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Album review: The Dead Girls - Noisemaker

(Photo by Todd Zimmer)
 
There’s a certain poetry to the way music communities ebb and flow. A band will manage to capture a certain something that attracts interest, if not devout fandom, but at some point the end of the road lies ahead. At this stage, many musicians decide that it was a good run but now it’s time to do something else. In other cases, band members go off on other musical pursuits. Sometimes a new band arises from the remains of those no longer working. Such is the case for The Dead Girls (formerly Dead Girls Ruin Everything), who came to life in 2004 when members of Ultimate Fakebook and Podstar combined their talents. For the past decade the band has been on its self-described search for “the perfect hook,” and they’ve been successful far more often than not. With their most recent (and perhaps final) album Noisemaker, the Lawrence foursome is hitting on all cylinders with an eleven-track offering that seems primed for radio airplay. I count at least nine of those songs as being ready not only for local airwaves, but much more widespread exposure.
 
The Dead Girls (Cameron Hawk and JoJo Longbottom sharing guitar and vocal duties, Nick Colby on bass, and Eric Melin on drums) take their powerpop pedigree seriously, listing Big Star, The Replacements, The Beach Boys, and Cheap Trick among their influences. It’s a lineage they are clearly determined to be worthy of, and Noisemaker provides 33 minutes that are saturated with crunchy chords, rock riffs, and vocal pyrotechnics that are super, super tight.
 
“I’m On a Mission” opens the album with a blast of all the aforesaid ingredients. From the opening moments it’s clear what that mission is—“to rock!”—and that mission is followed to the letter throughout Noisemaker. A bit later, “Downtown on a Nice Afternoon” offers a burst of jangly guitar sounds, but with an underlying sense of urgency, as if the singer has to be somewhere important… but, well, we’ve already started the song and it’s kind of important that we finish this too… so let’s get it done already! Those opening chords are reminiscent of the sound of early MTV commercials, which is a nice touch, and … oh, I’m sorry, I should explain: “MTV” is a television network that used to play music videos 24 hours a day, and … oh, right: “music videos” are brief vignettes that were made to give television viewers visual connections to the music they listened to.
 
Everybody caught up? Good. On we go.
 
“That Shit Gets Old” is a straightforward rocker that shows me hints of Gruff Rhys on vocals, which is never a bad thing. Perhaps if Hawk or Longbottom was Rhys’ younger brother it would make perfect sense. “Dress Up Dress Down” has almost a summery-surf quality, like it would be the soundtrack to a midnight drive along the beach. “Calling You Around” is a primer in how to blend powerpop guitars with classic-rock arrangements, and “I Don’t Wanna Hafta Hold Your Hand” closes the album with the most uptempo song of the lot, as the band realizes that it’s time to put the guitars and drums down, jump in the Barracuda, and head off to the next adventure – maybe that’s the midnight oceanside drive that I mentioned before.
 
Almost without fail, every album has that one song that stands apart from the others stylistically, as if the band is saying “See? We can do this kind of music too.” This doesn’t work for every band that tries it, but with “Sun and Rain” it absolutely works for The Dead Girls. The dual electric guitar and thunderous rhythm section is replaced by gentle acoustic strings, an ever-so-slightly-out-of-tune stand-up piano, sweetly earnest lead vocals, faraway harmonies, and tonal choices that give this song a very Beatle-esque feel. When a song not only offers a change of pace but shows the true musical talent and potential of the band, that’s when you know that said band is bringing its A game. This song does that for me.
 
The Dead Girls offer something special during their live performances as well, which is something that I’ve said before as being a prime factor in determining the legitimacy of a band or artist. Sure, they’re energetic and do their best to connect with the audience, as most bands at least try to do, but there’s something more here—and it’s evident on Noisemaker as much as it is on the stage of The Bottleneck. It’s the simple fact that you just know these guys are having fun doing what they do. They look like they enjoy every second of music making, and that’s a camaraderie that can’t be faked. Their sense of teamwork carries over to a very important off-stage pursuit that the four of them share: every band member is also a top-notch competitive air guitarist. This is especially true of Eric “Mean” Melin, who won the 2013 World Air Guitar Championship. These gentlemen take their fun seriously—and have serious fun doing so.
 
As of this writing, The Dead Girls only have a precious few shows left before going on an open-ended hiatus; Hawk is going to be teaching English to classrooms of eager students in China next year. There’s no doubt that he’s going to do very well—he could use his song lyrics as pop quizzes—but it’s my hope that he brings a guitar with him. I don’t know much about China, but I have a feeling they could use some rock ‘n roll in their world, and they would be all the richer for it.
 
I know I’ve had a blast listening to every bit of noise made by The Dead Girls.
 
--Michael Byars
 
Michael is looking for a handheld Yahtzee game for his mom. Because he cares.
 
 
 
Join The Dead Girls for their last KC show this Friday night at Harling’s Upstairs. Facebook event page. Their final show will be in Manhattan at Auntie Mae’s, next Saturday, December 20 with The Field Day Jitters. Facebook event page.
 

  





Mark Manning celebrates 10 years of Wednesday MidDay Medley

Every Wednesday, between 10 and 12 pm, the soothing, dulcet tones of Mark Manning take over the KKFI 90.1 FM airwaves. For 10 years, his program Wednesday MidDay Medley has highlighted a variety of music—both local and non-local, and includes in-depth interviews with bands, local music aficionados, and others in the community. But many of us don’t know much about Manning himself; not only is he a radio personality, but he’s been an active part of the theater community since moving to Kansas City in the mid ‘80s. Check out our Q&A with him, and find out more about one of the most ardent supporters of the Kansas City arts community.
 
The Deli: How long have you been in radio? Give me a little about your background there. 
 
Manning: I started volunteering at KKFI in the spring of 2001 and worked as producer/host/engineer for The Tenth Voice for 8 years. Prior to this, in 1994, I co-produced and contributed as a writer/performer for The AIDS Radio Show with friends Lisa Cordes and Jon "Piggy" Cupit. The show was a radio adaptation of a live show we had done on stage, and was reproduced and recorded especially for radio. It won a Silver Reel Award from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters.
 
The Deli: What other work have you done in performing arts and entertainment?
 
Manning: I moved to Kansas City in 1986 and immediately found a home at The Unicorn Theatre where I worked on 18 professional productions. I was given the opportunity to work as an actor, stage manager, assistant stage manager, designer, and production assistant. I also worked with Paul Mesner Puppets on 18 productions, as a stage manager, technician, and sometimes puppeteer. I've worked as a site manager for the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival and as a freelance artist and stage manager. I have also worked as an actor for The Coterie Theatre, Gorilla Theatre, Theatre League, Actors Against AIDS, Quality Hill Playhouse, One Time Productions, and The Fishtank.
 
As a performance artist and writer I've created several original pieces and plays including: "Jesse's Dream Our Nightmare," "Every Gay People," "Gay Bash," "It's A Man's World," "Anti-Gone in Kansas," "Slightly Effeminate Men," (with Ron Megee & Jon "Piggy" Cupit) "Straight Marriage," "70's Cocktail Party" and "The Children of Karen Carpenter" (with Sandra K. Davies).
 
The Deli: You also co-founded Big Bang Buffet, an underground performance collective. How has that organization fostered the arts community?
 
Manning: In 1990 I co-founded Big Bang Buffet with my friends Ron Megee and Janice Woolery, a producing organization that worked to provide venues for original works in performance art, spoken word, theatre and visual arts. BBB fostered an underground scene. Founders met at The Spoken Word at Cafe Lulu (until it closed in Oct. '91) and Club Cabaret (a gay bar on Main St, now demolished). Between 1990 and 2005, BBB presented 75 different productions at many venues including American Heartland Theatre, Unicorn Theatre, The Midland, Harling's Upstairs, Quality Hill Playhouse, back alleyways, Unity Temple on The Plaza, The Hobbs Building, Just Off Broadway, The Farm, KC Fringe Festival, Phoenix Books, All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church, Bang Gallery and Lou Jane Temple's living room. Shows were benefits for the Free Speech Coalition, Human Rights Project, Missouri Naral, ACT-UP KC, Free Health Clinic, SAVE. Core contributors: Ron Megee left BBB to create Late Night Theater; Beth Marshall became Producing/Artistic Director of Orlando Fringe Festival and now runs Beth Marshall Presents; Lisa Cordes is now Director of Artist Inc. and Janice Woolery now runs weekly in marathons. 
 
With Big Bang Buffet, I appeared in over 75 different productions playing roles as diverse as Jesse Helms, Phil Donahue, Tonya Harding, Barbara Bush, George W. Bush and Andy Warhol.
 
The Deli: You started Wednesday Midday Medley 10 years ago. What was the goal of the program then, and is it still the same now?
 
Manning: I was asked by then 90.1 FM program director John Jessup to become a host/producer of Your MidDay Medley. The concept of the show was to play all the different music genres heard on KKFI: blues, jazz, rock, folk, world, electronic, reggae, punk, etc. I really took the "medley" part seriously and I've always loved mixing it up. I remember once when I played gay singer-songwriter Peter Allen followed by Jimi Hendrix. A listener called in and asked, "So this is how it's gonna be on this show?" I wasn't sure in the beginning what the show was, I mainly used it as an opportunity to play everything I loved that I never heard on commercial radio.
 
I started doing more interviews and special shows. One of our signature shows we started was "A Story in A Song," where we invite listeners and writers to share an original short story about a song that changed their life in some way, and then we play the song. The concept is simple but the shows have been some of our best, and a big favorite with listeners. We also have done a series of satire radio shows called "Then He Touched Me Gospel Hour." We produced the first edition on April Fools Day in 2008. The show was inspired, co-written and starring Jim "The Blind Guy" Hoschek, who played a down-on-his-luck, Christian fundamentalist radio evangelist who recently relocated to Sugar Creek with his wife and many children. Their ministry has taken over the community airwaves. A cast of actors plays all of the roles of the family, and we play actual vintage, locally produced Christian music from the early 1970s.
 
I was really inspired by my good friend Anne Winter, who helped me a lot in the early days. Anne had already done "the KKFI thing" but her experience and love of the station was still present. After her death in 2009, I dedicated my efforts with a new direction to continue the work of Anne. I remember holding onto friends Betse Ellis and Kasey Rausch and making a pact with them that we would be there for each other as friend and never forget.
 
I always wanted someone from a record store to have a regular contribution to the show. I met Marion Merritt at Barnes & Noble on The Plaza. Marion has been joining us on WMM for over 10 years, sharing her discoveries and info from her musically encyclopedic-brain. This year Marion Merritt, left Barnes & Noble to pursue a dream and she opened Records With Merritt (1614 Westport Road) in May.
 
The listeners helped make the show what it is today. In my continuing search to tell stories on radio, I stumbled into the story of Kansas City's beautiful music community. The music community never ceases to inspire and move me. Musicians started playing live on the show and appearing for interviews. We interview close to 200 people each year. I started searching for as much locally produced music as I could include, and mix this with the very best national releases that aren't being played on commercial radio. The musicians have taught me. Slowly musicians and artists began to take ownership of the show itself. I remember the day Abigail Henderson told me, "We think of this as our show,” and I couldn't have been happier. For the last 8 years we've been serious about tracking and celebrating the best music in this diverse MidCoastal area.
 
The Deli: Why is supporting local music and the community important to you?
 
Manning: I feel it is my responsibility as a host/producer of a music show on Community Radio. As a non-commercial/educational community radio station owned by a nonprofit organization (The MidCoast Radio Project), we must work to tell the story of what is going on in our culture. KKFI plays over 1000 different songs in a week, we can cover more types of music. You don't have to love it all, but if you listen you will learn, and you will get to go deeper into genre than any other media outlet will take you. Our jazz shows are hosted and produced by many of KC’s best and hardest working jazz musicians. Our blues shows are hosted by blues musicians or those who have served on the KC Blues Society board. The same can be said for our shows that feature the music of folk, punk, reggae, women's music, hip hop, rockabilly, world, Native American, new wave, clectronica, etc. 
 
The Deli: Why should people be interested in community radio?
 
Manning: Community Radio really is radio "of the people." The spirit of this can sometimes be polluted by those with narrow vision and selfishness, but ultimately community radio lives by the idea that the airwaves belong to the people. The station belongs to all of us. It is powered by people who want to hear about their own communities in our media. Volunteers who are willing to give up part of their life to produce and host a weekly show and basically give it all away for free, without asking anything for all of the work, and time and investment. With community radio you can have the freedom to tell the stories that just aren't included anywhere else. This is space that we must hold on to. It is some to the last remaining community space in the broadcasting world. With community radio I know what is happening in my communities and I don't want to have to listen to commercials for breast enhancement or diet pills.
 
The Deli: Who are some of your favorite KC-area bands and musicians?
 
Manning: This is so difficult because I love and respect so many local artists. In the last year we played over 100 local releases and had over 40 artists/bands on the show to talk about their 2014 releases. We had Madisen Ward and The Mama Bear on our program 4 times in 14 months. They always blow me away. I love everything about Schwervon!, Shy Boys, Howard Iceberg, Matt Dunehoo, The ACBs, Sara Swenson, The Philistines, Betse Ellis, Ghosty, Katy Guillen and Claire Adams, The Bad Ideas, Kristie Stremel, Mikal Shapiro, Krystle Warren, Dead Voices, The Sleazebeats, Pedaljets, Jamie Searle, Calvin Arsenia, Hermon Mehari, Amy Farrand, Chris Meck, Jorge Arana Trio, Dedric Moore, Not A Planet, Michael Tipton, Hearts of Darkness, John Velghe, Vi Tran…I could keep going.
 
The Deli: What do you like most about hosting your own radio show?
 
Manning: Every week is different. Each week I'm forced to write a script and put together the puzzle of a radio show. It is an education, I'm always learning, there is always research, planning. It is personal. I love the interviews. I love having an opportunity to make connections. To serve. I try to find equality in music and music that moves your heart and your body. I want to be a good custodian and help open the door. Through the show I've been able to do longer interviews with Tommy Ramone, Lily Tomlin, Laurie Anderson, Krystle Warren, and so many others.
 
The Deli: You are also coordinator for the KCK Organic Teaching Gardens. Tell us more about that and why it's rewarding to you?
 
Manning: In 1998 we produced a Big Bang Buffet show on stage at the Midland as a benefit for a high school student-produced poetry magazine and program in KCK. I left my job as manager of the box office at The Midland and went to work in KCK training and recruiting volunteers for a literacy program. Somehow this led to my work in creating—from scratch—a garden-teaching initiative that has built multiple raised bed organic gardens, at seven schools in the KCK School District #500. Our program is entirely grant funded and supported by the Kansas University School of Medicine’s Office of Cultural Enhancement and Diversity. We serve over 1000 students in classrooms with a 9-month curriculum that involves the students in 3 plantings and 3 harvests each year, and workshops on soil, worms, parts of plants and seeds, sweet potatoes, salsa, and how plants grow. We launched the program in 2000. I conduct 37 workshops each month at seven schools with 25 different classrooms and teachers, serving over 1000 students in first, fourth, and sixth grades.
 
The Deli: What else inspires you?
 
Manning: My partner Caleb who I've been with for 23 years and who has never tried to change me, but only offer me support and a home. His beautiful mom Julia, who lives with us, and reminds me that some of the youngest people I know are in their 80s. My mom and stepdad Arlo. My dogs Maggie and Jack (both rescued from the gardens). I'm a huge fan of David Bowie, The Velvet Underground, Andy Warhol, The Factory, Interview Magazine, New York punk, early ‘80s new wave and post punk, Kraftwerk, Brian Eno, Patti Smith, performance art, Laurie Anderson, LaBelle, local record stores, Broadway, artists, Martin Luther King, LGBT activists, Larry Kramer, Mavis Staples, trees, walking, President Obama, the Grand Canyon, the Atlantic Ocean, Joni Mitchell, George Washington Carver, honey bees, butterflies, gardening, Iris DeMent, vertical files, The Smiths, British music magazines, Bold Nebraska, Rachel Maddow, RuPaul's Drag Race, photography, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, Paul Thomas Anderson films, This American Life, homegrown and homemade food, coffee, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Michelle Bacon.
 
--Michelle Bacon
 
Michelle is the editor of The Deli KC and plays in bands. She’s also a huge fan of Mark Manning.
 
 

You can celebrate with Mark this Friday at Davey’s Uptown Rambler’s Club, where KKFI will be celebrating 10 years of Wednesday MidDay Medley. The show is a benefit for KKFI 90.1 FM, and will feature performances from The Philistines, Dolls on Fire (who will also be releasing their LP that night), and The Pedaljets. Facebook event page 

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Album review: Kangaroo Knife Fight - Kangaroo Knife Fight (EP)

Kangaroo Knife Fight’s new self-titled EP is a soul-searching romp through deep caverns of reverbed out guitars, gospelesque vocals, and flowing melodies reminiscent of Sly and the Family Stone and Kings of Leon. The opening track, “Hold On” is an airy build into a delightful chant-worthy chorus. With the vocals screaming “I don’t think anybody wants to lose,” it’s hard not to sing along the second time around. The song illustrates difficulties everyone struggles with and the sweaty grip people have while trying to hold everything together in life. The challenging nature of the overwhelming instrumentation leaves you asking, how will they make this bigger? KKF doesn’t disappoint with giant swelling vocals and expanding guitars.

 
--Matthew Gratton
 
Editor’s note: Kangaroo Knife Fight was recorded by Kangaroo Knife Fight and mixed by Noah Shain and Amir Jamm. The band was formerly called Little Rosco.
 
Kangaroo Knife Fight is:
Anthony Avis: vocals
Brandon Skeens: guitar
Ian O’Connell: drums
Gus Rechtien: bass, backup vocals
 
 
Check out Kangaroo Knife Fight at The Brick this Saturday, December 6, where they will be celebrating the release of the EP. Bottle Breakers and Morningglories will also be playing. Facebook event page.
 




Album review: Monta At Odds - Robots of Munich

For those of you familiar with the music of Monta At Odds (a phrase that I’ll be using again later), you know that they have their own ideas of how best to use electronics and percussion and various other tools of the trade to create aural canvases that somehow combine both retro and futuristic influences. Some of their earlier work was described by someone—okay, it was me—as a soundtrack to a 1950s French film noir, only cooler. With their latest release, Robots of Munich on Haymaker Records, their focus has shifted to a cinematically-inspired imagining of a world a bit into the future in which machines are at the forefront—and some have fled to the Southern Hemisphere to pursue their longing to be more like one of us. More on that later.
 
Over the years, the band has made numerous appearances throughout Kansas City and Lawrence, and for a while it seemed as if you might see a new lineup at every other show. Monta has gone through several rosters but is now a muscular seven-piece, if memory serves from their appearance at KC Psychfest (P.S. I checked – memory does serve). Dedric and Delaney, the brothers Moore, remain the stalwarts of the group, with Delaney on keys, Dedric as bassist and bandleader, and both sharing songwriting and vocal duties (according to Dedric, he’s the McCartney of the brothers; Delaney is the Lennon).
 
Another of Dedric’s strengths is his ability to creatively package Monta music in such a way that when you purchase a physical copy, you’re getting something that’s as visually artistic as it is musically. From a CD stored in a very-past-its-prime floppy disc case to a clear vinyl album in a clear plastic jacket, the work of Monta At Odds is not hard to recognize. Robots will continue that tradition with a cover that is stylishly cut and protects a red vinyl album. The interior of the jacket will unfold to go into detail the connections between the music, a well-known sci-fi movie, and a well-known sci-fi novel. It’s a very ambitious undertaking to say the least. As Dedric said when asked about the origins of the album name, “(It) came from the movie Android which was sourced from the same book as Blade Runner. It was a news broadcast that the robots of Munich had been destroyed in their rebellion. It came out the same year as Blade Runner and crashed into oblivion immediately. That started the ball rolling with the concept of a handful of androids escaping and fleeing to South America (where all war criminals end up, right?). We then took inspiration from the theme of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? about where has our humanity gone and what actually makes us human.”
 
A pro-tip before you begin: it’s best to be in a dark place when listening to Monta At Odds. Not dark emotionally—actual darkness. Dimly lit. Illuminationally challenged. At a gig or while driving your car at night would be great. If listening through headphones is a viable option… take it.
 
For those of you familiar with the music of Monta At Odds (told you), you know that vocals are not of prime importance to the band’s output. Instrumentals are the more commonplace method of expression (six of the ten tracks on Robots are sans words), and when lyrics are enabled, their clarity can tend to be lost amid a swirl of waves and swooshes and reverb. This is by design, as the work of Tom Vek of the ultra-trippy Black Moth Super Rainbow is an obvious influence to the production used by Monta. The aim is to make the vocals sound more like an instrument than an individual, and “Salty Air Breezes” leads off the album with just such verbal distortion. The song tells of the story’s protagonist trying to blend in on Earth while searching for an escape to a place touted by a television commercial as a sunny, idyllic refuge. Yearning to leave behind the “beggars, bums, and nuns in the metro transit underground,” she puts “5000 revs on the poor fiat for hours on end” in an attempt to find safety and serenity.

The common theme of robot-wanting-to-be-human is expressed in the next track, “Android Dreams” (voiced by Monta alum and percussionist Mika Tanaya). The song itself is a paradox, as the lyrical desires to “be beautiful / feel love / share laughter / maybe feel pain” are expressed in a very staccato, sterile, mechanical fashion. Such is the dichotomy of the android’s life—if “android” and “life” aren’t themselves a dichotomy when used next to each other. These deep musings are to be contemplated as Robots continues its journey—and our heroine continues her search for existence that transcends zeros and ones.
 
Now, for those of you familiar with the music of Monta At Odds (see?), you know that their music likes to take its time and tell a story, letting development unfold in an unhurried manner … all of which is just fancy talk for “their music is mostly downtempo to midtempo in its pacing.” Which is all the more reason why I cannot stop myself from listening to “Relentless Pursuit” on repeat. This is 130 seconds of no-holds-barred rock, complete with some of the most incredible slide space guitar I’ve heard in a while. I was standing next to recordBar co-owner Steve Tulipana when I first heard this track at KC Psychfest, and it was pretty clear that it was his first time hearing it as well. When the tune got going, he and I turned to each other with eyes wide open in looks of mutual astonishment and approval. This was music designed to be the backdrop of an interstellar chase scene, as if those Dukes of Hazzard boys had taken the Millennium Falcon for a joy ride.
 
Robots of Munich is another leap forward for Monta At Odds and their electronic mission to expand minds. When I heard their set at KC Psychfest (and I think this year’s event at recordBar was the best one so far), I had a feeling the new album was going to be something worthy of more than a little consideration for mentions on some best of 2014 lists. After having heard the finished product, I stand by that statement.
 
I consider myself to be very familiar with the music of Monta At Odds … and I’m totally okay with that.
 
--Michael Byars
 
 
Monta At Odds will be celebrating the release of Robots of Munich at Mills Record Company this Black Friday, November 28. They will take the stage at 7:00 pm, followed by Trogolodyte. Facebook event page.
 
 

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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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