Back to Rockville

Veteran KC rocker Joey Skidmore mines the past to deliver the zesty ‘Now’

Joey Skidmore
Joey Skidmore Emily Evans Sloan

His seventh album is called “Now,” but Joey Skidmore will tell you that sonically it’s a throwback.

“There’s a really early ’70s vibe going on,” he said.

There’s a classic rock vibe, too, the work of a veteran musician plumbing the past to inspire the present.

“Now” includes covers from Iggy and the Stooges (“Dirt”) and Blue Oyster Cult (“This Ain’t the Summer of Love”), plus a cover of Randy Newman’s “Mama Told Me Not to Come” that pays homage to Three Dog Night’s hit version and features guest vocals from Jim Dandy of Black Oak Arkansas, a friend and collaborator of Skidmore’s since the late 1990s.

“I’ve always been a fan of Iggy Pop,” Skidmore said, “and we’d been playing ‘Dirt’ live for a while. It was kind of an afterthought. I said, ‘Let’s give it a try.’ It’s pretty much the first take — a little loose, but I think it works.”

Dandy, too, was brought in on a whim.

“I thought it would be kind of humorous,” Skidmore said. “I had to twist his arm to get him in the studio, but he’s always a blast to work with. He’s one of a kind. I mean, just the fact that he’s still doing it and has been since the late ’60s.”

The Dandy version of “Mama” got some international air time recently thanks to another longtime rock hero, Alice Cooper, who played Skidmore’s version on “Nights With Alice Cooper,” his syndicated radio show.

But “Now” isn’t all classic rock. It opens with something more contemporary: “Kiki Meets the Vampires,” the title theme to a movie Skidmore filmed in Paris and Kansas City. The cast includes members of Les Fossoyeurs, a six-piece French punk-ska band that Skidmore has been friends with since the late 1980s, when he was introduced to the band by a former manager.

“The film is real campy, low-brow humor,” Skidmore said, “lots of cheap laughs. It’s not for everyone. It’s kind of a mix of Robert Rodriguez, (Quentin) Tarantino, Richard Lester and a little John Waters.”

“Kiki” screened in Kansas City, St. Louis and Paris in 2014. Skidmore said he wanted to screen it elsewhere, but he moved his focus to completing the album. Like his preceding six albums, “Now” was produced in Springfield by Lou Whitney. It was one of Whitney’s final recording projects. He was 71 when he died in October after a long battle with cancer.

“Lou was such a creative force,” said Skidmore, a Baltimore native who attended college in Springfield, Mo., and moved to Kansas City in 1989. “And he was so funny. On a good night, he was probably the funniest human I’ve ever been around. When he was on, he was a riot.”

“Now” was almost five years in the making. Skidmore would take trips down to Springfield when he had the time and money to record. His studio band comprised several longtime members and collaborators, including Gary Paredes on lead, rhythm and slide guitar and vocals, and Cory Corbino on bass. The others: Joe Terry on piano and keys and Kyle Hudson on drums.

“I’ve played with Cory on and off for 25 years, and with Gary for 15,” Skidmore said. In addition to Dandy and Les Fossoyeurs, who perform on the title track, several guests sat in on the recording, including members of BCR (Black Crack Revue) and Warner Hodges of Jason & the Scorchers.

Friday night at RecordBar, Skidmore will celebrate the release of “Now” with a different band: Paredes, Corbino, Joe Miquelon (formerly of the Elders) on keys, Steve Moon and Paul Lemon on percussion and Mike Costelow on guitar (who also goes back more than 20 years with Skidmore). The Rev. Dwight Frizzell of BCR will also sit in on a song or two.

“Now” is fast-paced and tight, filled with sturdy hooks and riffs and an old-school vibe. Its eight songs come and go in about 27 minutes, so Skidmore will fill the rest of the show with tracks from his previous albums. Several former band members will join him on those, including members of the Crying Rhinos, his band’s name in the early ’90s.

“We’re billing it as the Joey Skidmore Band with the Crying Rhino All-Stars,” he said. “There will be many special guests.”

All the music should fit together, save for the theme to “Kiki,” of which a reviewer in Blurt magazine wrote: “A more punkish and cheesy number you could never wish for, sounding straight out of a ’50s rock ‘n’ shock (Roger Corman?) craze.”

The rest will be more straight-up rock, the sounds of other eras and influences.

“We’re sort of going for a more garage slant,” he said, “with a ’60s psychedelic flavor. We’ve been doing some Yardbird covers and others that kind of sound like revved-up R&B-garage rock.”

Skidmore said he’s working on an anthology of his career, which now exceeds three decades.

“I hope to get it out by next year,” he said. “It covers 35 years of rock, which kind of dates me.”

That’s also 35 years of friendships and collaborations from a musician who believes the future is now, but knows the past has relevance, too.

To reach Timothy Finn, call 816-234-4781 or send email to tfinn@kcstar.com. Follow the Back to Rockville blog on Twitter @kcstarrockville.

Friday

The Joey Skidmore Band will celebrate the release of “Now” on Friday at the RecordBar, 1020 Westport Road. Showtime is 7 p.m. Admission to the all-ages show is $10. Part of the proceeds go to the charter school Academie Lafayette. You can sample or buy “Now” at CDBaby.com.

  Comments