Friday, October 30, 2009

Review: The Buzz Halloweenie Roast

The first indication that Wednesday night would be a drag came as I queued up at the gate for the Buzz's Halloweenie Roast. I found myself amid a crush of A Flock of Seagulls fans who were loudly complaining about the music of Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears.

"That's the worst band I've ever heard," one birdbrain remarked.

Judge for yourself. Here's fan footage.

While I adore the throwback soul act, I have to admit that their halfhearted effort disappointed me. The Raveonettes were even less enthusiastic. While I'm fairly certain that Black Joe Lewis was just having an off night, I suspect that the Raveonettes work best as a studio project.

As unlikely as it seems, Nuthatch 47, a local Gogol Bordello-style band, offered my favorite performance of the night. They were funny and they seemed genuinely happy to be there. So did Thunder Eagle. "Alcoholocaust," their best song, sounded as if Pat Travers was sitting in with his kid's screamo band.

I had intended to stick around for both Jet and the mighty Architects, but the sadsacks in A Flock of Seagulls bummed me out so badly that I took flight midway through their set.

Read Jason Harper's amusing account of the event for further details. I don't feel guilty knowing that my antisocial behavior directly contributed to his sense of despair. Ink provides additional party pictures.

I've neglected to note the passing of Vic Mizzy.

My friends are busting my chops for writing a relatively favorable review of last night's Rob Thomas show.

Kansas City Click: George Freaking Winston appears at Unity on the Plaza on Friday.

The Hearts of Darkness perform at Davey's on Halloween night.

Fast Johnny Ricker plays Sunday at Pilgrim Chapel.

(Original images of costumed creepiness and Thunder Eagle by There Stands the Glass.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sachal Vasandani- Royal Eyes

Eyes closed.

Did you know that Norah Jones has dozens, if not hundreds, of children?

They're not her biological kids. But Jones' unlikely commercial success has been so astounding that jazz-informed vocalists now have a shot at commercial acclaim in the post-Jones landscape.

One of the best of the new breed is Sachal Vasandani.

Don't mistake him for a smarmy new-school crooner. Where Michael Buble covers the Eagles, Vasandani covers Iron and Wine. And don't think he's a stuffy jazz formalist. Vasandani credits Bon Iver as an influence. It's precisely that progressive attitude that makes Vasandani so refreshing.

We Move, his excellent new album, contains a few songs that would please blue-haired fans of Frank Sinatra but still more manage to be entirely contemporary without ever resorting to smooth jazz cliches or failed stabs at pop.

Vasandani is also a gifted sonwriter. He explains the heart-wrenching story behind "Royal Eyes" in this video.

Vasandani was featured alongside Kurt Rosenwinkel and Jason Lindner yesterday at WBGO's The Checkout. Download the October 27 podcast here. You won't want to miss Rosenwinkel's appearance, but Vasandani's absolutely breathtaking rendition of "We Move" begins at the 17:51 mark.

Momma Norah would be proud.

I'm struggling with the new Tech N9ne album. K.O.D. is really dirty. Fortunately for me, the video version of "Leave Me Alone" edits out the most obscene lines. Tech gets bonus points for featuring Kansas City's skyline as a backdrop.

I didn't learn that Bruce Springsteen had canceled Monday's concert until I was a few hundred years from the arena.

The highlight of last night's BET Hip Hop Awards was the inspired performance by Goodie Mobb. In fact, "old" guys like Cee-lo, Missy Elliott, Eminem, Ice Cube, KRS-One, Mos Def and Snoop Dogg clearly outclassed the newer artists.

I'm encouraging my friends who think they don't like jazz to check out the Portico Quartet.

Kansas City Click: The unlikely bill of Jet, the Raveonettes, A Flock of Seagulls, Black Joe Lewis and White Rabbits has been assembled for a radio station event Wednesday at the Beaumont's Backyard. The Architects serve as headliners inside the club.

The wonderful Tommy Womack hits Knuckleheads on Thursday.

(Image borrowed from the Flickr account of ptcentrum.)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Review: The Pogues at The Midland Theater

It's a good thing I wasn't drinking at last night's concert by the Pogues.

Even without the assistance of streams of whiskey, I misted up as the bleak "Old Main Drag" concluded. I allowed a tear to slide down my cheek during the tender "A Rainy Night In Soho." Had I bellied up to the bar I might now be blogging behind bars.

It was bittersweet. Part of me felt like a guilty enabler as I watched Shane MacGowan literally fall down drunk. But mostly I was just thrilled to finally see one of my favorite bands. They were far better than I had any right to expect. And when watching Shane became too painful, I concentrated on Jem Finer's incredible banjo work.

Tim Finn's sterling review is spot-on. I didn't enjoy the experience quite as much as Jason Harper.

Kansas City Click: Bruce tonight.

(Original tear-stained blur by There Stands the Glass.)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Blind Lemon Jefferson- Long Lonesome Blues

Long gone.

As I watched a rerun of the Sanford and Son episode in which Fred fails to cash in on his collection of "Blind Mellow Jelly" vinyl, I realized that I've never featured Blind Lemon Jefferson at There Stands the Glass. Once you're able to listen past the surface noise of this 1926 recording, you'll hear a vibrant vocalist and guitarist who sounds completely contemporary. I don't know if that says more about Jefferson's genius, the timelessness of the blues or the stagnancy of today's blues artists. Over a dozen Jefferson collections are available. Take your pick here.

Kansas City Click: The Pogues play Kansas City for the first time Sunday at the Midland Theater.

Bruce Springsteen returns to the Sprint Center on Monday. Unfortunately, Kansas City is slated to get the Born In the USA treatment. Here's the Bruce I love most.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Anne Winter

Everyone loved Anne Winter. She was smart, kind, generous, funny and infectiously positive.

Here's one of the many things Anne did for me. In the mid-80s, when I decided that I actually wanted to make a living doing something I enjoyed, I determined that I should work for a man named Hal. I didn't know him, and it took a couple weeks to convince Hal to hire me at a starting wage of $3.50 an hour. In the interim, Anne allowed me to help out at her record store. I assisted her with tasks like receiving, stocking, pricing and scheduling for a couple weeks until I landed my dream job.

Anne made me a better person. She made Kansas City a better place.

(Anne Winter, a fixture on Kansas City's music scene for 25 years, has reportedly passed away. Cross-posted from my personal blog.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Larry Willis- The Meaning of the Blues

No more blues.

I gave the Kind of Blue tribute concert a lukewarm review last weekend. The only member of Jimmy Cobb's band not walking on eggshells was pianist Larry Willis. I didn't like everything he did, but I appreciated Willis' attempts to snap his comrades out of their tentative reveries. Although 1992's Steal Away contains outstanding contributions from Gary Bartz and Cecil McBee, this solo work best exemplifies Willis' emotional playing.

I bought Lyle Lovett's new album because it has a cover of my favorite Vince Bell song.

Ron Ron's Skitzo-Frinik has dominated my personal playlist this month.

More than one reader of There Stands the Glass will want to know that Bob Koester contributed to Devil At the Confluence, a new book about the history of St. Louis blues.

Kansas City Click: The Rich Boys top Tuesday's bill at the Riot Room.

Eisley join Say Anything at the Beaumont Club on Wednesday.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Review: Black House Improvisors' Collective at City Center Square

That's more like it.

The obtuse but playful sounds that reverberated through the gutted fifth floor of an office building Friday night represented precisely what's been lacking on the Kansas City jazz scene. Inspired amateurs and seasoned professionals came together under the auspices of the Black House Improvisors' Collective to make glorious, jazz-based noise.

A hipster-heavy audience of about 75 attended the ensemble's free debut public performance. Everything they heard was anchored by the exceptional rhythm section of bassist Ben Leifer and drummer Sam Wisman. The presence of trumpeter Stan Kessler added artistic gravitas to the proceedings.

The lighthearted fun wasn't always brilliant but even the failed experiments were delightfully refreshing.

More, please.

Additional details about the ensemble are available in a KCUR feature and at Plastic Sax posts from August 19 and October 6.

Pelican headlines the Riot Room on Monday.

(Crossposted from Plastic Sax.)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Lee Barber- 1000 Miles

No more traveling.

Lee Barber sings broken songs about broken lives with a broken voice.

Unflinching and world weary, his Thief and Rescue album is a courageous document about refusing to surrender in the face of seemingly insurmountable adversity.

It's not pretty, but it's real.

Co-produced by Barber and Brian Beattie, Thief and Rescue sounds like a lost Lou Reed album recorded in Austin between Rock and Roll Heart and Street Hassle. Barber's hard-bitten demeanor is worthy of the lofty comparison. Besides, both men understand that the baritone saxophone is the most underutilized instrument in popular music.

A reproduction of an original Barber painting makes for one of 2009's most harrowing album covers. And Barber's acknowledgment about the funding of Thief and Rescue is a poignant statement about the price of art (click the "paintings, etc." tab).

Fans of Vic Chesnutt, Jon Dee Graham, Okkervil River and Tom Waits are encouraged to purchase Thief and Rescue here.

Kansas City Click: The debut public performance of the Black House Improvisors' Collective takes place at 1100 Main on Friday. KCUR provides the details.

I'm breaking my rule of exclusively listing events in the immediate vicinity of Kansas City to note that John McEuen will perform Saturday at the Farris Theater in Richmond, Missouri.

The Wee Trio play Sunday at Jardine's.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Al Martino, 1927-2009


My dad's record collection had a profound impact on me. I didn't inherit his taste, but I picked up his passion for music. Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson and Ray Price were his staples. Sensing that tens of thousands of men were like just like my dad, non-country artists like Al Martino crassly issued Countrypolitan albums. Sure enough, my pop bought into it. I recall being tortured by awful Martino hits like "Think I'll Go Somewhere and Cry Myself To Sleep". I far prefer the crooner's glorious DayGlo schlock. Hearing "Love Is Blue (L'Amour Est Bleu)" filled me with tears today. It's not that I'm saddened by the song or stricken by news of Martino's death. The forgotten sound awakened suppressed dormant childhood memories. It's one of 25 hits on this compilation.

On a related note, my favorite MP3 blog, The Driftwood Singers Present, inspired me to post a lengthy comment about the popular music of my infancy.

Mastodon stomped all over me Monday night. Converge offered brilliant performance art. Dethklok made me laugh. Here's my review.

Here's footage of Irv da Phenom at the VooDoo Lounge.

Kansas City Click: I only recently became aware of Wonkachild. He's at the Record Bar on Wednesday.

The mighty Jucifer play Davey's Uptown on Thursday.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Review: Katie Herzig at Crosstown Station

I'll be the first to admit that I didn't completely get it.

Even after I praised Katie Herzig's Apple Tree to the heavens in the previous There Stands the Glass post, I still expected her to bore me Saturday night at Crosstown Station.

Was I ever wrong!

The first big surprise is that she's carrying a four-piece band, including the lovely cellist pictured here. I had attributed much of my admiration of Apple Tree to its ornate production. Seeing the songs performed live, however, makes it obvious that Herzig and her band are capable of reproducing and even elaborating on those remarkable arrangements. Unlikely textures were provided by a clarinet, accordion and whistles. So evocative are Herzig's songs that many would work even better than the excellent Arcade Fire track featured in the Where the Wild Things Are trailer.

The second surprise was discovering that Herzig is quite a looker. Not that it should matter, but because Apple Tree doesn't include her photograph and publicity photos can make even a nightmare like me look presentable, I reckoned that Herzig would be rather plain. Nope- she's gorgeous.

There's no question that more than 70 people will be in the audience the next time I see Herzig. In fact, I'll be surprised if she isn't an NPR and PBS staple within a year.

Herzig's new Live In Studio: Acoustic Trio project is available as a free download in exchange for five email addresses.

I also caught Eldar over the weekend. Here's my review.

There may not be a single original note on Menhirs of Er Grah's EP Different World. Still, I'm entranced by its sweet freak-folk tone. I highly recommend it to fans of the great Roy Harper. It's a free download at Free Music Archive.

Rusty Wier has died.

Kansas City Click: I've seen AC/DC, Motorhead, Slayer and Slipknot in 2009, but my year in metal won't be complete if I don't go to the Uptown Theater on Monday to see Dethklok, Mastodon and High On Fire.

The last time The Used played the Beaumont, one of my friends was forcibly ejected from the club. Maybe I'll see a repeat performance on Tuesday.

(Original image of Herzig's cellist by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Katie Herzig- Wish You Well

No more wishes.

Priscilla Ahn. Lenka. Meiko. Mindy Smith. Rachael Yamagata. Those are just five standouts among the hundreds of representatives of the new generation of women singer-songwriters. Dozens are staggeringly gifted. How does an artist stand out in such a crowded field? In the case of Katie Herzig the answer is simple- just be a little bit better. Like many of her talented contemporaries, Herzig writes excellent songs and has cultivated a unique voice. What sets her apart is the phenomenal production of her new album Apple Tree. It's filled with surprising flourishes worthy of George Martin. Here's a charming live performance of "Wish You Well." Herzig is currently on tour.

Here's my review of Wednesday's show by Brand New, Manchester Orchestra and Sybris.

Too cold to clap. That's how I felt Tuesday during Wilco's outstanding performance. Here's some rather annoying fan footage.

Misogynistic? Not Mac Lethal! Here's his latest video. And heaven help me, I really like it.

Robert Kirby has died. (Tip via BGO.)

Mercedes Sosa died October 4.

Kansas City Click: I've always been partial to the Bodeans. The roots rock veterans are at the VooDoo on Friday.

Katie Herzig will be joined at Crosstown Station by Barclay Martin on Saturday.

Millage Gilbert plays Winslow's on Sunday.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Review: It Might Get Loud

A good friend insisted that I meet him at a theater Saturday so that I might see It Might Get Loud. My buddy had already taken it in twice. He insists that it's a classic rock'n'roll movie.

I don't agree.

While It Might Get Loud looks and sounds beautiful, I just didn't care for its reverential tone. I already know that Jimmy Page is impossibly cool and that Jack White is a freakish roots music savant. Consequently, I found the segments featuring The Edge to be the most interesting parts of the film. I haven't been much of a U2 fan since War, but at least The Edge's thoughts and observations came as surprises.

And want surprises from a rock film. I also want chaos, comedy and tragedy.

That's why I loved Anvil! The Story of Anvil. I saw a VH1 airing of the shaggy documentary on Sunday. I'm now completely invested in the fate of the third-tier metal band. They're ugly and clueless but they're true believers.

That's rock'n'roll.

I celebrate Kansas City's Hearts of Darkness at Plastic Sax.

"The Chiefs Are On the Warpath"! Warning: Marilyn Maye content. (Image via J.P.)

Ben Sidran does Bob Dylan. Against all odds, it sounds great. (Tip via D.B.)

I love the video for "Life Is Better," the collaboration between Q-Tip and Norah Jones. (Tip via S.S.)

Kansas City Click: I'll be the creepy guy tailgating outside the gate Tuesday during Wilco's sold-out show at Crossroads. Don't feel sorry for me- I'm looking forward to it.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Saturday, October 03, 2009

The Enchanters- I Paid For the Party

The party's over.

I distinctly recall buying The Best of Loma Records: The Rise and Fall of a 1960's Soul Label as a new release in 1995. I needed to add Lorraine Ellison's "Stay With Me" to my collection. As is the case with most soul music compilations, however, I quickly fell in love with the stuff I hadn't heard. Sure, it's nice owning another copy of LInda Jones' "Hypnotized" and J.J. Jackson's "But It's Alright," but the previously undiscovered gems like the Enchanter's 1965 effort "I Paid For the Party" absolutely floored me. The CD is out of print, but the entire 50-track collection is a steal at Amazon for only $9.99.

Have you seen Ghostface's shocking new video? It's not exactly "Isn't She Lovely," but I'm still very pleased by its mature content.

Follow the drama about Passion Pit's cancellation in Kansas City here.

Here's "Show Me a God", the first video from Tech N9ne's forthcoming album. (I like it.)

I'll let my review of Wednesday's arena show by the Dave Matthews Band and Willie Nelson speak for itself.

Amy Farris has died. (Tip via S.S.)

Blues drummer Sam Carr has died. (Tip via BGO.)

DJ Mr. Magic has died.

Kansas City Click: When Ida McBeth is on stage Saturday at Jardine's, it'll look and and sound exactly like this. Why, oh why, do people insist on talking?

The People's LIberation Big Band returns to the Record Bar on Sunday. Because they're always pressing forward, it probably won't look or sound anything like this.