Tag: concert photography

Kiefer Sutherland Gives Knuckleheads in Kansas City a Full Tour of “Reckless”

Blues Insights Peggy Stevinson Bair ©2018

An overflow crowd packed themselves in at Knuckleheads’ outdoor stage in what turned out to be a lucky Friday 13th for Kiefer Sutherland and his fans. Dark clouds that threatened to ruin the outdoor stage setting devolved into a few moments of light sprinkles before it turned into a perfectly balmy spring evening.

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As famous as Sutherland is for his acting ventures, his music, his band and his songwriting seem to bring him an even greater pleasure. Sutherland was relaxed and gracious and totally in his element as a musician. He looked like he was loving everything about being at Knuckleheads, which may arguably one of the most unpretentious little roadhouses in the country. He must have thanked the fans at least a dozen times for showing up to be a part of the “Reckless” tour.

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Sprinkling in just the right amount of anecdotes to introduce some of his own songs, Sutherland appears to be a man who wants to feel all the edges of life – and write about them, which clearly was connecting with the some 1,000 fans last night. While he commands plenty of energy on stage, he also allows himself moments of groove that is the private pleasure of musicians who enter the zone during a performance. And yet he often turned to the crowd and spread his arms, seeming to drink in the energy and love from them.

Somebody yelled out, “I love you!” and he quickly replied, pointing from the stage “I love you back!”

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If you don’t believe him, then give him an Oscar – but I don’t think he was acting. The dude truly looked like he was having the time of his life hanging out with a bunch of regular people singing about regular stuff that goes on in any ordinary human life. And, some of that stuff is probably reckless. But, hey, at least we’re all in this together.

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Knuckleheads was just the third stop in the Reckless tour, so if you are interested in grabbing a great show and some great merch and CDs, check out the tour dates for the one closest to you. You can also check Sutherland’s Facebook page at Kiefer Sutherland.


Upcoming Tour dates for Kiefer Sutherland “Reckless” tour:

April 14  Bourbon Theatre – Lincoln, Neb.
April 17  Bluebird Theatre – Denver, Colo.
April 18  Park City Live – Park City, Utah
April 20  Crystal Bay – Crown Room – Crystal Bay, Nev.
April 21  Fremont Theatre – San Luis Obispo, Calif.
April 22  Mystic Theatre – Petaluma, Calif.
April 24 Crystal Palace – Bakersfield, Calif.
April 26  Coach House – San Juan Capistrano, Calif.
April 27  Music Box – San Diego, Calif.
April 28  Red Rock Casino Resort – Las Vegas, Nev.
May 1  Cactus Theater – Lubbock, Texas
May 2  Antone’s – Austin, Texas
May 4  Billy Bob’s – Fort Worth, Texas
May 5  Island View Casino – Gulfport, Miss.
May 7  The Cowan (Topgolf) – Nashville, Tenn.
May 10 The Phoenix – Toronto, Ontario
May 20  Birchmere – Alexandria, Va.
May 23 Bottle & Cork – Dewey Beach, Del.
May 25  Stone Pony – Asbury Park, N.J.
May 26  Bethel Woods – Liberty, N.Y.
May 27  Daryl’s House – Pawling, N.Y.
May 28  Stephen’s Talkhouse – Long Island, N.Y.
June 7  Kantine – Cologne, Germany
June 8  TivoliVredenberg – Utrecht, Netherlands
June 9  Parkbuehne – Leipzig, Germany
June 10  Gruenspan – Hamburg, Germany
June 12  Columbia Theatre – Berlin
June 13  Hirsch – Nuermberg, Germany
June 14  X-Tra – Zurich
June 16  Teatro Barcelo – Madrid
June 17  Bikini – Barcelona, Spain
June 19  Zappa – Antwerp, Belgium
June 21  Electric Ballroom – London
June 22  Waterfront – Norwich, England
June 23  Black Deer Festival – East Sussex, England
June 25  O2 Academy Oxford – Oxford, England
June 26  Komedia – Bath, England
June 28  Albert Hall – Manchester, England
June 29  Queens Hall – Edinburgh, Scotland
June 30  The Academy – Dublin

 

It should not go without mention that two acts that opened for Sutherland for this event on Friday, April 13th at Knuckleheads were  two of the most righteous, crowd-rousing performers a headliner could hope for – first Ian Moore, touring for his new EP “Toronto!”  followed by Macon, GA singer-songwriter Rick Brantley. Between their two separate performances, they slathered the crowd with tasty tunes that came to a crescendo when Brantley insisted the crowd sing the chorus of “Just a Little Bit More” from his album “Hi-Fi”.

Rick Brantley brought his homespun lyrics and enthusiasm to Knuckleheads Friday, April 13, 2018. ©2018 Blues Insights/Peggy Stevinson Bair

Brantley’s boyish smile and youthful good looks are coupled with stage confidence and enthusiasm as he coaxes the audience into his lair of his superb storytelling lyrics.

And no one can argue that Ian Moore isn’t willing to blur the lines of any music genre he feels like playing. From blues to rock to country, it becomes clear that Moore is one of the rare humans one could call a “true artist”: one who isn’t interested in categories but, rather, in following his own muses. You can waste time trying to fit him into a box or you can just come along with him and enjoy where he takes you.

So, Mr. Sutherland couldn’t have had a better lineup for his Friday 13th night in Kansas City. In fact, for the $25 ticket price, the only thing remotely shocking about it was that concert goers got a bloody bargain.

Ian Moore performed at Kansas City’s Knuckleheads Friday, April 13, 2018 as part of his “Toronto!” tour. ©2018 Blues Insights/Peggy Stevinson Bair
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Rocky Road to Blues Roots: The Orphan Jon Story

Heather June ©2018
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Cool cat Orphan Jon English slathers some blues on with legendary guitarist Bruce Krupnik during a June, 2017 performance at BB’s Lawnside BBQ in south Kansas City. ©Peggy Stevinson Bair/Blues Insights LLC All Commercial Rights Reserved.

 

Any musician who gets credited with being an overnight sensation knows that statement just makes for good headlines. In reality, the backstory for greatness is a road paved with more rocks than a prison quarry.

Even with the rising, seemingly quick success of blues singer/songwriter Orphan Jon English, he still informs his ever-growing fan base upfront from the microphone – “I was an orphan, abandoned as a little boy” – if nothing else, just to clear up how the name of the band came about. But there is nothing overnight about the success of Orphan Jon and the Abandoned and their new CD Abandoned No More. The inspiration for every song was decades in the making. In the words of the late, great Sunshine Sonny Payne: “Ya gotta live the blues before you play it.”

 

Orphan Jon English’s family, based on the outskirts of Bakersfield, California, was part of a long line of migrant workers who traveled from town to town, from state to state for work. When Jon’s mother was a young teen, she gave birth to her first child, a daughter, and soon another and another child was born every year or so until there were four more – all boys. In and out of the family’s life, the children’s father finally abandoned them. His mother, still young and rebellious, had less interest in her children than she did in hanging out in the bars. The State of California was finally called to look in on the unkempt, unsupervised kids. Beginning at eight months old, Jon and his three brothers were sucked into the California Social Services orphanages and foster care system.

Social Services had offered the all the children to their maternal grandparents. But his grandparents only wanted the oldest child, Jon’s sister Georgia, and declined to take the boys. It was three more years before his mother got the boys back. That reunion would only last a few short months.

 

A Child with No Home: Orphan Jon

Early Years of Abandonment

One day in 1970, a skinny, disheveled four-and-a-half-year-old boy peered out the window of a motel room looking for…waiting for…his mother to return. In tattered clothes and no shoes on his feet, surrounded by his three older brothers, all under the age of 10, the last memory Jon had of his mother was from the night before, when she cupped his face in her hands and kissed his cheek in a rare display of affection, leaving him with some last words: “Don’t you boys go running around all over the place.”

With that, and no warning, while they slept, she vanished and did not return.

That next day they woke up alone. The children had waited, pulling snacks of food from vending machines, running around anyway, barefoot and unattended – and eventually making their way up the road to the house of their mother’s sister.

His aunt took the four boys in, temporarily. But with many children of her own, the addition of four more rambunctious boys was too much for her and, after a short time, she reluctantly called social services – again.

The four boys were split up and taken to an orphanage.

Puzzled and alone again, the scrawny boy Jon, lay in the top bunk in the boys side of the dorm of the orphanage, hugging the emptiness and staring at the neon EXIT sign over the door located on the distant wall.

“Why? Why has this happened to me?” With tears streaming down his face, he waited for some word that their mother would return. Or, that someone…a family…would come forward to take them in.

Weeks went by, which turned into months.

Then, years.

Adopted, at Last

After spending his early years in and out of foster homes and dealing with many abuses by those that were supposed to be there to protect him, a day came when Jon was 10 that he and one of his older brothers got the news that the English family, with whom they had been living, would adopt them.

And that’s when the nightmare got bigger.

“The lady who took us in was very abusive,” said Jon, in a recent interview.

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Jon English, 8, left and his older brother Clarence, in the attire they arrived in from the orphanage in the summer of 1973. Two years later, the family adopted them. (photo and caption submitted from Jon English)

“Looking back, I see there’s so many different paths and directions my life took when I was young that I had no control over,” Jon said.

Because his brother Clarence was older and bigger and had more physical defenses, the younger and smaller Jon took the brunt of the physical and emotional abuse from their adoptive mother.

“When I was young, there were those moments when I hated her. I hated life. I wished for death.” Jon said.

The two brothers became slave labor to serve the adoptive family.

“My life was wrapped around doing chores. That’s all I did as a kid. My brother and I would get up early in the morning, fix our dad’s lunch and do chores before going to school, we never had any play time,” he remembered.

The dad in the family had his own problems and issues.

“He was gone all of the time,” Jon recalled. “He was a workaholic. He didn’t know until years later about the stuff she had done, he had no idea. Of course, when you’re a kid, you don’t think to say ‘Hey, Dad, there’s a lot going on here…’”

There was no one to tell.

Telling anyone about abuses was double-wrapped in the fear of losing the only real home he had come to know. As a result, Jon did what he hoped would keep him on the good side of his abuser.

“We cleaned the house constantly. We did all the floors and dust mopped them, did the dishes, cleaned the bedrooms, did the laundry. We’d go out in the yard and pull weeds in the flower beds and mow the lawns. That’s all we did day in and day out. Go to school, come home from school, do your homework, do the chores, do the dishes, go to bed,” Jon said.

And put up with the beatings, the ridicule, the loneliness and abandonment.

As Jon related his story, he was able to say that, over time, and from a much older viewpoint, he realized that his adoptive mother was one more link in a chain of child abuse – trapped in a cycle of her own life of abuse.

“I recalled the stories she told me when I was a child – about her stepdad and how he raped her…and just beat the crap out of her with a razor strap. It wasn’t until I was older and had an adult mind and I could look back and say ‘Wow, I see why she was the way she was.’ She was conditioned to do that. I don’t think she could look and say, ‘I can change this’ towards me,” Jon said.

Within the despair, however, were rhythms of hope – coming through the speakers of a record player. His adoptive mother would, in softened moments, invite his companionship to listen to her favorite songs.

“One positive thing she did is she would introduce me to music. I don’t remember truly listening to any music at all in my childhood until she came into my life. She loved Mozart, she loved The Everly Brothers – the harmony – Fats Domino and Marvin Gaye. So, I would listen to these songs – and she would encourage me to sing them.

And I discovered that when I did this, there were moments of affection shown towards me like a mother towards a child.

She liked the Everly Brothers. Those two guys can sing! I love their singing style, their harmony. As a child, I would imitate them, and she would sing with me.

There was just something about it [those moments] – as a child. That there was a peace and comfort, and compassion shown towards me. You don’t want to be left again,” Jon recalled.

Running Into Hope

Another path of hope came, a few years later, when Jon attended high school. He discovered he was really good at athletics. It was also a place where Jon’s adoptive father took notice of him.

“I was extremely dedicated to my athletics – running. I would get up early in the morning and run 10 miles a day. Here was my adopted dad who was an athlete [when he was younger] and it was something we could have in common, we connected with, so he started coaching us. I became one of the top runners in the Valley,” said Jon.

“It helped me channel my anger and frustrations in life at the time. I remember in high school that I never felt accepted because that’s just the way I am – never feeling like I belonged. Athletics allowed me the comraderie where I felt like I belonged because I was excelling in the sport that I was in.”

Orphan Jon English as a young athlete in high school found acceptance by excelling in sports. (submitted photos from Jon English)

 

Finding a Voice

Also, as a young teen, Jon found himself attracted to a young woman who was in chamber choir at his high school. In yet another fateful twist, he joined the choir to be near her.

“I was only in it for one semester, but it was enough to learn from an outstanding choral director in Mr. Mike McQuerrey. I learned to sing a capella, I learned pitch. I learned how to properly warm up your vocal chords And that was part of my life where I rediscovered that I had a voice,” Jon remembered.

Jon said that he still didn’t do anything with his singing until a bit later at the age of 16 when his adoptive grandmother – even more mean and abusive towards him than his adoptive mother – insisted Jon go to church with her…and sing. For Jon, in his never-ending effort to weave threads of obedience entwined with strands of abuse, a tapestry pattern was firmly set by then.

“I would do anything in my power to win over her affection and gain her acceptance,” Jon said.

The church was Jon’s first experience singing before an audience. In front of the tiny Pentecostal congregation of 10 or 15 people, his grandmother had asked him to sing “Why Me, Lord?” by Kris Kristoffersen. (shown here with grateful acknowledgment to the inimitable Kris Kristofferson.) (1)

Jon said the song was something he felt he could connect with, emotionally. His rendition apparently conveyed that emotion to the audience.

“People reacted so positive,” Jon said. “I felt like, ‘Hey, I’m liked by these people.’”

While his rendition of the Kristofferson song was well-received, his life was still void of true acceptance. He soon parted ways with his adopted grandmother and her church, and eventually found another church, one that was more conservative and was overwhelmingly immersed in old-time country gospel. The singing ministry in the new church offered something they called “Specials” wherein they would feature different singers from the church congregation to solo their favorite country gospel songs.

At some point, because he had become known for his singing voice at the previous church, all eyes turned to Jon to contribute his gift of voice.

“They sang something they called ‘Specials’ – songs by The Hansens, The Goodmans, The Bill Gaither Trio, etc. All country gospel artists,” Jon added. “So, I come along, and they came to me and they encouraged me. ‘You should sing a Special’ but I would respond to them ‘I’m not gonna sing a Special, I’m not a singer like that…a country gospel singer. It’s not me.’ But still they would insist ‘Oh, you are, too.’ So, finally I said, ‘Okay, I’ll do it.'”

“Well, I’m not going to sing country gospel,” Jon said he thought to himself. “I’m going to sing what I love, which is Black spirituals. There was something about the heart and soul in those gospel songs that hit home with me. And because of my love for Motown music. That’s what made the most sense to me as a singer.

“Thankfully I was encouraged by some of the young people in the church; because they remembered me from our high school Chamber Choir days. And by not singing what was expected, it was our way, the youth, of rebelling against the older, more conservative elders in the church. That was as rebellious as you could get. Forsake the normalcy of the country gospel and sing something completely different.” Jon let out one of his deep-toned, infectious laughs at the remembrance of those times.

One of those spirituals came from a Reverend FC Barnes’ songs called “Rough Side of the Mountain.”

“I wanted to do the song,” Jon said.  “So, the pastor’s granddaughter – she was an amazing pianist – and was a year younger than me. So, I said, I want to sing this song. And she was like ‘Whoa. That’s not like the Hansens or the Goodmans.’ I said, ‘No, but I think this is a song you would like.’

So, she was like, ‘okay, let’s try it.’

But I said, ‘I don’t want to sing it just like FC Barnes.’ So, with her help we devised my own style and interpretation of the song.”

Finding Acceptance

The stakes were high. The two young people – Jon and the minister’s granddaughter – knew the congregation would only accept Jon’s selection if the minister, himself, heard it and responded with approval – AND – the congregation would be looking to the minister before they decided how to react themselves.

“So, I get up there and I sing the special, ‘Rough Side of the Mountain'” Jon recalled, “with everybody in the congregation on pins and needles, waiting for Pastor, Rev. Jimmy S. Davis’ reaction. He just LOVED it!” Jon said.

(2)(youtube link with grateful acknowledgement to Rev. F. C. Barnes and Rev. Janice Brown) 

Jon felt he had followed an inner spirit, taken a chance and won over a skeptical audience. That cemented a connection for the former orphan – that his voice was a way to amplify his feelings but also gain acceptance. That experience became an inner vow.

“If I’m going to sing a song, I’m going to sing a song that is true to the heart. I’m not just going to go through the motions just to sing it. I never sang any song that I wrote or cover song that didn’t affect me.

Because singing is such an emotional expression,” Jon said.

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Jon English, singing at the church where his musical roots in front of an audience began. (photo submitted by Jon English) (3)

 

Parting Ways with his Adoptive Family

By the time Jon was 17, his adoptive family life had devolved into an unlivable chaos. His adoptive mother left his adoptive father when he was 14 and the home lost what shreds of stability it had. He left to live with his adoptive mother’s sister, Vickie, who had also attended the previously mentioned church with him along with his adoptive grandmother. She was a woman who was very kind to him. “She was the polar opposite of her sister,” Jon recalled.

Jon graduated high school and began his own life while continuing to attend the new Pentacostal church pastored by the Rev. Davis for the next 18 years. Through the church, he met his first wife, the mother of his children. During that period of years, Jon became a youth minister. He continued to sing in the church.

“I learned so much back then, especially how to sing and connect with the audience,” he said.

Though Jon and his first wife divorced in 2001, they made a joint decision to parent closely with their children. As a result, Jon and the mother of their children have a good relationship and their children grew into successful adults with loving parents.

The abandoned boy had grown into a man who turned a life of loneliness, bitterness and loss into a thriving family of his own and a large group of people at a church with whom he developed his gift of singing.

“It’s all based on acceptance,” Jon admitted.“Acceptance from my adopted mother; acceptance from my church; acceptance as an athlete from my peers and classmates. Everything I poured my heart and soul into because I always wanted to be accepted. That’s how it is for an abandoned kid. I feel like everything I went through as a child, as a young adult and a husband and a father, brought me to where I am today.”

Thankfully, the story does not end there but merely began new chapter – of songwriting, singing and an even more expanded family of musicians.

End – Part One.

Blues fans lucky enough to have caught the first Midwest tour in the summer of 2017 of  Orphan Jon English, with his band Orphan Jon and the Abandoned , will be thrilled to know that the band is booked for two shows in Kansas City this spring for their Abandoned No More CD release party tour. The fresh new CD is produced by Barry Levenson at Rip Cat Records.

OJATA is appearing once at Knuckleheads on Friday, April 20, 2018  on the north side of Kansas City and then once again at BB’s Lawnside BBQ April 27, 2018 on the south side of Kansas City. Orphan Jon and the Abandoned has whipped up a fresh batch of emotionally-charged blues lyrics by heralded songwriter Jon English with hypnotizing guitar licks by his bandmate and blues brother, Bruce Krupnik.

Here’s a little taste of where the Krupnik blues zone can take you (from the 2017 OJATA performance at BB’s Lawnside BBQ):

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Fair warning: For blues fans who relish being able to say they were among the first to see a hot band’s debut, these two appearance dates in Kansas City on the CD release tour for Abandoned No More are not only full of promise of great new original from-the-heart lyrics and music, but also a promise to be a part of a sweet niche of musical history. Fan-tastic tees will be available also featuring Heather June’s original graphic at the top of this story. Don’t even wonder: you will want one – and for now, that’s the only place they will be available is along the tour.

Blues Insights acknowledgements for contributions to this story:

(1) “Why Me Lord?” Kris Kristofferson. Kris Kristofferson website

(2) “Rough Side of the Mountain” by Rev. F. C. Barnes Chart History, Songs by Rev. F C Barnes and Rev. Janice Brown Rev. F. C. Barnes Classics at CD Universe

(3) Grateful acknowledgement to Orphan Jon English for his generous time and efforts as well as archival photographs and newspaper clippings.

(4) Grateful acknowledgement to artist Heather June for allowing the use of the Orphan Jon & The Abandoned logo for this article. Used with permission here but otherwise commercial rights reserved ©2018 Heather June.

(5) Video by Peggy Stevinson Bair, Blues Insights – Standard License youtube – may be view on Peggy Stevinson Bair youtube channel only. (No parts may be lifted and shown on other sites without prior written contractual permission.) ©2017 All permissions and commercial usage rights reserved and enforced.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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