Folk Alliance International | KCUR

Folk Alliance International

Jenny Wheat

When singer/songwriter Kelly Hunt arrived in Kansas City from Memphis three years ago, the relocation came with a surprise: There was already a well-known musician in town who had the same name — or practically the same. Kelley Hunt (who spells her name with just one more e than Kelly Hunt) is the R & B pianist who’s been rocking this region for a few decades.

Now, the newcomer says with a laugh, “I’m ‘Banjo Kelly Hunt’ in these parts.”

Anne Kniggendorf / KCUR 89.3

A somewhat mysterious, and certainly enduring, fact of the music industry is that male musicians far outnumber female musicians. A group of women wants to change that, in Kansas City at least.

Singer-songwriters Julie Bennett Hume, Leah Watts and four others have started a new organization called Women on the Rise.

Segment 1: Why The Olympics in PyeongChang is about more than sports to Kansas City's Korean community.

For members of the Korean community in Kansas City, the Winter Olympics have been as much a celebration of heritage as it is a moment of political tension. Today, we check in to learn about the significance of this international event. 

Paul Andrews / http://paulandrewsphotography.com/

Enrique Chi, frontman of the Kansas City-based band Making Movies, has had a busy year.

The band released its second album, “I Am Another You,” last spring. Produced by Steve Berlin of Los Lobos, the record made it to #3 on Billboard's Latin Album chart.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City singer Jim Cosgrove has spent the past two decades performing songs about dancing dinosaurs and other kid-friendly topics all over Kansas City. His youngest fans know him as “Mr. Stinky Feet.”

Which makes him a perfect act for the family stage at this weekend's Kansas City Folk Festival.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: How Missouri schools prepare for an active shooter situation.

In the wake of Wednesday's mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, the 18th shooting at a school in 2018, we found out what Missouri requires for its schools to be ready to deal with similar situations. We also asked how parents can discuss these tragedies with their children before, during and after they occur.

Olivia Fox

Olivia Fox is the Kansas City-based folk-pop trio of Aubrey Callahan, Lauren Flynn and Tiffany Smith. Formed in 2016, it's one of the most fully realized musical acts in Kansas City. The polished group is radio-ready and eminently marketable.

That's clear on “Play the Game,” the lead track of the group’s self-titled 2017 EP. As synthetic beats contrast with traditional folk harmonies, the hushed song becomes a wondrous combination of tension and tranquility — as enticing as a romantic whisper.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR_89.3

Segment 1: Kansas' Third-Biggest School District Picks A New Leader

After a months-long hiring process, the Shawnee Mission School District Board of Education has decided on a new superintendent. We heard about the move, and about the future of one of the largest districts in Kansas and the metro.

Segment 1: Why the face of vocational tech education is changing.

When you think of career education classes for high schoolers, what comes to mind? Maybe welding or auto shop? But with today's changing workforce, many students are also preparing for industry fields like coding and biomedical technology. Find out how a school in Lee's Summit is adjusting to meet this need.

Protest Music (R)

Dec 26, 2017

Three musicians discuss the influence of protest music, what makes a song political and how protest songs of times past compare (or differ) to today's.

Guests:

Courtesy Zachary Stevenson

Outside a Small Circle of Friends,” by Phil Ochs, is not a typical protest song.

The song tells the biting, sardonic tale of all-too-normal people walking away from tragedies without helping — because, after all, “outside a small circle of friends,” who would care? The message is simple: just help.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

The artist: Calvin Arsenia

The song: "Kansas City, Baby"

The album: Catastrophe

The accompaniment: Jessica Paige (vocals), Coleen Dieker (violin), Joe Donley (upright bass)

The story: Calvin Arsenia calls his music neo-classical urban folk. His signature instrument is pretty unusual – it's a harp.

Courtesy Sky Smeed

An 11 a.m. Sunday slot at any festival, especially the Kansas City Folk Festival, is a dicey gig, and Lawrence singer-songwriter Sky Smeed admits his morning show last month made him anxious. Turned out that anxiety was unnecessary: The room filled up with people who weren't just awake — they were enthusiastic.

Courtesy Ramy Essam

What’s the future of protest music?

That was a reasonable question for the hundreds of musicians who came to Kansas City in mid-February for the Folk Alliance International Conference, the theme of which was "Forbidden Folk." Given political developments over the last year, plenty of “old guys with banjos” — as one musician put it — were fired up, but I wanted to see what younger musicians thought about one staple of their genre.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

On Sunday, shortly before 11 a.m., British singer-songwriter Billy Bragg declared he was "itching to do a gig." It was day five of the Folk Alliance International Conference, and, as of that morning, Bragg had yet to play. 

Ed Boulter Photography

At first blush, Olathe doesn’t immediately come to mind as one of the primary refuges for folk music in the region.

But starting about two years ago, the Olathe Public Library became a surprisingly frequent go-to place for folk, bluegrass and roots music.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Kansas City musician Julian Davis is known for his championship flatpicking on the guitar. Young Davis and his bluegrass trio the Hay-Burners have regular gigs in Kansas City, and they recently competed on a national stage on "America's Got Talent."

Over the summer, Davis started playing mandolin.

File Photo / Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Giving the people – the folks, the general population, basically everyone – what they want can be challenging. Especially since everyone these days seems to want something different.

Yet the inclusive notion of pleasing the masses may be a little easier this weekend with a folksy lineup of experiences grounded in proven public predilections, from time-tested musical entertainment to the timeless appeal of dinosaurs.

Remember, the common bond of folksiness is where you find it. So start looking!

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

When Folk Alliance International decided last spring on "a clenched fist of resistance against the struggle," as executive director Aengus Finnan described the poster art for its 2017 conference, organizers couldn't have predicted how relevant the theme Forbidden Folk, "celebrating activism in art," would resonate almost a year later. 

Three musicians discuss the influence of protest music — the theme of this weekend's annual Folk Alliance International conference in KC.

Guests:

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR 89.3

A few thousand folk musicians from around the world are preparing to gather at the Westin Hotel in Crown Center for the 29th annual Folk Alliance International Conference. Over the next five days they're going to make a lot of music, but they're also going to make a lot of paper flyers and garbage. But hopefully not as much as previous years.

Clarke Wyatt

Musicians Betse Ellis and Clarke Wyatt started playing as Betse & Clarke, a fiddle and banjo duo, in late 2014. Their latest album is called River Still Rise.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

Folk Alliance International reaffirmed its commitment to Kansas City on Tuesday and announced that British folk musician Billy Bragg will be the keynote speaker for its conference in February 2017.

Jake Jacobson

Folk Alliance International announced Friday that its former director, Louis Meyers, died on March 10.

"It is with heavy hearts that we share the sad news that Louis Meyers passed away," wrote Aengus Finnan, the organization's current executive director. "He will be dearly missed by his friends and colleagues on our staff, board, in our membership, and the music community at large."

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

Florence Hemphill grew up in a small town in Kansas, and saw the horrors of World War I up close when she served as a nurse in France. She wrote more than a hundred letters, sharing her experiences with family members. 

Singer-songwriter Joe Crookston recently teamed up with the National World War I Museum and Memorial to tell her story – through art and music — at the Folk Alliance International Conference in Kansas City, Missouri. 

Story of a Song is a monthly segment on KCUR's Central Standard, in which local musicians tell the story behind a recent song, and explain how it was constructed musically.

The Musician: Julian Davis

The Song: “Maybelline”

Hannah Copeland / KCUR 89.3

The largest Folk Music Conference in the world, Folk Alliance International, brought more than 1,000 musicians to Crown Center in Kansas City last week. Musicians and fans crowded into hotel rooms to play and watch hundreds of small concerts hosted during the five day event.

Here are the sounds from those concerts, including a tuba player practicing by a waterfall, and a room organizer stashing his guitar and beer in a bathtub.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

Three songs into her official Folk Alliance showcase on Thursday night, Kansas City musician Jessica Paige had words for the music industry.

“Recently I was on ‘American Idol’ and they sent me home for a bunch of younger girls, which I’m OK with,” Paige told an audience of about forty other musicians, industry professionals and folk enthusiasts in the Brookside room on the first floor of the Westin Hotel.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

The sound of picking banjos, strumming guitars and fiddling fiddles permeated the air Thursday night as some 3,500 musicians, agents, promoters and other industry representatives from all corners of the globe descended on the Westin Crown Center for Folk Alliance International.

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