Music News & Reviews

KC concerts Aug. 23-29: Melissa Etheridge, Luke Bryan, Ziggy Marley, Tower of Power

Melissa Etheridge will play Wednesday, Aug. 29, at Crossroads KC.
Melissa Etheridge will play Wednesday, Aug. 29, at Crossroads KC.

Mary Gauthier

Thursday, Aug. 23, at Knuckleheads

Mary Gauthier’s “Rifles and Rosary Beads” is almost certainly the most wrenching album of 2018. A collaboration between the acclaimed singer-songwriter and military veterans and their families, the song cycle bluntly addresses the emotional and physical aftermath of combat. “Soldiering On,” a song Gauthier wrote with a Marine, is centered on the lyric “what saves you in the battle can kill you at home.” The project suits Gauthier. A former restaurateur, Gauthier specializes in candid songs about life’s most arduous challenges.

8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 23. Knuckleheads. 816-483-1456. Tickets are $18 through


Thursday, Aug. 23, at Davey’s Uptown Ramblers Club

Reggae artists without the surname of Marley face uphill battles. Jah9, the Jamaican born Janine Elizabeth Cunningham, is among the current wave of aspiring reggae stars who compete with members of a royal clan that includes Damian, Julian, Stephen and Ziggy Marley. By channeling the neo-jazz vocal style associated with Erykah Badu and remaining faithful to the classic reggae sound of the 1970s, Cunningham distinguishes herself from less resolute peers. With Dynamq.

9 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 23. Davey’s Uptown Ramblers Club. 816-753-1909. The cover charge is $15. Details are available at

Ziggy Marley

Saturday, Aug. 25, at VooDoo

While romance-minded songs like “Is This Love” and “Could You Be Loved” are his most pervasive compositions, Bob Marley was an inherently political artist. The late reggae icon consistently addressed political and social issues in his music. Ziggy Marley inherited his father’s sense of activism. His new album, “Rebellion Rises,” opens with a strident selection titled “See Dem Fake Leaders.” Combined with his uncanny vocal and physical resemblance to his father, Marley’s consciousness-imbued concerts invariably induce chills.

8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 25. VooDoo. 816-472-7777. Tickets are $35-$65 through

Tower of Power

Saturday, Aug. 25, at Ameristar Casino

The lyrics of Tower of Power’s statement of purpose “Soul With a Capital ‘S’” insists that while “there’s people who tell you to get with the times … I like rhythm and blues.” The Oakland-based ensemble may no longer be particularly fashionable as it celebrates its 50th anniversary, but Tower of Power’s brash horn section and deep grooves still thrill faithful audiences around the world with funky 1970s chestnuts like “What Is Hip?” With the Average White Band.

8:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 25. Ameristar Casino. 816-414-7000. Tickets are $40-$45 through

Lonnie McFadden’s “Charlie Parker: Past, Present and Future”

Saturday, Aug. 25, at the Gem Theater

Charlie Parker, the mercurial genius who died in 1955 just 34 years after his birth in Kansas City, Kan., had a complicated relationship with his hometown. The Charlie Parker Celebration is a noble attempt to bolster his legacy in a city that never wholly embraced him. Lonnie McFadden, one of Kansas City’s most beloved entertainers, will oversee Saturday’s tribute to Parker. The culmination of the fifth annual Charlie Parker Celebration will feature contributions from the elite jazz saxophonists Bobby Watson and Tivon Pennicott.

8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 25. Gem Theater. 816-285-9045. Tickets are $35 through

Luke Bryan

Sunday, Aug. 26, at the Sprint Center

Change is in the air in the boardrooms of Nashville’s power brokers and in every barroom where country fans congregate. There’s a sense that the bro-country movement exemplified by Luke Bryan may soon cede its long-held dominance to earthier and ostensibly more authentic styles. The reception Bryan receives at his return to the Sprint Center will act as a referendum on the staying power of his good-time songs about sunshine, beer, dirt roads and pickup trucks. With Jon Pardi and Morgan Wallen.

7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 26. Sprint Center. 816-949-7100. Tickets are $40-$90 through

Kelly Hunt

Sunday, Aug. 26, at the Buffalo Room

Kelly Hunt (not to be confused with the locally based blues-rock veteran Kelley Hunt) will preside over an auspicious musical coming-out party on Sunday. Accompanied by fiddler Staś Heaney, the young Kansas City folk artist will perform songs from her stunning debut album, “Even the Sparrow.” Hunt applies her haunting voice and evocative banjo playing to songs that build on the work of contemporary masters like Gillian Welch. Hunt is a vital young voice who promises to continue providing solace and inspiration for decades.

7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 26. Buffalo Room. 816-701-9598. Tickets are $5 through

Melissa Etheridge

Wednesday, Aug. 29, at Crossroads KC

Melissa Etheridge performed refined arrangements of material from her extensive catalog with the Kansas City Symphony at Muriel Kauffman Theatre last September. The atmosphere at the accomplished singer-songwriter’s return to Kansas City will be vastly different. Formal wear and concert programs will be replaced by T-shirts and plastic beverage cups at Wednesday’s outdoor show. A particularly engaging performer, the Leavenworth native is likely to reminisce about her experiences at nearby landmarks during her return to her old stomping grounds.

8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 29. Crossroads KC. 785-749-3434. Tickets are $30-$44 through