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Blogroll: May 2021

Here’s all of the best (non-Shuttlecock) local music content from the last month. Less talk, more rock. Click each item's title for the link.

Reading material:
-Who Killed Mac Dre? - Donald Morrison, Passion Of The Weiss
This article, written by Los Angeles journalist Donald Morrison, is perhaps the most fascinating piece of music writing I’ve read in years (I realize I may be biased here, but still). After conducting dozens of interviews and digging through 1,300 pages of unsealed KCPD reports over the course of 10 months, Morrison has compiled this remarkably thorough and comprehensive piece of writing on the murder of Bay Area hip-hop legend Mac Dre that occurred in Kansas City in 2004.

It begins by summarizing Mac Dre’s rise to prominence in the Bay and the cult following he achieved in Kansas City -- the cultural exchange between our two locales remains notable to this day. The piece goes on to introduce the local players involved with bringing Dre to town for a concert on that fateful Halloween weekend and lays out the timeline of events that ended with his tragic end, shot to death in an embankment off Highway 71.

Nobody was ever arrested for Mac Dre’s murder. For over 15 years, rumors and different versions of events have been passed down by word of mouth, YouTube video, or message board post. Kendrick Blackwood’s 2005 article in The Pitch, Tone Death, did a very admirable job of outlining infamous Kansas City rapper Fat Tone’s rumored involvement in Dre’s murder (which is pretty much fully debunked in both articles) and the ensuing murder of Fat Tone (seven months after Dre’s death) that came as misguided retaliation.

But for the first time in Who Killed Mac Dre?, we get to hear directly from the Kansas City man who helped provide transportation for Mac Dre that weekend. We also get to see police documents on the vehicles involved, a diagram of the crime scene, Dre’s external wound location chart, and details from numerous interviews conducted by KCPD Detective Everett Babcock and by Morrison in his reporting.

Some of the men alleged to be involved in Dre’s murder are now dead (one was murdered in 2010, another in 2014) or incarcerated on unrelated charges. A couple of them couldn’t be tracked down for comment in this article. And while we’ll likely never know every detail of this case, Morrison’s reporting finally gives the general public the best sketch of that weekend we’ve got yet and includes a thoughtful epilogue on Dre’s legacy as an artist and the future he was robbed of.

-Vitreous Humor, a Great Lost Emo Band, Makes Peace With the Genre 20 Years Later - Josh Modell, Bandcamp Daily
Most people who come into contact with the Kansas City/Lawrence area music scene for any substantial amount of time at least know of The Get Up Kids. Maybe they’ve heard of The Casket Lottery or Shiner. One Lawrence band emo/post-hardcore band that was lost to time -- besides among Real Heads -- was Vitreous Humor. The group’s post-breakup discography compilation, Posthumous, has recently been remastered and issued on vinyl for the first time and it is essential listening.

This piece on Bandcamp’s editorial page gives a brief history of the somewhat short-lived band and includes lots of fun tidbits like their meeting with an A&R from Elektra Records and how Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers are apparently big fans. Nick Spacek also interviewed the band for the May issue of The Pitch and broke down step by step how the reissue happened.

-Shawnee Mission Faces: Skylar Rochelle, SM East grad and show host on The Bridge 90.9 - Leah Wankum, Shawnee Mission Post
In case you missed my interview with her on the Shuttlecock Podcast (or you’re just a big Skylar fan; I wouldn’t blame you), you can read about all of her many music scene gigs and about how she got her start as a DJ at The Bridge in this Shawnee Mission Post profile.

-Women In Music - By Design, issue 5
By Design, if you’re not familiar, is a Kansas City based, bi-annual print magazine by and for young creative professionals. In its most recent issue you can find a spread featuring local artists Khrystal, Mae C., and Jass giving tips to any readers who hope to make music and build a career for themselves. The magazine is available for purchase on their web store.

-5 Reasons Sticky Fingers and Enema of the State are Companion Albums - Grant Sharples, We Have The Facts And We’re Rejecting Your Pitch
Kansas City freelance music journo Grant Sharples recently got to interview Mick Jagger about his less-than-enjoyable Dave Grohl pandemic collab for Consequence. What’s more enjoyable is Sharples’ recent newsletter in which he makes a convincing argument for why the Rolling Stones and Blink-182 have more in common than one might think.

-An interview with Ricardo Flores (Mentira) - My War, issue 7
The latest issue of this Belgian punk and hardcore fanzine includes an interview with Ricardo Flores, guitarist and vocalist of Kansas City’s Mentira. The conversation covers Flores’ introduction to punk rock, his moves from Mexico to Orlando to Kansas City, Mentira’s formation and 2020 LP, and some discussion of COVID era politics. The zine also includes a random photo of The Get Up Kids circa 1999 inside its front cover. It can be ordered stateside through the web stores of Sorry State Records or Razorblades & Aspirin.

-The three most recent newsletters - Liz Cook, Haterade
I decided a few months ago that the writing highlighted in Blogroll would only be music related, but for the second edition in a row, Liz Cook’s Haterade newsletter has been too enjoyable to exclude. Here are the impossible-not-to-click subject lines from her three most recent transmissions: Eat an Apple in the Shower, The Restaurant Staffing Crunch Is Real. Scapegoating Unemployment Insurance Won’t Help, and What Do You Do with Mountain Dew?

Video content:
-Joe Cornejo interviews Harv

Hot 103 Jamz DJ and Yadda Yadda Podcast co-host Joe Cornejo recently hopped on a Zoom call with KCK-born musician and producer Harv. After graduating from Harmon, then Alabama State, Harv moved to Atlanta where he worked in several studios. His first major label placement was for production on Gucci Mane’s infamous “Lemonade” (on which he played keys and bass). Soon after, he was asked to join Justin Bieber’s touring band during the My World era. Cornejo and Harv cover all of this ground, plus Harv’s production work on Bieber’s recent #1 hit “Peaches.”

-DIY Labels & Everything But The Band virtual panel
Hosted by Reno art collective The Holland Project, this two-hour panel discussion includes Jensen Ward and Jon Kortland (Iron Lung Records), Max Ward (625 Thrashcore), and Grace Ambrose (Kansas City transplant, Thrilling Living). The discussion covers all the ins and outs of running a DIY record label in 2021 and feels important given that kids can’t easily discover and learn about this world right now due to the absence of gigs.

-Still Spinning: Lawrence music survives a pandemic
This recent KJHK mini-documentary directed by Cami Koons and Nicole Dolan features members of Chess Club, Pale Tongue, and LK Ultra discussing how the pandemic has impacted their bands and how they’ve adapted over the past year.

-Amplify Lawrence: Amped For Camp Spring Festival 2021

This 120-minute video features discussions from volunteers at Amplify Lawrence (f.k.a. Girls Rock! Lawrence) as they prepare for this year’s camp, as well as performances from several local/regional acts. The virtual festival concludes with a set from one of the camp’s most notable alum-bands LK Ultra. LK’s set includes two unreleased songs.

-Suneaters: Loving Relationship

Given how accessible HD video cameras are at this point, it’s surprising that more local acts don’t give the “visual album” thing a shot. Kansas City indie rockers Suneaters -- a band that features Lotuspool Records founder Chris Garibaldi -- did just that with Loving Relationship. The 35-minute film essentially includes a music video for every song on the band’s 2015 album of the same name. Scenes include a cheery, Satanic office party, a movie theater brawl (filmed at Screenland Armour), and a chainsaw killer love story, among others. The production quality is impressive and the gags are plentiful. The film is available to watch now on Prime Video.

-Well Rounded Podcast recent episodes
The Topeka hip-hop podcast’s four most recent episodes include some solid gets: AyEl, Cuee, Dom Chronicles, and Maadcxmmander.

-The Saber Magazine Podcast with Jooby Truth

Saber Magazine editor Andres Nelso sits down with the KCK rapper to dig into his upbringing, his discography thus far, and his latest project titled At All Costs.

Audio content:
-Overland Park’s Justus West Knows Something About Success
This recent KCUR segment hosted by Steve Kraske includes a 24-minute conversation with area musician Justus West. West is a 22 year-old who was nominated for a Grammy for his co-production work on Mustard’s “Ballin’” and has also worked with Mac Miller, Ariana Grande, Princess Nokia, John Legend, Logan Richardson, and Alicia Keys.

-Go DJ with guest host Dom Chronicles
In case you haven’t heard, Go DJ is a new hip-hop show on 90.9 The Bridge. The sixth episode of the two-hour program featured rapper Dom Chronicles as a guest host and included a couple choice local cuts and some of Dom’s favorite artists from over the years.

-Streetwise with Dave Jorgenson
The Pitch’s flagship podcast, hosted by editor Brock Wilbur, recently included a guest spot from Kansas City native Dave Jorgenson, known for his important work as the Washington Post’s TikTok guy.

-Chapo Trap House #511 with Thomas Frank
Best-selling author and Kansas City native Thomas Frank guested on one of the Dirtbag Left’s favorite podcasts to talk about his latest book, The People, No: A Brief History of Anti-Populism.

-Center Cuts / Station To Station recent episodes
Center Cut Records’ two podcasts have snagged new interviews with 90.9 The Bridge DJ and Middle Of The Map Fest co-founder Chris Haghirian and veteran Kansas City vocalist Julia Haile (Hi-Lux, The Good Foot, The Buhs).


[This article first appeared in Issue 2 of Shuttlecock's free monthly print edition. Click here to order a copy online, or pick one up for free at locations around KC/Lawrence/JoCo.]    

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