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Drink in 29 bands on two stages over three days at inaugural Boulevardia festival

06/10/2014 3:29 PM

Forget the fountains and barbecue. This town is becoming the city of music festivals. Among them: the International Folk Alliance Conference, Middle of the Map Fest, the Kansas City Irish Fest, Rockfest, the Westport Roots Festival, Dancefestopia, MerleJam, Jiggle Jam.

Add Boulevardia to that list. The inaugural three-day food, art and music street festival begins Friday night in the West Bottoms. Twenty-nine bands and performers, a mix of local and national acts, will perform on two stages, delivering a variety of music styles.

Here’s a look at some of the headliners, starting with a band from Nashville.

The Wild Feathers

Back in 2010, Joel King and Ricky Young were singers and songwriters in Nashville who decided to collaborate. They weren’t sure what they had in mind or who would lead.

“We were writing some stuff that was kind of like Crosby, Stills and Nash and The Band,” King said. “We thought we might look for another singer to join forces with us.”

And then they met Taylor Burns, who quickly became the lead singer and a songwriting collaborator.

“We wrote a few songs together and they were better than anything Ricky and I had done,” said King. “We thought, ‘This could be magic.’”

It has certainly been successful. The Wild Feathers aren’t even four years old, have one album in their catalog, “The Wild Feathers,” released in 2013, but they’ve landed in some high places.

They’ve appeared on most of the late-night talk shows: Craig Ferguson, Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel and Seth Meyers. Rachael Ray is a fan, too. She has twice invited the band on her show and twice included them in her annual food/music bash at the South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas.

They’ve opened for Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Willie Nelson. Maybe you saw them at the Midland theater in October, where they opened for ZZ Ward.

The band’s music is a mix of rock, blues, country and folk. Its influences are broad: The Beatles, The Band, Ryan Adams and the Black Crowes. The Feathers can play it soft and acoustic or plug in and get real loud, thanks to lead guitarist Preston Wimberly and drummer Ben Dumas.

“Taylor has a voice a lot like Chris Robinson,” King said. “It’s nothing like Ricky’s and mine. He brings a different element. Preston is a great lead player. And we went through a few drummers before we found Ben. We really wanted a Dave Grohl-type drummer so we could do the rock thing, and he was it.”

Their full-length recording changes dynamics and hops and skips across music genres yet sticks to the band’s identity. “We don’t ever try to sound like anyone,” King said. “We just want to be honest, be who we are.”

Chances are, though, that fans of Petty, Young, the Band and the Crowes will find a lot to like on the album and in the live shows.

The Wild Feathers perform Friday night on the Main Stage.

The Chain Gang of 1974: Electronic-dance/synth pop from Kamtin Mohager, a DJ from Denver (via Hawaii and San Jose, Calif.). From the AllMusic Guide: “A sound borrowing from electro, synth pop and post-punk, accented by Daft Punk-esque hooks and vocal stylings reminiscent of Passion Pit.”

Friday on the Main Stage.

Blondfire: Catchy electro-indie pop from siblings Bruce and Erica Driscoll and their backup band. From Soundcloud: “Winsome, melancholy vocals and ’80s-influenced melodies float atop shards of guitar and propulsive beats, leavening Blondfire’s infectious pop tunes with real punch.” Check out their hit video “Where the Kids Are.”

Friday on the Main Stage.

The Marchfourth Marching Band: They are a small legion of musicians, dancers, acrobats and stilt-walkers. The band comprises a bassist, a five-piece percussion section and a six-part brass ensemble. Its Facebook page promises “a journey from the swamps of Louisiana to the gypsy camps of eastern Europe to the African jungle by way of Brazil, echoing the deepest grooves of American funk, rock and jazz” with acrobatics” and “dazzling dancing.”

Saturday on the Main Stage.

Catfish and the Bottlemen: An indie-rock/Brit-pop band from Llandudno, Wales, and their sound is smart, brash and catchy, brought home by chiming guitars and beefy choruses. From the Guardian UK: “They’re Llandudno’s best hope of being described as the best Welsh indie rock band since the (Manic Street Preachers), since ... well, ever, possibly.”

Saturday on the Main Stage.

Capital Cities: An indie/electro-pop duo from Los Angeles, touring on its debut album, “In a Tidal Wave of Mystery,” released June 2013. Live, the duo imports a quartet, including a trumpeter, giving a more organic feel to its sound, which blends pop and rock with some light jazz elements.

Saturday on the Main Stage.

The Freddy Jones Band: This veteran Chicago band has been touring and making records since the early 1990s. Its sound its roots-rock/bar band, steeped in blues with a bit of Southern rock, thus the regular comparisons to the Allman Brothers.

Sunday on the Main Stage.

The BoDeans: In 1987, Rolling Stone named them the best new American band. In 1988, they nailed some opening slots in U2’s Joshua Tree tour. The band has gone through more than a dozen personnel changes, including the departure of co-founding member Sam Llanas in 2011. But co-founder Kurt Neumann forges on, playing the band’s signature blend of roots rock, folk, soul and country.

Sunday on the Main Stage.

Homegrown Stage

Local bands have been booked for some slots on the main stage and will fill the bills on what organizers call the Homegrown Stage. Here are some recommendations.

If you like classic, old-time country, catch the Starhaven Rounders. If you like beefy, brawny, no-frills rock, see the Architects. If rock and soul with the sounds of traditional Mexican music appeals to you, see Maria the Mexican. If you like full rock bands showcasing well-crafted songwriting, see David George & A Crooked Mile or John Velghe & the Prodigal Sons.

If you like hard and catchy pop/rock, catch the Josh Berwanger Band. A mix of country, rock and soul? The Grisly Hand. Then there’s My Brothers and Sisters: a small orchestra that delivers the genre-hopping songs of Jamie Searle. Rootsy rock and folk? Wells the Traveler. Insurgent roots and country rock? Dollar Fox. And if you want to hear different variations on rock and the blues, check out Cadillac Flambe, Katy Guillen and the Girls and/or the MGDs.

To reach Timothy Finn, call 816-234-4781 or send email to tfinn@kcstar.com.

MUSIC SCHEDULE

FRIDAY

Main Stage

5:45 p.m.: Chain Gang of 1974

7:15 p.m.: Blondfire

8:45 p.m.: The Wild Feathers

10:15 p.m.: Quixotic

Homegrown Stage

5 p.m.: David George & A Crooked Mile

6:30 p.m.: The Grisly Hand

8 p.m.: Hearts of Darkness

9:30 p.m.: The Latenight Callers

SATURDAY

Main Stage

11 a.m.: Dollar Fox

12:30 p.m.: Starhaven Rounders

2 p.m.: The MGDS

3 p.m.: Me Like Bees

5 p.m.: Marchfourth Marching Band

7 p.m.: Robert DeLong

8 p.m.: Catfish and the Bottlemen

10 p.m.: Capital Cities

Homegrown Stage

11:45 a.m.: Gracie Schram

2:45 p.m.: My Brothers and Sisters

6:15 p.m.: Josh Berwanger Band

7:40 p.m.: Six Percent

9 p.m.: The Architects

SUNDAY

Main Stage

Noon: Wells the Traveler

1 p.m.: John Velghe and the Prodigal Sons

3 p.m.: Freddy Jones Band

5 p.m.: The BoDeans

Homegrown Stage

12:45 p.m.: Maria the Mexican

2 p.m.: Cadillac Flambe

3:45 p.m.: Katy Guillen and the Girls

THIS WEEKEND

Boulevardia, organized by Kansas City’s Boulevard Brewing Co., will celebrate music, food and craft beers. More than three dozen breweries will participate. Starting times: 5 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. Saturday and noon Sunday.

General admission tickets cost $15 per day. Three-day passes and tickets to the Taps and Taste are sold out. General admission tickets provide access to the festival’s two live music stages, as well as food trucks, artisans, a carnival and an “eco-expo” about green initiatives in Kansas City.

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