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Vandals Takeover: Punk rock prevails on Broadway

Just a stone’s throw from Westport, the space at 3740 Broadway is shaping its new identity. For years, Kenny’s News Room was a watering hole for journalists. It later became The News Room, a quintessential Midtown dive bar. In its later years, the establishment struggled to find its footing. New ownership transformed the spot into Black and Gold Tavern—an MU-themed bar—at the beginning of 2013. But like its predecessor, it failed to maintain a steady patronage and significance as a music venue. In March, the back room underwent a transformation, rebranding itself as the punk rock club Vandals.
 
I like being able to provide a space for music, and I also like being able to pay local musicians for playing,” says Vandals’ manager Michelle Wyssmann. With that approach in mind, Vandals has grown into its own entity and has become a notable spot to catch a live show.
 
From the start, the venue set out to prove that it could thrive. A stage was built, an upgraded sound system purchased, and the grand opening party was stacked with a we-don’t-fuck-around lineup of The Big Iron, Drop A Grand, and Sneaky Creeps. Since then, Britt Adair has been booking local heavy hitters weekend after weekend, building bills that have made Vandals a haven for fans of distorted guitars and high-energy performances. DJs have taken up residency in the bar, helping bring in a regular crowd. The venue has also hosted the annual Center of the City Fest in April and its first Summer Kamp Fest in August, both of which boast more than 30 bands over 3 days.
 
Less than a year after taking the venue, Vandals has announced that the entire space will become theirs. Eager to don its new punk rock threads, Wyssmann notes that the bar area will feel more like a dive, and a wall of fame for bands will be constructed, but she reveals little else about the remodel. “I don't want to give everything away, but know it will be very punk rock and that leopard print is my signature color,” she exclaims. The bar will be closing on Sunday, November 30, and reopening as Vandals on Tuesday, December 2 (Facebook event page).
 
With a lack of venues that cater to a punk rock crowd, Vandals has begun to fill a gap in the local community. “It’s really cool to see a lot of bands starting up again and sharing that history with the younger scene,” says Wyssmann, who recognizes the value of having a destination for musicians and fans to congregate. She’s also an artist who understands the need to foster music in the city. “I think it's important [that musicians] have somewhere to go that cares about their future and wants to see them succeed.”
 
And in that same spirit of community support, reopening week will feature a slew of free shows, all leading up to the Vandals Takeover party on Saturday, December 6. Sex Offenders, Wick and the Tricks, Stiff Middle Fingers, Black on Black, and will play, while DJ Pat Brown will be spinning in the bar. A canned good can be exchanged for a raffle ticket; this will support the venue’s Punk Pantry. From 7 to 10 pm, various punk and horror vendors will be on hand to sell sweaters, scarves, home decor, and art.
 
--Michelle Bacon
 
Michelle is editor of The Deli KC and plays music with The Philistines, Dolls on Fire, and Drew Black & Dirty Electric.
 
 

Vandals will be closing on Sunday, November 30 and will reopen on Tuesday, December 2. Be sure to hit up one or all of their events next week. Why not? They’re all free. Facebook event page for the December 6 show. 

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Best of [YOUR SCENE] 2014 Poll for Emerging Artists - ACCEPTING SUBMISSIONS!

It's that time of the year folks!

Submit your band for The Deli's Best of [YOUR SCENE] 2014 Poll for Emerging Artists - who wins gets featured in our SXSW pocket issue, distributed in Austin during Music Week! (Other prizes to be announced...)

ENTER HERE!

The Deli's Staff

November 2014
The Sluts
"Loser (EP)
"
mp3

 Lawrence, Kansas (affectionately to be referred to henceforth as LFK) continues to be a source of the kinds of music that I want to hear more of and know more about. One band in particular has really caught my ear of late with a sound that’s raw, dirty, energetic, and undeniably attention-grabbing: The Sluts, a bare-bones twosome consisting of Kristoffer Dover on drums and Ryan Wise on guitar and vocals. Two musicians, no more, no less … but as the sounds you’ll hear on their new EP Loser will demonstrate, two musicians is plenty when it comes to making a substantial sonic statement.

 
Their mix of garage, punk, and grunge kicks things off with the opener, “Let Me Go,” as The Sluts tear things up with a grimy bounce firmly entrenched in 4/4 time. “Loser” starts with a tip of the cap to upbeat new wavey rhythms, but 25 seconds into the track, the boys re-establish the power presence that is their raison d’etre (how’s THAT for some damn NPR-speak, kids?). “Green” and “Linger” wrap up the four-track, barely-more-than-ten-minute EP with the sound that I’ve most commonly described as “Nirvana without Krist Novoselic,” as Wise’s sneering vocals and snarling guitar combined with Dover’s relentlessly on-point percussion give the music just a bit of Bleach-era homage while sounding very much of the present day.
 
I had the honor of introducing The Sluts during this year’s Midcoast Takeoverat SXSW; they were on the roster of the I Heart Local Music / Whatever Forever day-party that featured more examples of LFK’s finest (Black on BlackShy BoysJosh Berwanger Band, and Oils/CS Luxem). After a couple long days of music and food truck fare and drinking, the abrasive grind of The Sluts was a much-needed Brillo pad to the brain. Give Loser a listen, and keep an eye out for this band.
 
Love me some dirty, filthy, nasty The Sluts. Awwww yeahhhhhh.

--Michael Byars




Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear performs a secret show at recordBar

(Photos by Todd Zimmer)
 
Last night, Madisen Ward and his mother Ruth turned down the lights at recordBar to play their songs to around 50 friends, relatives, and members of the KC music community. A few short months ago, an intimate dinner performance to a moderate crowd would have been the norm for Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear. Now, one of the best-kept musical secrets in the region is being recognized around the country; last night’s performance was unannounced and mostly by invitation. It was the duo’s first Kansas City show since opening up for B.B. King at The Midland on October 1.
 
 
The two performed about 45 minutes of new and existing material; according to Madisen, the final song of the evening, "Little Barrel," was just written last Friday. This set captured every aspect of why MW&MB has become the object of so many musical affections. Madisen Ward can write tunes that sound more seasoned than someone of his age should be able to do. Along with it, his vocal styling demands attention, ranging from serenely soulful to ardent and impassioned. Ruth Ward plays guitar effortlessly, as though it’s an extension of herself, and sings each note from deep within. The connection they share—both musically and as mother and son—comes through with the genuine delivery of each song.
 
 
 
Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear were recently signed to Glassnote Records, adding their name to a professional caliber that includes Phoenix, Two Door Cinema Club, and Childish Gambino. The duo attracted attention from the likes of Rolling Stone, Paste, and NPR after playing an exclusive showcase at Third Man Records for the Americana Music Fest in September, only a couple weeks after performing to a capacity crowd at Crossroads Music Fest in Kansas City. They plan to record and release an album with Glassnote in 2015.
 
 
For more photos from last night’s performance, visit Zimmer’s Flickr album.
 
--Michelle Bacon
 
Michelle is editor of The Deli KC, a staff member for Midwest Music Foundation and Folk Alliance International, and plays in The Philistines, Dolls on Fire, and Drew Black & Dirty Electric.
 
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Artist of the Month: The Blackbird Revue

(Photo by Kristi Yarcho)
 
From the first moments of hearing a performance from The Blackbird Revue, you know you’re in for something special. Danielle and Jacob Prestidge have been creating music together since they started dating. Six years later, their musical and romantic collaboration has proven successful: the two have been married for 5 years, they have two acclaimed albums under their belts, and their music has been featured on national television.
 
Since then, Danielle and Jacob’s connection as artists has continued to solidify. The Blackbird Revue is a collaboration of Danielle’s upbeat pop influences with Jacob’s sincere folk approach, resulting in compositions that are simultaneously sweeping, delicate, and intriguing. The duo’s latest offerings have incorporated a multi-instrument approach, adding a momentous layer to its already purposeful music.
 
We talk with Jacob Prestidge a bit more about the duo, and find out what else they’re up to. They are also one of our November Artists of the Month!
 
The Deli: Down and dirty: one sentence to describe your music.
 
Jacob Prestidge: I might describe our music as harmony-laden, rhythmically driving folk-rock.
 
The Deli: Give me some background info on The Blackbird Revue. I inferred from your bio that your musical collaboration and relationship coincided with one another. If I am correct, how do you think that has affected your music?
 
Jacob: We began playing music together almost as soon as we began dating. Our musical relationship has been like our personal relationship in many ways. I would not say working together musically, or as a couple was easy, or natural from the start. Some relationships are like that; ours was not. We've been learning, and continue to learn how to fuse two different personalities, tastes, and styles into a cohesive, fulfilling expression. Has it been difficult? Absolutely, but I have no doubt that it's made us stronger as a couple, and better as a band.
 
The Deli: What else inspires your music and songwriting? Do you write everything together, or is there a primary songwriter?
 
Jacob: We both write. Historically, I have been the primary songwriter, but lately Danielle has been writing more and more, which I am genuinely thrilled about. Danielle is often inspired by her own life experiences. Her songs often have a cathartic effect and a deeply personal meaning. I, on the other hand, tend to tell stories. I'll generally write more of a third-person narrative, into which I'll infuse a few lines of my own heart, my own experiences.
 
The Deli: I've seen The Blackbird Revue as a full band, but more recently just the two of you. Do you plan on keeping it that way, or adding more members in the future?
 
Jacob: We both love playing with a full band, but at this point in our career the two-piece just makes a lot more sense. It allows us to travel much more, and it definitely plays to certain strengths of ours, such as our harmonies, and our songwriting.
 
The Deli: What have been your greatest accomplishments as a band?
 
Jacob: That's very hard to say. We've had some things happen that sound good in a bio, but our desire is honestly to share the gifts we've been entrusted with to bless people. If someone has been moved by a song of ours, been wakened to beauty around them, or somehow felt less alone in the world, then that would without question be our greatest accomplishment.
 
The Deli: Are you in the process of recording anything? If so, what can we expect from it? Will it be different from your previous albums?
 
Jacob: We're in the process of being in the process. We have a grand plan that involves raising money for our own home studio. My degree is in music recording. So our goal is to have the tools and the time to record a new album as we'd like, and then be able to record more at a minimal cost, and even getting into producing records with other bands that we love. At this point, we're simply trying to build our fanbase to the point where we feel like our specific financial goal is attainable.
 
I can say we do have the material for our first full-length album, and it will be both similar and different from our previous releases. Danielle is writing more, and she lends a more driving, upbeat pulse to the sound. Additionally, the electric guitar has been playing an increased role in our newer music. For a sample of what this might sound like, you can check out the brand new video for our latest single, “Blueprints” (below). That said, the album will not be a total departure from what has made us who we are; there will be plenty of acoustic guitar, and lovely harmonies.
 
The Deli: What does supporting local music mean to you?
 
Jacob: It's very important to us. It takes some effort to find the bands you really love, and it takes some effort to get out of the house and go see them. But we've personally never been sorry we made the effort.
 
The Deli: Who are your favorite local musicians right now?
 
Jacob: Our KC area favorites are (and this is incredibly hard, by the way): The Grisly Hand, Akkilles, Outsides, White Girl.
 
The Deli: Who are your favorite non-local musicians right now?
 
 
The Deli: What is your ultimate fantasy concert bill to play on?
 
Jacob: If someone asked us to open for a tour featuring Stevie Nicks (Danielle's pick) and Emmylou Harris (Jacob's pick), that'd be okay by us.
 
The Deli: A music-themed Mount Rushmore. What four faces are you putting up there and why?
 
Jacob: Hmm. Our personal musical Mt. Rushmore would include Bob Dylan, Hank Williams, Paul McCartney, and Stevie Nicks.
 
The Deli: What other shows do you have coming up?
 
Jacob: We're heading out for a short tour this week through Chicago, Columbus, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Lancaster, PA.
 
In the KC area we have some great shows coming up, including November 25 at The Bottleneckin Lawrence with Dawn & Hawkes; December 5 at The Riot Room with Nick Thomas of The Spill Canvas; December 12 at 12 Baltimore for their Emerging Artist Series; and December 18 for a Christmas House Concert at our place. We also just found out we’ll be playing an official showcase at the 2015 Folk Alliance International conference this February.
 
The Deli: What other goals does The Blackbird Revue have for the rest of the year, and beyond?
 
Jacob: We want to get better. Better as songwriters, better as singers and musicians. Better at getting the sounds we want in the studio. Improvement is our constant goal. We will get a new album out in 2015, and it will be our best yet.
 
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?
 
Jacob: Thank those who help make you aware of good local and regional music. It's too often their hard work goes unnoticed, or underappreciated.
 
Next Tuesday, November 25, you can catch The Blackbird Revue at The Bottleneck, where they will be supporting Americana duo Dawn & Hawkes from Austin. Facebook event page.
 
--Michelle Bacon
 
Michelle Bacon is editor of The Deli KC and plays in bands.
 
 
 

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