Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear made a minor international splash in 2015. The mother-and-son folk duo from Independence plays a free outdoor concert at Johnson County Community College on Friday, which gives us an excuse to listen again this week.
3 reasons we're listening to Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear this week:
1. Madisen Ward and his mother Ruth Ward were a relatively anonymous duo playing cover songs in area coffeehouses until they signed to Glassnote Records, the label of stars including Mumford & Sons. They've since appeared on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series, on television shows including Late Night With David Letterman, and in the lineups of prominent festivals.
2. In his review of their album Skeleton Crew, KCUR's Dannie Alexander suggested that the record's recurring themes of "dreams and schemes and escape should make it clear that this is a record very much concerned with freedom."
3. “Silent Movies,” the duo's most popular song, encapsulates its quaint but playful charm. Madisen barks and shouts as his mother adds seasoned harmonies.
Friday’s concert is part of Johnson County Community College’s free Light Up the Lawn series. Originally scheduled for the Nerman Museum, it has been moved to the JCCC Fieldhouse Gym building on the west side of campus. Two concerts remain after Friday’s show: Maria the Mexican (Friday, August 26) and Abbey Road (Friday, September 2).
Bill Brownlee’s writing appears weekly in The Kansas City Star and Ink magazine. He blogs about Kansas City’s jazz scene at Plastic Sax.