The Deli: Down and dirty: 1 sentence to describe your music.
 
Koehler: Imagine it like riding a wave through a tunnel of reverb, while all your best friends create a whirlpool of a constant rotation of joints circling past you in a conga line, while at the same time you're making out with your number one crush on the beach watching the blood orange sun sink into the ocean. #runonsentences
 
The Deli: Give us some background on El Rey-Tones. What’s the lineup? You also recently changed your name. What’s up with that?
 
Koehler: El Rey-Tones started as a few dudes trying to make some surfy garage jams in my converted dining room jam space in the spring of 2013. I think there were four of us in the beginning and we called ourselves The Buh-Ohls (phonetic spelling of the British pronunciation of "buttholes.") After about a month of realizing that just Johnny Mitchell (ex-Not A Planet/Soft Reeds) and I were the only ones getting together consistently, we quit extending the invitation and focused on writing between the two of us. We jammed and wrote together for the next 9 months in my make shift music space, calling ourselves The Ray-Tones (we both grew up in Raytown). We made a bunch of rough recordings, kept it under wraps for the most part, and then, with a little help from a friend, recorded 6 songs in Nashville with Konrad Snyder (The Brown Owl Studio) during the first week of March of this year. We brought the tracks back to KC. Austin Turney hit us up wanting to play some shows (he jammed with us a few times before). Not having a band yet, we declined, but we shared the tracks with Austin, who showed a bunch of other people, and then a few days later we had him on bass, Drew Little on drums, Jake Masters on guitar, Johnny on guitar/vox, and me on vox/percussion. Fast forward a few months and Johnny moved to Brooklyn with his wife (something he'd been planning on since we met and started this thing), David Bennett (Akkilles) stepped in to fill Johnny's spot, and we added Cortland Gibson (Organized Crimes) on keys/percussion/whatever. We got a cease and desist from a bunch of cartoon rhino fucks, and then changed the name to El Rey-Tones.
 
The Deli: What inspires your music?
 
Koehler: ‘50s and ‘60s rhythm and blues, psychedelic R&B, surf, garage, northern soul, etc. From day one we set out to write music that makes us feel good, music that we want to listen to, nostalgic sounds that remind of us of what it would be like to live near a beach, or some place far from the 21st century Midwest. I like songs that groove, syncopated circular rhythms, pretty melodies...
 
The Deli: What have been your greatest accomplishments as a band?
 
Koehler: I'd say getting to play with Allah-Las in June and having them put us on Reverberation Radio mix tape #115. Not only was that one of Johnny and my favorite bands/biggest modern influences, getting on that playlist has gotten us fans from all over the world (and probably what led to the cease and desist.) It was truly a dream come true to share the stage with a band we looked up to so quickly in our life as a band. If you haven't checked out Reverberation Radio yet, you should probably do that like yesterday.
 
The Deli: Do you currently have any albums out? You’re working on an EP now. What can we expect?
 
Koehler: We don't… we have a tape we made for our in-store at Mills Record Co. The A-side is our studio roughs plus 2 live tracks from practice and the B-side is a collection of our favorite voice memos and GarageBand demos. As far as getting our studio stuff out, we'll be trying to get a six-song EP out as soon as possible. You can expect to hear really awesome recordings of the songs you hear us play live.
 
The Deli: What does supporting local music mean to you?
 
Koehler: To me, it’s like when someone asks me if I like U2…not really? But I respect what they're doing, it’s just not what my ears want to hear most of the time…I kinda see local music like that. There's bands out there that I wouldn't necessarily choose to listen to, bands that I may not get into, but it’s important to support them, go to a show, talk to each other, share each other's work. I ask myself, would I want them to buy my record? Yes. I find it pretty amazing to go to a show, whether it’s a local music show, or just a local opener, and look in the crowd and see members from a bunch of other local bands in attendance. It means that people in this city care, and we got each other's backs. I think in past times KC has been sort of cutthroat or has had a me vs. the world attitude, but I feel like recently there are a lot of cats trying to make some pretty cool stuff and share it with each other. KC doesn't see many bands find large commercial success, but you don't see that curbing anyone's enthusiasm. People are making music because they love making music. That's the kind of scene I want to be in.
 
The Deli: Who are your favorite local musicians right now?
 
Koehler: TheConquerors have been a huge fave since I saw them on the back patio of Riot Room at the first Middle of the Map. Rory [Cameron] is a fucking rad songwriter and a rad dude (see local music comment above). Organized Crimes blows my mind; I think I'm their biggest fanboy. The dudes from The Slowdown/Wonderfuzz/Ready Astronaut are insanely talented and every time I see one of their bands I'm reminded as to how far I have to go as a musician to become a professional.
 
The Deli: Who are your favorite non-local musicians right now?
 
Koehler: Allah-Las, Nick Waterhouse, Holy Wave, La Luz, Mac DeMarco, Temples, Cosmonauts…you get the idea…that and whatever vinyl I'm listening to.
 
The Deli: Who are you looking forward to seeing at PsychFest?
 
Koehler: I've honestly never seen White Mystery, so that'll be dope. Thee Water Moccasins never plays so that'll be a treat. Also, never seen David's band Akkilles play, so that'll be cool too.
 
The Deli: Besides PsychFest, what other shows do you have coming up?
 
Koehler: We're playing with this rad Brazilian psychedelic space rock band Wannabe Jalva at Riot Room Nov. 3 and opening for The Wytches from the UK at Riot Nov. 15. Both shows should absolutely shred.
 
The Deli: What is your ultimate fantasy concert bill to play on?
 
Koehler: We've been fortunate enough to play with mostly bands we're really into so far…but it would be way rad to play at Austin Psych Fest one day, or like Desert Daze or really any of those cool psych fests… actually since you said fantasy, it would be extra wild to share the stage with The Ray-Tones (those cartoon rhino dick heads) and have a Death To Smootchie-esque freak out Battle Royale where we, El Rey-Tones would ultimately reign supreme (I'm clearly a little bitter still…).
 
The Deli: A music-themed Mount Rushmore. What four faces are you putting up there and why?
 
Koehler: In no particular order, or no particular place to go: Chuck Berry, Brian Wilson, Donovan, Link Wray?
Berry: completed that pun for me there, father of rock ‘n roll, and the motherfucker is still performing!!
Brian: Duh.
Donovan: The most non-groovy looking groovy dude ever.
Link Wray: I mean, yeah… those tones though.
 
The Deli: What other goals do El Rey-Tones have for 2014, and beyond?
 
Koehler: We'd like to make it through the end of the year with a clear vision of what the lineup and writing process will be. We'd like to get the EP out digitally and on wax, but a vinyl will probably be the new year. If we can get some help from licensing or something, I'd love to do some regional tours and obviously write hella music and release hella music. We'll see. It’s still pretty early…but definitely definitely get these 6 songs out to you people!
 
The Deli: Always go out on a high note. Any last words of wisdom for the Deli audience?
 
Koehler: Thanks for reading and checking us out. Please stay tuned for upcoming releases. You can follow us at http://www.facebook.com/theraydashtones, soundcloud.com/theraydashtones, and instagram @koehlab. We love staying positive, playing groovy jams, and having a good time. We really like what we're doing and we hope you do too. We're also really friendly, so please, come see us and say hello. We love to make new friends. Thanks for reading. Weed is tight.
 
 
You can catch El Rey-Tones in just a couple hours! They’re opening up KC Psych Fest at recordBar this evening at 6:00 p.m.
 
--Michelle Bacon
 
Michelle Bacon is editor of The Deli KC and plays in bands.
 
 

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Signal To Noise pays tribute to Lou Whitney

Longtime KC mainstay free-form show Signal To Noise, hosted by Barry Lee, will present a special show in honor of Lou Whitney, who passed away Tuesday after battling cancer. The radio show will include in-studio guests Kristie Stremel, Tony Ladesich, Fred Wickham, and Joey Skidmore. Lou's longtime friend and guitarist D. Clinton Thompson will also join in via telephone from Springfield, Missouri. Tune in this Sunday, October 12, at 8:00 p.m. to hear the music of the Morells, The Original Symptoms, The Skeletons, and songs recorded by the guests with Lou producing. And great Lou stories as well. Facebook event page.

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Spotlight on KC PsychFest artist: Your Friend

(Photo by Lindsey Kennedy)
 
This week, we’ll be highlighting some of the artists playing KC PsychFest from Thursday through Saturday nights at recordBar.
 
Taryn Miller’s intelligent songwriting and entrancing music is making its way around, and for good reason. Miller’s project Your Friend was signed to Domino Records earlier this year. With her debut album, Jekyll/Hyde, Miller constructs a simultaneously comforting and haunting atmosphere, fashioned around somber but colorful vocals. 
 
The Deli: Down and dirty: 1 sentence to describe your music.
 
Miller: The music itself has distinct differences when presented live or by the actual recordings, but I’d say it’s spacious and constantly evolving.
 
The Deli: Give us some background on Your Friend. Do you have a regular cast of musicians that play with you? How long have you been operating under this moniker?
 
Miller: I’ve been playing under the moniker for over 2 years now. When it began, the roster was always changing, and that was exciting. But I felt that in order to dig deeper over time, I wanted some sort of solidified group to explore with. I really enjoyed the risk in one-off shows but I wanted the trusting element to be more present. There’s always going to be some sort of risk playing with me anyway! It all happened organically though. We all work well together as friends and as bandmates. Nicholas Stahl, Chris Luxem, and Austin Swick are the gentlemen I have played with the longest. I can’t imagine playing with anyone else at this point. It feels like a group more than a solo project than it ever has.
 
The Deli: What inspires your music and songwriting?
 
Miller: In all honesty, just purely existing. I am very intuitive and tuned in to all that is happening around me at all times. This is my way of documenting it. It’s very cathartic for me to do this. I’m inspired by energy, and the lack of it, all at once.
 
The Deli: What have been your greatest accomplishments as a band?
 
Miller: Touring and still loving each other afterwards. It only made it more apparent that these are the people I should be surrounding myself with. It wouldn’t have gone as smoothly without them.
 
The Deli: Your debut EP Jekyll/Hyde was released on Domino Records earlier this year. What can listeners expect? Do you have plans to record again soon?
 
Miller: The most rewarding things about having this amazing company backing the project are that the music gets to be heard by people that wouldn’t otherwise know it exists, and the tools to make something that I am truly proud of. It’s the kind of support that I had always dreamed of. I’m in the process of finishing the writing process of the full-length. The plan is to record it by the end of the year and for it to be available next year. I’d hope that there will be a sense of growth that can be heard with the newer material. I’m definitely in a radically different headspace.
 
The Deli: What does supporting local music mean to you?
 
Miller: It means everything from what I’ve experienced. I’ve only had the opportunities that I’ve had from the support of the community. Being involved in it, there is some sort of magic that peaks out of so many different directions. I’ve gotten to grow as a musician and watch all of my friends do the same. I’ve learned so much from the local scene and talent within it.
 
The Deli: Who are your favorite local and non-local musicians right now?
 
Miller: Locally, everything coming out of SeedCo and a part of the Whatever Forever collective. I’m really looking forward to Karma Vision’s release. I fell in love with No Magic this year and practically begged him (Ben Sauder) to let me play live with him. KC-based, All Blood has been really killer to watch. I grabbed their earlier tape and really love how unique the material is. I’m also a big fan of Lazy, The Conquerors, and Shy Boys.  There’s also a guy, Nathan Dixey—he plays as The Dan Ryan—who also played bass on my EP and sent me his mixes of his upcoming release. I can’t wait for it to reach other ears. He lives in Austin now but he’s still local to me.
 
Non-local, I’m all over the place. To keep my head clear I find myself listening to a lot more droney things.  Although I have been really excited about the newest Caribou record. 
 
The Deli: Who are you looking forward to seeing at PsychFest?
 
Miller: The Conquerors, Gemini Revolution, Monta At Odds, Jorge Arana Trio, White Mystery, and I’m still holding out for some surprise Expo 70 appearance.
 
The Deli: What is your ultimate fantasy concert bill to play on?
 
Miller: This answer would probably change depending on what I’ve been most into. So, currently, Lower Dens, Timber Timbre, with Nils Frahm closing the show.
 
The Deli: A music-themed Mount Rushmore. What four faces are you putting up there and why?
 
Miller: Referencing the last question, it mostly depends on what I’m listening to the most at the time. I would say William Basinski, Steve Reich, Arthur Russell, and Leyland Kirby. William Basinski has transported to me to an entire different form of listening. I could say the same of all of them honestly. I’m definitely drawn to composers. Listening to their work is almost like a glimpse of what their brain appears like on the inside. Steve Reich’s arrangements require your attention and I respect that artform. Leyland Kirby has worked in so many different types of environments. I love his spontaneity and also his control and selection. Arthur had sort of the same trajectory. All of his records touch upon something different. From the absolute joyous to morose. He was always creating, and it inspires me.
 
The Deli: Where can we find you on the web?
 
 
The Deli: What other goals does Your Friend have for 2014, and beyond?
 
Miller: The same thing I tell myself every morning: finish this record. It’s been very challenging to make this next thing. Now that I’m aware of what ears it could reach I want it to be very representative of myself. I also want to make something that I can be very creative with in the live setting and keep it exciting. Those are the goals as of now. If I look too far ahead, the page in front of me gets blurry.
 
The Deli: Always go out on a high note. Any last words of wisdom for the Deli audience?
 
Miller: I’ll cheat and quote Allen Ginsberg. First thought, best thought. I’m beginning to learn what it means to trust your instincts. I feel as though I spend so much time trying to change what’s inherent. Stay true to who you are and surround yourself with the people that irrigate and continually inspire that.
 
 
Make sure you check out Miller with Your Friend. The group will be playing KC PsychFest this Saturday, October 11, at 8:00 p.m, at recordBar.
 
--Michelle Bacon
 
Michelle Bacon is editor of The Deli KC and plays in bands.

 
 

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