Friday, May 29, 2009

Review: Joe Lovano's Folk Art

Joe Lovano- "Dibango" ( stream)

I'm mad at Esperanza Spalding.

I'd been perfectly content to ignore almost all of Joe Lovano's output. Sure, I'd admired everything I'd heard by the acclaimed jazz saxophonist, but I thought I had him covered by owning just a couple of the 22 albums he's issued as a leader for Blue Note Records.

Then Spalding came along. I acquired Folk Art only because I was curious about Spalding's contribution. I shamelessly swooned over the young bassist earlier this month. I wanted to hear how she'd fit in with some of the world's premier musicians.

Spalding's effort, along with the entire album, is incredible. The sound is reminiscent of the best free jazz recordings from the ECM and HatHut labels. Spalding chugs along just as naturally as an inspired Charlie Haden. Lovano's band seems to have Henry Threadgill and late Coltrane in mind on the skronkiest tracks.

Now I feel compelled to invest an insane amount of time and money on the rest of Lovano's catalog. Thanks a lot, Esperanza!

I geeked out over plastic saxes today at, um, Plastic Sax.

Kansas City Click: Jason Ricci headlines what's being billed as the first weekend blues show at The Record Bar tonight.

I'll be one of the thousands of fat, sweaty dudes at Rockfest Saturday.

The Wild Women of Kansas City return to Jardine's on Sunday.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass. As reflected in a handful of recent posts, I haven't yet figured out how to portray the proverbial glass with an MP3.)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Yomo Toro- Mi Pueblo

No more Yomo.

Sonia Sotomayor- what a great name! News of her nomination to the Supreme Court reminded me of another person of Puerto Rican descent with an even better name. Yomo Toro's out-of-print Las Manos De Oro provided my introduction to the cuatro. The album is loaded with beautiful, life-affirming material like "Mi Pueblo." And if this joyous video fails to make you happy, well, there's just no hope for you friend.

Based on the way the main stage seems to be set up, watching Soundset on video appears to be better than actually attending the annual hip hop blowout.

Kansas City Click: Treasure Fingers makes 'em dance tonight at Mosaic.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Jay Bennett, 1963-2009


Jay Bennett's Whatever Happened I Apologize includes only a handful of fully realized songs. But dozens of excellent ideas are contained on the album. It's available as a free download from netlabel Rock Proper. Fleshed out, the project might have become a truly outstanding album. Sadly, it's never going to happen. Bennett died Sunday. That forces listeners mourning the death of the former Wilco member to imagine what might have become of promising sketches like "I Don't Have the Time." Check a Bennett blog post for tragic insights.

I caught The Offspring, Taking Back Sunday, The Used, Alkaline Trio and Anberlin last Friday. Here's my review.

Cherryholmes was a mixed bag Sunday when they performed with the Kansas City Symphony.

Thanks to, I'm on an ugly 5'nizza jag.

Kansas City Click: Saxophonist Logan Richardson plays Jardine's Tuesday and Wednesday. I previewed the shows at Plastic Sax.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Review: They Might Be Giants at Jiggle Jam

What an inconsiderate audience! They yelled. They cried. They whined. And that was just the adults.

As noted earlier this weekend at Back To Rockville, They Might Be Giants attract an unusually devoted audience.

The cult band's concert Saturday afternoon at children's music festival Jiggle Jam served as a rare instance of children enabling their parents. Kids clearly enjoyed They Might Be Giants, but most probably would have been just as entertained by Bongo Barry.

It's more than a little unsettling to watch adults sing along with "Alphabet of Nations" as if it's their personal version of "Born To Run" or "Highway To Hell."

Still, it was mad fun. By the time the band closed with "Dr. Worm", my face was sore from smiling.

(Original images by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Lee "Shot" WIlliams- I Feel An Urge Coming On


It's a prestigious award! So claim JP Soars and the Red Hots, the winners of this year's International Blues Challenge. I'm not knocking the Florida band- I like what they do and I'd gladly go see them if they were playing my neighborhood blues bar this weekend.

Even so, how can blues acts that deliberately replicate previously established styles be held up as the "best"? The present, by definition, is more compelling than the past. And that's coming from a roots-oriented guy. That's why, at least for me, the two most compelling blues releases so far in 2009 are by Heartless Bastards and Dan Auerbach. Most of their fans probably don't even think of them as blues acts.

There are, of course, exceptions to my rule. I'm completely charmed, for instance, by Black Joe Lewis. My knees buckle involuntarily when I'm exposed to good soul-blues acts. That's why I've loved Lee "Shot" Williams' outstanding Cold Shot since its release in 1995. Williams lacks an official web presence, but British nuts have posted a number of his early 45s at YouTube.

I've never seen Nas. That'll change June 26 when he appears at The Uptown Theater with Damian Marley.

Kansas City Click: "All the barbecue you can eat/All the ghetto stars you can meet!" That's the promise of Rich the Factor. He hosts a Bucks Over Fame party at The National Guard Armory tonight.

If They Might Be Giants don't play "The Mesopotamians" at Jiggle Jam Saturday, I'm gonna throw an ugly temper tantrum.

It's my understanding that attendance at Celebration At the Station Sunday is mandatory. The Kansas City Symphony mixes it up this year by bringing in bluegrass band Cherryholmes.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

NRBQ- Things We Like To Do

Liked no more.

What's wrong with me? Not once has NRBQ been mentioned at There Stands the Glass. Everything I love about the hipster's version of the Grateful Dead is evident on this childlike goof from an out-of-print 1982 live date. NRBQ is a cult band for a reason. But weirdos who've listened to way too much music the discriminating few who love both Sun Ra's mysticism and Jonathan Richman's innocence, as well as fans of current bands Dr. Dog and Delta Spirit, will appreciate the carefree glee and expert musicianship of NRBQ. Here's a bit of corresponding video footage.

Buddy Montgomery and Wayman Tisdale passed away on May 15.

Dolla is dead.

As much as I love the sense of community provided by, I'm not sure if I'll be able to resist forsaking it for Napster's new $5 a month plan.

Road trip to St. Louis? "Vintage Vinyl is partnering up with Meat Puppets and Pabst Blue Ribbon to host a special Thursday happy hour listening party & grill session with the band! The band won't be performing at Vintage Vinyl but there will be tasty free Pabst Blue Ribbon, tasty free BBQ and some extra tasty (not free) music as the Meat Puppets hang out, sign autographs and grill at Vintage Vinyl! The grilling party begins at 6:00PM on May 28th." Who's in?

I have a new favorite concert of the year. Esperanza Spalding was incredible Saturday. Here's my review.

Kansas City Click: Dan Bliss is part of tonight's "Guitar Extravaganza" at Jardine's.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Review: Green Day's 21st Century Breakdown

Green Day- "Before the Lobotomy" (LaLa stream)

I regularly turn my terrestrial radio dial to a classic rock station.

Hearing songs by Boston, Bowie and E.L.O. that were already stale twenty years ago makes me laugh. Truth be told, however, I still love that stuff. Apparently, Billie Joe Armstrong shares my enthusiasm for the oldies. That would explain why Green Day's new 21st Century Breakdown sounds disarmingly like a classic rock album.

It's not exactly a subtle or groundbreaking effort, but this is Green Day, after all, and they're masters of the obvious. Heard in that context, 21st Century Breakdown is almost perfect.

The concept album's dopey political themes are easily forgotten amid the garish lifts. "Is that a Head East riff?" "Hey, that's from Styx!" "I miss Queen, too." The album has already provided me worlds of fun. And it's just going to get better.

The public pool in my neighborhood opens in a few days. The teenagers working there blast a Top 40 station through a tinny speaker system. I eagerly anticipate hearing these Green Day songs- the album has a least four potential hits- amid a mix of Ciara, Rick Ross and Soulja Boy. It's gonna be hot!

Kansas City Click: Newmatica is on the Monday night bill at The Record Bar.

(Original image of Green Day by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Frank Wess- The Very Thought of You


I try to keep my head down here at the There Stands the Glass compound. It's painfully obvious that I don't worry about what other music bloggers are doing. I'm here only because this obsession is so infuriatingly itchy. It's in me and it's got to get out. I also happen to have an obscenely large collection of dead format media.

The only thing that that ever sticks in my craw is when readers- even readers claiming to enjoy There Stands the Glass- call this an obituary site. I just hate that.

Who else is going to write about Stephen Bruton? And I don't see Brooklyn Vegan or Gorilla vs. Bear tripping over one another in a race to be first to pay tribute to Vern Gosdin. That's fine; those sites are great. But if I don't write about the passing of Bud Shank, well, there's a good chance that it will go unmentioned in the music blogger community. And that's simply not acceptable.

So when I spotted Frank Wess' name in an RSS feed yesterday, I feared the worst. Thankfully, it was just a review of an appearance at Lincoln Center by the 87-year-old jazz veteran.

He's heard here playing flute on a twenty-year-old live session. The band is just breathtaking. It includes Harry Edison, Ronnell Bright, Snooky Young and Marshall Royal.

Keep going, Mr. Wess. I don't want to write about you again for a long, long time.

I downloaded Coldplay's new live album today. And I enjoyed it. Wanna make something of it?

Kansas City Click: Pal of There Stands the Glass Howard Iceberg leads a troupe of songwriters at Coffee Break on Troost tonight.

Esperanza Spalding visits The Folly Theater Saturday.

Arthur Dodge provides the music Sunday at Westport Flea Market.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Dead Rock West At Knuckleheads

I'm disappointed in my people.

Like most serious fans, I consider Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers concertgoers to be my brothers and sisters, if only for the night. It's insanely fun to sing Clyne's great songs, arm-in-arm, with friends both old and new.

I was initially thrilled when the promoter explained Tuesday's unusual setup at Knuckleheads. Dead Rock West would open on the smaller indoor stage. Weather permitting, Clyne would immediately follow on the outdoor stage. If it rained, Clyne would play on Dead Rock West's backline indoors.

It didn't work out like I expected. Almost all of Clyne's rabid fans chose to jockey for position at the outdoor stage as Dead Rock West tore it up indoors. It was an unfathomably silly decision that might only make sense for teenage girls at Warped Tour.

I've characterized Dead Rock West as "X without the anger." On Tuesday night- shamefully the first time I've seen the California band- they proved themselves to be much more than a clever catchphrase. They effortlessly moved from Mermaid Avenue-style grit to the shimmering pop melodies of original material like "Highway One." Incidentally, the excellent Honey and Salt is aging quite nicely.

And as I discovered when I interviewed Frank Lee Drennen in 2007, the members of Dead Rock West are very nice people as well.

At least Knuckleheads provides a live video feed throughout their ramshackle roadhouse. But seriously- which experience is better? Standing inches from the delightful Cindy Wasserman or picking up the show on retro-chic video monitors?

The next big thing? That's easy. As I've previously suggested, Kansas rapper XV is standing on the verge of getting it on.

Alacartoona plays Thursday's early show at Jardine's.

(Original images by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Stephen Bruton, 1949-2009


I've always considered Stephen Bruton to be Texas' version of Keith Richards. The comparison has nothing to do with lifestyle. It's about swagger. The men shared thin but soulful voices, instinctive senses of rhythm and a love for American roots music.

Bruton died Saturday. I last saw him perform in the '90s when he was part of Bonnie Raitt's touring band but Bruton was probably best known for his long association with Kris Kristofferson.

I wouldn't be surprised if the Bruton family chose to play "Getting Over You" at the memorial service. The haunting song is from his 1993 solo album What It Is. Incidentally, Stephen's surviving brother Sumter was featured at There Stands the Glass in 2008.

The musical highlight of my weekend was provided by Fito Olivares. Eldar, one of my longtime favorites, just didn't inspire me this time around.

Kansas City Click: Richard Buckner sings sad songs tonight at Davey's.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Review: Mac Lethal's Love Potion 5

Mac Lethal- "Undertow" (Lala stream)
"Undertow" video at YouTube

Mac Lethal can be a real jerk. And I can relate.

Brimming with anxiety and overflowing with internal contradictions, the rapper is a lot like the guy I see when I look in the mirror.

That's why the most important comment Mac makes on his new mixtape Love Potion 5 is a much more than a mere throwaway line.

"This is just a demo... the key is don't put a lot into each song," Mac notes. "That way you never get frustrated 'cause when you get frustrated you quit."

Man, does that ever sound familiar!

Relaxed and freed of inhibitions, Mac includes some of the most compelling music of his career on Love Potion 5. He is positively apoplectic on "Drunk Flow III (Painkillers+Beer)." "Stir Crazy" and "Heart Uvva Pig (Map of Love)" are also hilarious.

"El Camino," a clever reworking of "A Milli," includes a reference to local Chinese restaurant chain Bo Ling's. It's only appropriate. Imagine Lil Wayne as a Johnson County condo dweller.

It's not all good. No one wants to hear Mac whine about Asher Roth. And what's with the misogyny and homophobia? Cut it out, man. You're better than that.

Mac bashes users of the social media site on "At Least There's Twitter." In fact, he hates the service so much that he's only posted 344 times since he joined six weeks ago.

What a jerk.

(Don't worry, brother. You know I still love you.)

Any act that drops Con Funk Shun and Maze on unsuspecting teenagers gets my vote. Here's my review of a concert headlined by Jason Mraz.

I've often said that I'd give anything to have a voice that approximates Otis Redding's. Then I'm reminded that it doesn't guarantee happiness.

Kansas City Click: There Stands the Glass favorite Fito Olivares performs tonight at KC Fiesta. I'm more than slightly excited.

Poncho Sanchez plays the Gem Theater on Saturday.

Are you kidding me? Seventy-three-year-old Engelbert Humperdinck is still at it. He hits Ameristar Casino on Sunday.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Pierre "Keyz" Parker, 1988-2009


Local rapper Keyz was murdered Sunday morning.

Beyond the unspeakable nature of this and other all-too-common tragedies, two minor coincidences have left me rattled. Earlier that evening I parked on the street next to Grand Slam Liquors. Parker was shot nearby just a few hours later. The next day, still oblivious to the murder, I happened to toss this Keyz promotional flyer into my bag at 7th Heaven. Eerie.

The Pitch ran a music-oriented story and a crime-oriented piece. Here's a death notice in the Star.

This track from Keyz's latest mixtape, based on a Minnie Ripperton sample, isn't great, but it's typical of the post-Fat Tone sound that's still favored by the majority of Kansas City's rappers. In this context, of course, the track's thuggish nature makes for difficult listening.

I loved Tony Bennett's effort last Saturday night. I also reviewed The People's Liberation Big Band on Friday.

Kansas City Click: The New Vintage Big Band assembles tonight at BB's Lawnside BBQ.

(Note: I'm uncertain of this track's title and of Parker's year of birth.)

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Trio Cantores de la Sierra- El Bejuquito

Party's over.

My Cinco de Mayo has been a happy one, if only because it inspired me to knock the dust off this delightful collection of folk music from southern Mexico. Each song is more celebratory than the last. My favorites, though, are the inspired duets like "El Bejuquito." I wish I could figure out what the dancers are doing in this rough but worthwhile video of a Trio Cantores de la Sierra performance.

I insisted that my music trivia team be named "The Marquee Moonies" as a tribute to Richard Lloyd, who was playing the same venue later last night. Here's a friend's report: He shredded, literally, ripping the strings off his guitar in the Hendrix-esque, feedback-drenched finale! Backed by Television drummer Billy Ficca, so half of the punk pioneering band were there, doing their greatest "hits" like "Elevation," etc. Before 30-40 people! Bonus: the merch guy was Rolling Stone writer Charles M. Young.

I picked up The Popper's excellent new single at 7th Heaven last week. The title? "You Ain't Bout Sh%#! (The Deadbeat Daddy Anthem)."

Kansas City Click: The Blue Room hosts a Latin jazz listening party tonight. Pablo Sanhueza of Makuza and Miles Bonny will spin the clientele's LPs and CDs. I might have to dig out my Ray Barretto vinyl.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Bill Pekar- Colors Are All the Same


I almost became that guy.

There was a period in my life when I fell hard for the Texas troubadours. I'd see 'em all- Vince Bell, Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle, Joe Ely, Kinky Friedman, Steve Fromholz, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Nanci Griffith, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Walter Hyatt, Lyle Lovett, Gary P. Nunn and Doug Sahm- on a regular basis.

And then there was Robert Earl Keen. Even back in the '80s I had a hard time comprehending the phenemenon. I'd see a guy like T-Bone Burnett play to a few dozen people in a coffeehouse one night and then be part of drunken orgy of thousands at a Keen concert the next night. It was- and continues to be- really weird.

Keen's style spawned so many imitators that it's become a genre unto itself. As Bill Pekar's song indicates, Keen's approach has come to represent a comprehensive worldview. Don't get riled up about his song's title. It's actually about the bitter rivalry between the Aggies and the Longhorns.

A couple thousand fans will probably attend a Cross Canadian Ragweed concert in my town this weekend. I won't be there.

While I still have deep affection for the sound, I was pushed off the bandwagon a few thousand miles ago. Oh, I'm well aware that geniuses like Alejandro Escovedo are still grinding, but the modest, low-key brilliance of this has mutated into this.

I'll let the owner of this truck- that guy- go in my stead. After all, the road goes on forever.

I loved last night's show by Eddie and the Hot Rods and Cretin 66 last. Here's my review.

Kansas City Click: The revival of The Blue Riddim Band continues tonight at Czar Bar.

The Randy Rogers Band plays outside The Beaumont Club with Cross Canadian Ragweed on Saturday.

Charlie Hunter hits Crosstown Station on Sunday.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)