Bands come and go in this area with the frequency of drug-abusing local athletes, but like any quality addiction, Go Kart seemed to be one act that would never fade away — until now. “We’re still getting along, but we lost our fifth bass player,” says drummer Scotty Rex. “And we got Brad Gaddy from Outhouse sitting in, but I don’t think he wants to do it full-time; he’s still got his band. Besides, he’ll be our official sixth and last bass player.”
Add in the fact that guitarist-vocalist Mike Devine and guitarist Larry Groce bought Mike’s Tavern on Troost in the recent past and that the band’s been together for seven years, and you set the stage for men growing up and their band breaking up. Throw in a cliché like ‘Better to go out with a bang than a whimper’ and, in the tradition of The Band, you’ve got the makings of a perfect rock show finale.
That the group recorded only one full-length record, Swank (in addition to a handful of singles and EPs), over its life span means there will be plenty of unreleased material from which to draw. And in the spirit of The Band’s last waltz, there will be some covers too.
“I hope everyone will have fun with it,” says Rex, reminiscing about the gory glory days of yesteryear. “We’ve had a cool little local following, but we haven’t been touring as much as we used to. We got to do some cool stuff, though, like playing South By Southwest, and we won some Ticketmaster thing and got to fly to Cleveland to play. So we got to do a couple of rock star-ish things along the way.”
The way Go Kart was treated by prospective out-of-town labels was never very cool, but that too may result in an extra treat from the soon-to-be-dearly departed band. “All that was kind of disappointing since we really only put one album out, so there’s a lot of unrecorded material,” adds Rex. “But we’re thinking about recording this show and doing something with that. We’d like everybody to be able to have a copy of those songs. We sold a few EPs and singles along the way, but I don’t have most of those anymore, so I’d kind of like to have one for posterity’s sake.”
You will also be able to buy a commemorative T-shirt the band is having made for posterity’s sake. You can pick one up at the grand finale, April 22 at Davey’s Uptown with The Victor Stands, the band of Rex’s brother Chad and in which Rex himself is the drummer — returning Chad’s favor of filling the recurring bass void. “Chad did that as a fill-in thing, and we liked him being in the band so well we kind of stopped looking for other bass players. And he was finally like, ‘Are you guys still looking for someone else or what?'”
Whether The Victor Stands are looking for another drummer remains to be seen, but this does mean double-duty for the man behind the skins, which will be a throwback to “10 years ago, when I could do something like that anytime, so we’ll see if I can pull it off again,” Rex says before tossing in one last piece of advice for any skeptics: “Just show up ready to rock.”
Gem — it’s truly outrageous
Talent show. The words can strike fear in the hearts of parents and children alike, conjuring images of botched performances and three-hour stints in a gymnasium. But the organizers of Live at the Gem are out to change that — sort of.
“When you say ‘talent show,’ people think it’s the sort of thing only family members would be interested in,” admits organizer Melvin Doran. “But we do a full show with a live band, dancers, a DJ, and 23 actors from all different backgrounds,” and that’s before an amateur even takes the stage.
Instead of a lip-synched version of “Soul Man” or even the riotous jeers that made the Apollo famous, attendees at the third installment of this local variety and talent show on Sunday, April 23, at 7 p.m. (Ticketmaster) will get a small dose of SNL with a touch of Conan and Star Search thrown in. “We’re focusing on the show to bring people in, and the talent is kind of extra,” Doran says of his master plan. “We’re just trying to get people to come to the show, and if they see someone that is talented, they’ll just come away with a little something extra.” But don’t think that the audience gets the night off, either. “We want people to participate and give a true response whether the performer is talented or not. We don’t want people to just be sitting there watching and in their minds say, ‘That’s not good.’ But we want the crowd to give some positive feedback too.”
The first two sessions of Live at the Gem, held in February and March, generated a moderate response from those there to see the poets, comedians, actors, and musicians who turn up to test their skills live. But, says Doran, the biggest reaction came from some of the troupe’s skits.
“There was this one skit where the actors were kids in a spelling bee, and the last guy was supposed to stutter over his word. He got to the Ps, and in disappointment he had this water bottle in his pocket that no one knew about and squeezed it so it looked like he was wetting himself there on stage. The crowd just went crazy.”
Fun and toilet humor aside, Doran’s motives for Live at the Gem are simple. “There are too many times when people are leaving KC and returning as stars,” he laments. “We want to send them off as stars and let them go with that and make it because they have hometown support.”
Attempts to garner hometown support will continue on the last Sunday of each month at the Gem through July, and in September at the finale show, where a grand prize winner will be awarded for the talent competitions. Then, hopefully, the whole thing can start over again.
Josie Wales (yes, he’s the Outlaw) and the people at Deuce Seven Productions also feel they know a little something about a lack of hometown support, but their beef isn’t with the fans — it’s with The Man. You see, Deuce Seven is having a record release party on Thursday, April 20, at the National Guard Armory in KCK. At this party, in addition to a host of local talent featured on Da Hustlers Files CD, will be Houston’s very own Botany Boyz, C-Note, and B-Legit, performers who, according to Wales, get nothing but love in their hometown.
“They’re selling up here and blowing up the record down in Houston,” says Wales. “They’re on the radio down there getting spins like Jay-Z and everybody else. In Houston, they aren’t local, they’re major because it’s a whole different scene down there. As long as you’re moving product down there, you can get radio play. It ain’t nothin’ like it is up here. We’re about seven years behind as far as radio support for the hometown goes.”
Granted, because many rap artists sell their wares everywhere from liquor stores to car trunks, getting accurate Soundscan results is often impossible. But it doesn’t take a genius to figure out when a band has a street buzz. For the record, Deuce Seven is claiming almost 10,000 units of Da Hustlers Files sold in this fashion and at independent record stores — which is why the group’s decided to celebrate with a party and call it a CD re-release.
“We’re just trying to show what kind of talent we got in Kansas City,” says Yella Bone, another partner in the Deuce Seven brigade. “The money we make from CD sales, we put right back into stuff to build up the scene in the city. It don’t go in our pockets.”
Indeed, if Wales’ estimates are correct, this is something a lot of local hip-hop artists are accustomed to doing. “Local artists are spending money with the only outlet for hip-hop we got, and you got artists out there selling hundreds and thousands of CDs, spending like 70 percent of their money with the local station. And they call it the people’s station — why don’t we get no rotation?” he says, referring to the 10 minutes KPRS allows for local hip-hop every Friday night.
Radio support or not, rappers will keep making records, people will keep buying them, the latent desires of the masses will continue to be ignored by big business, and the shows will go on. This one starts at 7 p.m. and ends at 11 p.m. with an after-party at another location. Tickets are $10 in advance and $20 at the door, and for the nouveau riche, there are 100 VIP passes available at $100 each that’ll get you all the backstage time and liquor you can stomach. Call 913-328-2791 for more information or explore www.deuceseven.com.
Props to Top City
Tech N9ne would say the same thing about DVS Mindz’s long-awaited album’s finally being released, an event that should go down some time in the first week of May. Regardless of whether the CD is here, the band will celebrate with a release party at The Granada on Sunday, April 30. Before that the Top-City hip-hoppers will continue enticing crowds with The Arsonists on Wednesday, April 26, at The Bottleneck.
“It took about four years of hard-ass work and making sure that it would be tight when it did hit the street,” says 40 Killa of the record’s repeated delays. “We’ve been working on other things to help sharpen up our business. But things zigzagged in all different directions before they finally got back on course, and we all had to learn a lot real quick.”
Luckily they never lost touch with the smooth lyrical style that seems to flow effortlessly with the beats, a style that leads many to consider DVS Mindz the area’s best rap group. And on this record, Million Dollar Broke Niggaz — The DVS Mindz Experience, 1994-2000, fans will have the opportunity to actually trace the group’s growth over that six-year period, a fact 40 Killa is prepared to handle. “When you listen to it, our sound has changed and we’ve matured lyrically a lot. DVS Mindz has gone through some rebuilding, but now that we’ve got everything in order, we’re like the stunt men of rap…. We come in and take the bumps and bruises and go on about the business.”
That’s a fact that was never more evident than the night DVS opened for Black Sheep and Das EFX, when most audience members felt DVS Mindz was the best group on the bill. “We’ve learned to take that in stride,” says Killa. “We’ll go first, second, third, or whatever. We come to do a job. We don’t care when we go on, we just come up to wreck the show.”
Most fans of local rap music know that by now, and that’s all they know, because the only other material available from DVS for enjoyment in your home or auto was a single that included “Rowdy Hip-Hoppas” and “Central Time Zone,” neither of which are on the full-length. But don’t think that the group sheds its live intensity in the studio. “Our album is live-show material,” says Killa. “The only difference will be that the lyrics are a lot clearer and you can pump the beats louder in your house and car — and you can’t look at us, but that’s good.”
And the winner is …
Casket Lottery would win if there were a contest to see who could be the first band to have an in-store performance at the recently remodeled Recycled Sounds. But after a successful West Coast tour and with a new CD for sale, the boys in Casket Lottery feel like winners anyway. “It’s not actually out in stores yet, but that’s why we’re playing this show,” says Nathan Ellis. “Hopefully, we’ll have the vinyl back too.”
Digital, analog, or live, the intricate rock stylings of Casket Lottery come across crystal-clear regardless of the format, and after that West Coast thing and a show in front of perhaps their biggest audience to date, the fellas might start to believe that too. However, coming to terms with this is not without its own trauma.
“We finished our tour at a big fest in Michigan for, like, 1,200 people, and I was putting my stuff up there and I turned around for, like, 20 seconds and was like, ‘Holy shit. I’m not doing that again until we start playing.’ So I plugged in and tuned up and got to the mic and was still in awe.”
According to the band’s financial records, crowds were equally stunned by Casket Lottery’s performances. Ellis and the rest of the group left the KC area confident that they would return broke, but as Ellis proudly boasts, “It turned out I made more out there than I would’ve if I had stayed home and worked.”
And while this success was surely due to the jubilant crowds and the band’s command of its songs, Ellis couldn’t help but take a few lessons away from the years he spent on the road with Coalesce — lessons that can be distilled into two easy rules. Rule #1: “Business is important. It sucks that it has to be that way, but you can’t come home and not pay rent.” And Rule #2: “It pays to remember people’s names.”
Stop by the band’s set at Recycled Sounds this Saturday, April 22, and see whether the members remember you. While you’re at it, you’ll finally be able to pick up their record on vinyl.
Send local music information to Robert Bishop or J.J. Hensley at email@example.com.