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Monday, September 29, 2014

Kelley Hunt-The Beautiful Bones CD

Kelley Hunt
The McPherson Opera House
By Lydia Lowe
(photo's by Bob Hunter)

     What do you get when you mix together the following musical styles: blues, jazz, rock, country, boogie woogie, gospel, r & b; then you add in a guitar (electric and acoustic), drums, a bass guitar, a keyboard, a Hammond B3, and oh yeah, killer vocals?  You get Kelley Hunt.  This was one of the best shows that I've attend in quite some time.  And the McPherson Opera House had the show.

     What could be better-Kelley Hunt and her band performing songs from her newly released CD entitled The Beautiful Bones, at The McPherson Opera House.  The acoustics in the building became part of the band as Kelley's voice resounded throughout the building.  The majority of the songs that she sang were from her newly released CD, released on May 20, 2014.  But she managed to splice in a few songs from her other CD's, too.  One of my new favorites that she sang from one of her older CD's was the song Gravity Loves You.  I can't get that song out of my mind.  It's competing with a variety of other songs she sang on Saturday night.  Another one of my new favorites is the song Just Like Oxygen.  I just can't get her music out of my head.  It's followed me around all weekend and into the beginning of the week.

     Primarily Saturday night's show was about the songs from the new CD, The Beautiful Bones.  The title track was written after all the songs for the CD had been written and studio time scheduled, or so Kelley thought at the time.  Then one winter's day at the beginning of the year, when we had that 14 inch snow, everyone remembers that one, Kelley was looking out her kitchen window and saw one of the trees in her yard looking so graceful with all the leaves gone.  It had beautiful bones and looked like a hand reaching for the sky.  The title song wrote itself very quickly after that and within 30 minutes she had the title track for her CD.  She sang this song during her concert and it brought a tear to my eye.  It was so haunting, beautiful and hopeful, yet sad and full of longing.

     Kelley's songs are not what you'd typically expect from a blues artist.  Her style is very distinctive and all her own.  I'd say it would be impossible for someone to copy it.  It just couldn't be done.  I don't think there's a definitive label that you could even put on her style.  She started the evening out with The Golden Hour, transitioned into This Time, and then it was on to Simplify; all from the new CD.  After that the hits just kept coming, each unique and different in its own right.  It was a terrific evening.

     Go to her website: Kelley Hunt and click on the audio tab to hear some of the new songs from The Beautiful Bones CD.  You'll be glad you did.  

Monday, September 22, 2014

CFTC-The 2014 Finale

Concert For The Cause
By Lydia Lowe
(all photo's by Bob Hunter)

     The finale show for CFTC was one for the record books.  This was an event that will be talked about for months.  If you missed it, you missed a lot.

     Our grill-meister didn't show up to run the grill, so I enlisted the city security officer to man the grill and our homeless resident in Avenue A park assisted with the grilling duties.  At one point, as we were getting everything ready to go and finishing up the first round of free hotdogs for concert-goers, we were joined by a snake about three-feet long.  Out of nowhere a concert goer appeared and grabbed the snake up by its head and took off with it.  This ended the screaming up by the visitors center.  And people quickly got their appetites back.  

     The band load-in had started a bit late and so people were eating and drinking while load in was taking place and sound check was happening.  So between the free food and drinks, and then the appearance of the snake and our "snake whisperer" everyone was fairly well entertained.  Avenue A Park was filling up with folks at a fairly fast rate.

     The music began about 30 minutes late, just as it was getting dark.  This was perfect due to the fact that we had colored lights and this only enhanced their colors.  A storm began moving in but then appeared to move off to the north.  Katie Berry started the show, she looked fabulous and her voice was in perfect form.  She got the park rocking and rolling, and the concert off to a great start.

     As Katie left the stage and Soapbox Troubadors began prepping the stage for their part of the show, there was a quick clap of thunder, a few lighting flashes, and then came the rain.  The park emptied out pretty quickly.  The Soapbox Troubadors, however, subscribe to the adage that the show must go on.  So as soon as the downpour passed, they began playing and the park filled back up again.  Quite a few of those attending had headed over to the stage when it began to rain.  They were sitting and standing under the gazebo with the bands, getting a chance to meet the artists and listen to the music up close and personal.

     After the Soapbox Troubadors finished their set, once again, a clap of thunder, some flashes of lighting and more rain.  This downpour wasn't nearly as heavy or long lasting as the time before.  This time instead of the park clearing out, everyone went to the gazebo.  No one wanted to miss out on Morgan Wilk's return to the CFTC stage.  And Morgan delivered a terrific comeback show.  She was in fine voice and sang some wonderful original songs.  A hardy few returned to the grassy area across from the stage to hear her and even a few new folks showed up in the park.

    What an amazing night in Avenue A Park, with terrific musical acts, free food and drinks, and a crowd that refused to leave until the last note was sung.  They were not deterred by glitches with getting the food prepared, snakes didn't scare them off, the music was delayed from time to time, the rain came and went; the crowd hung in there.  I heard from quite a few people that they were so sad to see the season end.  But fear not, CFTC will return in June of 2015.  Check out the website for further updates.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Hunter Hayes-The Grandstand @ The Kansas State Fair

Photo courtesy of the Hunter Hayes Website
The Saturday Night Grandstand Show
By Lydia Lowe

     Media Day was this past Friday at the Kansas State Fair and one of the gifts that everyone attending received were tickets to the Hunter Hayes concert on Saturday night.  I never turn down a free concert and it doesn't matter if I know who the musical act is or not, I'm there.  I knew of Hunter Hayes and I knew he was a country act, but that was about it.

     Wow, did this concert and performer deliver a high energy show. It did not disappoint.  From the opening song to the end of the show, Hunter Hayes worked the stage and the audience.  There's an old saying about "paying for a full seat but only needing the edge"?  Those attending this concert didn't need the seat or the edge.  Most everyone was on their feet the entire time; young, old, it didn't matter.  

     It was hard to even figure out the demographic of the audience.  There were the teen and tween girls but there were women of every age group and lots of men in the crowd.  I don't know if the men got drug there by wives and girlfriends and were just making the best of it, but they seemed to be into the music, too.

     During the first few songs of the concert, it was hard to make out the lyrics.  It must have been some sort of technical difficulty which was remedied later on in the show.  Hayes played guitar: acoustic and electric, as well as the piano.  He has a wide range of music ability.  He pulled a girl out of the audience to sing with him, at one point, and she had an amazing voice, not to mention the fact that this was a high stress situation and she pulled it off superbly.  I was so impressed with her.  Hayes also took time to take some selfies with some of the girls down front. 

     Hayes sang his first #1 song for the crowd, Wanted.  I think that has just become one of my favorite all time songs.  It really made me stop and think about some things that have been going on in my life recently from a different perspective.  Isn't that what all art is about, holding up a lens in which to see life anew?  I was a bit confused by the fact that he followed that song up with a song made popular by One Republic, entitled Counting Stars.  I liked his version of the song, but wasn't sure why he switched from original songs to a cover tune. 

     During one of his songs light up beach balls were released into the crowd.  That was really something to see.  I thought it was a great touch and lots of fun, although none of the balls came my way.  It was fun to see them bouncing around down below.  I found out later that there were people who didn't particularly like the beach balls. In fact, one row behind me completely cleared out until the beach balls were collected up and put away.  
     This was a really fun, high energy show.  I'm so glad that I got to go to it.  If you haven't heard Hunter Hayes sing his #1 song, Wanted, check it out online.  It is worth a listen.  I can't wait to hear more songs by this artist. One thing that I thought was really great, at the end of the concert, Hayes thanked his band, of course, but he also thanked his crew.  Hunter Hayes is a class act!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

CFTC-A Benefit for The Family of Liam Smalling

Concert For The Cause
By Lydia Lowe
(all photo's by Bob Hunter)

     The final concert of the summer season was held in Avenue A Park on Saturday.  Originally the evenings entertainment was to benefit Sterling Austism, but Sterling Autism stepped aside voluntarily and donated the proceeds of the evening to the family of Liam Smalling.  It was a beautiful evening to be in the park, at a concert, enjoying grilled food, soft drinks and water.  Autumn was in the air and a gentle breeze kept the concert-goers cool.

Dan Duntz of The Calm plays The National Anthem
     On this night for a rare treat, a member of The Calm, Dan Duntz, played The National Anthem to open the show ala Jimi Hendrix style on his guitar.  He did a superb job.  I don't think Jimi Hendrix himself could have played it half that good.  The crowd loved it!

Jess and Philly
     This Saturday evening's entertainment  began with a sister act, Jess and Philly.  The two sang a variety of songs, as duets and each sang songs on their own.  At the beginning of the concert it was announced that one of the performers had Autism.  You would never have known it, though.  Both sisters had marvelous, warm voices and their vocals were spot on.  They sang to a soundtrack of taped music and this added tremendously to their set.  Without the problems of having to worry about the quality of the sound, these sisters were able to just concentrate on their performance.  The crowd clapped and cheered after each and every song.

     Unfortunately, the headliner, Capital Avenue, from Nebraska, failed to show for their part of the concert. Apparently there was some mis-communication between the booker and CFTC.  Hopefully, this act will be able to perform during one of next summer's shows.  

The Calm
     Then it was time for The Calm, a group out of Wichita.  With tight tunes and even tighter vocals, this group delivered a variety of original hits that just blew me away.  Why are these guys not being played on the radio? The music is fine and definitely main stream material.  I wish they had brought some of their CD's with them.  I'd have bought every one.  This was music I wanted to take home with me and play over and over again.  I say this a lot but it was never more true than on this evening, their music was amazing. CFTC has got to ask them back for a repeat performance, I just can't get enough of them.  

     One thing that I found different about this group was that the songs would end abruptly.  At first I found this a bit annoying, and then I realized that what this was really doing for me was to draw me in, make me pay attention, and caused me to have a much more intimate experience with the music.  

     The concert was over far to soon. And so ends the second season of Concerts For The Cause.  But don't fret, there is a special Thank You concert planned for the Saturday after the Kansas State Fair, on September 20th. The grill will be fired up with hotdogs and there will be pop and water. Everything will be free, although if you would like to donate to the family of Liam Smalling it would be much appreciated and a donation jar will be available for your donations.  

     Mark your calendars now for next year; June, July, and August will see the return of the third season of Concerts For The Cause.  The 2015 season will feature new and returning singers and bands, and a variety of non-profits who need your help.  Plans are already underway for the summer of 2015 and it will be bigger and better than ever, and as always full of surprises.  Hope to see you there.