In 1977 Skip Groff opened the record store Yesterday and Today. It was located in a non-descript strip mall in the town where I grew up, Rockville MD. Yesterday and Today was my church, and I attended it with the regularity of a parishioner to a church. As the outpouring of memorials demonstrates, I was not the only one that felt this way. This episode is a sonic tribute to Skip featuring songs recorded this fall in Kansas City.
Sky Smeed – Without Music
Ex Acrobat – Melodoce
Kelly Hunt – Over The Mountain
As an outsider with limited time, I can only hope to scratch the surface when I travel to a new city, yet Never Records seems to have captured almost every facet of Kansas City music culture. Today’s trio of recordings is super fun. Each track features a male and female vocalist with clever lyrics and instrumentation in the spirit of The Pixies and the Violent Femmes.
Tub – Sorry Mom
Appropriate Grammar – King Of Silent Sounds
Vidella – Counting
Troost Ave is a scar on the map of Kansas City. It’s a color line dividing African American neighborhoods to the East and White more affluent neighborhoods to the west. This border has a long and deep history of segregation. We chose Troost Ave initially as part of Open Spaces’ overall strategy to engage under-served neighborhoods throughout the city. Instead, I ended up in the trendy Crossroads district filed with distilleries and breweries, record stores and music venues.
Kemet the Phantom – Arab Beats KC MCs
La Arquesta Del SolSoul – 6 Seconds
Ivy Mix – Often
The Latino community in Kansas City is as old as the city itself. And while the Latino population continues to grow at a large rate with more and more immigrants migrating from Central America. 7 weeks isn’t enough time to get a sense of how things really are in Kansas City, but what I can say for certain is that the Latinos I met, were incredibly talented, gracious, and dignified in Trump’s era of indignity.
Trio Aztlan – Cumbia Aztlan
Espinoza Quartet – Infra Sonido
Arquesta Del SolSoul – La Huelga
Dylan Moses – 2000 Such and Such
This week is about another instrument which also epitomizes country music, the pedal steel. The pedal steel, like the banjo, also has an interesting origin- developed in part by slaves from West Africa.
The Breakfast Sides – Country Rain
Jenna And Martin – The Peculiar Song
Lorna Kay And The One Night Stand – You’re Running Wild
This episode features the banjo and it’s many sounds. I love this idea that the banjo was a sacred instrument and that music was a way to conjure and contain spirits. I also love that the banjo, an instrument that has become a symbol of bluegrass and country music, had its origins in the Afro Caribbean tradition.
Short Round Sting Band – Chase Old Satan
The Matchsellers – Who’s Walkin’ Behind
The Matchsellers – Until You Came To Mind
Ben Bentele – Untitled
With so many talented people parading through Never Records I often get the urge to step out of my role and play. In rare instances, when I hit it off with a performer, artists will let me contribute some creative ideas to their work. Today’s episode features some of these recordings from Kansas City.
Kevin Comarda aka The Self Help Tapes – The Bliss In Oblivion
Shawn Hanson – Lockgrooves For Single String Piano
Mark Weinberg – I get Drunk
It’s hard to define Never Records because it is also beguiling to me, an ever-changing artwork that has been a vehicle for me to see and experience the world. After Never Records I’m not so sure what it means to be an artist. I have learned that a good art work is as edifying for the artist as it is to the viewer or listener. And that art can be map for a life full of meaning and adventure.
This episode features Elvis the Architect reading a set of directions to the Flint Hills as well as SJ Downes serenading those prairies under the vast Kansas skies and for the first time in NR history – going electric.
Elvis “The Architect” Achelpohl – Directions
SJ Downes – Wild Ox Holler live from the Windmill Prairie Trail
SJ Downes – Ramblin and Rumbling Blues(Electric)
I’m thrilled to be able to share recordings from the most recent Never Records which took place this past Fall in Kansas City as part of Open Spaces a new biennial celebrating the art and culture of Kansas City and beyond. It really felt like I arrived at a special moment in a city in the midst of an artistic renaissance. In contrast to last week’s episode about the unexpected sounds I found in Kansas City, this week is all about more traditional music.
Artists Featured in this Episode:
Conor O’Kane – The Ballad of William Sycamore
Kelly Hunt – Dear Sarah
Patrick Mureithi – It Will Remain