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local music

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Restaurants and bars have closed and gatherings larger than 10 people have been banned. The entire Kansas City metro is under orders to stay at home. Among many profound changes brought by the coronavirus: The interaction between musicians and their audiences at live shows.

"We're shutdown for the foreseeable future, at least two weeks. Could be a month, could be two months, who knows?" said Steve Tulipana, co-owner of RecordBar in downtown Kansas City. "So we're all just trying to figure out ways to keep doing what we do to keep sane, really."

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City’s live music community was just beginning to understand how hard the scene would be hit by coronavirus cancelations on March 14. Then came news that a fire had gutted Davey's Uptown Rambler's Club in Midtown.

Owner Michele Markowitz says she's been overwhelmed by the outpouring of community support, and plans to rebuild just as soon as she can.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Logan Richardson left Kansas City to become a star.

Now, twenty years later, having lived in New York City and Italy and toured internationally, the ascendant saxophonist has made a move toward re-establishing himself in a city whose jazz scene has not always been comfortable for him. His re-entry could not be packed with more portent.

Richardson has set up a home — and a studio — in the apartment where Charlie Parker, the city's first iconic jazz saxophonist, once lived.

Segment 1: Local musician AY has a new song out about his experience as a male victim of domestic abuse.

When he was going through the experience, he didn't know where to turn for help or how to talk about it. Now he's sharing his story to open up the conversation about who gets abused by who. Researchers and support organizations say that while intimate partner violence can happen to anyone, it's harder to get help and find the right resources if you're a man.

Mike Viglione / Instagram

Kansas City hip hop artist and producer Justin "Info Gates" Gillespie, 39, died unexpectedly at the end of January. Those who loved him are reeling but not at a loss when explaining how Gillespie will live on.

"He was not shy about uplifting people in whatever way possible," says Kemet Coleman, a member of the Phantastics and a friend of Gillespie.

Segment 1: A key player in Kansas City's hip hop community died unexpectedly.

In addition to being a producer for Ces Cru, Justin "Info Gates" Gillespie started the Beat Academy of Kansas City at the Plaza Academy, touching a lot of teens. Now the hip hop community is banding together to carry on his legacy and make sure those teens will continue to be supported.

Updated 10:48 p.m. with final results.

The 62nd annual Grammy Awards took place Sunday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Five Kansas City artists were nominated, or contributed to Grammy-nominated recordings. 

Earlier in the day on Sunday, some of the winners were announced during an untelevised premiere ceremony at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. 

And the Grammy goes to ... 

Segment 1: Cyprus Avenue host Bill Shapiro died at the age of 82.

On Saturday nights for more than 40 years, Bill Shapiro hosted Cyprus Avenue, a music show that gave context to songs and artists all over the pop music spectrum. Today, we sat down with two of Shapiro's good friends to remember his life, and celebrate the memory he left behind.

KCUR 89.3

Bill Shapiro, a Kansas City tax attorney by day who spent more than four decades hosting a Saturday-night radio program devoted to rock-and-roll, died on Tuesday. He was 82.

"The name of the program is Cyprus Avenue, and I’m Bill Shapiro," he said each week in a deep, gravelly voice over the show's opening music, which was not Van Morrison's "Cyprus Avenue" but rather Matthew Fisher's "Interlude."

Segment 1: Research shows white-sounding names curry favor in academic settings.

Xian Zhao's name means something to him. It means something to his parents. That's why he won't adopt what he calls an "anglo name." But his own research suggests he might be missing opportunities because of that.

  • Xian Zhao, researcher, University of Toronto

Segment 2, beginning at 14:47: A recent Calvin Arsenia album is a milestone in his professional and personal growth.

Jenna and Martin / Facebook

Jenna Rae and Martin Farrell both grew up in cities. But when the two got serious about playing music together as the folk duo Jenna & Martin, they ended up living the life they were singing about.

Rae is from Merriam, Kansas, and Farrell is from Minnetonka, Minnesota. The two met four years ago on the sprawling campgrounds of the Walnut Valley Bluegrass Festival in Winfield, Kansas. They soon started performing together, and onstage, they’re young and carefree with a chemistry that’s easy to see and hear.

Segment 1: An exhibit at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art explores the theme of British colonialism.

The artist behind the exhibit grew up in Guyana and experienced reverberations of British colonialism in his life firsthand. Today he lives in London and wrestles with Britain's history and the version of itself that it exports through his art.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Carl Butler can quote chapter and verse of the Bible, but he’s equally comfortable citing "the great theologian" — a country singer named Tom T. Hall — who once proclaimed that "the good Lord likes a little pickin’ too."

Butler is a honky tonk preacher at Knuckleheads, the sprawling roadhouse in Kansas City's East Bottoms. Since he began his ministry 12 years ago, Butler has delivered his blend of party music and heartfelt praise to countless Kansas City bargoers in the 70-seat back room that bears his name: Carl Butler's Gospel Lounge.

Segment 1: A Kansas City musician rocks the violin in her new EP.

Tina Bilberry, known to fans as K'Tina, is a KCK-native who fuses international sounds in Crossed Conversations. Here's her story.

Segment 2, beginning at 21:24: Queer Eye's Antoni Porowski is in town with a cookbook.

Anne Kniggendorf / KCUR 89.3

Organist Jacob Hofeling started working at St. Luke's Episcopal Church on Christmas Eve.

He'd moved to Lawrence to get a doctorate in organ performance at the University of Kansas and was looking for a job.

"As I was applying, St. Luke’s really needed somebody on Christmas Eve specifically," he says. "So, I worked my schedule around to make that happen." He's now the music director.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Holiday traditions sometimes start in unlikely ways.

Case in point: Gerald Dunn and Kansas City's Musicians Appreciation Day, which these days offers live music for the public and free health screenings and fresh produce for musicians of all genres.

It started years ago as a chance encounter between Dunn, director of entertainment at the American Jazz Museum and Blue Room general manager, and tenor saxophonist Eddie Saunders, who died in 2012.

Segment 1: Annual Kansas City event encourages musicians to eat better and focus on their health.

The life story of a Kansas City folk musician and civil rights icon.

From freedom songs to commercial jingles ("the grass pad's high on grass"), Danny Cox has been a reconigzable Kansas City voice for decades. But his introduction to the city was also an introduction to our history with segregation and racism. This show originally aired in 2015.

  • Danny Cox, musician

Segment 1: Mike Pompeo looks more likely to enter the race for Kansas' U.S. Senate seat.

When it comes to the race for president, The Call's Eric Wesson expects another four years of Trump. However, Mike Mahoney of KMBC sees U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar as the sleeper Democratic candidate while Caroline Sweeney is looking at Andrew Yang to gain ground. They also analyzed the U.S. Senate race in Kansas, the early days of Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas and former city manager Troy Schulte's shift to Jackson County government. 

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Saxophonist Bobby Watson has loved teaching at the University of Missouri-Kansas City conservatory, but he is ready to concentrate on the touring and recording that have made him an international jazz legend.

“It’s been a great 20-year chapter,” Watson says of his two decades as the first endowed jazz studies professor at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance. “I think life is divided like chapters, so I’m ready to fly again.”

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Dwight Frizzell was a teenager when he realized he could hear the Liberty Bend Bridge singing.

The bridge spans the Missouri River just north of Independence. It's part of Highway 291, which runs above Sugar Creek’s LaBenite Park.

“I heard the rhythm of the traffic — ka-kaw, kla-klock — but then I was also hearing resonances like singing, like harmonics, almost like voices singing in harmony,” says Frizzell, who’s been returning to the site for decades.

Country Music

Sep 27, 2019

Ken Burns' Country Music series inspires interviews with Kansas City musicians about what country music means to them.

Segment 1: A new documentary explores the life of abstract expressionist painter Albert Bloch.

Albert Bloch lived the final decades of his life in Lawrence, Kansas. But at the height of his career, he was a member of a band of artists that helped create modernism in Europe.

thesextetjazz.com

"Music is always evolving," says Robert Castillo, a Kansas City jazz-band leader who is broadening his city's signature sound.

It's not as if he doesn't know the rules. As a bass player, he's in demand all around town as a sideman in other people's bands, proving that he knows how to play by jazz's strictest conventions. Yet as the leader of his own band, The Sextet, Castillo is dedicated to expanding the art form's possibilities.

heathernewmanband.com

Powerful women have risen from Kansas City’s hard-driving blues scene in recent years. The latest to make her mark is Heather Newman, whose first record earned national attention three years ago and whose new release is even stronger.

After moving to Kansas City from Omaha five years ago, Newman has joined the ranks of Samantha Fish, Danielle Nicole Schnebelen, Katy Guillen and Amanda Fish, who have all earned a global base of fans.

Seg. 1: Elderhood | Seg. 2: 816 Day

Aug 15, 2019

Segment 1: A new book on aging proposes a third stage in life.

First comes childhood, then adulthood and finally, elderhood, which begins roughly in your 70s and can last for decades. It comes with a unique set of challenges, joys and needs, and our cultural reluctance to acknowledge that comes at a cost.

Peep Game Productions

To underline that music really is the universal language, a classically trained violinist from Kansas City, Kansas, has blended musical languages on her first solo recording.

Musician Katina Bilberry, known on stage as K’Tina (pronounced Kay Tina), had an epiphany on a visit to Kenya during her time as an undergraduate at William Jewell College.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

People who live around Kessler Park, just a few blocks from the Kansas City Museum in the Historic Northeast neighborhood, say it's the city's biggest front porch for listening to music in Kansas City.

“We have a lovely view of this day after day," said David Joslyn, who has lived in the neighborhood with his wife Elaine for more than 30 years. "The beautiful Concourse, the Esplanade, the wonderful playground and the fountain. We’re very blessed.”

Segment 1: A hopeful billboard has a story behind it.

When artist Nicole Leth lost her father to suicide, she told herself she would focus all her energy on spreading positivity. Now a billboard in Kansas City stands testament to that promise.

  • Nicole Leth, artist

Segment 2: A Kansas City musician rocks the violin in her new EP.

Drone photo by Don Ipock / The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

If there was a soundtrack for the sculptures on the lawn at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, what would it be like?

Christina Butera thought about that a lot while writing her dissertation in composition at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance.

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