Since taking the post of music editor at The Pitch, it's been my pleasure to brave the deep, winding trenches of Kansas City's music scene. I've watched local musicians throw down sick riffs, and spray spit and spill liquor on the stages of every dark, dingy bar that would let me in. They've bummed cigarettes from me, and I've returned the favor. We've swapped insights over cheap drinks.
A common thread runs through the talk of those artists I've spoken with around town. The to-be rock stars, the sensitive balladeers, the swaggering MCs, the beer-brawling garage rockers, the weathered historians of the scene — all of them make music because they can't imagine life without it.
Money, fame, girls — whatever inspirations they name — are nothing compared with the joy they find in a six-string guitar, a fiddle, a turntable or an empty stage. Our local musicians pump money into busted bass strings, whiskey-soaked amps, and tanks of gas burned up while motoring back and forth on K-10, simply for the love of the game. It's cheesy — hell, it's Kevin Costner-movie cheesy — but it's a sentiment that echoes among dozens of area songwriters, players and upstarts.
Their passion shapes our scene. In addition to tucking kids into bed, slogging through the night shift, and studying for exams, these musicians find time to make art. At first, you might not notice that the people who take the stage once a month to rip up a blues classic or unleash a fiery string of rhymes are also the Kansas Citians who are finger-painting canvases next to you on First Fridays, sitting in their sunglasses outside the Brick, or waiting bleary-eyed at Town Topic for a cheeseburger at 3 a.m. (If they're not your English teachers, your waitresses or your friends' dads, that is.)
But rock stars can seem superhuman in a culture that's obsessed with the spotlight. This week, though, The Pitch celebrates the real, down-to-earth superstars who sit next to us at the bar (or behind it, stirring another cocktail). The rich cacophony howling out of Westport on August 5 at The Pitch Music Showcase attests to one thing: We have a wealth of talented artists in our midst, and we're stoked to let it show.
— Elke Mermis
What follows are profiles of every nominated act. Come to Westport Thursday night to see more than 35 of them perform. (See blogs.pitch.com/wayward for an hour-by-hour schedule). And don't forget to turn in your ballot before midnight Thursday. (Find a ballot in this week's Pitch; you can also vote at pitch.com.) For more performances — and to see who wins — be at the Uptown Theater at 8 p.m. Sunday, August 15. (See ticketmaster.com for advance tickets.)
Sound: "Based in the blues but with an original twist."
Origin: Formed in a basement in Westwood, Kansas.
What have you done for us lately? "We won the last Kansas City Blues Challenge and represented Kansas City in Memphis at the International Blues Challenge. We have also been touring in support of our most recent release, Levee Town, and are currently working on our third studio album."
B.B. King or John Lee Hooker? "B.B. King, because he called me to come up onstage with him when I was a child and gave me some encouraging words."
Sound: "Heavy, hard-rockin', soulful blues"
Origin: Warrensburg, Missouri
What have you done for us lately? "Building our roots in Missouri and Kansas and planning a tour in the Southern states."
B.B. King or John Lee Hooker? "Howlin' Wolf"
Sound: "Traditional blues songs full of soul and energy, influenced by guys like R.L. Burnside, Tab Benoit, Tom Waits and Freddie King."
Origin: Kansas City, Kansas
What have you done for us lately? "We recently played Blues From the Top in Winter Park, Colorado. Earlier this year, we released our first CD, Live Bait."
B.B. King or John Lee Hooker? "Too hard. We'll just say Howlin' Wolf to keep the peace."
Coyote Bill and His Wild Ones
Sound: "Grimy, dirty, noisy, fuzzy, bottleneck-y blues and boogie"
Origin: "We consider One Love Studios in Rosedale our international headquarters."
What have you done for us lately? "We have been playing shows around Kansas City. We will also play at the Harvest the Blues benefit at B.B.'s Lawnside BBQ in August."
B.B. King or John Lee Hooker? "John Lee Hooker, definitely"
Sound: "The harp-heavy, guitar-driven sounds of Chicago, the smooth grooves of Memphis, the rawness of the Delta, the blazing guitar fields of Texas, the honky-tonk sounds of the Southwest, and the jump and jive of the West Coast."
Origin: Born and raised in South Kansas City, Missouri; Harrisonville, Missouri; and Courtland, Kansas.
What have you done for us lately? "Going through our short list of potential drummers to replace Gabe Hedstrom, who has been with us for nearly a decade. Once we find him or her, it's back to playing the Midwest circuit."
B.B. King or John Lee Hooker? "We respectfully decline to answer this question, as our loyalties run deep for both of these blues legends. But if it were a fight, we'd put our money on John."
Sound: A smooth mixture of Mississippi Delta and Chicago blues
Origin: Gilbert was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, and has been a part of the local blues scene since 1963.
What have you done for us lately? "Enjoying retirement, performing and continuing to keep the Saturday-afternoon matinee show alive here at home."
B.B. King or John Lee Hooker? "I grew up listening to John Lee Hooker and quickly learned to appreciate how he put everything he had into his singing and his playing. He was truly the last of the traditional bluesmen."
Sound: Self-dubbed "glak" music, which is a culmination of futuristic, high-energy beats with roots in traditional hip-hop and turntablism.
Origin: "We both grew up in St. Joseph but didn't start doing shows together and really collaborating on music until we were both in Kansas City."
What have you done for us lately? "Besides DJing all over town, we've been doing remixes, we've won the last two beat battles in Kansas City (Versus in 2010, Sudden Death last year), and are currently working on an album with Smoov Confusion, which should be done at the end of this summer, as well as another EP with Les Izmore."
What's the strangest sound you've sampled? "We've been trying to be more original with sampling, such as using our own voices with effects, rather than lifting a great pre-existing sample."
Sound: "I aim to avoid pop clichés and share the best of what's rarely heard."
Origin: "I started DJing in high school in Teaneck, New Jersey, but I didn't get down for real until 1999 in Lawrence, Kansas."
What have you done for us lately? "Everything I can. Music, social activism, promoting the breadth of reality."
What's the strangest sound you've sampled? "A breathing mouth"
Sound: "Free your mind, and your ass will follow."
Origin: "6215 Wabash Avenue (Don't Google Map it — it's not there anymore.)"
What have you done for us lately? "Performed solo as well as with James Christos and PL at the 2010 SXSW Midwasteland Takeover. Also, first Mondays at the Riot Room."
What's the strangest sound you've sampled? "Eddie Izzard's Cake or Death'"
DJ G Train
Sound: "Sounds like a party — '80s, baby, with '70s soul and a DJ technique from the distant future."
Origin? "The mother ship — George Clinton dropped me off. He said he was coming back for me soon."
What have you done for us lately? "Besides keeping DJing on vinyl for the next generation? Spinning for every hip-hop artist, east-of-Troost rapper and emo MC in the city."
What's the strangest sound you've sampled? "There was a Law & Order episode that had a suspect named G Train in it, and I sampled the hell out of that show!"
Sound: Funky soul, or is it soulful funk?
Origin: Kansas City, Missouri, 1996
What have you done for us lately? Continuing the Hip Hop and Hot Wings tradition, producing.
What's the strangest sound you've sampled? DJ Jazzy Jeff
Sound: Big-city club mixes by way of Westport
Origin: Kansas City
What have you done for us lately? Spinning the hits wherever possible
What's the strangest sound you've sampled? Everything from cornball classic rock to the latest Lil Wayne.
Sound: "Banksy, robotic surgery, and the porn collection of Larry Flynt"
Origin: "Six or seven years ago, playing parties"
What have you done for us lately? "Hosting the Scion Radio 17 national tour, collaborating with Quixotic and planning a tour."
Girl Talk: hack or genius? "Sub-genius"
Sound: Dubstep with vocals
Origin: "I started making techno when I was 14."
What have you done for us lately? "Just finished my new album, and I'm playing gigs here and there."
Girl Talk: hack or genius? "I'm not afraid to say genius ... there is an art form to what he does."
DJ Bill Pile
Sound: "Party music"
Origin: "Back when vinyl records were what DJs rocked a party with."
What have you done for us lately? "Livin' and jivin' and diggin' the skin I'm in. Also, promoting our local dance-music scene."
Girl Talk: hack or genius? "Girl Talk is a genius hack!"
Sound: "Whatever the party calls for, I'm your guy."
Origin: "I started DJing in 2000, started producing sometime around 2006."
What have you done for us lately? "Releasing a handful of remixes, tending to two residencies at Czar Bar, one at Nara and another at the Gusto Lounge."
Girl Talk: hack or genius? "Genius for somehow making his garbage music and stage show popular."
Sound: "Maybe call it 'House, based on the novel Push.'"
Origin: "Started DJing when I was 17, but had been making electronic music for a few years before that."
What have you done for us lately? "Trying to make a splash in bigger ponds."
Girl Talk: hack or genius? "Hack. But genius because he realized money equals making the bros happy."
Sound: "Bouncy, dance-floor music with a helping of dubstep"
Origin: "I started programming music on a Commodore 64 in the '80s and began collecting professional music equipment in '91."
What have you done for us lately? "Touring, hosting a radio show, writing two new tunes a week and running a label."
Girl Talk: hack or genius? "People have fun at his shows, and that's really all that matters."
Sound: "Barbershop conversations and arguments, put to beats."
Origin: "I got my start at the Black Student Union Talent Show at Topeka High School in 1998."
What have you done for us lately? "I began the year with a great EP titled Hello and Goodbye. Then I dropped a mixtape called Still Ain't Easy Bein' Skinny with DJ Shad.
Less hip-hop: Asher Roth or Johnson County? "I'm gonna go with Asher. There are MCs that are doper than Asher livin' in JoCo right now — word to Swayzorblades."
Sound: "Everything I make is a subtle homage to a sound, be it hip-hop, jazz, funk, soul, rock, etc."
Origin: "I've been singing and rapping on tapes since I was about 4 or 5 years old, but I started rhyming seriously in high school with my best friends Craig Smith and Chief Wakil."
What have you done for us lately? "I've been focusing my energy on a new project titled Xtrasmall, which I hope to be finished with real soon. With that will come a website relaunch and a few more surprises."
Less hip-hop: Asher Roth or Johnson County? "The argument of what's more or less hip-hop is lost on me. And besides 'I Love College,' I have no knowledge of any Asher Roth songs."
Sound: "Warm, audio apple pie"
Origin: "I've been serious about music since 2000."
What have you done for us lately? Opened for Talib Kweli, contributed to the Like Water for Chocolate Tribute, recorded a live album, and played more than 50 shows — and those are just the highlights.
Less hip-hop: Asher Roth or Johnson County? "Definitely Johnson County. Unless one of the fine members of the several Johnson County police departments is reading this, in which case, Asher Roth ... with a bullet! (A metaphorical, nonviolent bullet.)"
Sound: "I allow the record to structure the sound of the beat I compose, based on the feelings of the day. My style is very organic and based on my mood."
Origin: "I started out DJing in college at small house parties and letting MCs rap to my mix of popular mainstream instrumentals. After a while, I began composing my own tracks."
What have you done for us lately? "I am currently in the lab with Stik Figa, Detroit MC One Be Lo, and Asylum/Universal artist Outasight. I've got music featured on the majority of the hip-hop blog sites, VH1 Soul and MTV2. I've also got a new album with Stik Figa called Alive and Well — a follow-up to our Hello and Goodbye EP."
Less hip-hop: Asher Roth or Johnson County? "Asher Roth is dope! Hip-hop music touches and inspires all kinds of people."
Sound: "Battle stuff, conscious stuff, double time, hard shit, crazy live shows — I've done it all."
Origin: "Yo! MTV Raps was like my bible, and I was the student."
What have you done for us lately? "I recently tore my Achilles in half and completed a spring 2010 tour with Approach. I opened for Brother Ali, Murs and others before going to the emergency room to hear that I needed surgery."
Less hip-hop: Asher Roth or Johnson County? "Johnson County will never be as hip-hop as Asher. Hip-hop culture will never grow in a wealthy, controlled area. It's about urban areas and the people."
Sound: "Fun and upbeat. I like to have a good time."
Origin: "I started performing at Hip-Hop & Hot Wings at the Peanut back in '05."
What have you done for us lately? "I opened up for Asher Roth and Lupe Fiasco. I have a mixtape I did with DJ G Train, and I just finished The Lonely Hearts EP with Johnny Quest, which will be released early fall, and a solo EP called Manchild produced by Greg Enemy."
Less hip-hop: Asher Roth or Johnson County? "Neither. Honestly, what's less hip-hop is trying to conform to get that fat check."
Sound: E-40 walks into America's Pub, comes out with a good buzz and a Midwestern twang.
Origin: Kansas City, Missouri
What have you done for us lately? Money & Muscle
Best song title: "I'm a Flipper"
Rich the Factor
Sound: Plug Rich the Factor in your car stereo, and you'll have more bounce in your trunk than Monique.
Origin: Kansas City, Missouri
What have you done for us lately? Peach Cobbler to Mobbsters 5
Best song title: "Turn Yo Rumps Up"
Sound: If 'Pac found his way to the East Side, he'd sound like this.
Origin: Kansas City, Missouri
What have you done for us lately? Exclusive
Best song title: "I Wanna Fuck Yo Friend"
Sound: Call Slusha 7-Eleven. He's got slush for days.
Origin: Kansas City, Missouri
What have you done for us lately? Donta Slusha for President
Best song title: "Notty Dance"
Sound: Floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee. Devi's melodic vocals stick and move with a boxer's bravura.
Origin: Kansas City, Missouri
What have you done for us lately? Y'all Can't C Me
Best song title: "Petty Hustler"
Sound: Syrupy rhymes, dripping with gangster goodness
Origin: Kansas City, Missouri
What have you done for us lately? The Block Movement Mixtape with DJ Big Baby
Best song title: "Duh!!!"
Sound: "We've been told that we sound like Black Flag, but in a bad way."
Origin: Kansas City, 2006
What have you done for us lately? The band self-released the Dead Horse EP in January and will be recording in 2010.
How will the apocalypse happen? "Slowly but surely"
Sound: Rough-and-ready '90s-punk revival
Origin: Formed by bored teens living in rural southeast Kansas for a high school talent show in 2000.
What have you done for us lately? Since losing all their gear on tour in 2008, the band has laid low, working "steady jobs," enjoying summer and "working up more stories to sing about."
How will the apocalypse happen? "Is it not happening all of the time? Relish it while you can."
Sound: "Weird punk music with a lean toward postpunk and early hardcore"
Origin: Lawrence, 2008
What have you done for us lately? Just released a four-song demo tape; planning to release a vinyl single.
How will the apocalypse happen? "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn."
Sound: "A Y.O.T. show in Pig Champion's asshole"
Origin: Formed in Kansas City in October of 2008, when vocalist Antonio "forced us to be in a band with him."
What have you done for us lately? "Weekend tours, releasing first 7-inch called Listen With Prejudice on Chicago-based Third Party Records, and self-released tour tapes. Currently working on a new album."
How will the apocalypse happen? "A heavily armed Brett Ray on LSD"
Sound: Gruff, Twin Cities-inspired power punk with a political twist
Origin: Kansas City, Missouri, 2003
What have you done for us lately? Released an album, the excellently titled USS Awesome, in April 2009.
How will the apocalypse happen? According to the band's song titles, a "High-Speed Pursuit on Zamboni and Segway." Or, you know, a "Top-Dollar Dumpster Dive" or "The Shit of an Angel" — take your pick.
Sound: Supercharged hardcore punk: smeary, messy and pummeling
Origin: Kansas City, Missouri, 2007
What have you done for us lately? Released the Vicious Lie EP in late 2009 on Cowabunga Records. The band recently supported Fucked Up in May and is working on its first LP.
How will the apocalypse happen? "Yes"
Sound: Lush, cinematic folk-rock
Origin: "Chicago, in the late '90s"
What have you done for us lately? The band recently scored the short film We Will Make You Whole Again.
Who is your indie crush? "Musically, Besnard Lakes and the National. Peoplewise, Hope Sandoval and that chick from Twilight."
Cowboy Indian Bear
Sound: Stark, melodic pop
Origin: "Lawrence, April 2008"
What have you done for us lately? "Working on new material, and a music video with Gnarly Enterprises."
Who is your indie crush? "The band It's True"
Sound: Geeky electro pop-rock
Origin: "This project is about 13.9 billion years in the making. We've been making Antennas Up happen since October of '08, to be specific."
What have you done for us lately? "Recording a new album in Maine."
Who is your indie crush? "Easy. Jones. He spells it indy, though."
Sound: "Percussive and harmonic — in an intelligent way"
Origin: "We quit our jobs, went to Portland and ended up in New Mexico for three months making an album."
What have you done for us lately? Working on a new album to follow up the band's 2009 debut, Try Brother.
Who is your indie crush? "Sparks"
Sound: Afro-Cuban rhythms with a rock-and-roll attitude
Origin: "We started three years ago and became a four-piece a little over a year ago."
What have you done for us lately? "Released our debut album, In Deo Speramus, in March. We've been touring nationwide since."
Who is your indie crush? "Zooey Deschanel"
Sound: "Indie rock, even though that's pretty much a dead phrase."
Origin: "The wet, hot American summer of 2007"
What have you done for us lately? "We're recording our debut album, building a website and playing shows."
Who is your indie crush? "Michelle [Sanders, the band's female vocalist]"
The Life and Times
Sound: "Big, rump-shaking beats balanced against soaring, pedal-driven atmospherics, played in unitards."
Origin: Kansas City, 2005
What have you done for us lately? The band is embarking on a two-week co-headlining tour with Austin's This Will Destroy You, then touring with Boris and Russian Circles. Also recording its next record, expected out in early 2011.
What famous movie director would direct your videos? "Robert Altman or Spike Jonze"
The Appleseed Cast
Sound: "Beautiful noise: loud, quiet, dissonant"
Origin: "Started out in L.A. and moved to Lawrence in 1998."
What have you done for us lately? "Recently played our double LP, Low Level Owl, in its entirety, and working on a new 7-inch, a record and a DVD documentary."
What famous movie director would direct your videos? "George Lucas, Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg. That way, it's guaranteed to be a hot, cheesy mess."
Sound: Murky, moody Britpop with sweeping melodies
Origin: Johnson County, Kansas, 2008
What have you done for us lately? With a promising debut EP, Dividers, Thieves' atmospheric, experimental, alternative rock showed promise. Unfortunately, the young rock band broke up this year.
What famous movie director would direct your videos? Chris Cunningham's otherworldly, disturbing images would flow beautifully on top of Thieves' sonic dreamscapes. But that's just our opinion.
The Noise FM
Sound: "Like dropping a Mentos into a Diet Coke: You might expect a big explosion, but usually it just fizzles. In a good way."
Origin: Fort Scott, Kansas, 2005
What have you done for us lately? "Released the smoking-hot EP Enclave earlier this year. Touring all summer."
What famous movie director would direct your videos? "Michael Bay, but we'd settle for a Fred Durst-Casey Affleck collaboration."
Baby Birds Don't Drink Milk
Sound: "Jagged yet pristine DIY lo-fi indie"
Origin: Lawrence, 2005
What have you done for us lately? Dropped four cassette and two 7-inch releases last year and finished up a West Coast tour.
What famous movie director would direct your videos? What better way to watch their instruments shatter onstage than in one of Stanley Kubrick's slow-motion, meditative pan shots?
Sound: "Buddy Holly throwing kittens at an electric fence."
Origin: "We started drinking together in Lawrence, Kansas, almost two years ago."
What have you done for us lately? "Recorded our in-limbo second album, Real Pony Glue, and released a cassette called Who Stole My Zoo? We're working on third LP, Juggernauts of Authenticity."
What famous movie director would direct your videos? "Our videos would provide an opportunity for David Lynch to rectify the biggest mistakes of his career: Turning down Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Return of the Jedi. I'm picturing Damone in whiteface, scalping tickets to hairless Ewoks that dance backward in slow motion as we sit on the stage at Bang Bang Bar eating corn husks filled with viscous black oil."
Sound: "Psychedelic prog frog"
Origin: Kansas City, 2008
What have you done for us lately? Working on a film to accompany A Mountain of Yeses, and two new albums, which will come out in 2010. Embarked on a regional and East Coast tour in July.
Favorite musical pioneers: Frank Zappa, Genesis, ZZ Top, Alan Parsons
I Love You
Sound: "Noisy D.I.Y. punk with thumpin' dub bass"
Origin: "Second grade, with a $6 recorder"
What have you done for us lately? "Touring in support of Bell Ord Forrest, headlining Bitchpork Festival, and completing an upcoming second album."
Favorite musical pioneer: Wu Tang, the Beatles, Bob Marley
Ad Astra Arkestra
Sound: "We shrug it off as kinda weird rock music."
Origin: April 2009. "We stopped playing after eight years, became a nine-piece and moved on."
What have you done for us lately? "Forget touring, forget trying to find a label. For us: We play music. It's a simple and fun mission."
Favorite musical pioneer: Henry Daggs
Sound: "Original cyber-funk music"
Origin: Kansas City, late 2008
What have you done for us lately? "Touring and performing at festivals throughout the Midwest, recording as many of our live performances as possible, and sharing those recordings with our fans."
Favorite musical pioneer: Jojo Mayer
Sound: "Minimalist psychedelic drone"
Origin: "We started in Los Angeles in 2003 while playing with Living Science Foundation."
What have you done for us lately? "Putting out a new album (Where Does Your Mind Go?) and a North American tour in September."
Favorite musical pioneer: Terry Riley
Sound: "Blade Runner meets Stanley Kubrick meets lo-fi."
Origin: June 2009
What have you done for us lately? "Making a new album, releasing songs for free, and searching for artists to contribute visual materials."
Favorite musical pioneer: Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Ariel Pink, Brian Eno, David Bowie
Sound: "Garage rock and Spanish pop"
Origin: "After the 128-year reunion of the O.K. Corral shootout, four great-great-great-grandsons of the surviving gunslingers silently agreed to take the same Greyhound home. Eschewing the violent ways of their ancestors, they formed a rock-and-roll band."
What have you done for us lately? Released the band's raw, rocking debut, Pure Rock N Roll.
What do you want people to say at your funeral? "Bleach Bloodz will never die."
The Factory Workers
Sound: "Distorted and slightly demented rock blues"
Origin: Independence, 2007
What have you done for us lately? "Working on an album with Josh Thomas of High Diving Ponies."
What do you want people to say at your funeral? "To quote Conan O'Brien, 'Some say a waste of time. Others say an incredible waste of time.'"
The Runaway Sons
Sound: "If the Bronx windmill kicked the Hives in the face."
Origin: Kansas City, Missouri, 2007
What have you done for us lately? "Released the Soy España EP, recorded with Aaron Crawford of Flee the Seen."
What do you want people to say at your funeral? "Just play Queen's 'Another One Bites the Dust.'"
Sound: "Midwestern guitar rock"
Origin: The band formed four years ago in Lawrence as the Legendary Terrordactyls, which was whittled down to the Terrodactyls, and now the Dactyls (which is also a race of minuscule phalluslike men in Greek mythology).
What have you done for us lately? Released a self-titled EP in 2009, completed an LP that is awaiting release, and tracked another LP in Austin, Texas, with new drummer Dan Benson.
What do you want people to say at your funeral? "No funeral: Plan on living forever (through the Internet)."
The Spook Lights
Sound: Garage surf psych
Origin: Lawrence on June 6, 2006
What have you done for us lately? Released a 7-inch; working on a new recording.
What do you want people to say at your funeral? "How about those stuffed mushrooms?"
At the Left Hand of God
Sound: "All aspects of metal — without running the same riffs over and over again."
Origin: Mission, Kansas, 2006
What have you done for us lately? Released the band's first album, The Apocalypse Tapestry.
Dio or Ozzy? "Ozzy is the original gangster, but they are both great singers."
Sound: Brutally technical death metal
Origin: Topeka, 1999
What have you done for us lately? Releasing a debut full-length, Engage the Mechanicality.
Dio or Ozzy? "Dio was majestic, in every sense of the word."
Sound: Modern heavy metal with thrash-metal roots and a punk attitude
Origin: Lawrence, 2008
What have you done for us lately? Released a second album, Wolves at War's End.
Dio or Ozzy? "Ozzy's work with Sabbath is golden. However, everything Dio left us is solid."
Sound: "Crash and bang"
Origin: Kansas City, Missouri, 1994
What have you done for us lately? Released the critically acclaimed OX and OXEP last summer and toured with Converge.
Dio or Ozzy? "Ozzy, for sure. Much respect to Dio — but you made me pick."
Sound: Knuckle-dragging heavy metal
Origin: Kansas City, Missouri, 2006
What have you done for us lately? Captured footage for a live CD-DVD release.
Dio or Ozzy? "Grover Krantz"
Sound: Heavy, chaotic rock grooves
Origin: Over whiskey shots a little over a year ago.
What have you done for us lately? Recording the band's debut, the Concept EP.
Dio or Ozzy? "Ozzy"
Waiting for Signal
Sound: "A 179-piece Swedish a cappella ensemble backed by accordion and kazoo — in bed."
Origin: Kansas City, Missouri, on June 8, 2007, at 5:30 p.m.
What have you done for us lately? "We found a new drummer, Justin 'the Chef' Rippeto, and have been getting him ready for battle and shows. Next up: world domination."
Most rock-and-roll moment? "Driving 10-plus hours to play a show, playing for four people, making exactly $25 and still having a good time."
Sound: A mix of rock, blues and metal
Origin: Overland Park, 2005
What have you done for us lately? The band released its debut single, "Save Me," on July 29, with a music video to follow.
Most rock-and-roll moment? "We think it's being nicknamed 'Millions' by Jamie Foxx."
Sound: "Music we used to listen to while we skateboarded: power punk!"
Origin: Kansas City, February 2009
What have you done for us lately? Opened for Agent Orange; working on mixing their record.
Most rock-and-roll moment? "Opening for Agent Orange!"
Sound: "A mix of progressive rock patterns, ambient melodies, songs of life and death and the beyond"
Origin: Kansas City, summer 2005
What have you done for us lately? "We are mixing and mastering our new promo release and working on a video. Exciting!"
Most rock-and-roll moment? "It hasn't happened yet. If it did, we didn't even notice!"
Federation of Horsepower
Sound: "Your first kiss, first black eye and first high-speed chase"
Origin: Kansas City, Missouri, 2004
What have you done for us lately? "Played in Harley-Davidson's Worthstock, along with Brother Clyde (Billy Ray Cyrus' new band, ha ha)."
Most rock-and-roll moment? "Drinking mysterious 'crick water' from a gasoline can at the Freedom of Road Riders event."
Life in Jersey
Sound: "We aren't afraid to get heavy, nor are we afraid to get mellow. Hell, we're just a rock band. Hopefully we don't suck."
Origin: Kansas City, Missouri, November 2005
What have you done for us lately? "We are currently in production for our second full-length album with J. Hall in Nashville."
Most rock-and-roll moment? "Playing on a float in a small lake town's annual parade and taking first-place honors away from the high school band. The 'Laurie Hillbilly Parade Best Float' trophy sits in our practice space to this day. If that's not rock and roll, I don't know what is."
Sound: "Mellow Americana with a driving rhythmic force"
Origin: Kansas City, Missouri, and Lawrence, 2006
What have you done for us lately? "We self-released Landscapes at the end of 2008."
Is it sacrilege to play electric? "No, it's preferred. We agree with Jimi that electric instruments are an improvement."
Sound: "Like sitting on a front porch late at night. With drums."
Origin: "Just over two years ago, on a front porch. We had a good time and decided to do it again. And again. And again."
What have you done for us lately? The band released its debut, Silver City, this past spring.
Is it sacrilege to play electric? "Are you kidding? We also have a metal Oriole Post cover band called the Bird Bashers. Just kidding — we're cool with electrics."
The Grisly Hand
Sound: An earnest hybrid of country, rock and R&B
Origin: Kansas City, Missouri, 2009
What have you done for us lately? "Recorded a new vinyl EP that will soon find its way to your hands."
Is it sacrilege to play electric? "Bend over and I'll show you."
Sound: Introspective, ethereal indie folk
Origin: In 2001, when a promoter mistakenly booked Appleseed Cast for an acoustic show.
What have you done for us lately? "I'm finishing up a 7-inch I've been working on for way too long."
Is it sacrilege to play electric? "It's not sacrilege, but it's fun not to."
The Blessed Broke
Sound: Dark, mournful country
Origin: The band started as a nameless three-piece in the summer of 2006.
What have you done for us lately? "We're planning to record another album, in addition to ongoing home recordings, which are posted to the Blessed Broke website."
Is it sacrilege to play electric? "We do play electric. We are not purists."
Sound: "Songs, deconstructed"
Origin: Abigail Henderson and Chris Meck have played together for years. Tiny Horse is where songs that don't fit a band format end up.
What have you done for us lately? Recording and working on their new band, Atlantic Fadeout, with Amy Farrand and Dutch Humphries.
Is it sacrilege to play electric? "Hell, no. I do it every day."
The Calamity Cubes
Sound: "Some call us punk-grass. Whatever you call it, it's original songwriting with Kansas roots and pure rock fury."
Origin: "We consider Wichita, Lawrence and Kansas City our home crowd. But we live and survive by the road."
What have you done for us lately? "We've been touring and writing relentlessly, playing in at least 11 states in six weeks, and meeting the fine music lovers across America."
What puts tears in your beers? "Missing home from the road, and missing the road when we're landlocked at home."
The Kansas City Bear Fighters
Sound: "An acoustic blood-fart. At times painful but oddly satisfying."
Origin: "Quinn McCue, the band's leader and sole songwriter, took up music after a failed career as the leader of a short-lived — but violent — cult in Prarie Village. Sean McCue, Quinn's brother (and reared in a dank Tonganoxie townhouse basement), is as tough as the Soviet hammer and as crooked as the scythe that crosses it. Mark Johnson is a man of many talents who collects stamps and is an amateur etymologist, both trades learned while he served an eight-year sentence in Leavenworth for torturing a farmer and his wife. Bobby Evans previously lived in and worked odd jobs throughout the Kansas City area, earning little money and even less respect. He joined the band on a dare from his dark protector."
What have you done for us lately? "We just released our music video for 'The Sailors,' complete with a sexy merman, terrifying pirates and some dandy sailors."
What puts tears in your beers? "We all enjoy a healthy group man-cry after a screening of our favorite movie, The Bridges of Madison County. It gets us every time."
The Last Call Girls
Sound: "Riot-girl country"
Origin: "Liberty, Independence, St. Joseph and weird places in Kansas. We found common stomping ground in midtown and Davey's Uptown Ramblers Club."
What have you done for us lately? "Getting older but not smarter."
What puts tears in your beers? "Real jobs, unexpected home and car repairs, customer service from Time Warner Cable and Sprint, the Power & Light District, and not enough time to play music."
Sound: "Our sound is somewhere between classic country, honky-tonk and punk-rock. It's about the hard shit in life."
Origin: "Our band is Kansas City, Missouri, born and raised. We formed the Wilders 14 years ago, and everywhere we go, we make sure people know this is where we're from."
What have you done for us lately? "We're working on a new album, due out in early 2011. We've been touring the U.K. and playing festivals in the U.S. and Canada."
What puts tears in your beers? "Paying for gas on the road can make us cry. And paying for beers can be pretty rough, too."
Adam Lee & the Dead Horse Sound Company
Sound: "Honky-tonkin' country music: the kind of stuff you'd hear in a roadhouse or rowdy beer joint."
Origin: "Kansas City by way of Phoenix, Arizona, but our favorite place to call home is the van."
What have you done for us lately? "We've been hard at work on our second full-length, which should be out this fall. After that, we'll be back on the road in Texas and the Midwest this fall, and Europe in December."
What puts tears in your beers? "We only cry if it's the last beer."
Sound: "Accessible to all! ¡Al alcance de todos!"
Origin: "Lawrence, Kansas, 1415.5 New Jersey Street"
What have you done for us lately? "Twiddling thumbs; hoping to unseat our evil others, Split Lip Rayfield, as the City of Fountains' favorite blue-country group."
What puts tears in your beers? "Cindy Walker songs"
Sound: Garage dance rock
Origin: Kansas City, Missouri
What have you done for us lately? "Uh, made really bad Janet Jackson references in public places."
Please use the word Bieber in a sentence. "In my dream world, I would take a day off from touring with Metallica to go see the last Harry Potter movie, starring Justin Bieber."
Sound: Sweet, slightly spicy, girly indie pop
Origin: "Kansas City via Alabama, Taiwan, New Mexico and New York"
What have you done for us lately? "Lately, we have been taking it easy like a Sunday morning."
Please use the word Bieber in a sentence. "Simple plus calculated plus Bieber equals genius."
Sound: "We sound really serious."
Origin: Kansas City, Missouri
What have you done for us lately? "We've been plotting some sort of comeback."
Please use the word Bieber in a sentence. "Well I'm peepin' and I'm creepin' and I'm creepin', but I damn near got capped 'cause my Bieber kept beepin'."
Sound: "Drum machine-y, guitar-y and polite"
Origin: "Larryville, Kansas"
What have you done for us lately? "Released an eight-song album called Snow Day."
Please use the word Bieber in a sentence. "Please don't make us use the word Bieber in a sentence. That is a sentence."
Sound: Heartfelt acoustic songs with pops of electricity
Origin: Played music with his family in Oklahoma City before forming the Billions in high school.
What have you done for us lately? "I've been working on a new project called Removers, where I record and release a new remix or cover at least once a month."
Please use the word Bieber in a sentence. "You like that Bieberz?"
Sound: Synth-heavy power pop
Origin: Singer Billy Johnson and drummer Marty Bush are old friends and were previously bandmates in Paper Cities.
What have you done for us lately? The two-man band just spent six months recording an 11-song full-length, This Changes Everything.
Please use the word Bieber in a sentence. "I was Biebering in the schoolyard and got busted in my panel van."
Sound: "Slightly drunk, askew indie folk"
Origin: About seven years ago
What have you done for us lately? Recorded an album, Maybe, Definitely ... Really for Sure, due out in September.
Do you find it freeing to perform without a band? "No ... it's terrifying to be alone onstage. I play with a band called the Sunday Paper. However, it is easier to coordinate me, myself and I. Well, kinda — at least with the boys, I have someone telling me what to do. Left to my own devices, I tend to easily get distracted."
Sound: "Eclectic yet cohesive, with a focus on lyrics and melody"
Origin: "In Topeka, at the age of 6"
What have you done for us lately? Released a new album, This Is the Jubilee.
Do you find it freeing to perform without a band? "I've been playing mostly solo for so long that I'd almost say it's freeing to play with a band."
Sound: Warm folk with a touch of the blues
Origin: Parkville, 2007
What have you done for us lately? A new record, All Things Big and Small, is due in the late summer or early fall.
Do you find it freeing to perform without a band? "It's nice to have the freedom to do it all."
Sound: Heartfelt, sensitive
Origin: Began singing at age 5 and started writing in 2002.
What have you done for us lately? "I joined the Brannock Device and am working on a new solo CD."
Do you find it freeing to perform without a band? "There is definitely an intimacy that comes from standing onstage alone and singing something written from the heart. Singing solo puts more emphasis on lyrics and personal style. But collaborating is its own art form, organic and magical."
Origin: "My first shows sans bands began about five years ago, when Sheri Parr had me playing weekly 'steak night' matinees at the Brick. It snowballed from there."
What have you done for us lately? Releasing a series of EPs as part of the Caves, touring as the Belles' backing band.
Do you find it freeing to perform without a band? "I definitely appreciate being able to improvise shifts in dynamics and tempo at will. It is a great forum for testing out new material, but I don't necessarily prefer playing solo to being with a group."
Sound: "I tend to be very sparse when I play by myself. When I am playing solo, the only thing left is the melody and the story."
Origin: "I began playing bass when I was 14 years old and picked up guitar a year later — in church, of all places."
What have you done for us lately? "As a solo artist, I have been doing demos and contemplating a release of my own, with songs that don't fit the mold of my new band, Faster Horses."
Do you find it freeing to perform without a band? "I think it is important to see if a song works with just a guitar and a voice — to strip away all of the pretense and just let the lyric stand on its own."
Sound: "A kaleidoscopic art-pop collage of aural colors"
Origin: Hashinger Hall at the University of Kansas, 2005
What have you done for us lately? "We did a full Midwest tour in the summer of 2009, followed by a CMJ showcase that fall."
Where do you see yourself in five years? "Doing this art-pop project with the same ferocity and dedication."
Sound: "Post-post-post-wave ... and David Bowie"
Origin: Kansas City, Missouri, 2009
What have you done for us lately? "Became a band, livin' the dream."
Where do you see yourself in five years? "With a song licensed to a Cadillac commercial."
Sound: "The undetectable noise drugs make as they deteriorate brain cells."
Origin: "I just woke up one morning and started doing music. [It was] a big-bang type of thing."
What have you done for us lately? "Video-recording myself having severe hallucinations and watching the tapes and laughing at myself the next day. And making songs every now and then."
Where do you see yourself in five years? "Winning, and praising God for everything, like I am doing now!"
Sound: "Jazz roots with gospel, hip-hop, funk and swing"
Origin: UMKC's Conservatory of Music and Dance Jazz Program in 2007
What have you done for us lately? Represented Kansas City abroad with a residency in Paris.
Where do you see yourself in five years? "Expanding the jazz demographic and getting more people into the music."
Margo May and the Honeybabes
Sound: "Childlike, uncomplicated, folky"
Origin: Kansas City, Missouri
What have you done for us lately? MTV picked up one of May's songs for the series My Life as Liz.
Where do you see yourself in five years? "I would work for barely nothing to be writing songs for film directors like Gus Van Sant or Greg Mottola."
Katlyn Conroy and the Wild and Wooly
Sound: "Fresh-outta-the-oven chocolate-chip cookies and a cold glass o' milk"
Origin: Lawrence, 2009
What have you done for us lately? "Working on an EP, to be released in early 2011. And we bought a tour van."
Where do you see yourself in five years? "Playing, playing, playing ... and changing lives."
The People's Liberation Big Band
Sound: "Ensemble, experimental jazz of the people, by the people, for the people"
What have you done for us lately? Wrote an original score to the 1925 silent film Battleship Potemkin.
Just what is All That Jazz? Bob Fosse
The Jazz Disciples
Sound: Modern jazz with a Kansas City flair
Origin: Kansas City, Missouri, in 2007
What have you done for us lately? Featured in the "Jazz and Beyond" series.
Just what is All That Jazz? The American Jazz Museum in Kansas City!
Sound: "Free improvisation borrowing and spanning a range of styles"
Origin: "About eight years ago at the Cup and Saucer — lots of espresso martinis and Art Institute students."
What have you done for us lately? Created the Wee Snuff Urban Noise Camp, an installation performance group.
Just what is All That Jazz? "A seminal work that I don't appreciate poking 'fun' at."
Sound: Exotic instruments and electronic beats
Origin: February 2007, at Jilly's on Broadway
What have you done for us lately? A residency every fourth Saturday at the Czar Bar and a new project with Eric Gould called Free Band Radio.
Just what is All That Jazz? "Everything you always imagined it would be, plus beef on a bun with pickles."
The McFadden Brothers
Sound: "We are 'entertainers' that primarily use the traditional jazz style."
Origin: Born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri
What have you done for us lately? "We traveled with Wayne Newton for three and a half years, and we did a USO tour in Kuwait, Baghdad and Fallujah."
Just what is All That Jazz? "The abundance of great music that was innovated in, and still is played in, this town."
Sound: The changing of the seasons
Origin: Kansas City, Missouri, in 2007
What have you done for us lately? Recorded an album with local sultry songbird Shay Estes.
Just what is All That Jazz? Reworking rock and pop staples into jazz genius.
JAZZ: SOLO ARTIST
Sound: "I use pop, rock, Central and South American music."
Origin: "My first weekly gig was when I was 19, at the old 210 Fedora on the Plaza."
What have you done for us lately? "On August 1, I will record my first solo piano CD, live at Jardine's."
Most magical moment onstage: "In May at the RecordBar, for Mark Lowrey vs. Hip-Hop, onstage with Brandon Draper, Hermon Mehari, Les Izmore and Sephiroth"
Sound: Classic jump jazz that swings hard
Origin: "Beena Brandsgard heard me singing backup with David Basse and offered me my own late-night slot."
What have you done for us lately? "I just came off a 65-day tour of the United States for my first original record, MBird Over the Bones."
Most magical moment onstage: "I did a solo, modern dance piece when I was 14 and hit a four-turn pirouette to win my scholarship."
Sound: Smooth, warm, inviting
Origin: Hearing Charlie Parker for the first time, then performing with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers from 1977 to 1981.
What have you done for us lately? "I just got back from Italy. I'm heading to Copenhagen, teaching summer jazz camp at UMKC, and releasing Gates Bar-B-Q Suite recording in September."
Most magical moment onstage: In 1995, getting a chance to play with Carlos Santana at the Beacon Theatre in New York City.
Sound: Bluesy, breezy organ jazz
Origin: Played classical music at the Colorado Conservatory of Music until he was about 18, when his uncle brought home a jazz record.
What have you done for us lately? "Traveling for the State Department as a jazz ambassador."
Most magical moment onstage: "About 20 years ago, Hammond B-3 organist Jimmy Smith was in town. He invited me up onstage with him."
Sound: Jazz flute and sax with hints of rock and roll, blues and funk
Origin: "In the ninth grade, a musician told me he got paid $25 for one night. I was making $30 a week as a busboy."
What have you done for us lately? "Making appearances at the Blue Room."
Most magical moment onstage: "I played in the house band with Sonny Kenner at Papa Doc's at 27th and Indiana. We played, we played!"
Sound: Traditional jazz with hip-hop sounds
Origin: "Straight out of gospel, but I feel like Duke Ellington: It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing."
What have you done for us lately? "Playing sax in Matt Otto's band, Synergy, and working with younger cats to relate to the audience."
Most magical moment onstage: Sitting in with Oleta Adams at the Blue Room. "There were moments when I didn't want to breathe."
Sound: "Our sound is a tropical storm of Caribbean rhythms breaking in the Midwest every weekend."
Origin: "Sixteen years ago, transitioning from a Latin American folk-music ensemble to a dance-oriented 10-piece orchestra."
What have you done for us lately? "We're proud to represent the Kansas City music scene throughout the Midwest and beyond."
Biggest inspiration: "The proletariat, for whom the small cover fee they pay at the door is a round-trip ticket to their four-hour tropical holiday."
Sound: A nine-piece music and dance celebration based on South American, Caribbean and New Orleans rhythms, horn lines and chants; salsa, merengue, cumbia, and second line.
Origin: Founded by Chilean-born percussionist Pablo Sanhueza during college at UMKC's Conservatory of Music in 2004.
What have you done for us lately? "Makuza will present an all-star concert featuring visiting Afro-Cuban master drummers and dancers at a two-day concert of Afro-Caribbean music and dance in late September."
Biggest inspiration? "Can't cross the arms and see the Caribbean and all beautiful places on Earth go to waste for greed."
Sound: "We made up a term: 'Midwest chanson.' The 'Midwest' part is pretty obvious — the influence of local surroundings, plus blues, rock and classical. And 'chanson' is a narrative — satirical storytelling about life."
Origin: "As a band, we all have different musical backgrounds: blues, punk, funk, classical and rock."
What have you done for us lately? "I think we've done some good deeds. Yeah, I'm pretty sure we have."
Biggest inspiration: "Little victories: finding the cheapest gas in town, running a yellow light just in time, watching my son learn how to bust some awesome dance moves. They make everyday life interesting, and that is what the biggest inspiration is."
Caja de Grillos
Sound: Blues-based rock en español with a power-pop bent
Origin: Kansas City, Kansas, 2005
What have you done for us lately? Performed on a soccer show on a national TV network in Mexico; promoting second album, Tierras Extrañas.
Biggest inspiration: The band lists Guns N' Roses, Rage Against the Machine, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix.
Nicolette Paige and the Iries
Sound: "I can go from reggae to soul to hip-hop to folk to pop. My music is very diverse and universal. It is also very personal. I like to make people think, and I like to make people feel."
Origin: "As a child, I was classically trained to sing. What influences me the most is the world around me and my life."
What have you done for us lately? "My new album, The Other Side, which many people have been patiently waiting for since September 2009. I am still on a mission to change the world through my music. Believe me, it's gonna work."
Biggest inspiration: "My dad, Mike. We've been through many struggles together, and he has made many significant changes in his life for the better. He has always been a true inspiration to me."
Sound: "Psychedelic reggae. We tend to stay true to the roots, but we are not afraid to experiment and branch outward."
Origin: "We originated as a totally different lineup under a different name."
What have you done for us lately? "Currently working on recording new material to get out to the masses, and playing a free show at Fat Matt's Vortex in August. We plan on having our first full album released by next summer."
Biggest inspiration: "Our friends, family and loved ones. Everything from sitting around the fire in Grant's backyard to going to shows together and living life to the fullest."
Sound: A reggae backbone with a lot of hip-hop, soul, dub and alt-rock
Origin: Kansas City, 2006
What have you done for us lately? Released Rarities last year, with In the Right Mood due out this summer.
Roots, rebels or rockers? "We like to keep a nice mix of all in the band. Rich is for sure the roots, Joel shares the roots and rebel title with Miles, Mark is the rocker, and Mike is probably 33.3 percent on each, depending on the day."
Elisha Israel & AZ-ONE
Sound: Strong drum-and-bass-driven roots sounds
Origin: Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1985
What have you done for us lately? "Working on a live CD and a new single to be released this summer."
Roots, rebels or rockers? "Roots reggae"
Sound: Melodic rock-steady
Origin: Lawrence, 2007
What have you done for us lately? Released Irie EP last year. Sadly, the Irietions have (according to bassist Ben Hirschfeld) "disbanded."
Sound: High-energy reggae with a love of improvisation
Origin: Kansas City, Missouri, 2007
What have you done for us lately? Voodoo Dub, a set in which the band performs a reggae tribute to Jimi Hendrix.
Roots, rebels or rockers? "Why not all three?"
Sound: Soulful hip-hop reggae
Origin: South Kansas City, Missouri, 2007
What have you done for us lately? Featured in Kansas City Reggae Uprising documentary.
Roots, rebels or rockers? Rocking, with respect for the genre's roots.
Blue Riddim Band
Sound: An R&B, jazz-oriented approach to reggae
Origin: Kansas City, 1977
What have you done for us lately? Tribute, a new album due in August on the band's own label, Riddim.
Roots, rebels or rockers? "It's like leaves on the same tree."
Howard Iceberg and the Titanics
Sound: Like the Clash on a Bob Dylan-and-Buddy Holly kick
What have you done for us lately? "Playing a couple of shows a month, learning new songs and doing some recording."
What was your best local show ever? "I've had a lot of really good shows, not counting the one where I fell off the stage. Our best show ever is coming up — consult your local listings for time and place."
Sound: "No indie dick-gazing, tragically absurd costumes or trend-humping. Big guitars, big drums and a two-pack voice."
Origin: "The Architects have resided and rehearsed in a variety of locales throughout the Greater Kansas City metro area."
What have you done for us lately? "Since coming home from a really exceptional spring tour with Flogging Molly and Frank Turner, we have been writing for a new record."
What was your best local show ever? "Playing with the BellRays at the Riot Room was a complete delight."
The Dead Girls
Sound: "A blend of classic power pop fused with the blasting guitars of the late '70s."
Origin: "A record store in Manhattan, Kansas"
What have you done for us lately? "We have just released our first vinyl, Out of Earshot. We have also posted webisodes and performed as Thik Lizzy (a Thin Lizzy tribute band) and Adventureband (power-pop songs from the movie Adventureland)."
What was your best local show ever? "Bar none, opening for Kiss at the Sprint Center in front of 15,000 screaming fans."
Sound: "Space-funkular, bass-travelin', cosmic smut-peddling at its finest!"
Origin: "Originally from El Paso, Texas. I moved to Topeka, then Lawrence, then KC. I just recently moved to L.A."
What have you done for us lately? "Recently finished a tour with Mac Lethal."
What was your best local show ever? "Any of the Black Clover Beerfests or the Yeeeah Buddy shows at Czar Bar with Brent Tactic."
Sound: Post-post-punk depression
Origin: Kansas City, Missouri
What have you done for us lately? "We currently have a digital EP available on our website for download. It will reappear as vinyl singles and single downloads by the end of summer."
What was your best local show ever? "Opening for Phoenix at the Uptown. Amazing good fun."
Trampled Under Foot
Sound: Rockin' blues
Origin: The band began in Kansas City, moved to Philadelphia, then moved back to Kansas City to centralize for national touring.
What have you done for us lately? "Touring this summer — including a few festivals in the Kansas City region — and our first headlining spot at the Blues From the Top Festival in Colorado."
What was your best local show ever? "We've played dive bars for 10 people and festivals with hundreds of people. All have been equally rewarding."