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Blogroll: April 2021

Graphic by Claire Monroe.

Try as I might, I can’t cover Kansas City all by myself. In Blogroll, I’ll be conducting a monthly roundup of writing, audio, and video content by or about Kansas Citians involved in the arts. Going forward, this column will just be featuring content from the previous month, but this first one is going to be longer than most just because there’s been a lot of great material in the last few months. Click the title of each piece to check it out.

Reading material:

-Big Music Needs to Be Broken Up to Save the Industry - Ron Knox, Wired

In case you weren’t aware, the music industry is pretty fucked up. Ron Knox is a Kansas City based journalist and senior researcher at the Institute for Self-Reliance. In his Wired debut, he writes in depth on the corporate consolidation and monopoly power that has become increasingly rampant in the biz over the last two decades. Essentially, three mega-labels, a few streaming platforms, a few radio companies, and one event/ticketing company make an alarmingly high amount of the industry’s profits and are able to box out independent competitors with ease. And at the end of the day, when a corporate boardroom or a streaming algorithm is in charge of what gets plays, the culture suffers.

-Silicone Times - Vol. 1, Issue 3

Ian Teeple (best known for rocking in Warm Bodies, The Natural Man Band, and The Fog) is keeping busier than most during this pandemic. In addition to releasing the debut LP of his latest project, Silicone Prairie, which is sure to make my year-end list, Teeple has started his own snail mail newsletter. The Silicone Times is sent out to subscribers once a month and features interviews, guest contributions, and ramblings from the Natural Man himself. The March issue included a great interview with Kohei Urakami, a member of D.C. punk band Rashōmon who recently moved to Japan and started a new band called Kagami. Email SiliconePrairie93 [at] gmail [dot] com or message @een_usa on Instagram to get the newsletter.

-Alice Cooper on his latest, Detroit Stories, and honoring the past without nostalgia - Nick Spacek, The Pitch

Legendary rockstar Alice Cooper hopped on the phone with Lawrence’s Nick Spacek back in February. The two talked about horror movies (an area of expertise for Spacek, who also hosts From & Inspired By, a podcast about film soundtracks) and Cooper’s recent album, but what truly made this piece a gem are the stories Cooper dishes about the heyday of rock-n-roll and Motown that he got to witness in Detroit in the sixties and seventies. To be in those rooms!

-Robert Moore Reclaims His Freeform Radio Roots at 90.9 The Bridge - Brian McTavish, Flatland/KC Studio

One casualty of 96.5 The Buzz’s transition into Alt 96.5 KC (*puking emoji*) was the beloved Sonic Spectrum. The station’s corporate owners, Entercom, made national cutbacks this past September, leaving The Church Of Lazlo as the sole program still broadcast from Kansas City. Luckily, Robert Moore’s Sonic Spectrum -- known for championing new wave, post-punk, and other sounds that often don’t find a home on the radio -- has since landed at 90.9 The Bridge. McTavish’s article offers a history of the program from its 2002 inception at KCUR, to its commercial years at the Buzz, and back to its public radio beginnings at the Bridge. Kansas City’s most calming radio voice lives to gab another day.

-Black-owned brands are overdue for their spotlight - J.M. Banks, The Pitch

My personal style is basically a punk/hardcore fan’s uniform: denim jacket, band tee, black jeans, sneakers. I have little to no knowledge in regards to the world of fashion, but perhaps what qualifies as a passing interest. This recent piece by J.M. Banks (writer and host of the Urban Alchemy podcast) outlines the constant innovations that Black designers are responsible for and briefly profiles several brands and shops based in Kansas City.

-An Ode to D’Angelo - DeAsia Paige, R&B Paiges

I haven’t yet bothered putting together a list of my favorite concerts I’ve ever attended (a daunting task), but I’m confident that D’Angelo’s 2015 stop at the Midland would rank in my top 10. DeAsia Paige, a former University of Kansas student now based in East St. Louis, wrote in her R&B Paiges email newsletter about her personal journey with the music of D’Angelo and his recent Verzuz livestream show.

-A Surfeit of Lampreys - Liz Cook, Haterade

I am personally too picky of an eater to ever engage in food criticism. Regardless of this childish tendency of mine, I love reading Liz Cook’s thoughtful and occasionally absurd dispatches in the food and drink section of the Pitch and her own Haterade email newsletter. The most recent Haterade update is about Cook’s slow return to dining out as the pandemic winds down and the unfortunate consequences of dining in private for a year.

-How “L’Amour Toujours” Became Hyperpop Canon - Allison Harris, Ringtone Mag

Kansas City music journalist Allison Harris penned a deep dive on the cheesy and endlessly catchy Eurodance song that plays as the credits roll in “Uncut Gems.” You can also find their tribute to the late Sophie in the Pitch/UNews.

Video content:

-Yadda Yadda Live In-Studio: No$kope

KC-via-Chicago rapper No$kope first teamed up with drummer Eddie Reed for a show I booked at Farewell Transmission back in March 2019. The pair recently reunited for a live session performance hosted by the Yadda Yadda Podcast at Nightjar -- a studio and performance space two doors down from Farewell. No$kope’s aggressive style makes this bare bones punk rock collab a no-brainer.

-Coop Sessions: Ebony Tusks at Charlotte Street

Local experimental hip-hop trio Ebony Tusks is infamous for its live performances. Few music acts in America are capable of moving from ornate ambient composition to jarring noise-rap chaos with such grace. That’s why an IRL release show for their long-awaited LP, Heal_Thyself, was missed so sorely. Thankfully, the Coop Sessions team gave us the next best thing with a pro-grade live session video filmed at the Charlotte Street Foundation’s Black Box Theater.

-Summer Of Sound: A’Sean and Faintheart

The visual presentation of Summer Of Sound -- a new live session series filmed at The Rino -- isn’t all too fancy, but a 25-minute HD performance from longtime Shuttlecock favorite A’Sean is a document I’m thankful for.

-Ralph Lauren: All or Nothing at All - Live with Janelle Monáe

A film noir-inspired virtual fashion show featuring a Janelle Monáe performance? Sure, why not. Monáe and her band pull out a Sinatra cover and a few tunes from various eras of her career. They look sharp and sound even better.

Radio shows/podcasts:

-Beyond The Booth, Episode 13: Ebony Tusks

When you’re talking to a group with as much combined talent and experience as Ebony Tusks, there isn’t often enough time to talk about everything you hope to. I enjoyed speaking with them for my Pitch article last year, but Beyond The Booth host Cameron Capers got to touch on subjects I didn’t get to, like their activist efforts, early personal influences, and some elements of their writing process.

-The #AssJamz Podcast, Episode 121: Shrimp Tales

Cam and Jon have been deejaying together as #AssJamz for almost a decade now and have hosted parties with the likes of the Ying Yang Twins and Lil Yachty. In addition to their on-stage chemistry, the pair can talk for hours on any given subject (though it’s usually music). The most recent episode of their podcast features theories on how that shrimp tail got into the cereal (and some new music discussion).

-A People’s History Of Kansas City: Kansas City’s Barbecue King

KCUR producer (and member of the punk band Nature Boys) Suzanne Hogan recently began the second season of her podcast, A People’s History Of Kansas City, which highlights stories important to local culture. A recent episode focused on local barbecue pioneer Henry Perry and his long overlooked influence.

-Station To Station, Episode 3: Khrystal

In addition to the main podcast hosted by Center Cut Records founder Patrick Sprehe, the Center Cuts feed is also home to Station To Station, hosted by local musician and Bridge content manager Michelle Bacon. On the most recent episode of Station To Station, Bacon talked with KCK musician/actress/comedian/writer Khrystal about her beginnings in acting, the local music ecosystem, and her goal of empowering the youth in her writing.

-The Z Show, Episode 149

Skylar Rochelle's show on the Bridge features two hours of new indie music and a handful of throwbacks every week plus the occasional artist interview. One of her March shows included a brief interview with TheBabeGabe of Blackstarkids about her new clothing brand, BSK’s two live shows, and her acting ambitions.

-Well Rounded Podcast, Episode 1: DJ Alphabeta

Well Cultured (a.k.a. Cult) has been covering hip-hop culture in Topeka, Kansas since 2013. The first episode of their new podcast featured DJ Alphabeta, a DJ and producer from Topeka who has thrown several block parties, constructed a DIY venue in his living room, and dropped three beat tapes over the past few years. Host Lino Gonzalez talked with Alphabeta about his interest in ‘90s Memphis hip-hop, Topeka’s scene, and some shows he’s booked.

-Love Dojo 72, Episode 3

Love Dojo 72 is a freeform online radio show hosted by DJ Babiface (Kansas City’s Charmaine Ejelonu). Ejelonu curates an eclectic mix of music ranging from jazz, hip-hop, and reggae to more experimental, ambient pieces with brief bits of cryptic poetry and vocalizations used as interludes. It’s kind of a vibe. 


[This article first appeared in Issue 1 of Shuttlecock's free monthly print edition. Click here to read more about the issue and find your copy.] 

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