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the get up kids

Spotlight on Plaza Art Fair artist: Key Party

(Photo by Jeremy Rockwell)
This week, we’ll be highlighting some of the artists playing INK’s stage at the Plaza Art Fair this weekend, September 19-21.
With a well-established and acclaimed musical career, Kirsten Paludan has proven to be an invaluable asset across various facets of the local music community. From the haunting, celestial sounds of Olympic Size to the country charm of Starhaven Rounders to her catalog of solo work, Paludan possesses a versatility unlike other vocalists and songwriters.
Earlier this year, Paludan wrote and released an album with Key Party, a project that began with her and bandmate Jessica Gomez, eventually becoming a five-piece. We talk with Paludan about her music and the evolution of her group.
The Deli: Down and dirty: 1 sentence to describe your music.
Paludan: Ethereal, soulful, dynamic, and dreamlike music interwoven with stories of life, love, loss, and everything that happens in between.
The Deli: Give us some background on Key Party. What’s the lineup?
Paludan: Currently, the lineup is yours truly (vox, acoustic guitar, keys), Jessica Gomez (electric guitar, keys, background vox), Dalin Horner of Black Christmas (electric guitar), Garret Brown (bass), and Ryan Pope of The Get Up Kids (drums). Key Party started as just me and Jessica in the winter of 2010. I had recently moved back to Lawrence from KC—where I had been living for 10 years—due to a family tragedy, and hadn’t been playing much music. I was offered a show at the Jackpot and was without a band at the time. Jessica and I were good friends and she mentioned that she used to play. I said, “What the heck, join me for this show!” I had to twist her arm since we only had like two practices, but she did it, and the rest is history.
The current lineup has only been together since early spring of this year. There have been several different incarnations since 2010, but this group of people is like family. We all collaborate on a separate project together (LongShadows—our first show will happen this winter) and it’s like we have this little music collective of our own.
The Deli: You're an accomplished songwriter who's done a lot of solo work and has been in several notable bands in the area. What is your approach to Key Party's music? And what are you learning through this experience as a songwriter and musician?
Paludan: When this incarnation of the band first got together earlier this year, I was asking them to recreate the songs from my album Up All Night (recorded with Dave Gaume at Element Recording with an entirely different lineup, other than Jessica). As I continue to bring in new material, the band is giving more and more input.
I really appreciate having people on my side whose opinions I can trust. Sometimes when you are the songwriter, it’s hard to be unbiased and objective about a song, and that’s where having a deep bench really helps. Ryan and Garret are a great rhythm section and always have awesome ideas about arrangement. Dalin is an amazingly versatile and soulful guitarist and one of the nicest guys on the planet. Jessica’s simple yet incredibly tasteful approach to her playing makes her one of the band’s secret weapons. Everyone has taken the songs from the record to another level and has really made them their own. When you have such smart and talented people on your team, it only makes sense to use the knowledge they bring to the table. I’ve found that when you can let go and release the need to control the outcome, the results can be better than you ever imagined.
The Deli: Tell us more about Up All Night, your latest release.
Paludan: I released Up All Night in Spring 2014; it is available on Bandcamp, iTunes, and all other major online retailers. It was recorded and co-produced with Dave Gaume and features John Anderson on drums, Dave Gaume on bass, Jessica on guitar and keys, plus guest appearances by Hermon Mehari, Wade Williamson (guitar), Mike Harte (cello), Chris Tolle (guitar), and Adam Stafford (guitar, pedal steel, background vox).
The Deli: What have been your greatest accomplishments as a band?
Paludan: Well, since this is a fairly new band, I would say our greatest accomplishment so far is having a great time playing music. It may sound silly, but it is very hard to find that right balance in a band. Where egos don’t get in the way and everyone is there to give their all to the songs. At this point, I’d say I’m the happiest about finding a group of people who I feel really get me and the songs I’m writing. From here, everything else is gravy.
The Deli: What does supporting local music mean to you?
Paludan: To me, it’s not just about supporting local music—it’s about supporting the community. Most people know that a vibrant art scene is the pulse of any city worth its weight, and making the effort to cultivate and elevate that element is just common sense. I am grateful to be a part of a culturally rich area that understands how important this is.
The Deli: Who are your favorite local musicians right now?
Paludan: I don’t like to play favorites, because I think we have an amazingly talented group of people creating music in our scene and unfortunately, I don’t get out to see bands as much as I’d like (usually because I’m performing myself). However, there are a couple of bands/singers that I always love listening to: The Hips, Drakkar Sauna, The Caves, The Belles, Your Friend, Ghosty, Lauren Krum... to name a few. Also, I am a fan of all of the people I play music with—every single one is a talented artist in their own right. I am damn lucky!!
The Deli: Who are your favorite non-local musicians right now?
Paludan: I’m attracted to a mix of genres and eras when it comes to non-local listening. Currently on my playlist: Loretta Lynn, Ella Fitzgerald, cast recording of The Nervous Set, Lower Dens, Warpaint, Sharon Von Etten, Neko Case, The National, Leonard Cohen, Blonde Redhead, Prince, Emmy Lou Harris, Ray Price, Wye Oak, Fleetwood Mac, Cat Power, Patsy Cline, Sade, the list goes on...
The Deli: Who are you looking forward to seeing at Plaza Art Fair?
Paludan: I’m looking forward to seeing everyone! It’s an event that attracts so many types of people, and it’s great to have a spotlight on local music. Thanks to Ink, a lot of Plaza Art Fair goers are being introduced to the great music being made in their community.
The Deli: What is your ultimate fantasy concert bill to play on?
Paludan: Current: Warpaint + Sharon Von Etten + Neko Case
Super duper fantasy bill where time and space don’t matter: Fleetwood Mac (Tusk era) + Sade (of any era, because she is a goddess).
The Deli: A music-themed Mount Rushmore. What four faces are you putting up there and why?
Paludan: This is a really tough question! I’ve been mulling it over and decided on these four (and I cheated a little) for what they have contributed to music overall.
Beethoven: His music is like the primer for all music that followed it.
Prince: He is a bad ass. That is all.
Lennon/McCartney: No one can deny their influence on popular music and their ability to inspire generations of songwriters and bands.
Loretta Lynn: A force of nature with the voice and personality to match. To me, she is the undeniable queen of country music.
The Deli: Where can we find you on the web?
The Deli: What other goals does Key Party have for 2014, and beyond?
Paludan: We have plans to begin recording sometime this winter starting with demos in Dalin’s basement studio and more than likely working with Dave Gaume on the final product (as long as he is available, busy as he is these days). Future plans include continuing to have a great time and playing awesome shows. Hopefully, having that as our goal will lead to greater success. If not, we still win.
The Deli: Always go out on a high note. Any last words of wisdom for the Deli audience?
Paludan: These are things I’ve learned from my family, my bandmates, and friends over the years: Learn as much as you can from other people, even those with different opinions than you. Be open to alternate possibilities. Live your truth. Always try to do your best and you’ll never be disappointed. Be kind. Don’t forget to say please and thank you.
Key Party is:
Kirsten Paludan: lead vocals, acoustic guitar, keys
Garret Brown: bass
Jessica Gomez: electric guitar, keys, vocals
Dalin Horner: electric guitar
Ryan Pope: drums
Key Party will be playing on INK’s stage at Plaza Art Fair on Saturday, September 20 at 12:00 p.m. The stage is located at Ward Parkway and Pennsylvania Avenue, next to Gram & Dun and Plaza III. Facebook event page.
You can also catch Paludan in a production of The Nervous Set—a Beat Generation jazz musical—at the Lawrence Arts Center. It runs the first three weekends in October, Thursday through Saturday. Ticket link.
--Michelle Bacon
Michelle Bacon is editor of The Deli KC and plays in bands.

Free Counters

Middle of the Map Fest recap

(Photo by Todd Zimmer)
Now that Middle of the Map Fest is all wrapped up, here’s a look back at the music fest a couple weeks back. We also had a blast at the forum and film portions of the fest. Here are some highlights from a few of our contributors.
(Photo by Todd Zimmer)

Kicking off the fest for me (and for most, as they were one of the first groups scheduled), the adorable couple took to the stage in their usual slightly off-kilter alternative garage rock fashion. I strolled in during the part of the set where guitarist Matt Roth recites beat poetry sans music while drummer Nan Turner dances of various persuasions. Though one could argue it is an odd move in the middle of a set of rock music, it ends up serving as just one more “we do what we want” layer of joy to the overall warm and fuzzy soul hug you get at a Schwervon! show. A special nod to the Riot Room sound here, as this was easily the biggest sounding Schwervon! show I have seen.
(Photo by Todd Zimmer)

For a band that has played a very small number of shows, Loose Park has quite a bit of buzz to them, probably due to its members currently or previously being in a slew of popular KC acts (Doris Henson, Soft Reeds, In the Pines, etc). Yet another of the pleasing number of trios I’ve seen between MOTM and SXSW this year, they lived up to the hype for me. The sound is rock and roll, borrowing as much from Neil Young as it does ‘90s alternative rock, with just enough prog-like quirkiness to keep things interesting. Vocalist/guitarist Matthew Dunehoo’s voice came across especially strong and although I was unable to stick around for their whole set, what I did hear was exciting. I’ll definitely be checking them out again.
(Photo by Todd Zimmer)

Unpretentious high-energy punk rock with pop sensibility and a synthesizer flair. Love these guys. I’ve had the pleasure of catching them numerous times over the past couple years and have really enjoyed watching them grow into the band they are now. They played an energetic set of tunes to an appreciative crowd that grew ten fold throughout the course of their set. Gary Numan had just let out more or less right above them, but his crowd that stumbled into Westport Saloon didn’t move on once they heard what the Lungs were putting down. Anytime a band can keep a large and growing group of people for a whole set at a festival with many things happening simultaneously is a good sign.

For many years, my pissed-at-the-world, play-as-loud-as-my-speakers-and-ears-can-take-it album was Something to Write Home About. Needless to say, I was pretty stoked to show up at showtime to hear the last couple minutes of the J. Roddy set, and therefore snake a spot about 15 feet back center stage when people left to get a beer. I’ve seen The Get Up Kids a few times now, but it had been a while, and not on a stage this big since Yahoo Outloud circa 2001. I was in full on fangirl mode.

They quickly shattered any doubt about what age and/or time may have done to a band with such an energetic reputation. Sure, there was a lot less jumping or running around and I don’t remember Dewees getting up on his keyboard stand even once, but whether due to the excitement of the crowd where I was standing or just refinement through time (or perhaps that I, like them, have grown older accordingly), their set came across as solid as it ever did. They blazed through mostly older material, though even they admitted that “it’s all old stuff at this point”. Someone from the crowd jokingly yelled out “emo grandfathers,” from which Pryor got a noticeable laugh and retorted appropriately.

The Get Up Kids showed the crowd why they are one of the biggest bands to come out of our neck of woods in recent memory. “Holiday” and “Action & Action” pummeled with raw angst and vigor. “I’m a Loner Dottie, A Rebel” brought the house down. The tender moments from “Valentine” reminded the crowd of the depth of their material. Even the technical difficulties that fouled up “Overdue” so much that they had to stop and resort to playing “Campfire Kansas” instead (which is probably what we wanted to hear more anyway) couldn’t put a damper on an otherwise hitch-free set.
They bantered about memories of Westport. 21st birthdays and an awkward bicycle ride at Buzzard Beach. The house not far away they used to live in. I never turned around to see how many people were there, but the ones around me felt like a community. We were all bouncing, we were all grooving, we were all belting the words along. It felt like a show in someone’s basement or at a small familiar haunt like the Replay. One of the most friendly mosh pits I’ve ever seen even broke out during their closing song “Ten Minutes.”
Perhaps I am waxing nostalgic, but this is what a rock show should be like.

This was my first TD show. Having heard good things about them, I slunk my way through the billowing crowd at The Riot Room to find a square foot to stand on that could see that stage. If MOTM and SXSW showed me anything this year, it’s that alt folk and dance pop bands had better get their fill now, because loud rock ‘n roll is making a comeback. Those Darlins are a friggin’ rock band. Loud guitars, rumbling bass, pounding drums, wailing vocals. The frontperson of this freight train? Jessi Zazu, a *maybe* 100-pound pasty white nymph, complete with a red blazer and curly auburn Annie hair. Her stage presence is an interesting mix of playful kitten meets jilted ex-lover meets psychopath, as she would often flare her eyes raptor size and stare holes through various people amongst the crowd. Their set was a great balance of musicality and showmanship.

Even as it grows into more of a beast year by year, Middle of the Map is delightfully Midwestern. Delightfully Kansas City. Delightfully ours.
--Zach Hodson
When Lauren Krum (The Grisly Hand) and David Regnier (Dead Voices) perform as a duet, with just their voices in tight harmony and his acoustic guitar, they perform under the moniker Ruddy Swain. They were part of the recordBar day party on Saturday, and you could have heard a pin drop as everyone in the place was captivated by the stripped-down performance of the lead vocalists of two of KC's favorite alt-country bands. It occurred to me as I snapped pictures that they don't need anything besides their voices and his guitar to hold an audience in the palm of their hand and keep them there for the entire set. No doubt, the audience would have demanded an encore if not for the tight schedule a successful festival commands.
Move over, Taylor Swift. 15-year-old Gracie Schram of Leawood doesn't need a bad relationship or a horrendous breakup to write a good song. I've had the hook-lines from “Yellow Shoes” and “We Are the Change” running through my head since her set at the recordBar, and I'm not humming “God Save the Queen” to get rid of them. She's a complete package: a gifted songwriter, a talented guitar player, and a superb vocalist, all combined with stage presence. Kansas City music aficionados will sniff haughtily some day when tickets to see her are going for $150 a throw that we remember her mom driving her to gigs and seeing her for five bucks at local coffee houses. Fortunately for us, we don't just get to bear witness as she matures and grows, we get to call her one of our own.
--Tammy Booth
(Photo by Jaime Russell)
The latest incarnation of Joshua Allen’s rock outfit kicked off The Deli’s showcase at Riot Room on MOTM’s first evening. As promised, the four-piece delivered a bombastic, psychedelic sound to the early audience. Allen’s crunching, whirling guitars joined forces with Eddie Moore’s otherworldly keyboard noises, the anarchy of which was kept in check by the bass and drum groove of EvanJohn McIntosh and Mark Lomas. The band’s chaotic, high-energy set was devoured by a hungry crowd, eager for more, ready for a sensational music-filled weekend.
(Photo by Todd Zimmer)
The first time I saw Molly Gene, I was just beginning as a musician, still daunted by the complexity of my instruments, my lack of style, my own timidness. After I saw her perform, I probably should have quit right then, knowing that I would probably never possess that same ability, or charm, or grit.
Years later, she’s featured at Westport Saloon’s showcase. Still with all of the same elements as before, somehow enhanced. It’s not just her fancy-looking (and sounding) foot-controlled drum kit—complete with kick, snare, a cymbal, and who knows what else—but more of a toughness in her songwriting and sensuality in her stage presence. Her brand of garage rock heavily steeped in Delta blues created the precise mood for the evening.
There’s something both soothing and jarring when you hear Jorge Arana, Jason Nash, and Josh Enyart share a stage together. They conjure up these wickedly rich, complicated rhythms and melodies that almost make you uneasy. It’s like when you sneaked out of your parents’ house as a teenager to smoke cigarettes with your friends or make out with your crush—an innocent enough gesture, coupled with the exhilarating rush of rebellion and intensity. And every time the trio takes the stage, it seems like the perfect setting, whether it’s in a dingy basement or in this case—The Riot Room patio.
Among the highlights of the entire fest was the trio’s performance with special guest Steve Tulipana, whose mere presence on stage sent an invigorating shock wave through the already euphoric audience. The always-captivating Tulipana sang, spoke, and screamed like a shaman, keeping the masses transfixed and clinging to his every word.
I’ve always had a special place in my heart for what I consider true, classic, soul-satisfying, face-melting guitar rock. For several years, Supernauts was one of the best sources in KC for this unadulterated, unapologetic music. Their recent performance at MOTM—one of their only performances in years—proved that they still very much have the rock chops. Jordan Smith has a higher vocal range that can weave between a cool glam song or cut through Tim Braun’s colossal, soaring guitar riffs and J.F. Whitaker’s mammoth drum work. The Elders’ Kian Byrne also filled in on bass, helping the band produce a more solid, beefier sound than in years past.
Kicking off the main stage on Saturday afternoon—the final day of the fest—was another KC trio that has proven to be more than the sum of its parts. Fascinated by frontman Nathan Corsi’s striking voice and the band’s unmistakable overall appeal, the day’s early spectators had no choice but to move their feet. Augmented by a rhythm section (Liam Sumnicht and Bill Sturges) that provides just enough countermelody to heighten the band’s sound, Corsi ripped through the set flawlessly, keeping listeners lingering around the main stage to see if anything else could top that performance.
What happens when you allow a zany group of people dressed as comic heroes on acid to jump on a stage? If you have ever had the chance to see Peelander-Z, you already know the answer: several things, actually. You’ll probably get the urge to dance. You’ll probably belly laugh at least twice. You’ll definitely chant something having to do with a Rubik’s cube or guys named Mike. You may even end up on stage, playing a guitar or bowling. If you have any sort of capacity to enjoy things, you will have more fun than you’ve had at a concert… possibly ever.
Not only does this Japanese (from NYC) band know how to keep a crowd engaged better than most bands, but Peelander-Z can play a great set, which they proved on the Ernie Biggs stage. With plenty of punk influence along with a whole lot of quirkiness, you’d be a fool if you didn’t have a smile on your face by the end of the show.
Spirit is the Spirit was the finale of my time at the music fest, as I was too exhausted to possibly see anything else. But for me, it was an ideal ending. The recordBar was filled almost to capacity with people winding down from a stellar music weekend, and Spirit is the Spirit provided an outstanding soundtrack for the conclusion. The band, made up of five excellent composers/musicians, has a consistent rock sound blended with psychedelic touches, folk qualities, and atmospheric layers.
Special thanks to everyone who dropped by The Deli’s showcase at The Riot Room patio on the first evening of the fest, and especially to all the bands who played: Various Blonde, Is Paris Burning, Rooms Without Windows, Middle Twin, Loose Park, and Spinstyles.
--Michelle Bacon 


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