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KC music

Apocalypse Meow 8 is coming up!

Midwest Music Foundation is proud to present the eighth annual Apocalypse Meow! Mark your calendars for November 6-8 and enjoy 3 nights of music at 3 great Kansas City spots for a very important cause.
Friday, November 6 at recordBar
Amy Farrand and the Like
Get your tickets here. 18+ / $7
Saturday, November 7 at Mills Record Company
A free, all ages show presented by The Deli KC!
Sunday, November 8 at Knuckleheads Saloon
Get your tickets here. 21+ / $15
Apocalypse Meow 8 benefits Abby’s Fund for Musicians’ Health Care, which provides emergency health care grants to musicians in need. Raffles will be held throughout the weekend and a silent auction will be held on Sunday at Knuckleheads, with items, gift certificates, and tickets donated by local businesses and organizations. Click here for a full list of items and contact rhonda@midwestmusicfound.org if you’d like to donate.
Huge thanks to all our sponsors, volunteers, and musicians that make this event possible each year! For more information and a full list of sponsors, please visit http://midwestmusicfound.org/apocalypse-meow-2015

Album review: The Sluts - The Sluts

(Photo by Todd Zimmer)
LFK darlings The Sluts’ self-titled second album is just what the doctor ordered. Assuming, of course, that you’re in need of a dose of brash, fuzzy, garage rock, most potent when chased with a shot of bourbon and some cheap yard beers. And let’s face it, you probably are.
The Sluts’ eleven tracks—four of which (“Let Me Go,” “Loser,” “Green,” and “Linger”) were previously released on last year’s The Loser EP (here’s our review of that)—are for the most part quite one-dimensional. This isn’t a bad thing. Ryan Wise (guitar and vocals) and Kristoffer Dover (drums) are not trying to overthink their craft, but instead are content to give listeners fun, mostly up-tempo ball-busters, lasting under three minutes.
The songs are a unique blend of early grunge and edgy punk. Think of Mudhoney joining forces with The Stooges. Wise’s slightly whiny, reverb-laced vocals are nearly as distorted as his chunky, drop-tuned guitar, and Dover’s relentless sonic booming is filled with crash cymbals. The result is a much larger sound than one might expect from just a two-piece band, although I would be interested to hear the added depth that a bass guitar might bring.
Three songs showcase Wise and Dover at their best. The crunchy “Green” is reminiscent of Alice in Chains, both vocally and musically. Dover’s tom rolls give it a defined groove, and set it apart from many other tunes on the album. “Be With You” is a fast, driving love song with interesting rhythm variations and guitar like a machine gun. The highlight of The Sluts is “Linger,” which begins with a catchy surf-like guitar hook, and becomes a thrashing, angst-ridden anthem. The use of fuller chords and incessant drumming allows it to have as much breadth as two instruments are capable of providing.
The album’s final track, “Simple Song,” is the only truly slow song of the bunch. At first it seems a bit out of place among the other ten turbulent tunes. However, there is a good reason for it to be included. It informs the listener that the thrill ride has come to an end, and that it’s okay to take a deep breath and relax. It’s like a much-needed lullaby being sung to a rambunctious, yet exhausted, child.
If you’re in need of some background music for resting, studying or a candle-lit dinner, you should probably avoid this album. If you are leaving work on a Friday, and are ready to roll down the windows and get mentally prepared for the weekend, by all means crank it up. The Sluts isn’t high art or even hi-fi. It’s rock & roll, baby.
Catch The Sluts tonight at a free in-store performance at Mills Record Company! Show starts at 7:00 pm.
--Brad Scott
Brad loves music, Boulevard beer, and his family. Not necessarily in that order.


Album review: Riala - Be Here Be There

The first track of Riala’s recently released debut album, Be Here | Be There, is immediately reminiscent of the kind of emotional math rock that made bands like Circa Survive so beloved. The vocals, passionate and echoing, mirror the strengths of the instrumentals and resonances that make this band so unique. Feeding my nostalgia for the sound, I dove in headfirst and listened as the track “Aether” gave way to “We Need More Land,” which led to my personal favorite track, “Poseidon.” This lengthy 7-minute song builds to an anthemic explosion of instrumentals around the 5-minute mark that will unavoidably cause some head-banging.
The rest of the 7-track album carries on with the band’s enjoyable mixture of atmospheric rock instrumentals (similar to Explosions in the Sky at some points) and the kind of shoegaze sounds that are impossible to sit still to. The eerily distorted track “Sun Blinks Out” melts into the final track “Captain (Dredge),” which is arguably the loudest in terms of intensity. It proves to be a perfect closer for this expressive album.
Riala consists of Nick Turner (guitar/vocals), Kalo Hoyle (bass guitar), and Morgan Greenwood (drums). The group met at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance and has joined their similar talents and interests to create this electric debut album. Be Here | Be There was recorded at Element Recording Studios where the album was engineered, mixed and mastered by Kansas City’s Joel Nanos, who has proven to be quite successful in various aspects of the music industry. Riala’s album as a whole is no exception to Nanos’ abilities. The album is incredibly moving and dark in all of the best ways. If given the opportunity to catch them live, do not miss out!
--Lindsey Alexander

Lindsey is a writer who loves live shows, Reddit, and really good tacos. 

Jesse Harris and The Gypsy Sparrows' Farewell Show this Thursday

(Photo by Martin Diggs)
Jesse Harris has been entrenched in Kansas City’s Americana music scene since discovering it as a teenager at BB’s Lawnside BBQ. He has brought that approach to his songwriting, along with a soulful country edge. He has found success as a solo artist and with his band, The Gypsy Sparrows. But after several years of playing and touring, the group has decided to call it quits. This Thursday, they will play a farewell show. We talk with Harris about the group, his music, and what’s in store for the future.
The Deli: Down and dirty: one sentence to describe your music.
Jesse Harris: Songs that are true to the soul that tell tales of both triumph and tribulation.
The Deli: Give me some background on your music; talk about your solo material and The Gypsy Sparrows. Why have you decided to end The Gypsy Sparrows?
Harris:I found the blues in my early teens and luckily, living in Kansas City, the blues scene was at my fingertips. Once I started to write songs, my blues roots really became evident. My songs tend to be on the depressing side but I promise there are a few upbeat ones too. The Sparrows really came together as naturally as possible. I had been writing songs for a few years and playing out in KC with Sean DeCourcy sitting in on harmonica. I got word that Jeff Perkins had recently moved back to Kansas City from New York. Sean and I had both worked on earlier projects with Jeff and we both were eager to get him involved with what we were doing. Crazy to think about but that was almost 10 years ago.
As the frontman for The Sparrows, I started getting booked often for song swaps and singer-songwriter nights in venues around the Midwest. These were new to me because song swaps in Kansas City were almost nonexistent. I got hooked on them. They were organic and lent room for stories and camaraderie between the performer and the audience. The more I did, the more I loved them, and I began to write songs that would fit that type of show. That is how my solo album As I Am came to be.
We decided to call an end to The Gypsy Sparrows for many reasons but mainly just one big reason. We had a great run, wrote some great songs, shared millions of laughs, only a few fights, traveled near and far and we did it all just how we wanted to. It was our way or no way at all and in true Gypsy Sparrow fashion we wanted to be the one who said we were done. We didn’t want to fade away or burn out, just simply say farewell.
The Deli: What inspires your music and songwriting?
Harris: My inspiration almost always comes from real-life events. For me, to write the song I have to feel the meaning, emotion, or the story. I feel connected to my songs like they are a part of me. Even if they have been fabricated to fit the song better, I can still tell you how the lyric came about. I feel that is what makes a song true, and truth is what I look for in any song.
The Deli: What is your songwriting process?
Harris: My process varies. Sometimes I’ll come up with a melody on my guitar and go from that, but every now and then I’ll start with lyrics first. If I start with lyrics first, it’s almost always right after a long drive.
The Deli: What have been your greatest musical accomplishments?
Harris: I went and saw a band play at Knuckleheads Saloon a year or so before I started to play music live and I remember how great the venue was. Everything about the show was perfect and I remember telling myself how great it would be to play a show there. A year after forming The Gypsy Sparrows, I finally got my chance to play there, and it was everything I had hoped for. Two years after my first appearance, my solo CD release show sold out Knuckleheads’ Gospel Lounge, and that winter I was asked to host a songwriter night there, called The Troubadour Sessions. Those are definitely top accomplishments to me, and I’m honored to be back this winter to host The Troubadour Sessions again!
The Deli: Tell me about your latest solo album As I Am. What can we expect?
Harris: As I Am was a challenge to myself. I wanted to give a true perspective to my sound as an individual musician. As I Am is the best representation of that. Nothing was altered, auto-tuned or digitally changed at all. This is me and my guitar. I am sometimes off-key, my guitar buzzes at times, and I even change lyrics on the fly. It is not perfect because I am not. The songs of the album cover many topics. From heartbreaking loss in “Love, Money, & Redemption” to songs of hope and guidance in “Boots On,” you are bound to find at least one song you can relate to in some way. That is what I was shooting for anyway.
The Deli: What does supporting local music mean to you?
Harris: The local music scene in KC has been growing like crazy over the last few years. When I started out, there were hardly any venues that supported original songwriters. We have been very lucky that the trend is ending. Venues like the recordBar, The Westport Saloon and The Tank Room have really made a name for themselves in the local music community. For me, supporting local music means supporting the venues that host and pays local musicians. This is just a hobby without those venues that pay their performers.
The Deli: Who are your favorite local and non-local musicians right now?
Harris: Local: John Goolsby has the voice of an angel and has written some great tunes. Also a new favorite is Tyler Giles, who is a regular at The Westport Saloon.
Non-local: Jason Isbell is a must in my CD rotation. A newer songwriter to my favorites is John Moreland. I played before him in Tulsa and have been hooked ever since! Both of them are the most truthful lyricists I’ve heard in a while.
The Deli: What is your ultimate fantasy concert bill to play on?
Harris: Alive: Jason Isbell, Amos Lee, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, The Black Crowes, Willie Nelson. Dead: B.B. King, Ray Charles, Levon Helm, Jerry Garcia.
The Deli: A music-themed Mount Rushmore. What four faces are you putting up there and why?
Harris: Willie Nelson - A true road troubadour.
David Gilmore - Got me hooked on the sound of the guitar.
Robert Hunter - Because songwriters get little credit.
Levon Helm - Had a true passion and heart for music.
The Deli: What does the future hold for you as a musician?
Harris: I am heading to the recording studio to record my second full-length solo album this winter. I have some of the best songs I’ve ever written in hand and a fresh (and sober) new perspective on love, life and music. I’m not sure exactly where music will take me, but I know it’s going to be a great ride!
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?
Harris: I’ll say goodbye with a quote from a song I wrote using some of the words of wisdom my dad said to me throughout the years…
“Hold your head up, don’t move so fast
But every second counts so make ‘em last.”
Join Jesse Harris with The Gypsy Sparrows at Knuckleheads Saloon on Thursday. Facebook event page.
--Michelle Bacon
Michelle Bacon is editor of The Deli KC and plays in bands.


Album review: The Grisly Hand - Flesh and Gold

Few Kansas City bands have been not only respected but embraced by critics, fans, and fellow musicians of many genres the way The Grisly Hand has over the past few years. Formed in 2009, the band released the album Safe House in 2010, Western Ave. EP in 2012, and then followed those with the stellar and regionally successful Country Singles in 2013. The latter cemented The Grisly Hand’s position as one of the best acts in Kansas City, and probably should have launched them onto a national stage.
There may be just one slight problem—they don’t exactly fit the mold of any one genre. Typically billed as Americana, the band’s first three releases were undeniably country music. Not the contemporary crap you avoid at all costs on your radio dial, but more traditional twang, with perfectly harmonized vocals, pedal steel guitar, mandolin, a potent walking bass, and shuffling beats. It’s not cry-in-your-beer country, but mainly up-tempo tunes that—like a lot of old-school southern music—contain elements of rock, soul, and pop. Music that, despite its wide local appeal, is not exactly sought after by major record labels.
The Grisly Hand’s latest offering, Flesh and Gold, is a different direction for the group. There is an obvious attempt to lessen the country feel by moving to a more straightforward rock ‘n roll sound than present on previous albums. There’s a bit less twanging and a little more banging, but the songs are still well-crafted. Lead vocalists Jimmy Fitzner and Lauren Krum (Ben Summers takes the mic on the third track, “Regina”) harmonize like two people who have spent their entire lives singing together. The musicianship of Fitzner and Summers (guitar and guitar/mandolin, respectively), along with Mike Stover (pedal steel/bass), Dan Loftus (bass/keys), and Matt Richey (drums) continues to be top-notch.
Flesh and Gold opens with the familiar, beautiful ring of Fitzner and Krum, singing in front of a lone electric guitar on “Get in Line, Stranger.” The rest of the band soon kicks in, and the song proceeds to become what the majority of the album is—a very solid collection of catchy, mid-tempo, alt-country tunes; some of which could be accused of leaning towards (gasp) pop rock.
Possibly the most enjoyable cut on the album is the no-nonsense, driving rock song, “Regina.” Summers’ vocals, though not quite as refined as Fitzner’s, are laced with passion as he sings about the insecurities and immaturity of youth. “You probably don’t want to follow me down, because I’m a fucked up kid without a plan / Shows me why you do the things you can.” The track is vibrant and pulsating—Krum’s backing vocals give Summers’ voice some added depth, and Stover’s killer steel guitar solo supplies just enough southern touch. This could be a very radio-friendly song.
Some risks are taken by tackling a couple of heavy topics. “Brand New Bruise,” a ballad turned barroom blues rocker, is about a woman with an abusive partner. I was prepared for a clichéd country triumph about a gritty woman teaching her old man a lesson. Instead, the song reveals a sad dose of reality; a worn woman who doesn’t know where to turn. “You can say you’re sorry again, you can bury me down in the ground / Just know whichever way you choose…either way I lose.” “Satan Ain’t Real” is perhaps a jab at Christianity and the guilt it causes, or maybe just a way of telling people not to be too hard on themselves or each other. “Satan ain’t real, it’s just what we blame when we can’t explain why fellow men hurt us like they do, without remorse / Just know it’s all in your head, and it ain’t ever too late for you to break away.” The song is also one of the more intriguing numbers musically. Somewhere between a Bossa nova and a Cajun ditty, the relaxing groove, filled with mandolin and steel guitar, implores the listener to set their troubles aside.
“Regrets on Parting,” the record’s final track, is by far the most surprising. It is a soul song at heart, and could be mistaken for something coming out of Memphis in the ‘60s. Fitzner and Krum’s harmonizing is at its best here. The real surprise is the addition of a horn section comprised of Nick Howell (trumpet), Mike Walker (trombone), and Rich Wheeler (saxophone). It’s a fantastic, if completely unexpected, song. Maybe it’s no accident that this is the last song, as it could be foreshadowing of things to come on future recordings. (Editor’s note: Flesh & Gold is the first part of a double album that is slated for release in early 2016)
Flesh and Gold is a very good standalone album. There isn’t a single song that isn’t thought out and dialed-in, as any fan would expect. Had I never heard any of the The Grisly Hand’s previous work, I would go as far as to call this output great. However, I know what the band is capable of, and couldn’t help longing for a few of the things that made Country Singles so special. For example: the dialogue between Fitzner and Krum on “(If You’re Leavin’) Take the Trash Out [When You Go],” the infectious energy of “If You Say So,” or the moving beauty of “Coup de Coeur.” Despite this, I understand the need for change, applaud the band for moving outside of their comfort zone, and feel extremely confident about the future of The Grisly Hand.
--Brad Scott
Brad loves music, Boulevard beer, and his family.
The Grisly Hand will be one of the bands playing a pre-game concert at Kauffman Stadium this week. They will be taking Ink’s Outfield Stage for Game 2 of the American League Division Series on Friday afternoon. They will also be playing the annual Brew at the Zoo and Wine Too! at the Kansas City Zoo on the evening of October 17.



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