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Four Years After Fabled Stones Tribute, Kansas City Musicians Reunite For Live 'Sticky Fingers'

For years, people have been asking Cody Wyoming to reprise the now-legendary 2011 concert in which a long roster of Kansas City musicians played a live version of the Rolling Stones’ classic Exile on Main Street.

“As much fun as it was, I try not to repeat myself too much,” Wyoming says.

So, on Nov. 28, a long roster of Kansas City musicians will stage the Rolling Stones’ classic Sticky Fingers.

“While Exile has become my favorite Rolling Stones record and one of my favorite records of all time,” Wyoming says, “Sticky Fingers was my first favorite record, the one that made me fall in love with the Stones in the first place. And since this year is the 40th anniversary of the record, it seemed like the right time to put the band back together, so to speak.”

The Rolling Stones' 'Sticky Fingers' album cover.

During the 2011 performance at the now-defunct Crosstown Station, music critic Danny Alexander observed a “giddy crew of more than two dozen (musicians) pulling off the seemingly impossible” as the crowd beamed back that joyous feeling. But the point of doing this sort of thing isn’t just to have fun.

“You learn a lot,” says Wyoming, who has been in enough tribute acts to know the difference between playing a band’s hits versus diving deeply into an album.

“I’m much more interested in an album as a single piece of music. It’s always an interesting idea to examine an album in a live setting, play it, interpret it, see if you can do it.”

The Cody Wyoming Deal's poster for its live performance of 'Sticky Fingers.'

Like any serious guitar player, Wyoming learned Stones songs early on and has been playing them all his life – “Dead Flowers,” he notes, is a staple of live sets and parties everywhere. But he now knows all those versions have been fake.

“It was only with the Exile project that I really delved into Keith Richards’ five-string open G tuning,” he says. “That’s been really eye-opening, finding out exactly how he plays guitar, because he’s different from everybody else. It’s almost learning how to play a new instrument. The mechanics are all the same, but everything else, the way you voice the guitar, is different.”

Then there’s the intrigue of hearing familiar Kansas City voices interpret Stones songs.

Jimmy Fitzner on ‘Wild Horses’ is heartbreaking,” Wyoming says. “Anna Cole on ‘Sister Morphine’ is absolutely chilling. Camry Ivory performs ‘Brown Sugar,’ which is a troubling song with a troubling lyric, and her delivery is going to make a lot of people reconsider the lyrics of that song.”

Credit Paul Andrews
Cody Wyoming

Wyoming, along with Chris Meck and David Regnier, started organizing guest vocalists and matching singers to songs over the summer. Various rehearsals started in mid-October, and the first full run-through was last week.

“It sounds fantastic,” Wyoming says. “The one thing that jumped out the most was when we finally got to perform with the string section on ‘Moonlight Mile.’ We’d been practicing as just a rock band, but as soon as Betse Ellis and Christine Broxterman came in with the strings, it just made everything come together.”

Doing these sorts of projects, Wyoming says, makes him a better musician. “Everything I learn makes me improve at my own stuff, makes me a better guitarist. I’m not just imitating Keith Richards. I’m becoming a better me by imitating Keith Richards.”

The same's undoubtedly true for the rest of his ragged company. Besides all the players named above, the roster includes Erik Voeks, Matt Richey, Mike StoverMark Lowrey, Gregg Todt, Lauren Krum, Pablo Sanhueza, Rich Wheeler, and Nick Howell.

Here's one of the most moving moments of the 2011 Exile show: The late Abigail Henderson performing "Shine A Light":

The Cody Wyoming Deal Plays the Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers, Saturday, Nov. 28, 9 p.m. at Knuckleheads, 2715 Rochester St., Kansas City, Missouri, 64120 816-483-1456.

A free press is among our country’s founding principles and most precious resources. As director of content-journalism at KCUR, I want everyone in our part of America to know we see them and we’re listening. I work to make sure the stories we tell and the conversations we convene reflect our complex realities, informing and inspiring all of us to meet the profound challenges of our time. Email me at cj@kcur.org.
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