The week past and this one have seen a whirlwind of talent spin through town. I look at my calendar and there are more amazing performances happening than I can comprehend. Maybe Kansas City doesn’t offer the breadth that New York or Paris might, but it’s not for lack of trying.
Though I’m batting a .333 (and possibly lower) in attendance with everything I want to see, I made it to a few shows and could only pine for the rest. Mad schedule finagling allowed me to attend the latest installment of the Bee Stage series and was well worth the effort. I missed out, however, on every single one of Helen Gillet’s shows and I’m not sure how that happened. Likewise, I’m missing out on Annie Ellicott’s performance with Snuff Jazz. The wound is going numb.
Birdies’ Bee Stage presented violinist Christine Brebes and guitartist Beau Bledsoe as Duo Lorca, a tip of the hat to the tango ensemble that used to play in town. The small space was packed to its sexy swimwear-flaunting gills with admirers and Kansas City tastemakers. Brebes, who is as talented as she is beautiful, played classical, folk, tango and selections from Argentine rock musician Charly Garcia.
I loved her presentation of the Garcia tunes. It can be daunting to cover tunes, especially rock, on a solo instrument when you’re not necessarily a singer. Brebes played the melodies, than recited the lyrics in the original Spanish. I had no idea what she was saying, but she said it magically – absolutely perfect for the setting.
But the staged musicians weren’t the only aural output for the night. Through the thin dividing walls of the building we could hear the jam session down at YJ’s Snack Shop. Up on a high perch, a little yellow bird trilled in competition to the turns and slides from the violin. I stepped outside for some of the unseasonable warm air and left over Mardi Gras beads, flung up and left from past celebrations, rattled in the breeze.
Also accompanying the performance was my wee man’s newest babble – blowing spit bubbles with wild abandon. We were stationed in the rear of the shop, though, and he could only disturb a few of the attendees (hopefully….). But our position meant that seeing the performance was out of the questions.
Fortunately, the series has been documented by local artist Jori Sankin and put up on youtube.com. It’s a great way to relive the experience.
Also in for a tune (and part of the former Tango Lorca) was Brad Cox on tambourine, accompanying Bledsoe playing baroque guitar. I’ll admit I’m not even a little un-biased. I love these guys and what they do.
As I said, I missed every Gillet appearance. Her style of performing is wackily intentional and her voice, well….
…it is what chansons were written for.
One of her shows last week was with KC Renegade Cobra at the RecordBar, performing Zorn’s Game Pieces. My husband played with them and basically loaded up the car with stuff and perc toys (including his new/old trashy cymbals he’d bought that day at Cowtown Mallroom in Union Hill) and put it all on a table to bang on as the mood fit.
Coming up, Tulsa-based Ellicott, with her sweet dimples, spine tingling range and quirky presentation, is swooping into town for a free improvisation invasion up in the loft of Gruñauer’s for the Thursday night Snuff Jazz show. Then next week percussionist Mike Dillon is in the mix.
It’s happening, folks. Get out in it. Take a friend.
[Photos by me. 1st and 2nd video by Jori Sankin. 3rd video by Steve Paul.]