Music | KCUR


Critic Josh Kun once called singer-songwriter Greg Brown, "A Midwestern existentialist hobo with a quick-draw heart, a bloodied heart, and bourbon on his breath." If there's one thing Kun left out, it's Brown's growling tones, which have gotten deeper and more soulful after nearly 50 years of performing.

On Friday's Up to Date, we sit down with musician Greg Brown and discuss his long career and continued success as a Midwestern folk staple.


Freight Train Rabbit Killer

Freight Train Rabbit Killer is a collaboration between Christopher Brooders of Cadillac Flambe’ and Mark Smeltzer from Rural Grit. Their combined backgrounds in delta blues and Americana make for a very raw sound that has become a hot ticket in local clubs.

In this week's Local Listen, we hear the song "Day Without the Devil” from their self-titled debut

The band Phantoms of the Opry consider themselves “born 60 years too late,” and when you hear their musical blend of traditional country and Western swing, you’ll understand the meaning behind that statement.

In this week’s Local Listen we hear "My Cattle Call" from their self-titled release.

Saxophonist Kenny G: Still Smooth

Jan 15, 2014

His big, curly hair and smooth jazz are iconic. Some play him for laughs, but many enjoy the mellow tones of Kenny G. 

Others have been critical: jazz superstar Pat Metheny is known to be critical of Kenny G., saying among other things that G is "not really an advanced player."  Kenny's response?  Metheny was "obviously on drugs." 

In December, Kansas City band Sundiver released their debut full-length effort, “The Pull.”

The group's sound combines space-rock arrangements with edgy, heavy guitar tones, and as our music coordinator Michael Byars will tell you, it sounds great in headphones.

In this week's “Local Listen,” we hear the opening track from “The Pull” titled “Lover’s Comfort.”

Learn more about the group on their Facebook page and on Bandcamp.

90.9 The Bridge

A new Kansas City noncommercial radio station that features local music officially launched this week.

Kansas City's public television station, KCPT, bought KTGB "The Bridge" last May, and ownership was officially transferred last month.

After KCPT's purchase, studios for The Bridge were moved to the KCPT headquarters in Kansas City, Mo. Previously, they were housed in Warrensburg, Mo., where the station was owned and operated by the University of Central Missouri.

Lauren Kirby

Kansas City, Mo., will take on a folksy note next month when Folk Alliance International holds its annual conference at Crown Center.

A celebration of all types of folk culture, the event is perhaps a harbinger of bigger things to come. The nonprofit Folk Alliance moved its headquarters from Memphis to Kansas City last summer — and already, the folk connections are building. 

The group set up its headquarters in Kansas City's River Market and opened a boutique music shop called The Folk Shop on location.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Mariachi musician and founder of a groundbreaking all-female mariachi band, Teresa Cuevas, died late last year at the age of 93.

Cuevas founded Mariachi Estrella with seven other women from her church choir in 1980. They became a regional phenomenon, trading the mariachis' traditional black pants for long maroon shirts. The band played shows all over Kansas.

Courtesy / Radkey

It is that time of year. Lists. And we couldn't let it pass by without doing a best of Kansas City area music (which of course, includes Lawrence, Kan.).

The list is made up of contributions from Bill Brownlee, music critic for The Kansas City Star, Chris Haghirian with Ink Magazine and Laura Lorson, editor, host and producer for Kansas Public Radio. When possible, the link will take you to the song. They are in no particular order.

Radkey, "Start Freaking Out"

Getting Jazzy With Bobby Watson

Dec 19, 2013

Even if you don't know what jazz saxophonist Bobby Watson looks like or own one of his albums, you know his sound, because his music greets you each day on Up to Date.

In the first part of Thursday's Up to Date, Watson joins Steve Kraske to talk about his new album, a tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.


Jeff Freeling and Erin McGrane make up the duo Victor and Penny, who have been touring all across America with a sound that they like to call “antique pop.”

In this week's Local Listen, we hear the song "Stomp, Stomp" from the duo's album Side By Side.

Victor and Penny will be back in Kansas City to host “Eve 2013”, Dec. 31 at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

Ben Sidran is one of those guys who makes your knees buckle.

Piano player. Singer. Author. Composer. Host of the NPR jazz series “Jazz Alive.” Host of the VH-1 television’s “New Visions” series. Peabody winner. Ace winner. Friend of rock ‘n’ roller Steve Miller. Played in his band. Composer. Producer of recordings by Diana Ross, Van Morrison and Rickie Lee Jones.

alansheaven / Flickr-CC

Kelley Hunt sings across many genres. Part of her heart may be in R&B but it's the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra she'll partner with this week for a Christmas-themed concert.

In the second part of Monday's Up to Date, she joins Steve Kraske to talk about "Christmas with Kelley Hunt" and her Kansas roots.


With the Kansas City area getting a dose of winter weather over the past couple days, perhaps it's time for some music that has a summertime feel.  

The band Akkilles offers a sound that conjures up an afternoon on the beach, toes dug into the sand, and waves gently crashing along the shore.

In Friday's "Local Listen" we hear "Your Only One" from the group's album Something You’d Say.

Band The Latenight Callers describe their sultry, film-noir sound as that of “the house band at a David Lynch pool party.” Their latest album is called Songs for Stolen Moments.

In Friday's Local Listen, we hear “Red Bricks, White Ghosts.”

The Latenight Callers will be paying a midday call to The Record Bar for their first-ever Saturday Brunch, November 16, from noon to 4 p.m. at 1020 Westport Road in Kansas City, Mo.

Duke Ellington: Behind The Jazz

Nov 8, 2013

Duke Ellington's jazzy orchestrations are the stuff of music legends. However, his star power hid a very private life.

In the second part of Friday's Up to Date, Wall Street Journal drama critic and biographer Terry Teachout takes us into the world of Ellington.


The music of The Silver Maggies is a unique blend of gothic country and high desert noir, resulting in a sound that’s dark and lonely... and maybe a little dangerous.   In this week’s local listen, we hear “End of Time” from their album “My Pale Horse”. The Silver Maggies appear Friday evening October 25th at The Brick, sharing the stage with Starhaven Rounders and Amy Farrand.  

The Jorge Arana Trio offers an energetic and eclectic fusion of jazz, rock and funk that has gotten the attention of music lovers throughout Kansas City as a result of their take-no-prisoners live shows. 

In today's Local Listen, we hear Bitter Era from their most recent album, "Mapache."

You can catch the Trio on Sunday October 20 at The Riot Room and November 1 at the Czar Bar.

Todd Zimmer

There is something that strings all these different local bands together… Mr. Marco’s V7, The Grisly Hand, Ernest James Zydeco, Dead Voices. Or rather, someone.

Musician Mike Stover plays in all of these bands and more. Normally when you hear a story about a band you hear from the lead singer or songwriter, the person at the front of the stage. Mike Stover is normally in the back or off to the side, sometimes sitting down, he doesn’t sing, just sticks to the strings.

On the night of The Crossroads Music Festival last month, musician Mike Stover was one especially busy guy.

Katy Guillen and The Girls have only been together for about a year, but it hasn’t taken them long to get noticed: next January they will be representing Kansas City in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis.  They’ve just release a new EP called “… and then there were three.”  

In this week's "Local Listen" we hear a track from the album titled “The Race."

 You have a couple chances to hear them live next week: they’ll be at BB’s Lawnside Bar-B-Q on October 17th and at Knuckleheads on the 18th. 

Courtesy / The Gonzalez family

An exhibit opens this weekend at the Kansas City Museum about Lupe Gonzalez, a local musician who became an icon in the Latino community. His name may not be recognizable, and that’s likely because Gonzalez never received national recognition.

Vi Tran is a singer/songwriter who uses his experience as an actor to create music that combines melody with heartfelt expression.  His new album, “American Heroine” plays like a soundtrack to an off-Broadway musical.   

In today's "Local Listen" we hear the title track from the album. The Vi Tran Band will perform at the Kill Devil Club Friday evening, October 4 to celebrate the release "American Heroine." The CD will be in stores on Tuesday October 8.

This week on 12th Street Jump we celebrate the birthday of the great Charlie Parker with our special guest Dan Thomas. We play a game of “Who’s Got the Blues” with Chuck Haddix, and the Sax Therapist helps a Russian couple end the cold war in their bedroom.

Song List:

Yardbird Suite
Scrapple From The Apple
Donna Lee
Parker’s Mood
Billie Bounce


Charlie Parker

This week on 12th Street Jump we celebrate the birthday of Bill Evans with our special guest Michael Pagan. The gang plays “So, What’s Your Question?” to learn a bit more about Bill Evans and we pay homage to the flight attendant gone wild with the “Friggin’ Jet Blues”.

Song List:

Flip, Flop, and Fly
Turn Out the Stars
Whisper Not
We Will Meet Again
You Look Good To Me
Shadow of Your Smile


Bill Evans

On this week’s archive edition of 12th Street Jump we celebrate the birthday of Pat Metheny with our special guest Danny Embrey. Our own Dr Pearl offers up some advice for President Obama and a lesson at Serena's School for Scat has all the politicians listening.

Song List:

Snatch and Grab It
Bright Size Life
Always and Forever
Goodbye Pork Pie Hat
Giant Step
All the Things You Are
Two for the Road


Pat Metheny

 This week on 12th Street Jump we celebrate the birthday of the great Louis Armstrong with our special guest Stan Kessler. A session with Dr. Pearl gets the royal baby started down the right path and Anthony Weiner is such a joke the gang just has to make fun of him.

Song List:

Love Walked In
Hello, Dolly!
Struttin’ With Some Barbecue
Gee Baby Ain’t I Good To You
On The Sunny Side of the Street
Stompin at the Savoy
When the Saints Go Marching In


Louis Armstrong

 This week on 12th Street Jump we celebrate the birthdays of Hank Jones and Eddie Jefferson. We take a call-in from a musician in Erie, PA to find out “Who’s Got the Blues” and the heat wave gets a theme song.

Song List:

Just Squeeze Me
Ruby My Dear
Love Walked In
Now Is the Time
Soft and Furry
Over the Rainbow
You Came a Long Way from St. Louis
Dat Dere
Benny’s from Heaven


Hank Jones

 This week, 12th Street Jump celebrates the birthday of Sonny Boy Williamson with our special guests Tom “Trashmouth” Baker and Sheila Bey. We play “Who’s Got the Blues” to find out more about our audience and Nedra sings the “Golf Widow Blues”, and it has nothing to do with Tiger Woods.

Song List:

Show Me Missouri Blues
Keep It to Yourself
CC Rider
Checkin’ Up on My Baby
Hound Dog
Drivin’ Wheel
Don’t Start Me Talking


Courtesy / Radkey

The three brothers from St. Joseph, Mo. that make up the punk band Radkey are about to release their second EP and tour Europe. But recognition at home has been harder to come by.

When they came into the studio for our interview late one night I was surprised by how small the brothers were. Considering their deep vocals and charging sounds I had suspected they’d be bigger. They sat down to the mics one dressed in a flannel button down, the youngest in a Star Wars t-shirt and the other in a torn and faded denim vest.