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knuckleheads saloon

Show review: The Band That Fell To Earth at Uptown Theater, 1.31.16

David Bowie is a god of artistry, performance, and music. We are all created in his ever-changing image. Cool in our uncoolness, beautiful awkward outcasts, only appreciated and understood in our circles of the same. May it be Bowie as a distorted, sexy, sci-fi, glam-rock angel, or toying with the absurdity of gender and sexuality and what belongs to it, or Bowie as a poetic confrontational storyteller, or merely the voice of a collective us who seeks guidance and shelter from the normal; David Bowie changed the world.
On Sunday night, Bowie fans all over the metro came to pay tribute to our god. Upwards of 850 people showed up at the Uptown Theater, some with painted faces and all ready to do their part. This show was originally booked for Knuckleheads Saloon but moved when the demand became too great for it to handle. Our local musicians leading us in praise, calling themselves The Band That Fell To Earth, played more than 2 hours of Bowie—25 songs. And still left us wanting more. Always more Bowie.
Michelle Bacon, editor and writer for our very own Deli along with 90.9 The Bridge and Ink, on her cooler days plays bass for The Philistines and drums for Chris Meck and The Guilty Birds. She handpicked this very talented group of her friends and peers and coordinated a masterpiece of a tribute. Ultimately presented by The Deli KC, this performance was all created from the depths of her Bowie fandom. Kansas City thanks you, Michelle.
Michelle with her shiny hair, tight red pants, and perfectly played funky bass lines, wasn’t the only star onstage that night. Stephanie Williams was the other half of the rhythm section; she and her beautiful bangs play drums in Katy Guillen & the Girls. Kyle Dahlquist, of The Hardship Letters and Amy Farrand and the Like, took care of the synth and keys. Alex Alexander of Drop a Grand and SquidsKC melted faces with his lead guitar. Rich Wheeler, who plays with The People’s Liberation Big Band and Son Venezuela, was the brass section. Betse Ellis and Clarke Wyatt of the folk duo Betse & Clarke were the string section. Andrea Tudhope, Lauren Krum (The Grisly Hand, Ruddy Swain), and Rachel Christia (Hearts of Darkness) were personality and backup vocals. The main vocals were handled by Nathan Corsi of Not a Planet, Michael Tipton of Kodascope, and Steve Tulipana of Roman Numerals.
Besides the talent, the key to this tribute was the huge video screen behind the band (provided by XO Blackwater). It played clips of videos and live performances that went along perfectly with the set list all night. It gave us a needed tool to fully reminisce. It allowed us to compare dance moves between Bowie and whoever was taking on the vocals at the moment, which was a very fun element. The screen started the show with the “Lazarus” video—it sobered the crowd right up and we all remembered that we were in mourning.
The Band That Fell To Earth started their first set with “Let’s Dance.” The seats cleared and I became fully aware of what a special night this was going to be. Steve Tulipana carried the brunt of the lead vocals. I have been lucky enough to catch him in a couple of tribute projects, one being a Joy Division tribute. He became Ian Curtis that night and blessed us with the transformation into David Bowie on Sunday night. Steve brings icons back to life, just for one day. His moves, his vocals, and emphasis were captivating. He was David Bowie and the crowd loved it.
“Heroes” has been such a covered and loved track for so long. I’ve heard it recorded and covered live so many times. But something felt different about it on Sunday. This anthem, professing love and proclaiming individuality and how truly heroic these things are, is who David Bowie was. It is an anthem to me. It means so much. And Rich’s horn during this song was everything. Bless him and his contribution to this project.
Popular favorites “China Girl,” “Young Americans,” and “Modern Love” turned the crowd into a dance party. Old and young dancing and singing every lyric wildly at each other. But the real shock was the last song of the first set, where Nathan Corsi captivated the crowd with his vocal interpretation of “Life on Mars.” No one around me spoke. Some had tears in their eyes. Dressed in suspenders with his beautiful brunette mane, Nate was not Bowie. He was a fan. He was paying tribute. His voice represented how we all felt. He left his crowd blown away. We all needed an intermission to gather ourselves.
We came back from intermission with “Fame” and the stripper moves came pouring out. Michelle and Kyle became Nine Inch Nails on “I’m Afraid of Americans” and I cannot stress enough how spot-freaking-on this was. During “Suffragette City,” the screen above showed clips from Labyrinth and everyone took notice.
“Sound and Vision,” which is one of my personal favorite tracks, was done justice by Kyle on the keys. He was a vision (see what I did there?). “Space Oddity,” was taken on by Nate and Andrea. Andrea was center stage and ready to do her part to pay homage with Nate to her left. I felt nervous as these vocals felt like maybe they would be a stretch for anyone to take on. I was so wrong. They, along with the string and horn section, took us to church and made us all believers. It was one of many “WOW” moments of the show. But, not to be outdone, “Moonage Daydream” produced its own stars. Alex seemed to have been taken over by some sort of rock guitarist demon and Clarke broke his bow. Now THAT is rock ‘n roll.
The Band That Fell To Earth played an encore of “Rock n Roll Suicide” and “Under Pressure.” Michelle began the last song of the night with that bass line we all know so well. We prepared ourselves for the grand finale. The backup vocalists danced. All performers of the night graced the stage. David and Freddie took over the screen and we all celebrated, together.
David, thank you. Thank you for the music. Thank you for the courage. Thank you for instilling the belief that we are all ok as we are, no matter what that might be. Thank you for changing us and the world. RIP.
--Jess Barrett
Haver of sweet dance moves and stealer of t-shirts


Apocalypse Meow 8 is coming up!

Midwest Music Foundation is proud to present the eighth annual Apocalypse Meow! Mark your calendars for November 6-8 and enjoy 3 nights of music at 3 great Kansas City spots for a very important cause.
Friday, November 6 at recordBar
Amy Farrand and the Like
Get your tickets here. 18+ / $7
Saturday, November 7 at Mills Record Company
A free, all ages show presented by The Deli KC!
Sunday, November 8 at Knuckleheads Saloon
Get your tickets here. 21+ / $15
Apocalypse Meow 8 benefits Abby’s Fund for Musicians’ Health Care, which provides emergency health care grants to musicians in need. Raffles will be held throughout the weekend and a silent auction will be held on Sunday at Knuckleheads, with items, gift certificates, and tickets donated by local businesses and organizations. Click here for a full list of items and contact rhonda@midwestmusicfound.org if you’d like to donate.
Huge thanks to all our sponsors, volunteers, and musicians that make this event possible each year! For more information and a full list of sponsors, please visit http://midwestmusicfound.org/apocalypse-meow-2015

Jesse Harris and The Gypsy Sparrows' Farewell Show this Thursday

(Photo by Martin Diggs)
Jesse Harris has been entrenched in Kansas City’s Americana music scene since discovering it as a teenager at BB’s Lawnside BBQ. He has brought that approach to his songwriting, along with a soulful country edge. He has found success as a solo artist and with his band, The Gypsy Sparrows. But after several years of playing and touring, the group has decided to call it quits. This Thursday, they will play a farewell show. We talk with Harris about the group, his music, and what’s in store for the future.
The Deli: Down and dirty: one sentence to describe your music.
Jesse Harris: Songs that are true to the soul that tell tales of both triumph and tribulation.
The Deli: Give me some background on your music; talk about your solo material and The Gypsy Sparrows. Why have you decided to end The Gypsy Sparrows?
Harris:I found the blues in my early teens and luckily, living in Kansas City, the blues scene was at my fingertips. Once I started to write songs, my blues roots really became evident. My songs tend to be on the depressing side but I promise there are a few upbeat ones too. The Sparrows really came together as naturally as possible. I had been writing songs for a few years and playing out in KC with Sean DeCourcy sitting in on harmonica. I got word that Jeff Perkins had recently moved back to Kansas City from New York. Sean and I had both worked on earlier projects with Jeff and we both were eager to get him involved with what we were doing. Crazy to think about but that was almost 10 years ago.
As the frontman for The Sparrows, I started getting booked often for song swaps and singer-songwriter nights in venues around the Midwest. These were new to me because song swaps in Kansas City were almost nonexistent. I got hooked on them. They were organic and lent room for stories and camaraderie between the performer and the audience. The more I did, the more I loved them, and I began to write songs that would fit that type of show. That is how my solo album As I Am came to be.
We decided to call an end to The Gypsy Sparrows for many reasons but mainly just one big reason. We had a great run, wrote some great songs, shared millions of laughs, only a few fights, traveled near and far and we did it all just how we wanted to. It was our way or no way at all and in true Gypsy Sparrow fashion we wanted to be the one who said we were done. We didn’t want to fade away or burn out, just simply say farewell.
The Deli: What inspires your music and songwriting?
Harris: My inspiration almost always comes from real-life events. For me, to write the song I have to feel the meaning, emotion, or the story. I feel connected to my songs like they are a part of me. Even if they have been fabricated to fit the song better, I can still tell you how the lyric came about. I feel that is what makes a song true, and truth is what I look for in any song.
The Deli: What is your songwriting process?
Harris: My process varies. Sometimes I’ll come up with a melody on my guitar and go from that, but every now and then I’ll start with lyrics first. If I start with lyrics first, it’s almost always right after a long drive.
The Deli: What have been your greatest musical accomplishments?
Harris: I went and saw a band play at Knuckleheads Saloon a year or so before I started to play music live and I remember how great the venue was. Everything about the show was perfect and I remember telling myself how great it would be to play a show there. A year after forming The Gypsy Sparrows, I finally got my chance to play there, and it was everything I had hoped for. Two years after my first appearance, my solo CD release show sold out Knuckleheads’ Gospel Lounge, and that winter I was asked to host a songwriter night there, called The Troubadour Sessions. Those are definitely top accomplishments to me, and I’m honored to be back this winter to host The Troubadour Sessions again!
The Deli: Tell me about your latest solo album As I Am. What can we expect?
Harris: As I Am was a challenge to myself. I wanted to give a true perspective to my sound as an individual musician. As I Am is the best representation of that. Nothing was altered, auto-tuned or digitally changed at all. This is me and my guitar. I am sometimes off-key, my guitar buzzes at times, and I even change lyrics on the fly. It is not perfect because I am not. The songs of the album cover many topics. From heartbreaking loss in “Love, Money, & Redemption” to songs of hope and guidance in “Boots On,” you are bound to find at least one song you can relate to in some way. That is what I was shooting for anyway.
The Deli: What does supporting local music mean to you?
Harris: The local music scene in KC has been growing like crazy over the last few years. When I started out, there were hardly any venues that supported original songwriters. We have been very lucky that the trend is ending. Venues like the recordBar, The Westport Saloon and The Tank Room have really made a name for themselves in the local music community. For me, supporting local music means supporting the venues that host and pays local musicians. This is just a hobby without those venues that pay their performers.
The Deli: Who are your favorite local and non-local musicians right now?
Harris: Local: John Goolsby has the voice of an angel and has written some great tunes. Also a new favorite is Tyler Giles, who is a regular at The Westport Saloon.
Non-local: Jason Isbell is a must in my CD rotation. A newer songwriter to my favorites is John Moreland. I played before him in Tulsa and have been hooked ever since! Both of them are the most truthful lyricists I’ve heard in a while.
The Deli: What is your ultimate fantasy concert bill to play on?
Harris: Alive: Jason Isbell, Amos Lee, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, The Black Crowes, Willie Nelson. Dead: B.B. King, Ray Charles, Levon Helm, Jerry Garcia.
The Deli: A music-themed Mount Rushmore. What four faces are you putting up there and why?
Harris: Willie Nelson - A true road troubadour.
David Gilmore - Got me hooked on the sound of the guitar.
Robert Hunter - Because songwriters get little credit.
Levon Helm - Had a true passion and heart for music.
The Deli: What does the future hold for you as a musician?
Harris: I am heading to the recording studio to record my second full-length solo album this winter. I have some of the best songs I’ve ever written in hand and a fresh (and sober) new perspective on love, life and music. I’m not sure exactly where music will take me, but I know it’s going to be a great ride!
The Deli: Where can we find you on the web?
The Deli: Always go out on a high note. Any last words of wisdom for the Deli audience?
Harris: I’ll say goodbye with a quote from a song I wrote using some of the words of wisdom my dad said to me throughout the years…
“Hold your head up, don’t move so fast
But every second counts so make ‘em last.”
Join Jesse Harris with The Gypsy Sparrows at Knuckleheads Saloon on Thursday. Facebook event page.
--Michelle Bacon
Michelle Bacon is editor of The Deli KC and plays in bands.


Show review: Deco Auto with The English Beat

(Photo by Elizabeth Garcia)
Friday night, I was 16 again, except for the part about needing a fake ID to get into the club. If there wasn't a good time being had by anyone and everyone in the vicinity of Knuckleheads, well, it's on them, because all the ingredients were assembled for them—all they had to do was shake.
Deco Auto got things rolling, and the only problem I had with their set was that it wasn't long enough. Seriously, seven songs? These guys deserve more. Steven Garcia just wails, both his vocals and his guitar; Tracy Flowers maintains the power pop beat with some of the most right-on bass playing in Kansas City, or anywhere else for that fact. The band is rounded out with Pat Tomek on drums. You know who he is. He's the unnamed drummer who not only didn't object, but probably thought it was a grand idea for Steve, Bob & Rich to change their name and become The Rainmakers.
But they're resourceful and made the most of what they had to work with, and played mostly new stuff from the new LP The Curse of Deco Auto (which is awesome and you should buy a copy). They closed with a crowd favorite, “The Mercy Kind.” I can only imagine the speeding tickets that song has inspired.
Deco Auto opening for The English Beat was like a pyromaniac gleefully setting a blaze, and then watching with smug satisfaction as the headliner fanned the flames.
And fan the flames they did. For two hours, they burned down the house. If you haven't gotten it by now, I'll just tell you… I had a great time. For a few hours I was as carefree as I was when they provided the soundtrack of my youth, and that was the effect they wanted to have. The Beat has a new album coming out next month, and the playlist interspersed songs from it with the songs of our youth that most of the attendees came to hear… “Tears of a Clown,” “Save it for Later,” “Hands Off…She's Mine,” “Mirror in the Bathroom,” “Twist & Crawl”… they knew what several hundred people turned out on a glorious May evening for, and they did not disappoint. For more than two hours they had the crowd on their feet, dancing and skanking (relax, it just means 'boogying' in ska-speak) and forgetting all about the babysitters that were on the clock and making more than the revelers made in their first two or three jobs combined. But no one cared, because the show they came for… they got.
--Tammy Booth

Tammy also blogs at They Gave Us A Republic and Show Me Progress.


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