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Timothy Finn blogs about the Kansas City music scene

The week’s best live music: T-Pain, ZZ Top and Buckwheat Zydeco

08/21/2014 4:00 AM

08/21/2014 9:00 AM

Paola Roots Festival, Friday-Saturday, Aug. 22-23, in downtown Paola.

Paola is an unlikely hub for blues, country and roots-rock, but once a year a picturesque park in the community 45 miles southwest of downtown Kansas City is transformed into one of the nation’s most desirable settings for aficionados of organic music. The 25th anniversary of the Paola Roots Festival is headlined by the locally based blues-rock band Trampled Under Foot on Friday and alternative country stalwarts the Mavericks on Saturday. Other highlights of the ambitious lineup are West Coast blues band Rod Piazza & the Mighty Flyers, Joplin roots rock trio the Ben Miller Band and a blues ensemble led by the didgeridoo-wielding Peter Harper.

Admission is $15 at the gate. Children 10 and under are free. Additional information is available at rootsfestival.org.

T-Pain, Friday, Aug. 22, at Crossroads KC.

Justin Bieber is the most popular target of indignant critics who rail against the processed sound that dominates popular music. The ire of these curmudgeons would more accurately directed at T-Pain. The synthetic style adopted by contemporary teen idols like Bieber is merely the byproduct of an environment created in large part by T-Pain. Widely considered to be responsible for popularizing Auto-Tune, the Southern innovator’s hits like “Buy U a Drank (Shawty Snappin’)” introduced the artificial vocal effect to millions of listeners. Upstart mimics like Future have since surpassed him in popularity, but T-Pain continues to rack up lurid hits, including the recent “Up Down (Do This All Day).”

Tickets range from $35 to $60 in advance through crossroadskc.com.

Bleachers, Friday, Aug. 22, at KC Live!.

Music lovers recognize Jack Antonoff as one of the primary members of the band Fun. Celebrity watchers, however, think of the New Jersey native as the romantic interest of Lena Dunham, who’s behind the groundbreaking television series “Girls.” Dunham directed the video for “I Wanna Get Better,” the initial single from Antonoff’s new project, Bleachers. “I Wanna Get Better” echoes “We Are Young,” the dramatic pop smash Antonoff co-wrote for Fun. New York’s MisterWives, the dance-pop ensemble behind the hit “Reflections,” is touring with Bleachers.

Additional details about the free concert are available at powerandlightdistrict.com.

Kelley Hunt, Friday, Aug. 22, on the lawn of the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park.

Lawrence may not possess the cachet of roots music capitals like Austin and New Orleans, but Kelley Hunt has been working diligently to alter that perception for years. Hunt plays boogie woogie piano with the same ferocity as Austin-based blues woman Marcia Ball. And Hunt can get as downright funky as New Orleans legend Dr. John. “Beautiful Bones,” Hunt’s sixth studio album, showcases her soulful voice, tremendous keyboard work and strong songwriting. She’ll feature selections from the new project at Friday’s free concert.

Additional details about the free concert are available at http://www.jccc.edu/performing-arts-series.

Cage, Friday, Aug. 22, at the Bottleneck, Lawrence.

The title of Cage’s 2002 album, “Movies for the Blind,” reflects the hip-hop artist’s cinematic sensibility. Rather than making the equivalent of feel-good summer blockbusters, however, Cage creates music that’s akin to blood-splattered crime dramas. The New Yorker’s grimy storytelling has been disarming rap fans for more than 20 years. Partly because his solo work tends to be overshadowed by his collaborations with Aesop Rock and El-P, and by his bitter feud with Eminem, Friday’s show represents an ideal opportunity to properly assess Cage’s merits. Seattle rapper Sadistik is among the opening acts.

Tickets are $13 in advance through thebottlenecklive.com.

ZZ Top and Jeff Beck, Saturday, Aug. 23, at Starlight Theatre.

The imaginative double bill at Starlight Theatre on Saturday pairs one of the most acclaimed living guitarists with a man who’s yet to receive proper recognition for his ingenious contributions to guitar. Beginning in 1966 with a stint in the Yardbirds, Jeff Beck’s spectacular playing in rock, blues and jazz formats has thrilled fans while confounding his fellow guitarists. Billy Gibbons, the blues-based guitarist for ZZ Top, is a different kind of virtuoso. The massively influential tone and attack he developed is heard to great effect on ZZ Top hits including “Sharp Dressed Man.”

Tickets range from $20 to $127.50 in advance through kcstarlight.com.

Sleepy Kitty, Sunday, Aug. 24, at the Riot Room.

The sloppiest moments of “Projection Room,” the bracing new album by St. Louis’ Sleepy Kitty, sound a bit like a mashup of the Ramones and Miley Cyrus. Sleepy Kitty’s sticky pop is bolstered by a mighty punk wallop. The duo of Paige Brubeck and Evan Sult tops the bill at the Riot Room on Sunday. (The band also performs at the Replay Lounge on Saturday, Aug. 23.) Abandon Kansas and Bears & Company are among the opening acts. Abandon Kansas is a Wichita-based ensemble that parted ways with its Christian-based record label in 2012. The group has carried on with a more secular orientation. Kansas City’s Bears & Company works in the proud post-rock tradition of its hometown.

Tickets are $10 in advance through theriotroom.com.

G. Love & Special Sauce, Sunday, Aug. 24, at the VooDoo Lounge, North Kansas City.

The men and women who sling drinks at the VooDoo Lounge are advised to study the set list in advance of G. Love & Special Sauce’s show on Sunday. A rendition of the ensemble’s 1994 song “Cold Beverage,” one of the most popular drinking anthems of the last 25 years, may incite a rush toward the bars. The band from Philadelphia is touring in support of “Sugar,” its first album in five years. The project continues the band’s tradition of adeptly combining blues, indie-rock and hip-hop. G. Love & Special Sauce is touring with the fine crossover blues artist Keb’ Mo’.

Tickets range from $33-$78 in advance through ticketmaster.com.

Atmosphere, Wednesday, Aug. 27, at the Granada.

Atmosphere, a duo featuring the recklessly candid rapping of Slug and the adventurous beats of Ant, may be the most consistent hip-hop group of the last dozen years. The Minneapolis duo’s “Lucy Ford” EPs and the subsequent 2002 album “God Loves Ugly” remain high-water marks of underground hip-hop. As co-founders of the Rhymesayers Entertainment record label, Slug and Ant control their own destinies. “Southsiders,” Atmosphere’s new album, shows the duo delving into more mature topics. The North Side of Hell tour also features contributions from Minnesota artists Prof, Dem Atlas and DJ Fundo.

Tickets are $25 in advance through thegranada.com.

Buckwheat Zydeco, Wednesday, Aug. 27, at Kanza Hall, Overland Park.

Zydeco — a music featuring accordions, washboards and lyrics that are often sung in French — can be a tough sell outside Louisiana. Operating under the Buckwheat Zydeco moniker, Stanley Dural Jr. has done as much to popularize the music as anyone. After serving an apprenticeship with zydeco giant Clifton Chenier, Dural began releasing albums 35 years ago. His winning smile and willingness to incorporate blues and rock elements into his music made zydeco palatable to countless audiences. The Brody Buster Band, a locally based ensemble that also blurs the lines between genres, opens Wednesday’s show.

Tickets are $10 in advance through oneblocksouthkc.com.

Bill Brownlee, Special to The Kansas City Star

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