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Allen Stone, This Generation’s Stevie Wonder

Now, that is a compliment.  Yes, Val Haller, a New York Times writer who links current music to that of the baby boomer generation, compared Stevie Wonder, a cornerstone in soul music, to Allen Stone.  And, you know what, I second the comparison.  He and his talent deserve to be grouped with the big names in soul, names such as Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin and Smokey Robinson.  That’s a tall order, but Allen’s voice and delivery answers the challenge. Haller described Allen Stone as “a ‘Goldilocks’ blond-haired, blue-eyed soul singer whose gospel roots and passionate vocal delivery have earned him a spot in this exclusive R&B talent club.”

But hey, let’s rewind for a second.  Where did this kid (and he is a kid, the guy is only 22 and making quite a name for himself), where did this kid come from? Well, Stone absolutely has the hippie thing going for him. He’s from the Pacific Northwest, specifically Chewelah, Washington and is the son of a preacher. By 14, he was leading worship and playing guitar for the church crowd. In his teen years, he encountered soul music for the first time, and by blending his gospel performance and vocal proclivity for the soul genre, Allen Stone arrived as The Allen Stone.

Quick, fast-forward! Stone self-released two albums, first “Last to Speak” and then the self-titled sophomore album “Allen Stone.” Check my favorite, ridiculously awesome live performance of “Unaware” on Conan.  Stone’s strong retro-soul style has skyrocketed him to the #2 spot on the R&B/Soul Chart on iTunes and the #9 spot on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart. Can you say talent for days?

The show is Sunday, November 4, with supporting artists Selah Sue and Tingsek. Doors open at 6:30p.m. and the show starts at 7:30p.m. $15.50 for advance tickets, $17.50 the day of the show and only $10 for students with a KU ID.

-Alexandria Freeze

The 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Mod Sun

The 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Mod Sun

MOD SUN is coming to The Granada November 18.  Don’t know much about him?  Here are the top ten things you should know:

  1. MOD SUN is a singer/rapper/musician who’s dabbled in a variety of music genres.
  2. His real name is Derek Smith, but likes to be called Dylan.
  3. MOD SUN stands for Movement On Dreams, Stand Under None.
  4. He began touring nationally at age 17.
  5. He toured internationally playing drums for rock bands, Scary Kids Scaring Kids and Four Letter Lie.
  6. He’s playing a line of shows with Never Shout Never this fall.  Cool combination, eh?
  7. Rolling Stone magazine chose him as one of the top 16 unsigned artists in the world in 2011.
  8. His motto is “no fans, just friends.”
  9. He’s shared the stage with tons of national acts such as Shwayze, Breathe Carolina, Chiodos and Wu Tang Clan, and collaborated with Cisco Adler, who was just at The Granada!
  10. And, last but certainly not least, MOD SUN gives full credit to the band Hanson for encouraging him to play music.

If you can’t already tell by that list, MOD SUN is a pretty interesting guy, and his sound is equally unique.  You can catch him at The Granada November 18.  Only $10 for advance tickets and $12 the day of the show.  Doors open at 7, show’s on at 8.

-Angie Soden

Sit Back, Don’t Think and Check Out Electric Guest

Electric Guest is exactly the sort of patron a host would be thrilled to have at their party.  The Los Angeles-based duo—comprising of Asa Taccone and Matthew “Cornbread” Compton (plus brothers Todd and Tory Dahlhoff on bass and keyboards/guitar when Electric Guest is on tour)—knew how to put together an enigmatic and engaging album on their very first go-around.  The group hit the scene in 2011, and by 2012 they had already become a household name in alternative music.  The released their first album, “Mondo” in April of 2012.

And I swear, in no time at all, they were garnering name-recognition, making appearances on “Late Show with David Letterman” (they performed their catchy single “This Head I Hold”), and appearing at major international festivals. And when I say major international festivals, I mean, oh my gosh, seriously, how did they score a gig at these things? Seriously, tell me their secret. Electric Guest performed at SXSW, Bonnaroo, Sasquatch and Splendour—that last one is an Australian fest.

Electric Guest is currently on tour (obviously), performing songs from “Mondo,” an album produced by the one, the only, the well-known Danger Mouse. Danger Mouse has had a hand in producing for big names such as The Black Keys, Cee-Lo Green and the Gorillaz. He’s also been nominated for a Grammy Award for Producer of the Year five times.  If Electric Guest and “Mondo” have incorporated his genius and earned his stamp of approval, this show coming up at The Granada is going to be, excuse the pun, electric.

The show is Sunday, October 28, with supporting bands No and Line & Circle. Doors open at 8:30p.m. and the show starts at 9p.m. $13 for advance tickets, $15 the day of the show.

-Alexandria Freeze

Can’t Get Enough Country

We’ve got a whole lot more country comin’ your way, Lawrence!  In case you missed part one of the fall country music preview, here’s what’s been going down at The Granada.  Bo Phillips and The Queen (of Rockabilly, Wanda Jackson) swung by The Granada in September, kicking off this season with some red dirt country and rockabilly.  And on the 25th of this month, you’ll catch Josh Abbott Band.  If that’s not enough country for you guys, have no fear.  We’ve got a lot more country bands set to play The Granada within the next few months.  Here’s a look at the four you’ll see in November.

Casey Donahew Band is a country favorite here in the heart of the Midwest.  Since 2002, this Texas heartthrob has been on the road touring and recording music.  Donahew’s style blends light-hearted pop country with witty, fun lyrics that tell a story.  The band gained the most success from its fourth studio album released last October, titled “Double-Wide Dream,” which peaked at number 10 on the U.S. Country charts.  Have a listen to the album’s featured single, “Double-Wide Dream.”

Right now the guys of Casey D Band are traveling the Midwest and southern USA on their fall tour, and lucky for Lawrence, they’re stopping by The Granada with supporting act Matt Stell on November 1.

Randy Rogers Band is set to play The Granada November 17.  The band’s music is primarily influenced by modern-day pop country with Texas red-dirt country roots.  The guys got together in 2000, and since then have been keeping busy recording music and touring with other renowned country artists such as Willie Nelson, Gary Allan and Dierks Bentley.  Rogers even collaborated with Radney Foster to write several songs on the band’s second album, “Rollercoaster.”  The band received the most recognition from its latest single released last summer, “One More Sad Song,” which became its first Billboard Top 40 hit.

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Kimock? More Like Cool Man

Steve Kimock has had a prolific career in music. He’s jumped around the music industry, playing in several different bands (Zero, Rhythm Devils and his current, The Steve Kimock Band). Kimock has strong connections to the Grateful Dead.  He played in the Rhythm Devils with Grateful Dead drummers Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart. And to top all of that off, he’s a pretty cool guy.

Granada: You just got back from teaching at a music camp in Ohio. How was that?

Steve Kimock: It’s kind of an awesome execution of consciousness. It’s a fantastic camp and I feel really lucky to be a part of it. And I do enjoy teaching, if I get a chance to do it. It’s not something I’m at all uncomfortable with. Both of my parents were teachers and so I got to see them doing their thing, so it comes natural.

G: So I’m guessing you enjoy sharing your skill and teaching others music. It’s obviously a big part of your life.

SK: It’s the opportunity to get people inspired. Ultimately, the music learning thing, you have to do it yourself.  You know, trial and error and repetition. There is very little information that can be relayed. I just try to encourage the interest.

G: You’ve performed with your son, John. Did you teach him, or did he show interest on his own?

SK: Oh, he showed interest on his own at a very early age. I never forced it on him.  He understood the gig better than most adults by the time he was four.

G: How is sharing the stage with your son?

SK: Oh, it’s my favorite thing ever. I still pinch myself thinking, I’ve got to be dreaming.  To have spent a lifetime in music, where there is not a lot of reward, honestly, I mean, you have to really love it and you do it, and you get to stay up all night.  It’s rough sometimes. So, when the firstborn, who I have such a strong bond with, when he turns out to have similar love for music and we get to play together, it’s reward beyond anything.  I love that. Read More..

“Tell All Your Friends” That Taking Back Sunday’s Still Got It

Amazing.  Simply amazing.  I felt like I was reliving my freshman year of high school while screaming my heart out to the tune of “You’re So Last Summer.”  It was just like old times, and the music sounded even better than I remembered.

Hundreds of devoted fans lined up outside The Granada hours before doors opened, anxious to see Taking Back Sunday on their “Tell All Your Friends” ten-year anniversary tour.  Mansions, a 3-piece band from Kentucky, kicked off the evening.  For being such a small band, they sure had a lot of power.  Bayside kept up the hype opening with “Sick, Sick, Sick” from their latest album, featuring driving guitars and some ripping solos.

And then, Taking Back Sunday hit the stage.  Last night was the third time I’ve seen this band live, and let me tell you, they’ve still got it.  To put it simply, Taking Back Sunday is like wine – it gets better with age.

The band played two sets back to back.  The first set included tracks from their more recent albums, featuring crowd-pleasers such as “A Decade Under the Influence” and “El Paso.”  Because it is the band’s ten-year anniversary of their debut album, “Tell All Your Friends,” the second set consisted of playing that record in its entirety.  They played the songs off that record like it was just written yesterday.  It was a flawless performance of those ten-year-old favorites.

Lead guitarist John Nolan was right.  In my interview with him, he mentioned that the song he connected with most through the fans is “Cute Without the ‘E’ (Cut From the Team).”  That is so true.  The second Nolan strummed that first chord, the crowd went insane.  I saw fans screaming those lyrics with just as much passion as if they had written the song themselves.  It was a truly magical moment for both the band and the fans.

I’ll say it again.  Amazing.  If you were lucky enough to snag a ticket to this sold-out show, you witnessed a memorable performance.


-Angie Soden

The Anti-Rapper

Hopsin is, without a doubt, a controversial figure in the rap-o-sphere.  Where does a guy who drops out of high school to pursue a career in music, scores big hits on YouTube, makes fun of the young money mainstreamers and starts his own record label (Funk Volume) fit in the scheme of things?

Here’s a better question: Why does a guy who has done all of the above things need to fit in? Hopsin—born with the name Marcus Hopson in Panorama City, Los Angeles, California on July 18, 1985—has a wicked-quick sense of lyrical wit and a crude sagacity of what is wrong with the modern rap game.   I mentioned before that he had some success on YouTube—try 17 million views for his mouthy music videos like “Sag My Pants” and “Ill Mind of Hopsin 5;” (sidebar: check out the videos; the links are right there. I love that someone’s taking a swing at those who are conventionally considered the “trendsetters” and rap-pack leaders.)

Anyways, Hopsin and his crew (listened below in the show’s line-up) are travelling around the United States on the label’s self-titled tour, Funk Volume 2012 Tour, performing tracks off Hopsin’s most recent album “Raw.” Both the 2010 album and the 2012 mixtape “Haywire” showcase this up-and-coming rapper’s unbelievable proclivity for being a bitter wordsmith. Also, he’s a dead ringer for Eminem’s earlier works.

The show is Wednesday, October 17, with Dizzy Wright, SwizZz, Jarren Benton, DJ Hoppa, Irv Da Phenom and Bizzy. Doors open at 8p.m. and the show starts at 9p.m. It’s $10 for advance tickets, $12 the day of the show and $35 for the VIP treatment.

So, come on down to The Granada this Wednesday and check out one of XXL Magazine’s “Top 10 Freshmen.”

-Alexandria Freeze

Ready, Set, “GO”: Motion City Soundtrack is BACK!

Motion City Soundtrack will be rocking the socks off The Granada Theater in just a few short days. Expect an epic return from these pop-punk rockers with songs from their 14-year music career, also featuring fresh material from their latest album.

This Minnesota quintet burst on the scene back in 2003 with their popular single, “The Future Freaks Me Out,” and haven’t left since. The members take pride in working hard and touring as much as possible, and are currently on their fall U.S. tour. They’ve shared the stage with bands such as Blink-182, MxPx, Fall Out Boy, and made several appearances at the Vans Warped Tour.

Motion City Soundtrack released its fifth studio album last summer, titled “Go”. This new album stays true to their pop-punk roots and adds a few quirky surprises that play off the band’s passion for entertaining. The track “Son of a Gun” includes a wicked guitar solo that came about as a joke, but ended up getting recorded in the album. “We did a lot of stuff like that,” lead guitarist Joshua Cain explains. “When we had a unique moment happen, we kept it and that’s really what I love about this album.”

Coming from someone who’s personally seen Motion City live, you don’t want to miss this. You can catch Motion City Soundtrack with supporting bands Jukebox the Ghost and Now, Now on October 16 for only $20. Doors open at 7, show starts at 7:30.

Check out “Go” at Motion City’s website.

-Angie Soden

Q&A with Technician #1

So, one day, I up and decided to get on the phone and call Tech N9ne, KC’s premier name in the rap game, to ask him a few questions about life, music and his upcoming show at the Granada (October 10, people!) And that is exactly how it happened. Okay, I maybe had to go through his publicist and we arranged a time to talk. But still, Tech is a chill guy, answered all my questions and is funny as hell.  So, without further ado, here’s the interview:

G: In a lot of your songs, you talk about your hometown pride for Kansas City. Can you describe how growing up in KC has influenced your music?

Tech N9ne: I was born and raised in Kansas City. I don’t know anything else like I know Kansas City. You know, I moved to LA and I moved back. This is where my family is, this is where my love is, this is the town I know inside and out. And I love it. I don’t want to be anywhere else. Yeah, I might have a place in Florida one day, you know, on South Beach. But no matter what, I will always come back. This is where my love is, this is where I do my music. It’s a wonderful place.  There’s no place like home, just like “The Wizard of Oz.”

G: Like you said, you’ve been everywhere, but you have a huge fan base in Kansas City. What makes us fans in the KC area special?

TN: Well, it started in KC. The first Technicians were here. It’s where I started. And it was never written in blood that everyone was going to latch onto me, but they did, years and years ago. It has to start at home.  If you can get it at home, you can get it anywhere. They say Kansas City is the hardest place to get it because people are so critical. Thank God they love me. Read More..

The Modern-Day Story-Teller

Aesop: a fabulist or story-teller.  Aesop Rock: one of the hottest MCs in the post-millennial underground.  This guy must have music in his veins, because he made his way into the rap game early on.  Ian Matthias Batvitz (born June 5, 1976) found himself in the underground New York music scene in the early 1990s and, while in college, he financed his first musical efforts, “Music for Earthworms,” a CD, and a music video, “Abandon All Hope,” a track on the CD.

His little self-financed ploy was a success—two years later, Aesop had a record deal with Definitive Jux (or Def Jux) and released “Labor Days,” an album dedicated to the discussion of labor in American society and the concept of “wage slaves.”  I love social consciousness! The album was a great success, and singles like “Daylight” and “Labor” commanded the attention of the oblivious masses (or just the Billboard Charts, on which “Labor” peaked at #15… one of those two).

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