Kyle James, the son of Kansas City mayor Sly James, has achieved notoriety for all of the wrong reasons. He seems to have a knack for finding himself on the wrong side of the law. James would much rather be known for his burgeoning career as half of the hip-hop duo C.O.A. Friday's show provides an opportunity to hear how James stacks up against two of the area's top hip-hop acts. Godemis, half of the accomplished Ces Cru, is Friday's headliner. The prolific Steddy P. has been making vital sounds for years. Tef Poe and Adrian Truth open the show. Tickets to the 10 p.m. show are $7 in advance.
"Natural High," issued forty years ago by Bloodstone, may be the most vibrant hit to emerge from Kansas City in the post-jazz era. The stone cold classic was introduced to a new generation through its inclusion on the soundtrack for Quentin Tarantino's 1997 film Jackie Brown. "Natural High" is the only universally recognized hit racked up by the Kansas City funk and soul veterans. The Chi-Lights scored two hits that also helped to define the early 1970s. "Have You Seen Her" and "Oh Girl," the Chicago-based ensemble's definitive jams, are among the most lush and romantic songs in the soul music canon. Kharizma open Saturday's nostalgic show. Tickets to the 8 p.m. show are $42.50 in advance.
Orgone stunned an unsuspecting audience with a set of burly funk when the band opened for the Dirty Dozen Brass Band at Crossroads KC last May. Although it's relatively unheralded, the Los Angeles-based soul review is one of today's premier live acts. Front person Niki J Crawford possesses the voice and the stage presence of a youthful Tina Turner. A cultivated throwback act, Orgone appeals to both old-school fans of Otis Redding and James Brown as well as to a younger generation introduced to the sound by Amy Winehouse and Sharon Jones. Tickets to the 9 p.m. show are $9 in advance and $10 on the day of the show.
"The Awkward Phase," Antennas Up's vibrant new album, is loaded with sterling songs that are just as bubbly as Taylor Swift's pop anthems and every bit as peppy as Green Day's hits. The ambitious band, which graced the cover of Ink early this month, is clearly set to pop. Saturday's show could serve as Antennas Up's launching pad for an potentially extraordinarily successful 2013. Two fellow Kansas City acts open the show. Not a Planet is a hard-charging rock trio. In Back of a Black Car plays revives the slinky sound of 1980s rockers like INXS and the Simple Minds. Tickets to the 10 p.m. show are $10 in advance.
For a glorious but fleeting moment about seven years ago, it seemed as if the Golden Republic was about to hit the big time. Yet the sleek indie rock issued on a nationally-distributed EP and album failed to resonate with the public. The band subsequently dissolved. Former members are now integral parts of Kansas City bands the Republic Tigers and Soft Reeds. The New Year's Eve reunion offers the band and its devoted fans an opportunity to relive their glory days. Thee Water Moccasins, an elite quartet of Kansas City's most accomplished indie rockers, open the show. Tickets to the 10 p.m. show are $12 in advance.
Not every band ages gracefully. Some acts embarrass themselves with dated music and off-putting behavior. The Rainmakers, however, manage to carry on with dignity. The Kansas City band's hits like "Downstream" and "Let My People Go-Go" sound just as relevant as they did in the 1980s. The Rainmakers' roots-rock possesses a timeless appeal. These qualities make Knuckleheads one of the most desirable New Years Eve destinations for party-minded rock fans. A performance by the Bel Airs, proficient barroom rockers from Columbia, precedes the Rainmakers. Watermelon Slim, a folksy blues man, kicks off the festivities. Tickets to the 8 p.m. show are $47.50 in advance.
Murder By Death
Murder By Death's sinister sensibility may not seem like an ideal match for the jubilant tone typically associated with New Year's Eve. Yet given the troubled tenor of the times, the bleak perspective of the Indiana-based band may provide a perfect soundtrack by which to give 2012 a fitting sendoff. On "I Came Around," a typically Goth-tinged rocker from Murder By Death's new Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon album, the narrator learns to appreciate a longtime antagonist during the man's wake. Revelers at the Granada will likely have similarly mixed feelings about 2012. Two Lawrence-based acts- the excellent Cowboy Indian Bear and Y(our) Fri(end)- open the show.Tickets to the 10 p.m. show are $12 in advance and $15 on the day of the show.
Kill Devil Club
Dave Stephens' steadfast commitment to entertaining audiences has made him a staple of Kansas City holiday celebrations. His lounge-jazz schtick- reminiscent of the outlandish antics of Rat Pack members like Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr.- make him a proven companion for New Year's Eve revelry. Stephens balances his penchant for visual gags and amusing stunts with top-flight supporting bands that are typically loaded with an assortment of Kansas City's preeminent jazz musicians. Tickets are $225 per couple or $125 per individual. The price includes food and drink.
| Bill Brownlee, Special to The Star