Instead of weathering embarrassing experimental phases like U2, briefly and successfully reinventing itself in the early ’90s like Duran Duran or reuniting to hit the festival/casino circuit like Loverboy and countless other me-decade hangers-on, the members of The Police disbanded in their prime in 1984, just one year after releasing Synchronicity, their finest album. As a result of the band’s firm decision to remain defunct, a generation of modern musicians knows The Police only through albums, videos and concert footage. However, some of the area’s finest musicians have decided to re-create the live experience for the benefit of fans (like themselves) who never got to see Sting partner up onstage with the legendary rhythm section of drummer Stewart Copeland and bassist Andy Summers.
Although the resemblance between these British pop masters and Kansas City’s dissonant noise-rock champions The Casket Lottery isn’t immediately apparent, singer Nathan Ellis says his trio feels a definite connection with Sting’s three-piece. “It’s one of probably three or four bands that we can all agree on,” Ellis says. Appropriately enough, The Casket Lottery plans to perform perhaps The Police’s most chaotic song, the jagged “Synchronicity Two.” In addition to giving Ellis the opportunity to howl humiliating kick in the crotch, this tune offers a punky riff, a driving pace and a slow-fading resolution, making it a Lottery winner. The group plans to record a version of “Synchronicity Two” on a split 7-inch single due out this summer, with indie stalwarts Sweep the Leg Johnny covering the first “Synchronicity” on the flip side.
While that selection seems a natural choice for Ellis’ band, as does the somber “So Lonely” and the exasperated “Don’t Stand So Close to Me,” the perky “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” might present the group with a challenge. “That one’s going to be screwed up just a little bit,” Ellis admits.
Cruse, whose new-wave-influenced synthesized sounds bring to mind many of the Police’s contemporaries, faces a different quandary: how to translate the music of a guitar-bass-drums combo into the language of a keyboards-and-voice duo. While studying up on Sting and company, ReGina Cruse developed a new appreciation for the group.
“Honestly, I’ve never been a huge fan of The Police, but practicing for this tribute has been like studying math begrudgingly and then finding out it was always just another language, and a purposeful and meaningful one at that,” she says. Cruse also notes the lyrical power of the songs her band will perform — the martyr-complex angst of “King of Pain,” the vivid character-study detail of “Roxanne” — before admitting, with some trepidation, “I’ve been Stung.”
Clint Kueffer, titular frontman of the Clint K Band, was stung in a negative sense by some of the singer’s wordplay once he started rehearsing “De Doo Doo Doo De Da Da Da.” “It’s a cool song, and we like how it sounds for us, but from a lyrical standpoint I’m not completely comfortable with it,” he says. “No one has ever said anything powerful enough to me to leave me feeling raped. Rape is too serious a matter to throw around loosely. I’d be interested in knowing what Sting’s motives and/or reasons were for using that word in the song.” However, from a practical standpoint, the tune works well for the band. “We like it because the chorus is easy to remember,” explains drummer Jason Green. “Hooked on Phonics works for us.”
Proudentall; Brighton, Ohio; Soccer Mom (featuring members of Ultimate Fakebook and the Creature Comforts); Superkid (starring Mike Slurry and his daughter Gypsy) and Mi6 will also offer their original takes on Police tunes on Saturday, January 27, at The Bottleneck, with Superkid kicking off the festivities at exactly 8:30 p.m.
Out of the Doghouse
It’s always frustrating when a band that has started to make a name for itself has to start over from scratch, but in Bulldog Front‘s case this unpleasant scenario remains preferable to the alternative — an unwitting association with scum. The group recently sent its CD to Detour Records in England, “the UK’s ultimate mod label” and an ideal fit for Bulldog Front’s Buzzcocks-influenced Brit-punk sounds. And while the Detour crew found the group’s songs promising, they found fault with its name.
“There is this nasty little right-wing white-supremacist group out of England called the National Front, and its mascot is a bulldog,” explains singer/guitarist Jon Cagle. “After finding that out, we thought the name Bulldog Front would associate the band with groups with which we’d rather not be associated, even if the connection is unintentional.” The band has elected to use the ever-popular Prince-style “artists formerly known as” prefix for now, but it has no plans to maintain this dubious construction or settle for the “with no name” option preferred by a now-defunct Plaza bar and a horse ridden through the desert by ’70s folkies America. However, the creative strain of piecing together an album’s worth of catchy tunes has left Cagle and company with a temporary case of writer’s block. At its two recent performances at Fred P. Ott’s and The Pub, during which the trio delivered tight energetic renditions of its unreleased fare, Cagle’s group solicited fans for a replacement handle. The band received plenty of enthusiastic applause but no new moniker, so the group welcomes submissions at email@example.com.
The 5-year-old www.jazzkc.org recently changed everything but its name, even though the Kansas City Jazz Ambassadors Web site was named “One of Ten Jazz Sites Worth Visiting” by The New York Times in 1998. The Jazz Ambassadors encourage local musicians to remain a vital part of the current jazz scene instead of resting on the city’s reputation — and with its Web site, the organization has taken its own advice, building upon its past success by redoing more than 500 pages in a process that took several months.
Starting with a transition from a frame-heavy layout to an easier-to-navigate screen that uses tabs, publications director Dean Hampton and several volunteers then added such features as a message board (called Jam Session), a search feature (which allows surfers to browse back issues of the KCJA-affiliated magazine, Jam) and an interactive poll. Hampton says the next step for the site will be a multimedia element, with streaming video and sound from performances at area clubs to be added in late February.
One of jazzkc.com’s main goals has always been to keep Kansas City on the jazz map by attracting visitors from across the world. The site has met the challenge, both by providing hundreds of valuable links and by offering a bit of a bribe. “We have a drawing where you can win a trip to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival,” Hampton notes.
From the latter-day Woodstocks to the Warped Tour to OZZfest, thirteen-hour music extravaganzas have become common. But the marathon concert remains a seasonal beast, thriving during the summer and hibernating the rest of the year. However, the advantages to an indoor affair in January are obvious: no reapplying sunscreen dozens of times, no shelling out hundreds of dollars for bottled water. At Blayney’s Blues Bash on Saturday, January 27, which runs from 2 p.m. to 3 a.m., concertgoers can come and go as they please after paying the $10 cover charge (a no-no at shed shows), enjoy free food donated by Wild Oats between 2 and 6 p.m. (as opposed to being at the mercy of price-gouging vendors) and, most important, know that their money is going to fund research for combating Sudden Infant Death Syndrome instead of padding the pockets of some bloated millionaire rock star. The lineup for this eighth annual SIDS benefit offers one band per hour, with DC Bellamy, Four Fried Chickens and a Coke, Lonnie Ray Blues, MFM, Loose Change, Lawrence Wright and the Outlets, Gotto Blues Band, Twang Dang Poodle, Insultors, Cotton Candy and So Many Men and Big Slim Blues Band leading charitable blues fans from the afternoon into the late, late night.