Thursday, March 18th brought with it some new sounds from far-off places. I was overjoyed to sit in on night 2 of “Close Up: A Sounds Australia Showcase.” Hosted by Dom Alessio of Sounds Australia, this relaxing evening featured music by Kee’ahn, Beans, Death by Denim, The Chats, and Kota Banks & Ninajirachi.
We think the photos do this showcase quite a bit of justice. The feeling of connecting with the earth and these natural landscapes while engaging with incredible international artists is absolutely captivating. Check out the snaps below, and add these bands to your next playlist!
The first day of SXSW was filled with films for me. One in particular that caught my eye from the moment I saw the lineup was a short – 10 minutes – film namedThe Beauty President.
Director Whitney Skauge has told a true story that most people may not be aware of – the 1992 bid for the White House by a write-in candidate. Not just any write-in candidate, but drag queen Joan Jett Blakk, an openly queer candidate. In referring to Ronald Reagan, she reminded us that “If a bad actor can be elected president, what about a good drag queen?”
At the height of the AIDS crisis in America, Joan Jett Blakk ran on a platform of health care for all and education – in fact, she wanted to switch the budget for the military with the budget spent on education. The healthcare was especially important in a time during our history when people were dying of AIDS at an alarming rate and antiretroviral drugs had yet to be developed to combat the HIV infection.
Although not considered a political threat, Joan Jett Blakk was an officially registered candidate. In video from the convention, we see that she even made it to the convention floor. Skauge used footage from the era and current interviews with Terence Alan Smith (the man behind Joan Jett Blakk) to convey a moment in history. I only wish it was longer than 10 minutes – I wanted to hear more of Smith’s story and I wanted Whitney Skauge to commit it to film.
On Friday night (3.19) we hung out at the Park The Van Records showcase. Everyone’s own unique ambiance added to the intimate nature of each incredible performance. Johnny Aries kicked it off strong with a track and our first parking cone of the night.
Sacramento’s own Best Move followed mellowing the mood out a bit more. Their debut LP is due later this year.
Brighton-based talent Steven Bamidele came third, with a traffic cone in his own recording space. His was our favorite performance of the evening.
Fan favorite Mae Powell followed, adding back in some moody lighting to reflect the Friday night mood.
Neighbor Lady‘s set came from a very open and beautifully lit space, taking advantage of the most gorgeous natural light. The warm tones enhanced the warmth and energy of the tracks, and we found ourselves grooving during this set.
BOYO brought intrigue to the space, rounding out the evening with Park The Van Records. We are big-time fans of their energy, and looking forward to more from this project.
Murder by Death returned to Lawrence, KS, on March 7 for a show at historic Liberty Hall. The group is mid-way through their current tour celebrating 20 years as a band. The crowd was so happy to welcome them back to Lawrence. The night included a great moment when lead singer, Adam Turla, acknowledged their love and long history with the town, from playing house parties in the early 00’s, to Liberty hall on Saturday. The group was energetic and cohesive – you could tell they’ve been performing together for 20 years.
The Lone Bellow returned to Kansas City on March 2nd to sold out crowd at Knuckleheads. The large crowd comprised young and old fans alike, and everyone knew the lyrics. Known for their energetic live shows, The Lone Bellow did not disappoint. The set list ranged from new tracks like “Count On Me” from their recently released album “Half Moon Light” to old favorites such as “You Never Need Nobody”, and even included a Boyz II Men cover. After almost a decade as a band, and 5 full-length albums, The Lone Bellow continues to prove they are one of the best live acts in the business today.
Joseph’s February 11th concert at the Madrid Theatre, promoting their newest album “Good Luck, Kid,” was the band’s first Kansas City performance in almost three years. Even so, the trio admitted to always being fond of KC, reminiscing of a stop on one of their first nationwide tours, and apologizing profusely for an early edition of a tour poster which placed Tuesday’s concert in Kansas City, KS…
KC clearly loves them back. An energetic crowd enthusiastically sang the band’s lyrics back to them. In the front row were participants of Joseph’s recent “Good Luck, Kid” cover contest, which the band mentioned by name. There was a celebratory mood all night as Joseph performed an outstanding show for their eager KC fans.