Music News & Reviews

KC concerts Jan. 11-16: Brandon Lay, Cory Wong, Chris Knight, Kelly Hunt

Brandon Lay
Brandon Lay Invision/AP

Brandon Lay

6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11, at Kanza Hall

Brandon Lay rose to the occasion when he opened for country superstar Kenny Chesney at Arrowhead Stadium last July. Rather than sheepishly apologizing to the 50,000 fans for standing between them and the headliner, Lay strutted across the sprawling stage as if he owned it. Booming songs like “Speakers, Bleachers and Preachers” sounded as if they belonged in the stadium, but Lay is likely to be even more effective at the comparatively tiny Kanza Hall. With Kerosene 6. 913-451-0444. Tickets are $15-$40 through oneblocksouthkc.com.

Cory Wong

9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11, at RecordBar

Cory Wong is a funny guy. The title of the arena-ready “Jumbotron Hype Song” and the syncopated laugh track on the “Seinfeld”-style jingle “Sitcom” on Wong’s latest release reflect the Michigan guitarist’s ample sense of humor. Wong is best known for his work with the funk group Vulfpeck, but his new duet with the smooth jazz saxophonist Dave Koz and the craftsmanship of his John Mayer-esque pop song “Light As Anything” indicate he may soon achieve even greater notoriety. With Pink Royal. 816-753-5207. Tickets are $20 through therecordbar.com.

Chris Knight

8:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11, at Knuckleheads

The rugged individualism associated with Chris Knight’s songs is exemplified by a lyric in one of his most popular compositions. He groans that he “caught a .22 bullet in my thigh one night/trying to break up a barroom fight/went home, dug it out with my old Case knife” before insisting that “times are tough but they ain’t got nothing on me.” Although the cantankerous Kentucky songwriter has spent his career in the shadow of the like-minded Steve Earle, Knight shouldn’t be overlooked. With Mudflap Mafia. 816-483-1456. Tickets are $18.50 through knuckleheadskc.com.

Wayne “The Train” Hancock

8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11, at Bottleneck

Fans of late country musician Hank Williams often pay tribute to the ill-fated icon by shedding tears while admiring scratchy old hits like “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” Attending concerts by Wayne “The Train” Hancock is an even more satisfying way to revel in Williams’ legacy. Hancock, one of Williams’ most unwavering musical heirs, delivers stellar original material like “Thunderstorms and Neon Signs” in a nasal twang that’s uncannily similar to Williams’ voice. With the Douglas County Quintet. 785-749-3434. Tickets are $15 through thebottlenecklive.com.

Jackson Taylor & The Sinners

8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 12, at Davey’s Uptown Ramblers Club

Jackson Taylor proudly reveals his roots in a series of videos titled “Now You Know.” He and his raucous band add extra doses of surly attitude and metallic guitar to Waylon Jennings’ version of Rodney Crowell’s “I Ain’t Living Long Like This” and Elvis Presley’s rendition of “Mystery Train” in two of the most satisfying entries in the series. Billed as “Texas music’s baddest boy,” Taylor will enhance his unruly reputation with unhinged renditions of honkytonk songs like “Jack’s Drunk Again.” 816-753-1909. Tickets are $15 through daveysuptown.com.

Amber Underwood Project

10 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 12, at Black Dolphin

Will Ferrell ruthlessly mocked the jazz flute in his 2004 comedy “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.” But the music of the Amber Underwood Project is no laughing matter. In embracing the confrontational #flutienastiness, the Kansas City flautist indicates that she’s striving for a sound that’s anything but insipid. Her lively appearances in area clubs recall the era in which flautists including Hubert Laws and Herbie Mann made tough, soulful and popular forms of melodic jazz. 816-215-2954. Details at blackdolphinlounge.com. Free.

Ensiferum

7:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 14, at Riot Room

The members of Led Zeppelin were inspired by the frigid climate of northern Europe when they paid tribute to “the land of ice and snow” on the 1970 classic “Immigrant Song.” The Finnish group Ensiferum represents its homeland with a resolute commitment capable of impressing anyone who’s howled along to “Immigrant Song.” Epic Ensiferum selections like “For Those About to Fight for Metal” will instigate manic air guitar solos and unbridled head-banging. With Septicflesh, Arsis and Stonehaven. 816-442-8179. Tickets are $30 through theriotroom.com.

Kelly Hunt

7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 16, at RecordBar

Kelly Hunt.jpg
Kelly Hunt JENNY WHEAT PHOTOGRAPHY

American folk musicians capable of creating rustic music as exquisite as the pastoral sounds on Kelly Hunt’s impressive 2018 album “Even the Sparrow” aren’t usually prone to experimentation. Yet the young Kansas City artist intends to investigate new sonic terrain in her SongLab Sessions series. Hunt will be joined by fiddler Stas’ Heaney, locally based folk artist Una Walkenhorst and a “rotating band of local musicians” who will help her develop adventurous new ideas in the first installment of SongLab. 816-753-5207. Tickets are $10 through therecordbar.com.

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