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Central Standard

Music In The '90s: Was There A 'KC Sound'?

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As the national media look back at grunge and Nirvana is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Central Standard revisits Kansas City's hole-in-the-wall venues of the 1990s and asks: Was there a Kansas City sound? And are the musicians and fans active at that time still making, promoting and listening to music today?

The consensus seems to be that people in other cities had an easier time pinpointing the Kansas City sound than local musicians, who heard the popular bands in town as separate and unique. Time-travel with us to the record stores, coffee shops and even VFW halls of 1990s Kansas City. 

Nineties bands mentioned during the show and via social media:

The music is still alive. Recently, Lawrence-based artist Kawehi produced a solo performance of Nirvana's "Heart-Shaped Box":

TCS - Robot Heart: Heart-Shaped Box - Nirvana (covered by Kawehi) from Kawehi on Vimeo.


  • Amy Farrand, musician and emcee, amyfarrand.com
  • Steve Tulipana, musician and co-owner/co-founder, The Record Bar
  • Rikki Rachtman, former host of MTV's Headbangers Ball and owner of the Cathouse nightclub, current host, NASCAR 24/7 Live
  • Kawehi, musician, known for her viral cover of Nirvana's "Heart-Shaped Box"
People don't make cameos in news stories; the human story is the story, with characters affected by news events, not defined by them. As a columnist and podcaster, I want to acknowledge what it feels like to live through this time in Kansas City, one vantage point at a time. Together, these weekly vignettes form a collage of daily life in Kansas City as it changes in some ways, and stubbornly resists change in others. You can follow me on Twitter @GinaKCUR or email me at gina@kcur.org.
Matthew Long-Middleton has been a talk-show producer, community producer, Media Training Manager and now the Community Engagement Manager at KCUR. You can reach him at Matthew@kcur.org, or on Twitter @MLMIndustries.