Thursday, April 18, 2013

My Missouri: Local Music

Everyone should have a hometown band.  A band you root for because they are from your soil, a band that you can support through all the stages of growth from house shows to empty dive bars to sold out stadiums, a band that you hold up as you tell Seattle to go stick it in their ear, WE'RE COOL TOO! (p.s. all Seattle/West Coast bands, we love you truly, and fyi, crossing the Rocky Mountains isn't as hard as it seems). Music is all about community, finding that one thing or maybe a lot of things that don't make you and me and us feel so alone, so music from your literal community is like a chocolate bar with bacon in it, doubly mind blowing ridiculous.

Now to define local. Huh.  I believe that "local" can have a little wiggle room, yeah, let's go with that. Technically, I lay my head down most nights in the Kansas City area, but since I have lived and continue to travel all over this fine state,  I claim the entire state as my home, backyard and neighborhood. And there is a lot of beautiful music coming from this statewide neighborhood. In no particular order, below are five of my current favorite Show Me State sounds, and one from Kansas.  At times there might be some sibling rivalry between these here border states, but we all know down deep that we are all part of the same middle of the map family.

1. Ha Ha Tonka (Springfield, MO)
Named after a Missouri state park that has a burned down castle in it, Ha Ha Tonka's music is infectious and raw and lovely and filled with wisdom that you can only get from sitting on porches down in the Ozarks under a starry sky: "They say that if you don't change where you're going, you're gonna end up right where you're headed." (from 'Made Example Of')



2. She's a Keeper (Kansas City, MO)*
I swear the first time I heard this song, 'Headless King'  my heart just about stopped. It was the perfect moment that happens so much in music where you find a song that you didn't realize that you were missing in your life until that very moment, but now that you have it, your life is a little bit more complete.  This ensemble of talent is currently working on their second album and I can already feel that their music will be part of the soundtrack to my summer. 




3. Pokey LaFarge (St. Louis, MO)
Old timey class + hipster cool + Midwest charm. I have seen these fine Missourians a couple of times now, and every show blows me away and oh man, that harmonica just makes me blush.

4. Quiet Corral (Lawrence, KS)*
What I love about Quiet Corral is the mix of the old and the new. They have the old folkyness of songs filled with storytelling grace and acoustic instruments, especially spotlighting the mandolin, and then they also have a pop newness (let's plug in some of those guitars!) that just fits.


5.  Radkey (St. Joseph, MO)*
Radkey is made up of three teenage brothers, so young, yet their music already has a remarkable sound to it, think soulful garage punk rock. I was about the same age of these brothers when I started listening to the punk rock and even years after it was declared that Punk is Dead, it makes my soul happy that the kids are still using these raw and loud sounds to learn about and express themselves and find their place in the world.  This a future generation I can get behind.





* Songs from She's A Keeper, Quiet Corral and Radkey can be found on Midwest Music Foundation's "MidCoast Takeover 2013" compilation. This face melting collection, which you can download as a whole or song by song for name your price (which kinda means free),  features music from 56 (!!) Midwestern bands that were featured at the Midcoast Takeover Showcase  during this year's SXSW.  The Midwest Music Foundation a fantastic Kansas City based nonprofit that cultivates and supports music and the music community here in the Heartland.

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