Category: Featured Artists

John McEuen Brings “Roots Music” to Knuckleheads with Matt Cartsonis

If there’s a worthwhile storyteller musician, then John McEuen has earned the right to be called one of the best. In an evening that was as much about narrative recollections from a few of his thousands of interactions with the best in the music business, McEuen’s wit and comedic timing charmed his dedicated fans Saturday, January 13, at Knuckleheads.

Opening for McEuen for a few songs was country artist and Kansas City-based Sara Morgan with Carl Butler. A rising star in her own right, Morgan gave the audience a tasty-treat, sprinkled with narrative about her own roots in music. Singer-songwriter Morgan is signed with River Delta Records. Plain Jane, her second LP is set to release January 26.

Kansas City based Sara Morgan performed Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018 at Knuckleheads, opening for John McEuen on his Roots Music: Made in Brooklyn tour. ©2018 Peggy Stevinson Bair

 

After Ms. Morgan, McEuen ambled out to the stage accompanied by the affable and perfectly-matched partner in musical legacy, Matt Cartsonis.

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John McEuen and Matt Cartsonis performed Saturday, January 13, 2018 at Knuckleheads in Kansas City as part of McEuen’s Roots Music: Made in Brooklyn tour.

McEuen digressed with stories about his days with Nitty Gritty Dirt Band as well as stories about his buddy comedian (and fellow banjo player) Steve Martin. Rare nuggets, such as the story of how he came to work for singer Andy Williams, were met with appreciation from a crowd who also grew up listening to and watching The Andy Williams Show. It’s quite possible that there may be only a few people with whom John McEuen hasn’t worked in his 50-plus years as a professional musician.

Still as handsome as ever as a silver-haired, neatly-bearded 72-year-old, not only is his music versatility and mastery a part of his legacy – but as much so is his comedic expressions and the flash of a still-boyish ornery smile. Just because he’s a music sage doesn’t mean he had to take growing up all that seriously.

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John McEuen, on his Roots Music: Made in Brooklyn Tour, played January 13, 2018, at Kansas City’s Knuckleheads Saloon. ©2018 Peggy Stevinson Bair/Blues Insights

Kansas City’s own Riverrock percussionist Daniel Smith was invited to bring his washboard setup on stage to join McEuen and Cartsonis. Smith said he and McEuen have been friends for decades since they met in the 1970s. It was all about the love for music.

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John McEuen played a tune on his SmoothTalker guitar with his longtime friend, percussionist Dan Smith (of Kansas City’s band, Riverrock) on Saturday, January 13, 2018 at Knuckleheads in Kansas City. ©2018 Peggy Stevinson Bair/Blues Insights

McEuen’s recently released CD Roots Music: Made in Brooklyn is lushly populated with accompanying artists such that there is a long list on the front of the cover.  David Amram’s intro reads:

It is not often that  you have the opportunity to spend two twelve hour days recording and at the end of the day (which as become night time0 want to stay and do more. John McEuen’s album is an experience that all of us fortunate enough to participate in will cherish. Every musician played so beautifully – each take was a breathtaking experience.

The performances were all memorable, and we moved along so smoothly that there was not time to relish the experience until trying to remember each tune we did when we thought about it late at night after all was over. It provided us all with vitamins for the soul.

I know this recording will be an inspiration for all younger tiger-songwriteres, musicians, composers and listeners to realize that it is possible today to create work of lasting value that is always musical, soulful and enjoyable. ~ David Amram, Beacon, NY

McEuen, well-known for his banjo and fiddle playing, also brought with him a gorgeous custom Smooth Talker guitar that in and of itself is worth seeing in action. ©2018 Peggy Stevinson Bair/Blues Insights©2018 Peggy Stevinson Bair/Blues Insights
John McEuen bends the strings on his banjo Saturday, January 13, 2018, while playing at Knuckleheads in Kansas City. ©2018 Peggy Stevinson Bair/Blues Insights

There should be no hesitation for fans to jump on the chance to see McEuen’s tour in forward cities, which span the country from California to the Midwest, to Pennsylvania to Texas and Florida. The music, the narrative and the sheer happiness that comes from spending a couple of hours with this legendary artist are not only reminders of our youth but, for young artists, a reminder that their own musical legacies hold the promise to endure.

One more thing – be sure to reserve your copy of McEuen’s upcoming book. In the final manuscript stages at the moment, McEuen’s book The Life I’ve Picked: A Banjo Player’s Nitty Gritty Journey is set to release April 1, 2018. This volume is sure to be filled with a rich history of great anecdotes and uplifting stories.

And, just for the record, we all would have picked you, too, Mr. McEuen.

 

 

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Mike Zito and Jeremiah Johnson Deliver a Red Bull Blues Show in Kansas City

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Mike Zito, left, performed with Terry Dry Dec. 9 on bass at Knuckleheads in Kansas City. ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair/Blues Insights

When Mike Zito puts on a concert, he only knows full throttle. When he came to Knuckleheads Dec. 9 with special guest Jeremiah Johnson Band, the energy couldn’t get any higher on a ride that lasted even longer. It felt like like doing shots of Red Bull.

With two bands each this good, either one could have packed a Knuckleheads stage house – each of them has before. Together, they sent Kansas City fans scrambling for tickets.

Zito showed off his star quality by goading an already hyped-up, on-their-feet crowd into staying for a pairing of both bands well-into a three-song encore. Sharing the stage with the already popular Johnson, was fine with Zito, who seems to thrive on choosing to play with the very best. After all, not only is Johnson an award-winner also but he brings Frank Bauer’s dipping, back-arching saxophone performance, the personable Benet Schaeffer on drums and seasoned bassist Tom Maloney keeping everybody on track.

And Zito’s band is one of the best anywhere with Terry Dry on bass and Matt Johnson on drums. Plus, they can all sing and are performers who carry an intuitive showmanship into Zito’s performances.

These two bands are clearly among the most audience-satisfying acts touring right now. They easily interact with and take charge of the audiences who clearly are pumped and energized by these performers. When Zito took his wireless guitar out into the audience, exposed as he was, the fans cleared the way and egged him on. Well, let me just show you Mike Zito untethered:

Wait. There’s more:

Are you listening Texas fans? Zito is coming your way in Port Arthur at Dylan’s with Scott McGill; Austin on Dec. 29 at Antone’s, then in Dallas, at The Kessler on Dec. 30 and a New Years Eve Party in Spring, TX at Dosey Doe.

After that, Zito is off to Germany for what looks to be a six-week tour which you can follow Mike Zito’s Event page.

In the Midwest and still want a taste of St. Louis blues?

Jeremiah Johnson Band is homing in on the St. Louis venues at Hammerstone’s on Dec. 21 and 28 and at Moonshine Blues Bar on Dec. 30th.

This is the fellas having a good time at Knuckleheads in Kansas City.

 

Mike Zito and Terry Dry performed Dec. 9 at Knuckleheads in Kansas City. ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair/Blues Insights.
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Jeremiah Johnson performed Dec. 9 at Knuckleheads in Kansas City. ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair/Blues Insights
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St. Louis-born bluesman Jeremiah Johnson performed Dec. 9 at Knuckleheads in Kansas City.
Mike Zito, left, performed with Terry Dry Dec. 9 on bass at Knuckleheads in Kansas City. ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair/Blues Insights
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Mike Zito and bassist Terry Dry brought plenty of enthusiasm to their Dec. 9 performance at Knuckleheads in Kansas City. ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair/Blues Insights.
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Jeremiah Johnson and saxophonist Frank Bauer performed Dec. 9 at Knuckleheads in Kansas City, ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair/Blues Insights
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Saxophonist Frank Bauer performed with the Jeremiah Johnson Band Dec. 9 at Knuckleheads in Kansas City. ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair/Blues Insights
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Matt Johnson performed with Mike Zito Dec. 9 at Knuckleheads in Kansas City. ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair/Blues Insights
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Bassist Tom Maloney performed Dec. 9 with the Jeremiah Johnson Band at Knuckleheads in Kansas City. ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair/Blues Insights
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Benet Schaeffer performed Dec. 9 with the Jeremiah Johnson Band at Knuckleheads in Kansas City. ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair/Blues Insights

Mike Zito and Jeremiah Johnson: KC Fans Just Hit the Blues Jackpot

JeremiahJohson ©2017 BluesInsights Peggy Steviinson Bair

At the sold out show for Jeremiah Johnson this past summer, nobody left the packed Gospel Lounge at Knuckleheads the entire performance as the St. Louis native blues home boy and his fiery saxophonist Frank Bauer, drummer Benet Schaeffer, and bassist Tom Maloney, solidified their hold on the Midwestern blues scene.

On another night this summer in the Knuckleheads venue, another St. Louis-born bluesman, Mike Zito similarly fired up a crowd on the outdoor stage opening for Tab Benoit – then, together with Tab Benoit. And, yes, (why do you even ask?) the crowd went wild.

But if putting both Johnson and Zito together on one ticket is winning a blues bash lottery, then you have a chance to cash in your prize this weekend:

Coming this Saturday, Dec. 9 is the Jeremiah Johnson Band and Mike Zito – yes – for one $15 ticket price at Knuckleheads.

Both performers were big winners at the Independent Blues Awards this year: Johnson for Best Independent Contemporary CD for “Blues Heart Attack” and Best Funk Song “Sun Shine Through” and Zito for Best Blues Rock Song: “Redbird”.

It’s about the music, yes, but it’s also about their incredible bands and both performers’ stage presence along with their incomparable abilities to lasso an audience not just with their talent but with their down-home genuineness. Okay, to boil it down: these guys actually really like their fans.

So, get out of the holiday doldrums, leave the world behind you and get transported inside the happy cocoon of Knuckleheads. Get your tickets via Knuckleheads directly as this is always the best ticket deal.

Here’s a visual taste of the shows from this summer:

Jeremiah Johnson ©2017 Blues Insights Peggy Stevinson Bair
St. Louis bluesman Jeremiah Johnson brought his roadshow to Knuckleheads Friday, Aug. 4, 2017 in a sold out show in the Gospel Lounge.
Frank Bauer saxophonist Jeremiah Johnson ©2017 Blues Insights Peggy Stevinson Bair
Saxophonist Frank Bauer performed with Jeremiah Johnson Band Friday, Aug. 4, 2017 in the Gospel Lounge at Knuckleheads in Kansas City. ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair
Benet Shaeffer drummer Jeremiah Johnson ©2017 Blues Insights Peggy Stevinson Bair
Benet Shaeffer provided the beats for Jeremiah Johnson Band Friday, Aug. 4, 2017 during their performance in the Gospel Lounge at Knuckleheads in Kansas City. © 2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair
Tom Maloney bassist Jeremiah Johnson ©2017 Blues Insights Peggy Stevinson Bair
Tom Maloney, bassist with the Jeremiah Johnson Band, responds to crowd applause for his solo during a performance Aug. 4, 2017 at Knuckleheads’ Gospel Lounge in Kansas City. ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair
Mike Zito ©2017 Blues Insights Peggy Stevinson Bair
Mike Zito performed Friday, Aug. 11, 2017 at Knuckleheads in Kansas City. Zito also joined Tab Benoit later in the evening for Benoit’s appearance on the same stage.
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Mike Zito performed Friday, Aug. 11, 2017 at Knuckleheads in Kansas City, opening for Tab Benoit. ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair

Zito’s “Make Blues Not War” CD is also available in “vinyl delicious”.

But, wait, there’s MORE: An autographed Christmas Bundle is also available on his online store – six CDs including “Superman” “Americas Most Wanted” “Live from the Top” and more.

Southern Avenue: Young, Hip Blues – Served Hot on a Platter

A lot of people who love the blues know that Southern Avenue is a street in Memphis, TN.

But it’s also the name of a young blues band with a namesake debut album Southern Avenue.

Coming back for another run at Kansas City’s great roadhouse Knuckleheads Nov. 30, those who didn’t catch Southern Avenue the first time around this summer are going to get a second chance – which is a coup for the fans who recognize they are lucky enough to still get in to see this band’s star rise at a smaller venue.

The band quickly got snapped up by Concord Music Group’s Stax Record label where, among many other venerable artists, Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding and Elvis Presley have pressed recordings. Concord Group Music has produced and released Gregg Allman’s final album ‘Southern Blood’.

Just a refresher of Southern Avenue’s July 14, 2017 appearance:

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Vocalist Tierinii Jackson performed July 14, 2017 at Knuckleheads in Kansas City with the band Southern Avenue. ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair – Blues Insights LLC

The band lit up the Knuckleheads outdoor stage Friday, July 14, 2017 – on a beautiful summer night in front of a standing room only, overflow blues crowd. Opening for the TUF (Trampled Under Foot) Reunion, sisters Tierinii (vocals) and Tikyra Jackson (drums) along with Israeli-born Ori Naftaly on guitar and keyboardist Jeremy Powell, coaxed the crowd into filling their cups with a fresh brew of youth-infused blues – a special blend of blues tones, youthful lyrics, gospel and Tierinii’s arousing delivery.

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Guitarist Ori Naftaly performed July 14, 2017 at Knuckleheads with the band Southern Avenue out of Memphis, TN. Knuckleheads is a famed roadhouse in Kansas City, MO. ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair – Blues Insights LLC

Like a choir director stirring up a congregation, vocalist Tierinii kept up an unrelenting invitation to jump into a groove with an energetic lineup of original songs like “Don’t Give Up” and “Rumble” – all while heel-stepping, hip-gyrating and swinging her long, brilliant red locks. The band broke out in several solos by Powell, Naftaly and Tikyra, creating a bubbling cauldron of excitement inside the ever-more hyped up crowd.

Keyboardist Jeremy Powell Southern Avenue ©2017 Blues Insights Peggy Stevinson Bair
Keyboardist Jeremy Powell performed July 14, 2017 with blues band Southern Avenue at Knuckleheads in Kansas City. ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair – Blues Insights LLC
Tikyra Jackson Southern Avenues ©2017 Blues Insights Peggy Stevinson Bair
Tikyra Jackson performed with blues band Southern Avenue July 14, 2017 at Knuckleheads in Kansas City.

The set wrapped up with the wave-inducing “Don’t Give Up” that would have gotten the band elected to Congress if it had been a political rally. You can get a free download of the song if you sign up with your email here. If you don’t get anything else out of this article, I recommend getting that song. It has a great mantra that is at the heart of how Southern Avenue connects with their fans.

Let’s have a listen to Music City Roots‘ video of Southern Avenue’s “Don’t Give Up”:

Outside the Knuckleheads front entrance during the intermission (Trampled Under Foot Reunion was up next as the headliner), the newly-minted fans were able to snap up CDs of the Southern Avenue namesake debut record – also available on LP vinyl for those who like to take their music for a vintage spin on a platter.

Southern Avenue debut album available on vinyl or CD. Memphis, TN band on Stax Record label, a division of Concord Group Music.

The Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017 show opens at 7 p.m. with Quinn DeVeaux

Heather Newman “Burn Me Alive” – Dec. 1

I didn’t know what to think this past summer when this little pint-size pixie sidled up to the microphone on the stage one Wednesday night during the 2017 Levee Summer Blues Jam. Jam nights are pretty laid back…Newman, casually bespeckled – but even so, nothing could obscure those big eyes underneath. I thought right then, in fact, that she was reminiscent of one of Margaret Keane’s paintings – waif-like and barefooted. I squinted a bit wondering what this gal was doing in a blues jam.

But, then…something about how she wore that big ol’ bass like a comfortable accessory and how, with a smile and flick of her locks, the fellas around her took que and struck in. I quickly surmised I’d better pay attention: she wasn’t there to follow.

She was there to LEAD.

Sure ’nuff, after her step up to the mic, out came a big woman voice that boomed a whole lotta blues outta seemingly nowhere.

Yeah. Fool me once. Never again. Welcome to my first experience of Heather Newman.

I got a chance to catch up with her after her set and found her very down-home friendly. From Omaha originally, Newman has made Kansas City home recently but, clearly, she has that Midwestern approachability. I promised to catch her one of her professional appearances in the future and as luck would have it, the next time I got to connect with her was at Knuckleheads with her own band, The Heather Newman Band.

After waiting around for her to greet her fans before the show, Ms. Newman said she was excited because she had written a new song the day before and run the band through the new tune in less than a day to try it out this very next night. To understand this level of ability, one first has to know that, even though she is only 23 years old, she’s been performing since she was 10, so in Heather Newman years, she’s a seasoned pro.

With the debut of “Burn Me Alive”, it’s easy to see how she taken her raw talents to bolder levels.

Keith Ladd, Lee’s Summit, played guitar with The Heather Newman Band Nov. 16, 2017 at Knuckleheads. Ladd has opened for such bands as Molly Hatchet, The Romantics and Blackfoot. ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair.
Ryan Matthew is a classically trained musician who played keys with The Heather Newman band on Nov. 16, 2017 at Knuckleheads. ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair

With Lee’s Summit’s Keith Ladd on guitar, classically trained Ryan Matthew on keys and Cole Dillingham (formerly with Amanda Fish band) on drums, Newman is clearly comfortable as a leader of the band (more like keeper of the band’s happiness.) Coaxing her guys through songs with smiles and attention, she never misses a beat while doing what it takes to make sure the sounds are on track. Talent builds talent and begets talent so Newman surrounding herself with such a worthy crew has clearly served to put her at the helm of a great sound at an opportune time in her career – and theirs.

Okay, I’ll stop yammering so you can have a listen to The Heather Newman Band

Coming up Dec. 1 at Knuckleheads, The Heather Newman Band will perform at the CD release party of their debut album: “Burn Me Alive” and if you click this link, you can pre-order the album and/or a tee-shirt with the band’s cool logo on it. Get your Heather Newman Band Knucklehead’s tickets

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One more from Nov. 16 at Knuckleheads: “You Mean to Tell Me”

2017 – Great Summer of KC Blues

Rollin’ through on electric grooves this summer from California was Orphan Jon and the Abandoned – partnered up with Johnny Main and The 44’s. Hitting Kansas City twice in their tour of the Midwest, I first encountered OJATA at BB’s Lawnside BBQ – and was caught a bit off-guard when this beatnik looking daddy-o strolled up from out in the audience to grab the mic where the band had already fired up their first number. Jon English commenced to jiving and crooning, swaying a backside and raising his eyebrows invitingly at the audience over a pair of dark glasses – while a slim and seasoned Bruce Krupnik coaxed an electric cigar box guitar into a string-bending blues whine.

It became clear that we were all there to witness Orphan Jon having a good time and we could either join in or not – it was gonna happen…and it did happen. Everybody got bitten by the groove and pretty soon the place was hoppin.

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Jon English introduced himself to the Kansas City audience at BB’s Lawnside BBQ June 02, 2017 while touring with the band Orphan Jon and the Abandoned and Johnny Main’s The 44’s. His interactions with band members are contagiously enthusiastic – but his vocals bring a hot new blues sound to the fore. ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair

Then, Jon English stepped back as guitarist Bruce Krupnik entered a zone and took everyone into it with him. Fortunately, I managed to gather myself enough to capture a goodly clip of it. Grab your favorite beverage, close your eyes and have a listen – I promise you, he’ll be gentle but you are gonna feel it:

That song, “Leave My Blues Alone,” is on the Abandoned No More CD coming out on Rip Cat Records after the first of the year (2018) – so you get a first taste of here. Thankfully, my unprepared backside got a second chance to video this number entirely and live when OJATA did a loop back around to KC on the tail end of their Midwest Tour and graced the Gospel Lounge at Knuckleheads a few days later. You want more than just a taste of this song? Well, here’s the 16 minute live version – with special guest Johnny Main injecting extra energy and mojo:

A lot more is coming here on Blues Insights about OJATA in the near future – as I truly believe in the amazing songwriting matchup of Jon English and Bruce Krupnik. But, yeah, even though the weather was balmy in the summer of 2017 – the Kansas City blues scene was hot, hot, hot.

Stay tuned (ha! get it?) for more as we will soon be discussing the upcoming CD:

Samantha Clemons – at Knuckleheads Thursday, Aug. 31 – Carl Butler Lounge

Get tickets from etix

Most people who know me, know I’ve been a photographer and photojournalist my entire career…but back in 2009, thanks to a renewal of friendship with my childhood pal  Janet Jameson (Rock Paper Scissors), I started photographing musicians and venues and loving the vibrant Kansas City music scene.

After an evening of photographing one such performance at Record Bar, back in 2012, I was kicking back with Dennis White of RPS after their performance when a beautiful young black woman took the center of the stage – quietly, unimposing, alone – and with with her whole soul, cut into the dark silence with a voice and lyrics that felt like a gale wind had blown through the front door. (I fumbled around for my cellphone settings and just hit record and prayed that something would work that would do some tiny iota of justice to her).

In that moment, I gained a reverence for the audacity and internally-driven joy and love of music possessed by those who get up on stage following a popular act where most of the house has left – and, in front of a dozen or fewer people – pour their hearts out like the house is full (all the greats have a story like this to tell…)

 

So, that night, in that song, this is what she had to say:

you take away from me
everything i once had
and it’s so hard to see
while i’m looking back
but never once in my mind
did i think i could find
a heart like yours
so unwilling to fly

crafting lies is your game
that i’m soon up against
giving rise to a crime
and your feigned innocence
but time goes
and i know
that i was never alone
in this long line of those
awaiting your end

find a way to bring me
back to my senses
we’ve passed the point
of where we could comprehend this
i’m just another way
for you to lie to their face
when you say
that you’ll never surrender

you take away from me
everything i once had
and it’s so hard to see
without looking back
but never once in my mind
did i think i could find
a heart like yours
so unwilling to fly

find a way to bring me
back to my senses
we’ve passed the point
of where we could comprehend this
i’m just another way
for you to lie to their face
when you say
that you’ll never surrender

turning back tiime
to a place that i
lost my soul
along this road
stealing moments
a glimpse in slow motion
until it all fades to unfocused

find a way to bring me
back to my senses
we’ve passed the point
of where we could comprehend this
i’m just another way
for you to lie to their face
when you say
that you’ll never surrender

Shortly thereafter,  I learned more about her from her many youtube videos she had posted and in one set of videos was a project whereby she would write a song a day for 31 days. And she posted several of them, often within minutes of taking a few minutes to dream up the song. Her haunting lyrics seem to flow straight to her effortlessly as if some loose ethereal strand was left uncut when she entered this world.

The videos are rare glimpses into the raw, uncut version of the songwriter process – that rice paper thin plane of existence where artists go to channel with their muses…then come back to share with the rest of us mere mortals. In an age of digital control and the polished studio perfections, getting to see, hear and feel something real and authentic feels refreshing. And when up close in a live setting, for some it’s a theater vs. the movies experience.

Clemons has her own niche following and certainly she is not a pop genre artist but her fresh voice and pure lyrics will nonetheless carry the potential to spark open the emotions of those who hear her. This is what Clemons does best – by being herself and speaking from the heart, she helps all of us feel those connections.

Here and now, five years later, Clemons resides in Fort Worth but she hasn’t forgotten her Kansas City fan base (she attended K-State) and she brings a one night show this week at Knuckleheads.

Her promo includes the song Dirty Work, performed here:

Clemons is performing this Thursday, August 31, 2017 at 8 p.m. in the Carl Butler Lounge of Knuckleheads. Doors open at 7 p.m.

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Find tickets here – etix

 

 

 

 

 

Independent Blues Award Winner Mike Zito – Keeping It Real Makes Fan Just Like Him Even More

Australia native Leanne Trevena was just looking for an interesting evening of fun entertainment back in February, 2013 when she saw a write up about blues artist Mike Zito in her local paper, the Colorado Springs Independent.

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A transplant from Australia with her family to Colorado Springs, Leanne Trevena became a super fan of blues musician Mike Zito after hearing him play when he was with a previous incarnation of Royal Southern Brotherhood back in 2013 with Devon Allman.

So, she headed up with her husband, Simon, to check out a new venue she hadn’t tried before.

Zito was playing that night with the early incarnation of  Royal Southern Brotherhood (Devon Allman) at The Crystola Roadhouse,  just outside of town in Woodland, Co.

“It’s this little dive bar up on the highway,” Trevena said. (Our favorite kind of place, right?) “The write-up in the local paper was interesting, and it was a good chance to see the venue, as we had tickets to see another artist there in April.”

“I was standing there waiting for a friend and he [Zito] just walked right past me and went up on the stage and started playing,” she said. It’s one of the great things about experiencing live music at a small roadhouse is that the musicians are literally right there with you.

Trevena decided she liked the music and purchased the namesake Royal Southern Brotherhood CD at that concert – afterwards, doing some further research on the band.

That research led her to Mike Zito’s blog  A Bluesman in Recovery  and to attending another concert at Smokin’ Moes in Winter Park, Colorado the very next Tuesday.

“With more knowledge of the music, it was an even better night,” said Trevena. “I bought a [Royal Southern Brotherhood] t-shirt and promptly made my way around to the band members getting it signed. This lead to getting to chat with the band members and eventually with Mike himself.”

“He was very friendly and we talked about his blog and music. He was so real, so humble and so grateful for his fans and music followers,” she said.

The next time she saw Zito was later in 2013 on a two week road trip to New Orleans. Zito was playing a show at Chickie WahWah’s  and, out of just dumb luck, Trevena said, she found out Zito was playing while she and Simon were there to attend a jazz festival.  The couple went and Trevena said the crowd was sparse that night, but it didn’t matter.

“Mike Zito got up and he played like the house was full,” she said.

She got a chance to chat with Mike again that night in NOLA – about his blog and his music. She bought two more CDs that night – Greyhound and Pearl River, pointing out she was after a couple of favorite tracks:  One Step at a TimeGreyhound (title track)

That night, Zito mentioned a show that would be the following night at the same venue – so Trevena and her husband went back the next night – this time to an overflow crowd and a packed house.

A further conversation after the second night in NOLA led Trevena to follow Zito’s suggestion to check out a memorial in Beaumont, Texas where there was a tribute Blind Willie Johnson. The couple got to visit the memorial on their way back home to Colorado. (Zito covered Johnson’s song Let You Light Shine on Me on his Gone To Texas CD.)

Trevena was finally hooked on Zito and his music as she listened to more and more of his songs and heard his performances and visited Zito’s blog: A Bluesman in Recovery

“His music gets me through a lot of things,” Trevena said. “His blogs are interesting, informative and thought provoking. I love that I have been able to meet him and chat with him many times. I also love sharing his music with family and friends and enjoy being able to give people autographed CDs.”

Trevena said that she found Zito’s openness about his own life experiences a positive influence for her.

“I felt he was saying that he wasn’t perfect and wasn’t claiming to be,” she said. “We’ve all seen headlines of what addiction does to people and cost to society, but I think being able to speak to someone makes it more understandable. I’m not sure I had ever really met anyone that had suffered with addiction – it was a chance for me to learn something, perhaps get rid of ideas that had been planted in my brain by other parties…family, media, etc.”

Trevena said she had suffered depression before in her life, and that, “although the two are not the same, there is so much that Mike talks about with recovery that I can relate to. Mike’s life has obviously given him some very good stories to tell, and he has been able to use that in his music.”

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Mike Zito performed Friday, Aug. 11, 2017 at Knucklehead’s in Kansas City. Zito was the recipient the Independent Blues Awards best rock song for  ©2017 Peggy Stevinson Bair (check it out at Making a Scene ) Zito’s latest CD is Make Blues Not War

Zito performed recently at Knuckleheads in Kansas City, opening for Tab Benoit on the outdoor stage. After Zito’s performance, a small crowd gathered around to purchase CDs and t-shirts at the end of the stage. She waited quietly in line behind others there to have autographs signed and photos taken with Zito. Zito turned to the final two people waiting in line, nodded towards Trevena and said  “She’s a fan AND a friend.”

To Trevena, he smiled: “When you are a friend, you get to wait until everyone is finished to catch up.” And a busy conversation ensued in the remaining break before the next set.

Trevena came away from the encounter a bit breathless but with a wide, girlish smile.

“I felt honored that he would refer to me in that way,” Trevena said. “I think a big part of Mike Zito is that he can make people feel special just by being him. He doesn’t come across as arrogant or superior. I think he’s amazing and he seems to think the same of his fans.”

 

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Mike Zito fan  Trevena lives in Colorado Springs with her husband, Simon. Trevena travels the United States with her husband to catch performances of blues artist Mike Zito – and owns 10 of his 13 CDs. “He is the music love of my life,” said Trevena. (Submitted photo)