My first day of this excursion began late Thursday night when my buddy Mr. Jared McPherson came out to spend the night and traveled with us out there to the Westport Roots Festival in Kansas City Missouri. I believe this year to have been a landmark year for this festival, both on attendance and music. From a music standpoint last year was an epic occurrence with many Legends and happenings, but 2017 knocked last year out of the ballpark. It literally beat anything it’s ever done in the past in every sense of the word.
ALL of the stages held their own relevance to the meaning of the festival,and the arrangement was so well coordinated that everything went pretty well from what I could ascertain. My stage went smooth as silk and there were no problems at all. EVERY ACT had a steel guitar and sounded grand in every sense of the word, BUT you will read about that later folks. Right now you will read about my journey there and how this weekend began.
I work closely with a LOT of people in this business and share good and bad knowledge, contacts information and so much more. I team up with many people to share trip costs and venue promotions, and Rebel K Child jewelry is one I work with many times. I’ll be working with her several times in 2017, Westport was one of them, I’m quite positive that she’ll continue to feature her products there.
We rented an SUV from Enterprise in Glasgow Kentucky, now to be honest if you remember I had a truly negative experience with them on my Chicago trip. But I learned it’s really WHERE you go within the brand, because we were treated like royalty there.Corporate was not involved so I’m sure we were probably treated better because of this fact, because once corporate is involved it turns into a fiasco.
We had a truly blessed trip out there in every sense of the word, it was early and grueling after working most of the night on other ventures, and day 1 was actually a 35 hour marathon of hardcore music and excitement for all four of us. I had a stellar crew of co-workers that drove long hours under extremely tiresome conditions, that stepped up to help me get this job done. Rebel K Child both helped me out so much and I couldn’t have done it without Miss Kristie and Mr. Mike.
I also had another assistant this weekend helping me in any way I needed it, and I’d like to thank Miss Sara Leann Schulte for all of her help all weekend. I usually can maintain control alone but with not having an option to stray far from my own stage, I simply couldn’t do everything I needed without a helping hand. Also I needed photos of myself on stage introducing all of the acts, additionally I had her shoot the video for the FIRST EVER LIVE episode of my “Steel Guitarists Along The Road” series with Mr. KC Steeler as my guest. I run an extremely demanding operation for festivals, when you hire me to cover it, you won’t get second rate National Enquirer subject matter like other “Country Music” blogs. I need someone who will stay awake and do what I need to help me as I concentrate on the set list and song content, and Miss Sara did just that for me.
This isn’t party time for me, and it certainly isn’t fun and games. We have an obligation to those that purchased tickets to see a top notch show, and I have an obligation to those that hire me to provide the BEST coverage I can provide them. With that being said when I need vehicle keys or photos and videos RIGHT THEN, it’s a fact, and she came through for me in a timely manner.
Miss Kaylee Reeder and her absolutely wonderful staff at the Westport Saloon that all pitch in and help this establishment shine. This area is well known for being a Roots Music venue and well known for great food, as well as so many wonderful sponsors that help it carry the torch for the music scene out there in Kansas City. I could just go on and on about the wonderful staff there, and every one of them are always glad to see us there.
So let’s talk about our hotel shall we? We stayed at Crossland Studios In Kansas City and we arrived there in the afternoon after driving all late night and early morning. The area was convenient and appealing but check in is 3:00 PROMPTLY and when I say PROMPTLY I mean do NOT TRY to get room at 2:58….you go at 3 EXACTLY. The rooms are REALLY nice though complete with regular sized fridge and oven, apparently they are designed to be extended stay rooms. For the price I felt pretty satisfied with my choice to book this hotel, I’m doing some more research in this area here for this festival and several more in Kansas City so in future articles I’ll have other options for hotels in this aspect of the venture.
We settled in and got some dinner while preparing to come down to the Westport district for the pre party Friday evening. Even with the pre-party we were treated to the best possible music that Mr. Jody could fiendishly plan, he probably sits up in that office and rubs his hands with malicious delight as he books these main acts. The VERY FIRST night we were treated to one of the most important occurrences to happen in Roots Music in years. If you recall a while ago I ran the story about the last show of the Broken Band as all the members went different ways. Well Friday night we were treated to history in it’s true form.
Greeting old friends and becoming reacquainted with old friends and meeting new people as well as Jo Jo the dog, who sat next to me at my table with his owner Mr. Jay Lev. Networking is what always makes me so excited to venture out here. All the different bars going on at once , It’s a whole district of music going on at once. The Westport district is indeed the epicenter of the Kansas City Roots Music Scene and in just a little bit I’m going to touch on a LIVE album that A.J. Gaither recorded there at the Westport Saloon. I sat and had a nice conversation with my good friend Mr. A.J. about WHY he chose the Westport and what he’s up to now, also I got some insight about his plans for the future. See folks many times when we are just having a friendly conversation It’s actually information being obtained to write about your music, so be sure to tell me everything you would like mentioned.
The very first band I watched were The Culprits as they brought their own blend of Honky Tonk music to the saloon tonight. They are from the Kansas area, and they represented the local scene here very well. I absolutely enjoyed their set tonight as did the rest of my company, the saloon was rapidly becoming packed with people I knew and people I had yet to meet. This weekend remedied that however, and trust me I left with a refreshed palate of newly acquainted website readers and personal friends.
The Culprits were already in full swing when I arrived there and they played “Little Ramona” by BR5-49, which I believe was one of their won originals. See,BR5-49 had an uncanny ability to take rare cover songs and play them convincingly original. Part of the reason was they were so obscure unless you were a music guru, it was believed to be an original song. They did their set really well with the help of our friend KC Steeler, who I’ll be surprising you with later on a little side project I had going…..SSShhhhh don’t tell Mr. Travis I did this he don’t know about this one yet! I brought my “Steel Guitarists Along The Road Series” with me to do some LIVE work, this time it won’t be just in print. I took some time out to get one on one with Mr. Colm and you will get to not only read about him but SEE him on MANY videos from this weekend.
“Sugar Daddy” was next mixed with some great solos and instrumentals all throughout the songs, I highly suggest checking out this band further along with all the other bands I feature on here. They played a long version of a song called “Let’s Get Liquored Up” that involved the participation from the audience. Now mind you this early that was easily obtained, at midnight well that might have been harder…because they got liquored up quite well. It’s Westport Roots Festival and it’s party time, and party we did well into the A.M. In fact I could say like their last song called “Tear It Up” we did indeed tear it up in every sense of the word. GREAT band here to kick things off tonight and I was preparing to work here folks, I got all this covered.
The Ghosts Of Grandad’s Past are another local Kansas City fixture that does some covers of Those Poor Bastards really well. They began with “Death Came To My Door” and followed that with a song called “Want To Lay Here And Die” about having door people at their funeral to prevent some people from seeing their dead bodies. They played called 99-105 about getting pulled over while driving drunk and high, so apparently they enjoy the fast lifestyle and playing dive bars for the next tank of gas.
“Sun Goes Down, Dark As Night” was next before they closed with a cover of the ever popular classic song “Rye Whiskey”. They play dark and haunting songs of the other side of life, like the song “Down By The River”. This three piece band was a great beginning to the festival here tonight, they played songs about whiskey and drugs, all of those wonderful things that local bands sing about!
The Kansas City Bear Fighters absolutely rocked the rooftops tonight, I mean they literally brought down the house. They have a terrific marketing idea on their merch and have an even better marketing idea on their music, it’s different and fresh. It’s unlike anything you have ever witnessed before and you just cannot classify them with anyone really.
They opened with “Spring Break 3035” and went into a song called “Take My Legs Away”, they introduced that one to be about mermaids. Then they went into a song about “Female Parts” called “Smitten with Her Kitten”, and a pretty good one called “Large Marge”.
Many instrumentals adorned their set throughout the entire thing and it was filled with songs like “Ain’t life Strange” and the “Panda Bear Song”. Also there was a song about “The Devil” included as they showed off their different styles of playing and their influences of various directions. “Hello Oblivion” and “Safari” closed out their portion of the festivities tonight, as well as the song “Ancient Ones”. As I learn more about this band you can be sure to catch it here on this website.
Mr.Lorin Walker Madsen is by far some of the finest West Coast Honky Tonk I have ever witnessed. I LOVE that Honky Tonk out there like my buddy Jon Emery whom you’ll be hearing about again soon in my album features articles, all the way up to my friends the Ponderosa Aces. Now this young man is one I have been communicating with for long periods of time and haven’t had the opportunity to meet yet, well that’s the pertinent thing about festivals..you have that chance.
He brought us songs like “Behind The Wheel” and “Lonely Highway” ,tried and true songs of lonesome heartbreak and despair. But also on the other side of life’s curtain lies a proud working man with ragged hands within songs like “My Collar Ain’t White”.
He played songs like “Robbed” and “Travelin Man” before his musicians anthem “Slave Of The Road”. Man I’ll tell you what I have been following these folks around to various parts of America, in the years past. I couldn’t do this job and ALL the extra stuff involved with it like loading/unloading and social media. It’s a tough tough life, and it’s NOT for everyone.
“Ain’t Getting Caught” was next and he closed his set with “Another Last Call”. Truly a damn fine display of original songs here tonight by a truly gifted Honky Tonk hell raiser here at the Westport.
A.J.Gaither is one of the OMB or One Man Bands here at Roots Music Festivals, I got to stop and talk with him about why he chose the Westport Saloon to make his LIVE album. Honestly as soon as I finally got to see him perform some of his great songs there like “Biscuits And Gravy” the answer was evident.
He played a few other songs like “Long Way To Go”, and always gets a good response at the Westport Saloon no matter when he plays. Often times musicians have their own “home bar” or venue they usually do very well at, this is Mr. A.J’s place indeed. “Don’t Want To Go To Heaven” was part of his set, as he praised us for showing up so early and getting this party started already.
Mr. A.J.is correct NONE OF THIS would be possible without Mr. Travis Fields and what he does with the saloon, and he can also tell you the story of why there are four roses in four roses bourbon and the “Bad Decisions” that sometimes comes along with drinking.
Jayke Orvis reunited his classic lineup of The Broken Band tonight, including original member Mr. Joe Perez, who took a leave from music for personal reasons. We miss him but you know what, it’s awesome to see them make those choices too. I didn’t start my website FULL TIME until my own child was 18, and I had fewer responsibilities in order to do this.
The place went WILD as they opened with “Clinch Mountain Back step” and went into “Bound To Ride”. I tell you WHAT none of the four members lost any of their timing or speed in these few years of not playing these songs, and it was kind of like they just picked up after a week!
Liz Sloan’s stage presence is probably one of the finest in all of local music,and her talent is absolutely impeccable. Their level of professionalism in a sometimes unprofessional realm is a breath of fresh air when it comes to the business side of things. I cannot think of four people I admire more than these four right here, I share a relevant past with Mr. Jayke and it’s quite possible we played in the same area and didn’t know it as children.
Mr. James is quite possibly one of the smartest people you will ever encounter, and will hold a conversation with you about anything from trees and birds to 80’s Heavy Metal. He TRULY enjoys seeing you and TRULY enjoys music fans, if you are there to appreciate the music this man will accept anybody. I met him at Porter Wagoner’s funeral for goodness sake, and it was like we knew each other for years.
“Pick Up The Steam” was another they played I believe that’s a Weary Boys tune, followed by “Streets Wont Be The Same”. “Gone Forever More” was next as they didn’t say much to us, they just kept barrelling out those songs we love like ‘Empty Bottles”.
He DID say if you aren’t a Hank Williams fan he cannot be friends with you, as they did a GREAT version of “Kaw Liga” like they always did do. “Crooked Smile” “Shady Grove” and others filled their set list like “Feelings Like This” and MY personal favorite “Thunderbolts And Lightning”.
They had the whole place roaring to the song “Dreadful Sinner” before doing the instrumental and “Murder Of Crows” which was their logo, followed by “Shot Down” and “Raise The Moon”. One of their most popular trademarks was taking metal and transforming it into the Bluegrass sound as they did with “Battery” off one of the greatest metal abums of ALL time..Master Of Puppets.