KC Academy to open its theater to the local music scene

The Kansas City Academy is about to become a regular live-music venue, thanks to some well-known members of its faculty and staff.

Saturday night, the private, nonprofit performing arts school at 7933 Main St. will host its second music concert and the first show in its Grassroots Concert Series.

The show will feature the Brandon Draper Quartet, which includes some of the city’s best-known jazz musicians: Draper, Peter Schlamb, Jeff Harshbarger and Rich Wheeler. Showtime is 7 p.m. Admission is $10 and $15 (for preferred seating).

Draper, a drummer/percussionist in several Kansas City ensembles, is also a faculty member at the academy and one of the organizers of the series. He and fellow staff members Barclay Martin and Miles Bonny launched the series after the success of the academy’s first-ever Grassroots Music Fest in October. That show was outdoors. The series will be in the school’s theater, which should be an ideal venue for everyone, Draper said.

“I sat in the audience for a performance by one of our high school students and was overwhelmed with how comfortable the theater was,” said Draper, who teaches world percussion at the school. “It made me wonder what it would be like to see a jazz trio or string quartet or a variety of groups and formats in the room. It was a no-brainer.”

The theater seats roughly 70 people, Draper said, and is furnished for comfort.

“It has stadium seating, so no one’s view is blocked,” he said. “The first three rows are furnished with really comfortable theater chairs, and the back three have these chairs with oversized cushions, so it’s like sitting in your living room hearing a concert. And it has great lighting.”

Proceeds from each show will be split between the performers and the school, Draper said. The school will put the money back into its music program. Concessions and merchandise will also be available.

Draper is one of three academy staff members who are also heavily involved in the local music scene. Martin teaches a songwriting course, and Bonny, a producer, songwriter, DJ and musician, is the school’s development director.

The Grassroots Series will also be part of the students’ learning experience, Draper said.

“They’re learning things about booking and promoting shows, things I didn’t learn until I was in college,” he said. “They’ll also learn some things about recording because we’ll be recording each show and offering the recordings to the musicians for free.”

The format will be a mix of “Austin City Limits” and “Inside the Actors Studio,” he said. Each show will include a live music performance, a question-and-answer forum and then another set of music.

“It’s so ideal for the school, the students and musicians,” Draper said. “It will teach the students a lot about live performances, and it gives the artists a place to go other than a big theater or a music festival or a late-night club. And it’s so intimate, the audience will feel very connected to the artists.”

Draper has booked several shows through March. Also on the agenda: the jazz ensemble Diverse on Jan, 28; Alaturka on Feb. 10; the Dave Pietro Trio on Feb. 18; Organic Proof on March 10; and Reggie B. Miles Bonny on March 30. For more information, call 816-444-5225 or visit



The anti-blues

The Brick, 1727 McGee St., has a Friday bill featuring two bands that ought to give your spirit a boost. The headliner is Empty Spaces, a trio that forges its manic post-punk attitude with some retro sounds, including rockabilly, garage rock and AM pop. (Check out the joyfully infernal

“Working With the Wind”

on its MySpace or Facebook pages.)

Also on the bill: Claire the Crowded Stage, a nine-piece orchestra (including accordion, saxophone, cello, ukulele and plenty of drums and guitars). The troupe’s leader is Claire Adams, bassist in Appropriate Grammar, and includes members of the B’Dinas: Katy Guillen, Peter Lawless, Katelyn Boone, Tess Jehle and Meredith McGrade.

They put on a high-energy show that should appeal to anyone fond of the upbeat, melodic sounds and rhythms of big, anthemic bands like Arcade Fire. Showtime is 10 p.m.

Blues fans

: If you like your blues simmered in Americana and lathered in Delta grit and grime, go see Cadillac Flambe perform at the R Bar, 1617 Genessee St. in the West Bottoms. Showtime is 8:30 p.m. Saturday.

Country fans:

If you like your music served unvarnished and with lots of soul and attitude, go see the Grisly Hand, a local band that is highly recommended for anyone who is a fan of the “No Depression”/Bloodshot Records sound.

They’re on a bill at Knuckleheads, 2715 Rochester St., with John Greiner the Sawyers, who also include Betse Ellis of the Wilders and Chad Rex. Showtime is 8 p.m. Friday. Admission is $10.

Americana fans:

There’s an all-star show for you Saturday at Czar, 1531 Grand Blvd. The headliner is David Burchfield the Jubilation Shakers, a six-piece band that puts a charming and disarming twist on old-time country, folk and string-band music.

Also on the bill Ruddy Swain (David Reigner of Dead Voices and Lauren Krum of the Grisly Hand) and the Blessed Broke, a rustic roots/electric folk band led by stellar singer/songwriter Brian Frame.

If you like the earliest version of Whiskeytown (or music in that vein), this entire show is highly recommended. Doors open at 8 p.m. Cover is $7. It’s a 21-and-older show.

And more:

Davey’s Uptown Ramblers Club, 3402 Main St., has a five-act bill scheduled Friday that includes Carrie Nation the Speakeasy, a band that puts a New Orleans twist on its punkish, insurgent country/bluegrass sound. Think of Split Lip Rayfield with trombone and a washboard.

They’re on a bill with the like-spirited Honey Suckle, a Springfield band that cooks its old-timey sound in some blues and a punk attitude. Also on the bill: Joe Sundell, Damn Arkansan and the KC Bear Fighters. Showtime is 8 p.m. Cover is $7.

The Key Party:

Last week we wrote about the Starhaven Rounders, a local classic-country super group that includes singer and songwriter Kirsten Paludan. Saturday night, Paludan headlines an early show with her ensemble the Key Party at the RecordBar, 1020 Westport Road.

“People have told me the sound of the band is reminiscent of Olympic Size but stands on its own, too,” she said. “It’s a mix of Americana, indie rock and pop with hints of jazz and folk thrown in. One comparison I heard recently was ‘an alt-country Feist,’ which is pretty close, too, and (we) have also been compared to (singer/songwriter) Sharon Von Etten, another good reference.”

The Key Party comprises Wade Williamson (a bandmate in the Rounders and Olympic Size), Dave Gaume, John Bersuch and Jessica Gomez.

“Most of them have been playing music with me since very early on in my solo career,” Paludan said, “except Jessica, a friend from Lawrence who plays keyboard and a little guitar in the band.” Paludan said she and Gaume are about to hit the studio to record a Key Party record.

Saturday’s all-ages show starts at 7 p.m. Katlyn Conroy of Cowboy Indian Bear opens. Admission is $5.

Coming up

Singing the Talking Heads:

This month’s installment in the “Sonic Spectrum: A Tribute” series at RecordBar should be a dandy. The honorees are the Talking Heads.

The performers are Dead Voices, with special guest Betse Ellis; Molly Picture Club, whose spacy experiments with dance rock ought to take the Heads’ music into a cosmic dimension; Soft Reeds; and In Back of a Black Car, a four-piece featuring alumni of Lovers in Transit, Monta at Odds and Five Star Crush that describes its music as “nocturnal gloss-pop.”

Showtime is 8 p.m. Jan. 29. Admission is $10. It’s an 18-and-older show.