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local music

The clowns are coming to town! That's right, there's a Clown Convention happening in the Northland this week. We check in with a few locals on the art and lifestyle of being a clown.

Plus, musician Greg Wickham joins us to talk about his new album "Almost to Springfield."

Guests:

Courtesy Jim Murray

Jim Murray will never forget the first time he heard "Study for Strings" by the Czech composer Pavel Haas. It was a performance by the Philadelphia Orchestra in Kansas City back when Murray was a junior at William Jewell College.

Alicia Solo

As the dynamic singer of the now-defunct Beautiful Bodies, Alicia Solombrino was a whirlwind front person, displaying as much energy with her free-spirited stage antics as any contemporary Kansas City musician.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Today, we learn about two bills making their way through the Missouri General Assembly; one would place stricter rules on ride-hailing businesses like Lyft and Uber, another would create a statewide prescription drug monitoring database.

Courtesy Lalah Hathaway

Six weeks after stumbling over the roll-out of a major new jazz festival scheduled for Memorial Day weekend, leaders of the American Jazz Museum made the announcement again Thursday, this time joined by Kansas City Mayor Sly James and City Councilman Jermaine Reed.

Courtesy Eddie Moore

Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle, a youthful group of forward-thinking jazz-based musicians, is one of Kansas City’s most accomplished ensembles.

The core Outer Circle band currently consists of keyboardist Moore, guitarist Adam Schlozman, bassist DeAndre Manning and drummer Zach Morrow. The band occasionally tours (it has a gig in Austin later this month) and Moore hosts a weekly jazz jam session every Wednesday at Californos and a monthly showcase at the Tank Room, in which he collaborates with hip-hop artists.

Amy Britain

Culture wars were raging. The National Endowment for the Arts was under threat. A conservative senator from a southern state was earning his reputation as a "prominent unabashed white racist." Protesters were hitting the streets.

"It was a really interesting time," Mark Manning says of the early 1990s. "Similar to now."

Courtesy Katy Guillen & The Girls

Katy Guillen & the Girls — the blues-rock trio of guitarist Katy Guillen, bassist Claire Adams and drummer Stephanie Williams — is one of Kansas City’s most accomplished bands, touring regularly throughout the country.

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 Second Hand King

Working as Second Hand King, the locally based Joe Stanziola is a self-described “doo-wop rap” artist.

The new Kansas City label Haymaker Records just released a compilation album featuring local artists. After a taste of the album, we pivot from "math rock" to straight up science, with one KU sociologist whose research sheds light on a connection between success in life and genetic makeup.

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 Victor & Penny

The delightful vocalist Erin McGrane and the accomplished guitarist Jeff Freling lead the Kansas City ensemble Victor & Penny.

They once described their music as “antique pop,” but now they say it's "swing-infused folk-jazz" — based on the gypsy jazz tradition, it's a nostalgic sound more closely rooted in styles associated with Paris and New Orleans than Kansas City.

Matthew Long-Middleton / KCUR 89.3

On Ces Cru's new song "Purge," Donnie "Godemis" King and Mike "Ubiquitous" Viglione get more political than they have ever been before. Over a menacing and melodic piano, several voices say things like "friends, family, coworkers — all undocumented" and "it's genocide." 

courtesy B Trump Photography

For more than three decades, musician Bob Reeder has played weekly gigs — singing Irish folk songs and bawdy limericks — in an underground pub in Weston, Missouri. O'Malley's is roughly 50 feet underneath the ground in a limestone brewery cellar built in 1842. 

Matthew Long-Middleton / KCUR 89.3

Ahead of the release of her new book of poetry, Striking the Black Snake​, local poet Monique Salazar joins us to share some of her personal journey, including her inspiring experience at Standing Rock, her heritage and memories of an abusive childhood.

Plus, Kansas City rap duo Ces Cru on their latest album "Catastrophic Event Specialists."

Guests:

Courtesy Everette DeVan

Hammond B3 organist Everette DeVan is a beloved dean of Kansas City’s jazz scene.

Though the popularity of DeVan’s good-time, organ-based jazz peaked about 50 years ago, the throwback style gets revived several times a week at the Green Lady Lounge. Organist Chris Hazelton and guitarist Matt Hopper are among the younger Kansas City musicians DeVan has mentored.

Courtesy The Elders

The Kansas City based Celtic-rock band The Elders has long been one of Kansas City’s most popular bands, performing regularly at prominent civic gatherings including the Plaza Lighting Ceremony on Thanksgiving.

On Saturday, the band oversees another annual tradition: The Elders’ 15th annual hoolie.

In honor of their featured status this week, we're playing "Meetings of the Waters," off of the band's seventh studio album, 2014's Story Road.

Courtesy Poor Bishop Hooper

Poor Bishop Hooper, the husband-and-wife duo of Jesse Braswell Roberts and Leah Brace Roberts, celebrates the release their fourth album Gold at the Tank Room on Friday.

3 reasons we're listening to Poor Bishop Hooper this week:

1. The duo performs a Christian-informed variation of the energetic folk music associated with bands like the Old Crow Medicine Show and the Lumineers.

Jason Dailey / www.daileyimages.com/

The band: Heidi Gluck

The song: Sadness Is Psychedelic

The story: Singer-songwriter Heidi Gluck is originally from Canada; she now lives in Lawrence, Kansas. But before she settled there, she lived in Indiana where she was involved in a tight-knit musical scene. 

"We've gone through some life stuff together," says Gluck. "And we still make music together. So they've just been my musical family."

Courtesy Mello Music Group

Stik Figa
Central Standard (Mello Music Group)

Central Standard, the latest release by the Topeka-based rapper Stik Figa, chronicles the struggles of a man begrudgingly beginning to accept that his musical career is unlikely to yield fame and fortune.

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.

Courtesy Momma's Boy/Facebook

Momma’s Boy is a new addition to the area’s thriving garage-rock revivalist scene, one that includes notables like the Conquerors and Psychic Heat.

3 reasons we're listening to Momma's Boy this week:

1. The band celebrates the release of its debut EP, Liquid Courage, at two shows this weekend.

2. Three of the four members of Momma’s Boy played together in high school.

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.

Fally Afani

If you went out in the late 1990s and early 2000s, you probably heard Matt Pryor in venues around town.

He was the lead singer of the indie pop-punk band, The Get Up Kids, and he was also the front man for its spin-off, The New Amsterdams.

Now, the Lawrence-based musician is making solo records, and his new album, Memento Mori, takes a different turn.

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. 

Wikipedia Commons

The Ozark Mountain Daredevils started playing together 45 years ago in Springfield, Missouri, but Kansas City has always been the band’s secondary base.

3 reasons we're listening to the Ozark Mountain Daredevils this week:

1. On Friday, the Daredevils play a concert with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band that's a benefit for the Medicine Cabinet, a charity that provides "short-term emergency medical assistance for those in need in the metropolitan Kansas City area."

Courtesy John Goolsby

John Goolsby
The Midwest

For the past few years, John Goolsby’s performances at places like Knuckleheads' Gospel Lounge have generally been solo — a singer-songwriter with country leanings, carrying shows with his pure-but-burly voice, a guitar, and a growing stack of songs with heartfelt, honest stories behind them.

Strange Music

Big Scoob
H.O.G. (Strange Music)

Years before Tech N9ne became internationally known, before his Strange Music empire dominated Kansas City hip-hop — and the hip-hop label world in general — there were the 57th Street Rogue Dog Villains. Big Scoob was the group's “street-hustler,” his fellow rapper Txx Will told The Pitch in 2002.

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