For the most part, 2015 was a year filled with music highlights.
Arrowhead Stadium was host to three concerts, drawing more than 50,000 to each, including shows by the Rolling Stones and One Direction.
Several Kansas City bands made waves nationally and internationally, including Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear, who appeared on several network TV shows.
But the biggest news for many music fans was not good news: the closing of a beloved music club.
RecordBar closing was set
In July, a few months before they would celebrate the 10th anniversary of opening the RecordBar at 1020 Westport Road, owners Steve Tulipana and Shawn Sherrill confirmed that the restaurant/music venue would be closing at year’s end.
The property’s owner informed them that he did not intend to keep them as tenants after the lease expired on Jan. 1. The final two shows at the club will be Jan. 1 and Jan. 2.
News of the closing was a blow to the Kansas City music scene. RecordBar has been one of the eminent music clubs in Kansas City and a destination venue among touring bands. It has hosted some legendary artists and well-known bands — including Gary Numan, Mumford & Sons, Phoenix and the National — and was an integral part of Ink Magazine’s Middle of the Map Fest.
Tulipana and Sherrill are working to reopen RecordBar, but as of Dec. 20 could not confirm where or when that might happen. In the meantime, they will host music events at their other venue, MiniBar, 3810 Broadway.
Rolling Stones delivered a show for the ages
Their first show in Kansas City in more than 16 years was an all-time favorite for many in the crowd. The Stones have been a band for more than 50 years, but Mick and the boys and their seven-piece band delivered two hours of rock-solid music and showmanship.
Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear are network TV stars
The son-mother duo of Madisen Ward and Ruth Ward had a busy 2015. In addition to a schedule that included a tour of Europe, an opening gig with Sufjan Stevens and the Newport Folk Festival, the Wards and their band appeared on “Late Show With David Letterman,” CBS’ “Sunday Morning” and NBC’s “Today” show.
They also performed a Tiny Desk Concert on National Public Radio and appeared on the British TV show “Later … With Jools Holland” on BBC Two.
In May, they released their inaugural full-length, “Skeleton Crew,” on Glassnote Records, home of Mumford & Sons, Phoenix and Chvrches.
Samantha Fish nominated for a BMA
The native Kansas Citian is a nominee for best contemporary blues female artist in the 2016 Blues Music Awards, which are sponsored by the Blues Foundation in Memphis. In July, Fish released “Wild Heart,” her third studio album. It peaked at No. 1 on Billboard’s blues chart. In 2012, Fish won a BMA as best new artist.
Beautiful Bodies did entire Warped Tour
The pop-punk/rock band from Kansas City released “Battles,” its full-length debut on Epitaph Records. The Bodies spent much of the summer on the road, playing all 42 stops in the 2015 Vans Warped Tour, including a show at Cricket Wireless Amphitheater in Bonner Springs. They also announced a 21-show European tour in early 2016, opening for Mayday Parade.
Radkey released debut album
In August, the trio of brothers from St. Joseph released “Dark Black Makeup,” their full-length debut. It was recorded at McCall Sound Studios in Sheffield, England, with producer Ross Orton, who has also produced the Arctic Monkeys, the Fall and Jarvis Cocker. The punk band toured relentlessly, including shows at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and Riot Fest and a European tour that included shows at the Reading and Leeds festivals in the U.K.
Tech N9ne gave the Royals some love
Kansas City’s most successful music artist released “Special Effects” and “Strangulation Vol. II,” his 15th and 16th studio albums. “Special Effects” rose to No. 4 on the Billboard 200 chart, selling more than 60,000 copies its first week. Both albums topped the Billboard Independent Albums chart.
In November, Tech N9ne released “KCMO Anthem,” a tribute to the world champion Kansas City Royals. Combined versions of the video have been viewed nearly 300,000 times on YouTube.
Folk Alliance International reigned again
For the second year in a row, folk musicians from all over the world descended upon the Westin and Sheraton hotels for the four-day music festival. Of the many highlights, several stood out: the Hillbenders’ version of the Who’s rock opera “Tommy”; the Milk Carton Kids; Sam Baker; Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn; “Unbound Presents Hemispheres: Sound Photographs from Madagascar,” a stunning audio-visual presentation from Barclay Martin and his band; and “Gav7d,” an extravagant three-hour music opus created, composed and concocted by Johnny Hamil.
Festivals continue to thrive
Several local music festivals got bigger and better in 2015. Ink Magazine’s Middle of the Map Fest, which celebrated its fifth anniversary, solidified its reputation as a bona fide national festival, delivering one of its best lineups. The second annual Boulevardia in the West Bottoms was a big success again, drawing tens of thousands to its three-day lineup.
Other smaller festivals were also well-attended, including the second annual Westport Roots Festival and the 11th annual Crossroads Music Festival, a showcase of local bands.