Peter Schlamb with Hermon Mehari
Kansas City isn't the only community in Missouri that's producing young jazz lions. Peter Schlamb, a vibraphonist from St. Louis, has been making waves on the international jazz scene for the past few years. He regularly collaborates with trumpet phenomenon Hermon Mehari on his frequent trips to Kansas City. The two have appeared in mainstream jazz settings and in bands backing rappers on area stages. The versatile friends will perform a mix of original music and standards with support from bassist Karl McComas-Reich and drummer Sean Mullins at the Blue Room. Admission to tonight's 7 p.m. show is free.
Knuckleheads (Living Room)
Jason Eady evokes an era in which country music was dominated by songs about the heartaches and headaches caused by cheating and drinking. AM Country Heaven, the latest album by the Texas-based singer-songwriter, makes the relatively traditional country approaches of George Strait and Alan Jackson seem like trifling pop music. Steel guitars mournfully whine as the Air Force veteran croons songs with titles like "Wishful Drinking" and "I'll Sure Be Glad When I'm Gone" on the sepia-toned project. Attendance at Friday's show in Knuckleheads' intimate Living Room is mandatory for diehard fans of Merle Haggard and Hank Williams, Sr. Tickets to the 9 p.m. show are $15 in advance.
Me Like Bees
"Naked Trees," an unnerving Me Like Bees song inspired by the devastating tornado that tore through the band's hometown of Joplin in 2011, provided the first exposure many people had to the estimable indie rockers. Like much of Me Like Bees' repertoire, "Naked Trees" betrays the influence of Franz Ferdinand and the Pixies. Me Like Bees will be joined by three additional Missouri-based acts at the Riot Room on Friday. St. Louis' Burrowss should resonate with fans of Sleater-Kinney. Kansas City's Gentleman Savage evoke the hazy pop of the 1970s while Kansas City's Man Bear channels the bittersweet craftsmanship of the Replacement's Paul Westerberg. Tickets to the 8 p.m. show are $5 in advance.
BB's Lawnside BBQ
Jason Vivone and the Billy Bats are following in the footsteps of Trampled Under Foot as the ensemble travels to Memphis later this month to represent the Kansas City Blues Society at the International Blues Challenge. Local favorites Trampled Under Foot won the competition in 2008. Based on the strength of their 2012 album Lather. Rinse. Repeat., Vivone and the Billy Bats are formidable contenders in this year's contest. Vivone is an excellent vocalist, guitarist and songwriter. Those skills have made him one of the elite blues musicians in Kansas City. Friday's show at the south Kansas City roadhouse is a prime opportunity to wish the members of the band luck before they take their potentially career-altering appearance in Memphis. Showtime is 9 p.m.
The release of the "Live in Los Angeles" album last October served as confirmation that the Architects remain one of Kansas City's most potent live acts. The band's sweat-infused performances serve as the imposing benchmark every time another punk-based act steps on to a Kansas City stage. The Architects will be joined by two up-and-coming Kansas City-based acts Saturday. Appropriate Grammar adds a hint of country twang to its convincing indie rock. The gothic but gritty sound of Drew Black and Dirty Electric is reminiscent of the Velvet Underground. Tickets to the 8 p.m. show are $8 in advance.
Soul Providers with Stik Figa
Stik Figa titled his 2012 mix tape Choosy Moms Choose Stik. Choosy hip-hop fans have been partial to the Topeka-based rapper for several years. Brandishing a laid-back Southern disposition even as he acknowledges urban anxiety, Stik Figa possesses a unique sensibility. And his tagline- "Stik Figa, mayne"- is one of the best in hip hop. Along with Kansas City rapper B.B.P, Stik Figa opens for the Soul Providers on Saturday. The conscious Kansas City-based crew is celebrating its tenth anniversary in 2013. The collective features hip-hop luminaries including Reach, Milk Drop and Dutch Newman. Tickets to the 10 p.m. show are $5 in advance. The cover charge is waived for women.
At first glance, the dual careers of Tamela Mann seem incongruous. Mann is a bonafide gospel star. Her album Best Days dominated the gospel charts for much of 2012. Yet Mann is also one of entertainment mogul Tyler Perry's favorite actresses. She's starred in numerous Perry productions on stage and screen. Her most famous role may be as Cora on television's Meet the Browns. The multi-faceted artist will likely provide ample doses of comedy, music and inspiration during Saturday's concert. Father-daughter tandem Shanice and Maurice Hayes, perhaps best known for their regular appearances outdoors on The Plaza, open the show. Tickets to the 7 p.m. show are $16.
Phantoms of the Opry and Victor & Penny
While not mandatory, a pre-show shopping spree at a vintage clothing emporium would set the appropriate tone for Saturday's unique double-bill at the Brick. Both Phantoms of the Opry and Victor & Penny specialize in music that was popularized in the first half of the previous century. The Phantoms of the Opry play vintage country music in the tradition of Ernest Tubb, Bob Wills and Hank Williams. The self-styled "antique pop" of Victor & Penny- the charming duo of Jeff Freling and Erin McGrane- convincingly evokes the giddiness of the Tin Pan Alley era. The cover charge to the 10 p.m. show is $8.
Reel Big Fish
Ska may be hopelessly uncool, but the uninhibited exuberance displayed by the form's musicians and fans is unparalleled. Monday's powerhouse triple-bill of road-tested veteran acts, consequently, promises to deliver an ecstatic experience to unpretentious devotees of ska. California's Reel Big Fish, the evening's jocular headliner, is entering its third decade of horn-based dance music. Pilfers, a New York-based band that includes former members of the Toasters and Bim Skala Bim, and Dan Potthast, best known for his work with St. Louis' MU330, open the show. Tickets to the 7:30 p.m. show are $20 in advance and $22 on the day of the show.
Should John Fullbright win a Grammy Award on February 10, his victory would represent one of the biggest upsets in the history of the institution. His formidable competition in the category of Best Americana Album includes Bonnie Raitt, the Lumineers, the Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons. Let's be honest- Fullbright doesn't stand a chance. Even so, he merits the consideration. The music produced by the native Oklahoman compares favorably to Steve Earle, Josh Ritter and Paul Thorn. He'll perform his ornery material with a full band when he returns to Knuckleheads on Tuesday. Tickets to the 8 p.m. show are $18 in advance.
| Bill Brownlee, Special to The Star