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Kansas City music

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Album review: John Velghe & the Prodigal Sons - Organ Donor Blues

(Photos by J. Winn and Todd Zimmer)
The beautiful thing about art is that each person’s perception is valid. The artist certainly had a message he or she was trying to convey to us. We might even get that message, but it is colored, tarnished, and brightened by our own experiences. The relationship between musician and listener is the exchange of these experiences and perceptions and, boy, do John Velghe and the Prodigal Sons have some experiences to offer to us with Organ Donor Blues.
The first single, “Beaten By Pretenders,” has received heavy play on 90.9 The Bridge and features Alejandro Escovedo. Mike Alexander’s vaulting guitar weaves through Velghe and Escovedo’s vocals. There is a pleading in Escovedo’s voice that belies the “Oh, oh, oh,” of the chorus. “They can bring the wolf, but we don’t have to let them in”; a sad song in a happy key.
“You made some mistakes in your own hometown,” Velghe peels out the opening lines of “Don’t Understand Your Hometown” following insistent horns played by Hermon Mehari, Mike Walker, and Sam Hughes. Listeners, at least the fallible among us, are immediately connected.
The hits keep coming. Each song on this record reaches right into you and delicately and incessantly demands your attention. And you happily give it. Matt Anderson’s resolute beat and Chris Wagner’s bass line welcome you to “Gold Guitar.” Growling guitars press right into your sternum as Velghe laments the position of the modern musician: “It’s like the songs, never made a sound.” After I shared this song with Jon Dee Graham, whom Velghe mentions by name in it, Graham commented, “Can I get these lyrics engraved on my headstone?”
“Set It Fire” sounds like what I imagine the Beach Boys would have put out if they were an Americana band. Tight harmonies and a melody that will have you bobbing along without intending to, Kirsten Paludan and Velghe’s voices twist around each other and join together to make this a track you return to over and over.
There are records we meet and immediately become part of our lives. We listen to them through our forever. This is one of those records.
--Angela Lupton

Organ Donor Blues will be officially released on Tuesday, June 24, but is now available at Bandcamp on pre-order and for digital download. Stay tuned for info on the band’s upcoming shows.   

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The Cave Girls are our June Artist of the Month!

The Cave Girls are our June artist of the month! Robin Campbell and Stone Age Sara have gotten down the art of creating simple, upbeat, fun Neanderthal garage rock. With bassist Lizz Weiler as the band’s newest addition, the trio is returning to the KC music scene with a primordial vengeance. 
The Deli: Down and dirty: 1 sentence to describe your music. What is it?
Stone Age Sara: Stripped-down rock ‘n roll with a prehistoric punch.
The Deli: Give us some background on the band. How long have you had this particular lineup?
Sara: Liz Lightning (Weiler) joined us on bass in the summer of 2013. Before Liz, Stephanie Williams (Katy Guillen & The Girls, Claire and the Crowded Stage) played bass with us for a couple years, and is on our first CD. Our original bass player was Nikki Love. Liz and Robin have played music together for years, so Liz is a natural fit. We are really grateful to have her!
We have worked with a couple really cool lead guitarists: Meredith McGrade (Wick and the Tricks, Morningglories) and most recently Kelly Nightengale (The Spook Lights). Kelly recorded with us on a song we’re about to release called “Let’s Go!”
The Deli: What do you have coming up?
Sara: This summer is pretty busy! We are playing at the Free State Film Festival in Lawrence. Our music is featured in the film Replay by Marlo Angell with WOLF (Women of Lawrence Film), which is showing at the festival, and our set will be at The Granada on Sunday, June 29.
We’ll also be featured on a CD compilation of The Pandoras’ covers by garage rock bands from all over the world. It’ll be released sometime this year for the 30th anniversary of their It’s About Time record. We’re excited to be a part of something so global!
And we’re releasing a 3 song EP this summer too. Can’t wait!
The Deli: What does supporting local music mean to you?
Sara: As musicians, keeping up with what fellow musicians are up to and being sincere and encouraging of each other. Everyone knows how good it can feel when someone acknowledges your work in a positive way. That can go a long way for a musician. We put a lot of ourselves out there.
Liz: I would say supporting the local scene, supporting fellow musicians, friends, etc.
The Deli: Who are your favorite local musicians right now?
Robin: Whichever I am watching at a given time... I am blown away at how good the local bands are around here. This must be what Detroit felt like in the ‘70s. I'm really impressed with Expo 70's meditative heavy rock with no lyrics. Also, recently I caught The Big Iron and The Philistines at recordBar; both were excellent! The Big Iron's new record is 4 stars!!
Sara: Too many to list, so many I need to catch up on.
The Deli: Who are your favorite not-so-local musicians right now?
Robin: Those Darlins. They're playing recordBar in August... GO! Their show is great! I am also really digging some instrumental music from an artist called Bonobo.
Sara: I freakin LOVE Dinero out of Fort Collins.
The Deli: What is your ultimate fantasy concert bill to play on?
Robin: I would love to play a festival with other KC/Lawrence bands/musicians for 3 days and camp out! I've always wanted to try playing a big multiple-day music festival.

Sara: I don’t have one… But I sometimes think it would have been fun to be a back-up singer for the Kinks… except for the fighting.
Liz: The Runaways.
The Deli: A music-themed Mount Rushmore. What four faces are you putting up there? 
Robin: Hmm. I always try not to choose artists over each other, they all bring their own special gifts, but I guess I'd say John Lennon, George Harrison, Aretha Franklin & Loretta Lynn. John & George for their sincere love preaching and spiritual awareness. Aretha for her empowering woman essence. Loretta Lynn for her authenticity, and her courageous and sincere songwriting.
Sara: Chuck Berry, Ray Davies, Harry Nilsson, Tiny Tim. All dudes and no drummers, I know, but that’s who comes to mind. They’re personal favorites, and I find them to be largely undervalued.
Liz: Lemmy, Joan Jett, King Buzzo (just to see if they could get his hair right), and Dimebag Darrell.
The Deli: What other goals do The Cave Girls have for 2014?
Sara: We talk sometimes at practice about just having made it through another crazy week. There’s so much everyone is up against these days: personally, locally, globally. Liz put it really well at our last practice. She said “I just wanna rock!” and we were all like “YEAH!”, so that sounds like a good goal!
The Deli: Where can we find you on the web?
Girls:We’re most up to date on Facebook, though we’d sure love to find a better way! Like a lot of bands, we feel pretty bummed when we post something on our page and less than 10% of our fans even see it. We’re also on Bandcamp.
The Deli: Always go out on a high note. Any last words of wisdom for the Deli audience?
The Cave Girls: Ooga ooga Ug!Ug!
The Cave Girls are:
Robin Campbell: vocals, guitar
Stone Age Sara: vocals, drums
Lizz Weiler: bass, vocals
--Michelle Bacon
Michelle Bacon is editor of The Deli KC and plays in a bunch of bands.

Take in a movie and catch The Cave Girls at The Granada on Sunday, June 29 for the Free State Film Festival. Their set will follow the Nick Cave film 20,000 Days on Earth. Kirsten Paludan & the Key Party will also play. The film starts at 7:30 pm. 



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Upcoming: Soul Revival 1.0 at Green Lady Lounge, 6.20.14

It’s a movement fueled by one musician’s passion to see soul and R&B come alive in Kansas City.
While attending the recent Ledisi / Robert Glasper Experiment double bill at The Midland, Derick Cunigan was taken aback by the size—or lack thereof—of the gathered crowd.
“I was watching such great talent on the stage, and couldn’t believe more people didn’t show up,” he said. “That’s when I knew I had to do something for the music. I had to do my part for the genre.”
Cunigan wants to introduce KC music aficionados to the sounds and styles he was raised with, while highlighting how the genre continues to evolve and flourish. The revolution begins Friday, June 20 when, backed by a stacked eight-piece band, Cunigan will weave his way through a series of modern-day classics from John Legend, Maxwell Anthony Hamilton, Robert Glasper, and more.
Cunigan aside, here’s the lineup for Soul Revival 1.0:
Keys: Desmond Mason (Shades of Jade, Groove 101)
Keys: Robert Tribitt III (Those Trib Boys Music)
Bass: Kevin Payton (Bill Crain Quartet, Will Crain Trio, New Vintage Big Band) 
Guitar: Kirk Scott (Elaine McMilian, Scott Hrabko, Kirk Scott and Trio, JFK)
Drums: Jerod Rivers (Claire and The Crowded Stage, Ashley Jones Band, Vi Tran Band)
Vocals: Ashley Jones (Ashley Jones Band, Ragtime at Theatre in the Park)
Vocals: Bryan Woodson (Mark Hubbard & The Voices, Timothy Wright)
This will be a gathering of some of our area’s most talented vocalists and musicians, making it one of this summer’s “can’t miss” events.
--Miguel Caraballo
Miguel Caraballo is a Puerto Rican who can’t speak Spanish, and the frontman of Kansas City-based rock-soul band, Run With It. He believes the arts can change the world, and loves meeting people who believe the same. If you want to contact him about your world-changing ideas, or simply want to purchase the Rosetta Stone Spanish Edition for him, email Miguel at info@gottarunwithit.com.

Soul Revival 1.0 is today, June 20, in The Orion Room (downstairs at Green Lady Lounge). Doors open at 7:00, show starts at 8:30. $5 cover. Facebook event page. 

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Album review: The Blessed Broke - Ladders Out of Purgatory

Kansas City’s Blessed Broke has a beautifully crafted American Gothic sound. Ladders Out of Purgatory is the band’s second album. This is music at once dark and lovely. Singer and songwriter Brian Frame is something of a sad bastard—not of the sparkling pop Elliott Smith variety—but more from the Woven Hand, or Bill Callahan school of glum. But his songs, while all characterized by a mid-tempo andante, are nonetheless appealing, and the band’s playing is at once sanguine and austere.
Frame’s lyrics are not as detailed as Townes Van Zandt’s (a clear inspiration), nor is his singing as enunciated, but in mood and tone he’s clearly taken succor from Townes. And like a Jay Farrar without the faux Walker Evans sepia tone sound, his world-weary vocals suit the resignation of his lyrics. “The Stain” opens Purgatory with these representative lines: “We were all waiting in line to get a little blood on our hands.” And in that line the listener remains.
Five of Purgatory’s nine songs feature the full band, while four are Frame’s solo vehicles. But rather than sounding like a half-finished record, Purgatory reminds of Mark Kozelek’s Sun Kil Moon recordings; the full band tracks simply sound like expansions of Frame’s solo visions, expanding the songs’ musicality while sustaining the contained, melancholy moods, which rarely lift. From the “just a small shot to kill the pain” of “Black Spring,” to the slightly more eros-driven likes of “Moriah’s Eyes,” Frame’s songs are melancholy devils. After all, as the album’s closer expresses, Frames has a “Helpless Heart.”
Frame and guitarist Andrew Luker anchor the band, having worked together for several years. Luker’s dobro work is the band’s chief ornamentation; he gives Frame’s songs just the right high, lonesome embellishment. Betse Ellis joined on bass just before these sessions. She’s known from bands like The Wilders for her soaring violin work. Her bass playing fits perfectly with drummer Matt Richey; together they lock in like Charlie McCoy and Kenny Buttrey, respectively, on Dylan’s fabled John Wesley Harding.
The band’s vitality would be enhanced by a little more variety in tempo. Sometimes the melancholy thud of The Blessed Broke’s music can be relentless. But credit them for sustaining tension and mood. With quality material and beautiful playing, Brian Frame and The Blessed Broke engage us fully, however somber the fare they serve on Ladders Out of Purgatory.
--Steve Wilson

Be sure to catch The Blessed Broke this Saturday at The Ship, 1217 Union Ave, in the West Bottoms. Facebook event page.



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Album review: Leering Heathens - Leering Heathens (EP)

You know, working at NPR as I do, I’m surrounded by the kind of music that one would expect to hear at an NPR studio: lots of jazz and classical, folk and traditional sounds from around the world, and once in a while when we feel really crazy and want to throw caution to the wind, we might even go for some Lawrence Welk or Barry Manilow or even … hang on to your hats, people … John Tesh!
Those of you who know me know that my music palette is a little more diverse than that. Sometimes I like those kinds of music, sometimes I’m down for some blues, sometimes electronica is what I want to hear—and sometimes I just need to have guitars and drums and basses and vocals that will melt walls and leave paths of wreckage and destruction. This review is about such a band that is doing just that to unsuspecting listeners and venues in the Kansas City area.
Leering Heathens is a Kansas City four-piece consisting of Joshua Quint on vocals and guitar, Brett Southard on drums, Chad Toney on bass, and Josh Simcosky on lead guitar. The band has recently released its self-titled debut EP, and as far as introductions go, theirs is about as straightforward as it gets: We play rock music. We play hard rock music. We play loud hard rock music.
The EP opens with “Dry Country” and gives the listener a good dose of classic rock guitar with a chorus that lays a very heavy, driving groove. “Lurker” is more chunky, and Quint’s vocals on this track keep high focus and intensity without crossing the line into emo-scream. The instrumental “Muskstache” is a little quicker-paced but no less effective and riveting, and at this point I started to think this mini-album may have been conceived with the assistance of a few bottles of brown liquor – and as their cover photo on their Facebook page would indicate, I think I may be right. “Rodeo Macabre” highlights some definite Tool influence—very sinister and heavy, with exception of the auctioneer and the old-timey last few seconds, which are kinda cool, and “Hulls of Blood” closes out the record, the most melodic of the tracks but one that still has loads of hammer-and-tong guitar aggression.
Some bands play at maximum volume because that’s their one skill. They don’t have enough faith in their work so they think that if they burst your eardrums, that will be enough to punch their rock-n-roll card. Others play loud, but do so with enough control that you listen to them and realize that you’re listening to music—very, very loud music—and not just sound. Leering Heathens are solid members of the latter category. If you’ve been looking for serious, authentic, gut-wrenching, actual factual rock ‘n roll, this will be a very wise investment of twenty minutes of your life.
You know, I try to be a good guy as much as possible, but I guess being a Heathen isn’t always such a bad thing either.
--Michael Byars
Michael secretly loves the music of John Tesh, but we won’t tell if you won’t.
Be sure to get your dose of Leering Heathens’ gut-wrenching rock ‘n roll this Thursday, June 19, at Czar Bar. They’ll be opening up for Young Widows and White Reaper. Facebook event page.


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