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KCUR's Band Of The Week: Brewer & Shipley

Brewer and Shipley
Brewer and Shipley as they appeared in a 1972 poster for a show at Kansas City's Cowtown Ballroom.

The Midwestern natives Michael Brewer and Tom Shipley — known to rock fans of a certain age everywhere as Brewer & Shipley — relocated to Kansas City from Los Angeles in 1968, soon after their debut album "Down in L.A." was released by A&M Records in 1968.

The duo is best known for their 1970 hippie anthem “One Toke Over the Line.” It's an enduring cultural touchstone, as are Brewer and Shipley themselves, who celebrate their 50th anniversary with a concert at the Uptown Theater on Friday.

Rather than simply hitting replay on "One Toke," however, this Band of the Week installment is devoted to “Witchi Tai To,” from the duo's 1969 album "Weeds."

It's a rapturous version of  a composition by the Native American jazz musician Jim Pepper, offsetting a traditional chant with the lyric “what a spirit spring is bringing round my head/Makes me feel glad that I’m not dead.”

Though their sound is akin to their folk-rock contemporaries Crosby, Stills & Nash and Loggins & Messina, Brewer & Shipley’s periodic breaks from recording and touring might have helped them avert the burnout and hard feelings that complicated many similar musical partnerships.

Shipley told The Pitch's David Hudnall that “we’ll do every song we can remember” at Friday’s concert. Opening acts are Bob Walkenhorst with Jeff Porter and the Nace Brothers.

Brewer & Shipley, 8 p.m. Friday, March 9 at the Uptown Theater, 3700 Broadway, Kansas City, Missouri 64111; 816-753-8665.

KCUR contributor Bill Brownlee blogs about Kansas City's jazz scene at Plastic Sax.

KCUR contributor Bill Brownlee blogs about Kansas City's jazz scene at plasticsax.com.
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