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Q&A with William Elliott Whitmore

How would you like to get on the phone with a man who has a voice that’s been described as, “the reincarnation of an old gospel preacher from the 1920s and a fascination with sin, death and redemption to match?” Well I did, and I must say, William Elliott Whitmore is one of the nicest, most laid-back, smooth-talkingist guys around—and yes, he does have that Tom Waits-esque voice that melds oh-so-nicely with his alternative-folks-blues music.

The guy is genuinely in love with his hometown (keep reading!) and is impressively grounded. He and his music are unpretentious, rooted in Midwest simplicity and warmth and have an unabashed enthusiasm for friends, fun and a good, good drink.

So, without further ado, William Elliott Whitmore!

Granada: How was growing up on a horse farm in Lees County, Iowa?

William Elliott Whitmore: Well it was a pretty idyllic childhood, and actually I still live on the same farm.  We were pretty free to do whatever we wanted. We had horses so we could ride. I always enjoyed being in the woods and running around like a little crazy person. And my folks were really into country music so we grew up listening to a lot of that kind of stuff. So, when it came time to start writing my own songs, I started writing what I knew about, which was rural life, sort of through the lens of a hard-working family.

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The Granada’s ‘Bout ta Bubble

KC’s own is coming home.  Well, regionally home—I’m talking about Tech N9ne, performing at The Granada with the Strange Music crew (read: Krizz Kaliko, Stevie Stone and Ces Cru.) and I hope he’s bringing the Caribou Lou.  Tech N9ne, arguably the most successful “make the mainstream go me” Midwest rapper, has been touring in the northern lands—translation: the dude has been riot making in Canada—but  is making a stop in Lawrence, Kansas on Oct. 10 to put on a show for the fans who have supported him from the beginning.

That’s you guys, just so you know.  We—as in, us KC natives—have been with Tech from the beginning. And he’s been in the game for more than a minute. Tech N9ne—named after the TEC-9 semiautomatic handgun, a perfect representation for the guy’s insane-fast spit-style—has been in the rap game since the late 90s. Since then, he has jumped around a few different labels, eventually starting his own (Strange Music), put out approximately one-bazillion albums and EPs.  Most recently, E.B.A.H. (pronounced E-Bah), stands for “Evil Brain, Angel Heart” and sounds like it might describe every ex ever) hit the store, showcasing the Tecca Nina’s bizarre-o hardcore rap style. Here’s the link to the song the EP is titled after. Give it a listen; I promise it won’t disappoint.  Unless you, the reader, are dumb. I can’t be held accountable for bad taste.

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And the Crowd Went “Yonkers”

For those of you who are familiar with Odd Future, you know I don’t even have to write this review for people to know what went down at the show. The group has made it perfectly clear in the past that they have one goal when performing: Put. On. A. Show. And that’s what they did.

When you bought your ticket to this show, you didn’t just buy a concert ticket. Odd Future brings something completely new to the table – much more than just some music and lyrics. This group, made up of various rappers, singers and songwriters, is an intense collaboration of raw musical talent and pure determination to surprise. Their insane antics and inventive sound truly sets them apart from hip-hop groups today.

Taco kicked off the show spinning some classic hip-hop tunes, eventually bringing in the rest of the group with “French.” Tyler, The Creator’s “Yonkers” was a crowd-pleaser, as always, along with his controversial hit single, “B*tch Suck D*ck.” The crowd went insane. From beginning to end, the crowd never stopped shoving, pushing, swaying, yelling or bobbing their heads. And I can guarantee you could hear the “golf wang” chants all the way from The Oread.

If you were one of the lucky ones who scored a ticket to the sold-out show, it was definitely worth the 25 bucks. Pictures from the show can be seen here.

Until next time, OFWGKTA!

Solo Cisco Says “ALOHA”

Lawrencians: Say ALOHA to Cisco Adler as he swings by The Granada on the 25th as a supporting act for The Expendables and Iration in the Domination Tour.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Cisco Adler, his sound blends a laid back fusion of reggae, funk, hip-hop and rock. He’s performed with bands and artists such as Whitestarr, Shwayze, Tayyib Ali, and B Money. During this tour, you’ll get a listen of his new solo material as well as a few classics.

Adler has collaborated with several artists writing songs, performing and producing. He gained the most media attention from the 2008 single “Corona and Lime,” which he co-wrote and performed with Shwayze. The single peaked at number 23 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it the most successful single of both of their music careers.

Since 2008, Adler’s been keeping busy working on his mixtapes which include collaborations with several artists such as Cobra Starship, Mickey Avalon and Shwayze. Adler also produced some tracks on Mike Posner’s debut album, 31 Minutes to Takeoff, released in 2010. He was even featured on the song “Do U Wanna?” which is a spin off Ray LaMontagne’s “You Are the Best Thing.” He also just finished up his debut solo album, ALOHA, which is set to release October 23. Not to mention, he is the head of record label Bananabeat Records.

Adler’s album, ALOHA, is a continuation of his 6-song ALOHA EP, which was released digitally only last July. You can expect to hear a pop/reggae/hip-hip/rock mix with a laid-back summer/post-summer island vibe.

For only 15 bucks, come see Cisco opening for The Expendables and Iration on the Domination Tour on Tuesday, September 25 at The Granada. Doors open at 7 and the music starts at 8.

If you’re interested in scoring some one-on-one time with the bands before the show, check out the coloring contest on The Granada Theater’s Facebook page.

-Angie Soden

A Whole Lot of Country

Bo Phillips. Wanda Jackson. Josh Abbott Band. Casey Donahew Band. Randy Rogers Band. Ashley Ray. Logan Mize. Keller Williams. Robert Earl Keen.

If you can’t tell by that list, we’ve got a WHOLE LOT of country music coming to Lawrence. Here’s a look at three bands you’ll see through September and October.

Bo Phillips, former high school agriculture teacher and brother of fellow country artist, Stoney LaRue, will kick off this “country season” at The Granada on September 22. His music has a down-home country feel, mixing modern and red dirt country. Phillips is known for bringing a versatile show to the table with catchy leads, soft ballads, and even some comedy.
Currently, The Bo Phillips Band is making its way around the Midwest playing at various bars and small theaters. This show will highlight his latest album, “Fishin’ with Grandpa,” released last year and also his debut album, “Dirt Road.”

The Queen of Rockabilly, aka Wanda Jackson, will grace Lawrence with her presence on September 29. Thisrockabilly singer gained popularity in the mid-1950s and 1960s, becoming one of the first successful female rockabilly singers. Her music is a fluent fusion of rockabilly with country music, which distinguishes her from other recording artists of her time.
Since the 1950s, Jackson has never truly left the spotlight. She’s continued to record albums and perform music for the past sixty years. In 2009, Jackson teamed up with Jack White of The White Stripes to record “The Party Ain’t Over,” which peaked at 58 on the Billboard Hot 200.
Jackson demonstrates true dedication as she sets out on this nationwide tour at the age of 74. Her thirty-first album, titled “Unfinished Business,” will release on October 9 and include freshly written material along with some fun covers of Etta James, Woody Guthrie, as well as a few others.

You can expect to see Josh Abbott Band at The Granada October 25. This Texas red dirt country band has released three records since 2009, its latest proving to be the most successful. The band’s third album was released in April of this year, called “Small Town Family Dream.” The first single off the album, “Touch,” peaked at number 41 on the Hot Country Songs charts in the U.S. and features Dancing with the Stars participant, Melissa Rycroft.
Josh Abbott Band is continuing its fall Midwest tour in Lawrence next month. With catchy melodies and memorable hooks, Josh Abbott Band is sure to make an impression on Lawrence.

So, keep your eyes peeled within the next few months as these country bands make appearances at The Granada. And also be on the lookout for part two of this country preview with information on more country bands coming to The Granada this fall and winter.

In case you missed it the first time, here’s the lineup and dates.
Bo Phillips – September 22
Wanda Jackson – September 29
Josh Abbott Band– October 25

-Angie Soden

Red Bull Locally Throwin’ Down

There really aren’t any words in the English language that I could use to perfectly describe Wednesday night. To say the least, it was a party. A massive dance party, to be exact. The bands were so diverse and the DJs demonstrated such distinctive styles that it made for a memorable night at The Granada.

My Brother, The Vulture and DJ G-Train kicked off the night, beginning the set with Ozzy Osbourne’s Crazy Train. It was an unexpected surprise (at least for me) to hear that old rock tune with a hip-hop twist. The set combined old popular rock and hip-hop covers with My Brother’s originals, allowing both the band and DJ to strut their stuff throughout the set. The set ended with an awesome drumming collaboration, which all members of the band got in on while G-Train kept spinning.

Sunu and DJ Kimbarely Legal kept the crowd dancing during their set of original funk and jazz. The set was basically a huge one-hour jam session with excellent horn solos and hip-hop beats. The band’s crisp, rhythmically in sync style was a great combination with Kimbarely Legal, and you could tell everyone on stage was having a blast. Local rapper Approach, who also hosted the event, even got up on stage to spit some rhymes.

If you’ve never heard Making Movies live – get on that now. The band is a flawless fusion of indie rock and Latin reggaeton. Combined with DJ Brent-tactic and DJ B-Stee, this collaboration was definitely one of a kind. Making Movies was the only band accompanied by two DJs, and let me tell you, it made a difference. The DJs threw in some complimenting beats and sound effects with the band’s original music, which made for an earful of awesome.

Red Bull Locally Thrown = a great success. The bands rocked, the DJs spun effortlessly, and a combination of the great music and Red Bull and vodka kept the crowd dancing all night.

-Angie Soden

Turns out talent is genetic

Stephen Marley is the second son of legendary artist Bob Marley  but Stephen has forged his own path in the music industry as a producer, songwriter and singer by infusing reggae style with hip-hop beats. Stephen made his debut at the age of six and has been in the business ever since. He was successful behind the scenes for a number of years in production efforts with his family’s music; he helped his younger brother Damian nab two Grammy Awards for best reggae album and earned recognition remixing his father’s album “Chant Down Babylon.”

So, it isn’t much of a surprise when I tell you his debut album, simply named “Mind Control,” is a remarkably beautiful scope of cross-genre brilliance. Stephen Marley proves to be a wizard in the studio—his album weaves together a diversity of musical styles, soulful and meaningful lyrics and that accent I just can’t seem to get enough of. Check out “The Traffic Jam” from “Mind Control:” I can’t say I’m much of a fan of beatboxing, but Stephen does it right.

Here’s info about seeing this guy live (highly recommended). The show is Monday, September 24, with guests 77 Jefferson and DJ Stiga. Doors open at 7p.m. and the show starts at 8p.m. $21 for advance tickets, $23 the day of the show.
-Alexandria Freeze

‘Tis the Season… For Metal!

I’m not going to lie; I’m psyched for this show. It’s not just Hatebreed. It’s not just All Shall Perish. It’s not just White Chapel. It’s not just Deez Nuts or Conflicts. It’s all of them. And I swear, if I don’t see all of Lawrence’s metalheads here at the Granada on September 20, I am going to lose it.

Writing this piece on Hatebreed is bringing me back to my metal days—the headbanging to star-quality guitar riffs, working up a sweat in the mosh pit and the essential band tee uniform—because, let’s face it, there is no show like a metal show. And no one really needs ear drum functionality, am I right? Because this (that’s a link to a video) is awesome.

And Hatebreed promises concert-goers just that: a show that’ll knock your socks off and hearing lost that’ll make your granny jealous. The band is quintessential hardcore American metal. And these guys know what they’re doing. They and their sound go way back—all the way to 1994. The band has had a long, successful run despite having changed up their crew quite a bit along the way. They—and when I say ‘they,’ I mean Jamey Jasta (vocals), Wayne Lozinak (guitarist), Frank Novinec (guitarist), Chris Beattie (bass) and Matt Byrne (drums)— got together in New Haven, Connecticut (what up, East Coast!) and made their first go at fame and fortune by putting together a three-song demo and selling it to locals. The band has since seen a lot of success, including a Grammy-nomination for “Live For This” from their 2004 album “The Rise of Brutality.” Their sixth studio album is set to be released in early 2013.

The show is Thursday, September 20, with openers All Shall Perish, White Chapel, Deez Nuts and Conflicts. Doors open at 6:30p.m. and the show starts at 7p.m. $20 for advance tickets, $22 the day of the show. And that, ladies and gentle fellow metalheads, is a steal.

GETTING YOUR ‘BLOOD PRESSURE’ TAKEN ISN’T JUST FOR THE DOCTOR’S OFFICE…

But if I have any say about it, your blood pressure will be through the roof. The Granada is bringing MuteMath (often stylized as MUTEMATH, and preferred that way by this writer) to Lawrence.  This Grammy-nominated alternative rock band is an Odd Soul full of edgy sound, headed up by lead vocalist and keyboardist Paul Meany, drummer Darren King, guitarist Todd Gummerman and bassist Roy Mitchell-Cárdenas. Lately, the band has been touring around the west coast, opening for Incubus and Linkin Park, and rocking the socks off more than 14,000 fans at a time.

But, now that the Honda Civic Tour is winding down, MUTEMATH is gearing up for their Fall 2012 Headlining Tour. And you Lawrencians have the chance to see this epic happy music group perform in a much more intimate venue (aka, The Granada).  For those of you who don’t know (but will now know!), I would describe their sound as a fusion of New Order’s synth-dance epics, the Stone Roses’ shambling shuffle, Radiohead’s spiky chilliness, Air’s serene ambient pop, all mashed up with the booming vocals of mainstream pop/rock… but Billboard.com already beat me to that smashing endorsement. So, all I’ve got to say is this: MUTEMATH has some great performance shindigs and sounds great live. If you don’t believe me, check out this live video of “Blood Pressure” off of their most recent album, Odd Soul.  It is a crazy wonderful earful of interesting.

For those of you who are into this stuff, here’s a quick bio of the group: MUTEMATH started as a long-distance collaboration between Paul Meany in New Orleans, Louisiana and Darren King in Springfield, Missouri (though we here at The Granada won’t hold that against him.) The group has since released three studio albums, the first being self-titled, followed up by Armistice in 2009 and Odd Soul in 2011.

The show is Sunday, September 16, with guest Civil Twilight.  Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show’s starts at 8 p.m.  $23 for advance tickets, $25 the day of the show.

So get out of the house, get down to The Granada and spend your Sunday night in a fun-frenzy alt-rock bubble. See ya there, Lawrence!

-Alexandria Freeze

MICHAEL JACKSON’S “THRILLER” WITH A NEW SPIN

Since 2003, Easy Star All-Stars has been known for taking classic rock albums and transforming them into an unconventional reggae-rock fusion, also creating a few all-original albums along the way.

Easy Star All-Stars is a creation of Easy Star Records with a rotating roster of musicians and singers who contribute vocal, instrumental and lyrical inspiration.  The band gained international attention with its tribute albums “Dub Side of the Moon,” “Radiodread” and “Easy Star’s Lonely Hearts Dub Band” released in the early 2000s.

The latest album, “Thrillah,” is the band’s first tribute album not modeled after any form of rock.  The album was made in honor of the late Michael Jackson, mixing reggae with soulful flavor previously produced by the King of Pop.

Along with supporting rock act, Passafire, Easy Star All-Stars is for sure to put on a lively show with musical versatility that you won’t forget.  The Thrillah Tour is promised to bring songs from the latest tribute album as well as previous tribute tracks and originals.

The show is Monday, September 10.  Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show’s on at 8 p.m.  $15 for advance tickets, $17 the day of the show.

Here’s a link to my personal favorite All-Stars cover, “Money,” from “Dub Side of the Moon.”

Check it out, and if you like what you hear, you know what to do.