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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.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

People often ask Kansas City musician Gerald Trimble about the instrument he plays at gigs around town with his band Jambaroque. Although it looks like a cello at first glance, players hold it between their knees, so some people call it a knee fiddle. It’s a viola da gamba.

The instruments have roots in 15th Century Moorish Spain, and there aren’t that many of them in Kansas City. Once he discovered it, Trimble says, he was smitten.

Segment 1: Telling the American story through art by acclaimed African-American artists. 

There's no hyphen in 30 Americans, an art exhibition featuring masterworks by four decades of African-American artists. That's by design. Hear how Kansas Citians have made this traveling show their own, and why the curator who brought it to the Nelson-Atkins says it's "a long time coming."

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Stage names aren't just for actors. Scott "Rex" Hobart and the members of his honky tonk and country band, Rex Hobart and the Misery Boys, have used other people's names on stage since they started playing together in 1997.

But Hobart has another career, one that's off-stage.

Segment 1: 100 Years Of Swimwear

A new clothing exhibition at the Kansas City Museum at the Historic Garment District focuses on the history of swim fashion. Looking back on the past 100 years, the exhibit examines the changes in swimwear fashion until the modern age. We talk to the collections specialist from the museum about the exhibit and how changes in swimwear reflect changes in our society and culture. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Ragtime is big with the kids in Sedalia.

One day this spring, about 100 of them cheered for William McNally, a two-time winner of the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest. His performance at Sacred Heart School quickly won them over with the lively music that was all the rage 120 years ago.

“It’s kind of like making you want more," said Thomas Jenkins, 11, who had been taking piano lessons for about a year.

Ozark Mountain Daredevils

There was a time, around Kansas City — and the whole country — when the Ozark Mountain Daredevils were the soundtrack of summer.

When you drove around town, “If You Wanna Get To Heaven” and “Jackie Blue” blasted from car stereos tuned to radio stations playing what we now refer to as classic rock. More rustic songs like “Standing on A Rock” and “Chicken Train” were cult favorites, perfect for singalongs around bonfires at the lake.

The Greeting Committee

It was prom night, but the teenagers who packed Mills Record Company in Westport last month clearly had priorities.

“We can’t miss a show with Addie,” said Sage Morgan, referring to Addie Sartino, the charismatic front-person of the The Greeting Committee, who was giving a rare solo performance in honor of Record Store day.

“The music is awesome, we love the band,” said Morgan, who was there with her girlfriend, both of them in formal wear. “We’ve been following them since they started playing.”

Anna Selle

Allison Gliesman studied singing in high school and a little in college and knew the technical ins and outs. It took some distance from those lessons and a little experimenting for Gliesman's voice to take shape.

Seg. 1: Daycare Deserts | Seg. 2: Allison Gliesman

May 1, 2019

Segment 1: Daycare Deserts

Pre-kindergarten has been on the mind of Kansas City-area parents, but the conversation is also extending to care from birth onward. In this conversation, we hear about the struggles parents face in finding and affording childcare, as well as what's being done about it both locally and nationwide.

Maiestatis Pontificiae Dum in Capella Xisti Sacra Peraguntur Accurata Delineatio. Museum no. E. 2801-1991 / Copyright Victoria and Albert Museum, London

In search of gold, the first Spanish conquistadors arrived in Kansas in 1541. Though they were disappointed, the age of discovery is still alive and well for a Kansas State University scholar named Patrick Dittamo, who has recovered a treasure of the Renaissance.

It’s a piece of music that Kansas City audiences will be the first to hear in nearly 500 years, and the first to hear outside the Sistine Chapel.

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