We’ve got something new here at ThingsKC! We have the honor of being joined by Mr, Keith Koenig as our out-and-about reporter on happenings in Kansas City. Keith brings a love of music in our town that has grown and matured after countless hundreds of hours listening to great sounds. Please join us in welcoming Keith to our site, and enjoy his take on FIVE recent shows including Rosanne Cash, Natalie Merchant, Marcia Ball, Kasey Rausch, and Found A Job.
Hope this holiday week sees you all well. Quick question, how do the Chiefs beat the Seahawks one week and then LOSE to the Raiders the next?? Completely unreal… Anyway, I did make it to the four shows I said I would and do regret not seeing Brewer & Shipley (after talking to Bob M. about the show), or Chrissie Hynde’s Uptown show that another friend praised quite highly. However the four shows I did make it to were all top notch affairs.
So pull up a chair, kick your shoes off, and I’ll go over the wonderful live music I experienced this past 10 days or so.
First up, Rosanne Cash at the Folly Theatre on Friday, 11/14. The show consisted of only Rosanne on guitar and vocals and her talented husband, John Leventhal, on guitar, piano and vocals. I always like a full band, but sometimes the stripped-down shows are equally as good and on that night, Roseanne’s performance was soulful, thoughtful, and downright golden. She played for an hour and 35 minutes (encore included) and mixed older favorites like “Seven Year Ache,” “Western Wall,” “Blue Moon With Heartache,” and a swell cover of “Ode To Billie Joe,” alongside a good chunk of her stellar 2014 album, “The River and The Thread” in which Rosanne explored the Southern U.S. and wrote songs about the tranquil and mysterious places where she spent her youth. Of the new songs, my favorite, on an album full of great music, “The Long Way Home” was the best thing I heard all night. “Etta’s Tune” and “A Feather’s Not a Bird” were equally as grand. Love the Folly theater and the near sold out crowd seemed the love the show as much as I did. The Folly was built in 1900 (per an announcement before the show). Great acoustics, but the seats were made for folks with the waistlines of 1900, not 2014. Perhaps they were trying to tell me something. Nonetheless, a moving ,transcendent performance by Rosanne.
Next up was Natalie Merchant at the Kauffman Center and WOW, what a venue! Also loved that the snow that was forecast for that day held off. How could every local news channel be so wrong? Good ‘ol Doppler Radar!
Anyway, Natalie performed for two and a half hours (!) and it was all pretty heavenly. Natalie’s singing voice is probably one of the most soothing I have ever heard. There was a 70 minute set with the 48-piece KC Symphony. During this set, her older hit, “Life Is Sweet” was utterly sublime, and I loved the symphony effect on the 10,000 Maniacs deep-cut, “Verdi Cries.”.
For the second 45 minute set, a horn section and a harpist had exited and there were still about 40 members of the Symphony on stage. She did some newer songs from her lovely 2014 self-titled CD, amongst them “Ladybird” and my favorite song from the new CD, “Lulu.” I am as much of a Cinema nerd as I am a music nerd, and “Lulu” is about silent screen star, Louise Brooks, who was born in Cherryvale, Kansas. In fact, when Kansas was mentioned in the song, all the folks from across the river went nuts.
Finally, Natalie came back out with her two touring musicians, who were on stage for the whole affair. One played guitar and the other piano and accordion. They did a 35 minute encore set of classics from Natalie’s days with 10,000 Maniacs, as well as some more solo highlights. During this set, she pulled out a lovely version of CCR’s “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?” and played snippets from two of my favorite 10,000 Maniacs songs, “Hey, Jack Kerouac” and “Don’t Talk” during a medley. Very cool.
So…I was more or less in a trance for much of the night. The music was so gorgeous, Natalie was charming and sang so beautifully, and the nearly sold out crowd in Helzberg Hall (I couldn’t see an empty seat anywhere) made this a great night out. I can’t wait to see another show there.
Onto this past Wednesday and long tall Marcia Ball at Knuckleheads. I had never seen Marcia on stage before and to do so in the esteemed company of Bob M. and his lovely wife made it a truly fun experience. We sat on the long leather (esque??) seat that is right up near the stage, which I have never done before in the many, many shows I’ve attended there. I was right up at edge of the stage and when Marcia’s awesome guitarist would play his smokin’ leads, he was literally right over me!
Marcia’s quartet was really great. The Sax player was also solid throughout the show, but Marcia is the star of the whole thing. Her command of the piano is a joy to watch and her songs are a lot of fun. After her first set, which lasted an hour, Bob and I wandered over to pick up Marcia’s new CD and got her to sign them. People were kind of reluctant to dance during the first set, but for the 75 minute second set, the dance floor was full! What a fun night of music and the company I kept was pretty wonderful (Thanks, Mr. Maddern!).
Kasey Rausch and Found A Job
The final show of my week off was to be Found A Job – A Talking Heads tribute on Friday night. I also wanted to see the show in the Retro Lounge that same night, which was an album-release show for local folkie, Kasey Rausch. I had a schoolboy-like crush on Kasey when she worked at Recycled Sounds in Westport, before I even knew she was a musician. When I found out she made music, it made my heart skip a couple of beats more. So I was torn on who to see Friday night. I have seen Kasey a handful of times and she is always great and sings like an angel!
So, I arrived at Knuckleheads on Friday night, and owner Frank, the absolute SAINT we have already established him to be, put BOTH shows out in the main room. So I got to see both Kasey and the Talking Heads show! Merely one of the hundred or so reasons I love Knuckleheads!
After a 30 minute opening set by a middle-aged local folkie whose name escapes me, Kasey Rausch played an 50 minute acoustic set. At times there were almost a dozen performers on stage. She played much of her fine new CD, “Guitar In Hand,” which I picked up at the show. Near the end of the acoustic set, she played her best song that night (for me, anyway) called “Sweet Missouri,” which is as gorgeous a love letter to my fair and humble state that has likely ever been put to music. Just beautiful.
Just minutes after the acoustic musicians left the stage, Kasey brought up local Alt-Country band, The Naughty Pines, for a 30 minute ‘electric set.’ It was fun, but I prefer the lush acoustic stuff Kasey does, but overall a fine showcase at Knuckleheads for Kasey, who turns 40 this Wednesday, and is KC’s ‘de facto’ ambassador of Folk Music. It was so great to see her on stage supporting such a strong album of homegrown music.
During the electric set, many people started arriving for the Talking Heads gig that followed and there were so many people there that it got a bit uncomfortable. Younger folks would start to stand right in front of me and begin to talk over the music and when I asked them (nicely at first) to move, I got the stink eye from most of these disrespectful young ‘uns, which made the Talking Heads set, which was great actually, not as much fun for me as it should have been. Found A Job (named after a Talking Heads song) performed the music from the concert film ‘Stop Making Sense’ in its entirety, plus a couple of bonus TH songs to boot! The band’s singer resembled actor Paul Rudd more than the quirky David Byrne, but he and the band and backup singers did a terrific job replicating the film. They nailed the one-two punch of “This Must Be The Place” and “Once In a Lifetime,” which is possibly my favorite 10+ minutes of concert film ever. I nearly went hoarse yelling out the chorus to “Life During Wartime” – “This ain’t no Party! This ain’t no Disco! This ain’t no foolin’ around!” Ah, good times…
So…I entered Knuckleheads just before 6:30 PM on Friday night (I’ve always been an early bird at shows, work, parties, movies, etc.) and walked out near exhaustion, just after 12:30 AM. It would be cool if Frank would bring Found A Job back in the summer on the outdoor stage. Despite some of the rude guests, the atmosphere for that show was amazing. It was definitely a party and that band would kill on that outdoor stage playing to a bigger crowd, although it was one of the more crowded indoor shows I’ve ever attended at Knuckleheads.
Anyway, I thank you if you made it through my thesis here and wish you all a great holiday! Next up for me is The Belairs this Friday at Knuckleheads. I see them about once a year and their set has changed little since I first saw them in the mid 80’s at my beloved Parody Hall, but what a loose, fun band to see live. Then, on Saturday night, I’ll be at the Midland for Martina McBride. Oh, and as this will be of interest to Bob M., Maria The Mexican will be playing the Retro Lounge at Knuckleheads on 12/18. I just found that out at Friday night’s show and immediately went back and bought a ticket from the always lovely and wonderful Miss Julie back in the gift shop at Knux. So, this year will end as it began, listening to tons of great music, whether on stage or at home through some headphones as I nod off to sleep.
Happy Thanksgiving ALL! Now pass me that green bean casserole…
Your roving reporter,