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10 Kansas City concerts you don't want to miss this March

Mayumi Hirata
Otoboke Beaver
Otoboke Beaver's "Super Champon" is a reference to Nagasaki's famous take on ramen noodles, which includes a multitude of fried and seasoned vegetables and seafood.

Kansas City’s live music scene punches well above its weight. With hundreds of options across the city, picking out the best shows can be overwhelming. To help out, KCUR pinpointed some of the most compelling concerts in March 2023.

There are multiple shows worth catching on any given night in Kansas City. The 10 concerts highlighted here aren’t necessarily March’s biggest events, but they’re among the month’s most artistically intriguing bookings.

Upcoming shows this month include the charmingly abrasive Otoboke Beaver, whose shouting in Japanese and English will stir up punks of all ages at recordBar. The room hosts legendary Brazilian cult band Os Mutantes two weeks later.

Kansas City’s longstanding affinity for the blues will be demonstrated by reverent admirers of Buddy Guy at the Uptown Theater. The flamboyant, 86-year-old guitarist will be joined by two notable acolytes.

Oleta Adams and Iris DeMent each rose to fame while living in the Kansas City area. Though they perform entirely different styles of music, their career arcs are indicative of the ongoing vitality of Kansas city's music scene. Both women will delight hometown audiences in March.

Otoboke Beaver: March 1

  • When: 8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 1
  • Where: recordBar, 1520 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Missouri 64108
  • Tickets: $18 in advance

Simultaneously angry and joyful, the punk rock of Otoboke Beaver has united conflicting emotions since the band’s formation in Kyoto, Japan, in 2009.

Their furious guitar riffs can’t hide an irrepressible sense of fun. Otoboke Beaver’s frenzied gang vocals and rapid-fire rhythmic assault will act as maniacal forces for good on cathartic renditions from the band’s latest album, “Super Champon.”

Expect the quartet to incite an unusually exuberant mosh pit. New admirers and longtime fans may acquire a few minor bruises, but they’ll almost certainly have heavy hearts healed at the end of the evening. Silicone Prairie opens the show.

Brooklyn Rider: March 5

Sarah Small
Brooklyn Rider
String quartet Brooklyn Rider features violinists Johnny Gandelsman and Colin Jacobsen, violist Nicholas Cords and cellist Michael Nicolas.

  • When: 7 p.m. on Sunday, March 5
  • Where: Polsky Theatre in the Midwest Trust Center, 12345 College Blvd., Overland Park, Kansas 66210
  • Tickets: $25 and $35

Brooklyn Rider defiantly refutes the misconception that classical music is the exclusive domain of stuffy elitists. The string quartet is one of the best vessels of genre-defying serious music.

Their list of collaborators is a who’s-who of adventurous composers. Brooklyn Rider has showcased unconventional new works by jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman, young innovator Caroline Shaw and banjo master Béla Fleck.

Sunday’s recital will include performances of two pieces from Brooklyn Rider’s new release, “Wanderer”: Franz Schubert’s stirring classic “Death and the Maiden,” and Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov’s ambitious new “Um Dia Bom.”

Elle King: March 8

Red Light Management
Elle King is a four-time Grammy Award nominee in country and rock categories.

  • When: 8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 8
  • Where: Uptown Theater, 3700 Broadway Blvd., Kansas City, Missouri 64111
  • Tickets: Starting at $39.50

Elle King finally figured it out. The Los Angeles native spent years applying her enormous voice to indie-rock, pop and blues-soaked roots music. Even though they helped her build a devoted fan base, those styles weren’t quite right.

But the 2021 party anthem “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” set the stage for King’s triumphant new album “Come Get Your Wife.” She’s found a comfortable home in the rough-and-tumble side of country music.

King continues to perform her older hits, including the 2016 song claiming “I’m not America’s sweetheart.” King’s current tour might go a long way toward changing that status.

Oleta Adams: March 11

Marcel Truyens
Oleta Adams
Tears for Fears front men Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith asked Kansas City, Kansas, vocalist Oleta Adams to appear on their 1989 album, "The Seeds of Love," after hearing her perform at a local Hyatt Regency.

  • When: 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 11
  • Where: Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th St., Kansas City, Missouri 64105
  • Tickets: Between $25-$45

Oleta Adams’ enduring 1988 ballad “Get Here” doesn't define her, though renditions of the hit still induce nostalgic sighing. The supremely elegant Adams continues to evolve.

Since rising to fame through her affiliation with the British band Tears For Fears in the 1980s, the longtime Kansas City, Kansas, resident has been a dependable purveyor of sophisticated sounds.

Even though her concert is part of the Folly Theater’s Jazz Series, Adams’ will draw heavily on gospel, pop and soul music at her hometown concert.

Buddy Guy: March 11

Paul Natkin
Reverent admirers of Buddy Guy can catch the bluesman live in Kansas City in March.

  • When: 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 11
  • Where: Uptown Theater
  • Tickets: Starting at $49

“Got a sixth grade education, I never finished school,” Buddy Guy proclaims on “I Let My Guitar Do the Talking.” The opening track of his latest album, “The Blues Don’t Lie,” is a characteristically brash statement of purpose.

Now 86, Guy has been schooling less accomplished, flashy guitarists for more than half a century. His ferocious playing has set the bar for generations of rock and blues artists.

Guy is no longer the ball of fire he was 60 years ago, but he’s still battling. Guitar slingers Eric Gales, 48, and Ally Venable, 23, will be on hand to challenge the master.

Poolblood: March 11

Jibril Yassion
Though they were raised in a religious household at arm’s length from pop music, Poolblood's Maryam Said cites the music of Cat Stevens, also known as Yusuf Islam as having an indelible imprint on their relationship to music and songwriting.

  • When: 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 11
  • Where: Howdy, 6523 Stadium Drive, Kansas City, Missouri 64129
  • Tickets: $15 at the door

The unadorned, raw and broken bedroom pop of Poolblood could be the next big thing. Maryam Said, the Toronto artist behind the stage name, adds ornate flourishes to their spare acoustic folk.

Poolblood songs like “my little room” are potential generational anthems for sensitive listeners. The song is the closing track of Poolblood’s album “Mole,” co-produced by genre-defying queer artist Shamir.

A warning: The alternative music emporium near Truman Sports Complex doesn’t sell tickets in advance, and the show is likely to reach capacity early.

A solid backup plan would be to opt for the “KC Punk Shindig,” headlined by Get Smart! at Farewell, a partner venue on the same block. Flora and Olivia Markey will also play. Details are available here.

Os Mutantes: March 15

Os Mutantes
Os Mutantes got its start during the Tropicalia movement that swept Brazil in the 1960s.

  • When: 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 15
  • Where: recordBar
  • Tickets: $25

Suggesting Os Mutantes is the Brazilian version of the Beatles is hyperbolic, but the comparison isn’t terribly far off the mark. Formed in 1966, the band permanently altered the sonic and political possibilities of their country’s music.

A Minha Menina,” Os Mutantes’ best-known song, possesses the giddiness of the Beatles’ “Help!” It’s among the compositions that inspired young Brazilians to participate in the cultural revolution of the late 1960s.

Sérgio Dias is the sole remaining member of the original lineup. Even so, the recordBar show is a rare opportunity to catch the band, which last appeared in the Kansas City area in 2010.

Barnaby Bright: March 16

Black Oak Artists
Nathan Bliss’s acoustic guitar finger tapping and Becky Bliss’s soaring vocals push the boundaries of today’s indie folk landscape. Barnaby Bright are based in the Kansas City area.

  • When: 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 16
  • Where: Knuckleheads, 2715 Rochester Ave., Kansas City, Missouri 64120
  • Tickets: $10

After years of operating as the husband-and-wife duo of Becky and Nathan Bliss, Barnaby Bright is now a five-piece band. Hot off their appearances at the Folk Alliance International Conference in February, the Blisses opened up to KCUR about their enhanced ambitions. The new configuration adds folk-rock heft to the local ensemble’s original material like “Highway 9.”

The concert at Knuckleheads will give hometown fans the chance to evaluate the contributions of violinist Carmen Dieker, bassist Rick Willoughby and drummer Pat Adams.

The sound may be different but Barnaby Bright retains its secret ingredient. Many of the selections continue to feature the otherwise rarely-heard harmonium.

Bill Frisell: March 22

Monica Jane Frisell
Bill Frisell
Bill Frisell's album "Four," released last year on Blue Notes Records, is a 13-song meditation on loss, renewal and friendship.

  • When: 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 22
  • Where: 1900 Building, 1900 Shawnee Mission Parkway, Mission Woods, Kansas 66205
  • Tickets: $35

Lee’s Summit native Pat Metheny is among the very few living jazz guitarists who have received as many accolades as Bill Frisell. Frisell’s immediately recognizable approach — spare and often pastoral — altered the course of improvised music.

The 1900 Building, an office complex on the northwest corner of Shawnee Mission Parkway and State Line Road, has become an unlikely home away from home for Frisell.

The iconic guitarist returns to the venue with the all-star quartet featured on his 2022 album, “Four”: saxophonist Greg Tardy, pianist Gerald Clayton and drummer Johnathan Blake.

Iris DeMent: March 23

Dasha Brown
Iris DeMent
Iris DeMent rose to fame in the 1990s while living in the Kansas City area.

  • When: 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 23
  • Where: Knuckleheads
  • Tickets: $40

Iris DeMent was performing at coffeehouse open mic nights in the Kansas City area when her debut album, “Infamous Angel,” was released in 1992. Her utterly unique voice and startlingly original songs soon took the folk world by storm.

Disregarding standard music industry mandates, she’s followed her unflappable artistic muse ever since. DeMent’s recently released seventh album, “Workin’ On a World,” contains unapologetically political protest songs.

On “Goin’ Down to Sing in Texas,” for instance, DeMent hails “those brave women in the Squad,” and names Jeff Bezos as one of the “greedy people getting a free pass.” People who don’t care for DeMent’s perspective are advised to steer clear.

She'll appear with opening act Ana Egge.

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