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Artist of the Month
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December 2015
Mikal Shapiro
"The Musical
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Singer-songwriter Mikal Shapiro’s perfectly titled latest release, The Musical, is a collection of not merely songs, but 10 short stories set to wonderful music. The album is a work—or multiple works—of art that are just as mysterious and intriguing as any paintings you will find in a gallery. Shapiro’s palette is splattered with the complete spectrum of colors. There are dreary gray tones and bright whimsical flashes, melding together to create a soundtrack to life—one that touches many musical genres, including rock, folk, jazz, old-school country, and even gospel.
 
The Musical's opening act, “Nope,” is an airy, ethereal fantasy. Odd, evasive lyrics over a folk sound made jazzier by a muted trumpet give the listener a sense of drifting in and out of a dream on a rainy Sunday morning. Drums and crashing cymbals briefly end the slumber, until you are lulled back to sleep as the song comes to a close. Several tracks share this jazz feel, including “Out on the Town,” “Two String Blues,” and the wonderfully whimsical "Hot Cool." Shapiro's vocals are poised and effortless on each of these. 
 
“Here and Now” explores rediscovering love and a desire to forget (or never remember) the past. A dull snare beat blanketed by beautiful steel guitar rivals the purest of cry-in-your-beer country songs. Similarly, “This Way to Heaven” is country with an emphasis on gospel. It begins a cappella and, as the band joins in, becomes the loveliest song on the album. It is simultaneously serene and haunting.
 
Matching the mystery and irony found throughout the album, “Daniel,” the catchiest and most up-tempo tune, is also possibly the saddest. Daniel himself is an enigma. The storyteller, who acknowledges being a “friend” of Daniel’s, clearly knows little more about him than that he can “sleep like a Christian” and “drink like a demon.” The song turns dark when the protagonist is found dead, presumably by suicide. “But on that Saturday, Daniel was down / They couldn’t say where he was found, or how he was found.” Brilliantly, the listener is left to decide how Daniel may have met his demise, and why.  
 
Shapiro is fortunate to be backed by Chad Brothers (guitar and vocals), Johnny Hamil (electric and double bass), and Matt Richey (drums), along with a small army of additional local musicians. This adept team provides a canvas that Shapiro expertly fills. My interpretations of The Musical may differ from other listeners. As with any painting, the artist is not only revealing her emotions, but is also attempting to provoke a response—and Shapiro certainly does. My response may be lost in translation, as the peculiar, personal songs will pierce each listener differently.

--Brad Scott  

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Artists on Trial: Josh Colburn of Little Rosco

Artists on Trial: Josh Colburn of Little Rosco

Little Rosco is one of the newest bands to emerge in what continues to be a growing Kansas City music scene. Though the four-piece rock group only has a couple shows under its belt, it shows promise and willingness to become a force in the musical community. Today, we chat a bit with frontman Josh Colburn.

The Deli: Gun to your head: one sentence to describe your music.  What is it?

Josh Colburn: You know the song that comes on the radio that makes you get a speeding ticket? Like that...

The Deli:  Let’s talk about your latest release or upcoming shows. What can we expect?
 
JC:  We're are playing a show at Czar Bar on Saturday, August 11 with some other great bands: The Chaotic Goods and The New Imperialism (Wichita). It should be a great show. I know I am ready to throw down and I am super pumped to see the other bands perform! We are just starting out, so for us every show is huge -- no matter how big or small.

The Deli:  What does “supporting local music” mean to you?

JC: Of course you can tell your friends about your favorite local bands, but will they actually take the time to go find and listen to them at home? It's better to take your friends and go to a show and then if you like it, support the band! Buy a t-shirt, CD, sticker, death metal coffee mug for mom, or whatever your fancy is. Getting involved in the local music community is a great way to help and easy to do! For example, one of our members writes concert reviews for a local radio station on a volunteer basis. It may not pay anything, but he gets to meet a lot of great musicians in KC and plug them through a popular medium. There really are lots of ways to help out and make sure the music you love gets out there and doesn't die on the vine. 
 
The Deli: Who are your favorite “local” musicians right now?

JC: There are a lot of great local bands in the KC area, so it's really hard to just name a few. Some favorites would be Cherokee Rock Rifle, The Atlantic, The Strive and We Are Voices.


The Deli: Who are your favorite not-so-local musicians right now?
 
JC:  Well, Foo Fighters tops the list, I think for all of us. Also Jimmy Eat World, The Used, The Joy Formidable, Mutemath, Relient K and The Starting Line are all bands that have influenced us. On the other hand, some of the guys listen to bands that we don't emulate as well, such as the Alabama Shakes and Japandroids.

The Deli: What is your ultimate fantasy concert bill to play on?

JC: I don't know if I can speak for everyone, but my personal favorites would be Rockin New Years Eve in New York and the Metro in Chicago. Not lofty, I know. But ever since I was young I've loved the intimate setting of the Metro and the energy of New York. But when it comes down to it, I don't like to be too far removed from our fans during a show.
 
The Deli: Would you rather spend the rest of your life on stage or in the recording studio?
 
JC: Definitely on stage. I've never heard of "Studio Fright" and there's a reason. I love the rush and the energy you feel being connected to other people. It's incredible.

The Deli:
 A music-themed Mount Rushmore.  What four faces are you putting up there and why?

JC: Dave Grohl (do I need to explain?), Jimmy Page (again...), Frank Sinatra (there has to be at least one true gentleman up there) and Johnny Cash (again, I don't think that needs an explanation). These guys are legends or legends in the making. Their music and lives inspire musicians daily.
 
The Deli:  All right, give us the rundown.  Where all on this big crazy web can you be found? 

Twitter - @littleroscoband 
 
The Deli:  Always go out on a high note.  Any last words of wisdom for the Deli audience?

JC: Go out and support local musicians. They're your friends or potential friends and they're working hard for you! Find music you love and don't ever let it die because, as Quincy Jones said, "What a harmonious world it would be if every single person shared a little bit of what they are good at doing." We like to think we are contributing to such a world, but we need everyone to join us!

Rock out with Josh and the rest of Little Rosco this Friday, August 10 at Club 906 in Liberty, or this Saturday, August 11 at Czar Bar. They'll be playing with The Chaotic Goods and The New Imperialism. Show starts at 9 pm.

--Michelle Bacon

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