The Local Music Show, Will Matthews, & The sunshine Vandals
We’ve all had some time now
to get used to the fact that KLZR 105.9 The Lazer as we once knew it is gone. But for those still in mourning, perhaps some solace can be taken from knowing that a few of the shows that were there before the format change remain. One of these is The Local Music Show, airing at 9 p.m. Sundays. The show was previously hosted by Jeff Peterson and is now in Chuck Taylor’s hands.
“About the only change is that it’s been narrowed down to an hour, which we hope to expand later on in the coming weeks,” Taylor says. “Other than that, it’s just the same as when Jeff was running the show. We’re still trying to highlight great local bands of the area, talk about new albums coming out, shows coming to the area, and news about these bands.” And, of course, the best way to get a band played on the show is for said band to forward Taylor a copy of its latest CD or DAT (Attn: Chuck Taylor, KLZR, 3125 W. 6th, Lawrence, KS 66049).
Taylor also hosts Future Mass Hysteria, which used to air Monday nights. The show now follows The Local Music Show on Sundays at 10 p.m. “We understand that a lot of people are pissed about the format change, not that I was for it at all, but The Local Music Show and Future Mass Hysteria are kind of appeasement for myself and the old listeners to bring them back to the station. A lot of the old listeners will call and really, really enjoy the show, because we play pretty much the same music that we did play on The Lazer,” he says. “Like new stuff that hasn’t even made it to the modern rock charts yet. I program both of those shows by myself, so I have a lot of leeway of what I can do there. A couple of weeks ago, I played a new song on Future Mass Hysteria from Jungle Brothers because that’s completely in my hands, and I get to pick all the cool new stuff. For two hours, it’s just like the old Lazer.”
Not one to take all the credit, Taylor mentions that some credit goes to Rob Meyer, the third program director The Lazer has had in the last 12 months. “He’s really dedicated to the local music scene and the Future Mass Hysteria shows that we have, so he’s very interested in keeping them,” Taylor says, also mentioning that the station has been monkeying with the regular programming mix. “He’s added in a lot more rock into the format. And if you listen now, there’s a lot less of the poppy stuff, a lot less of the Christina Aguilera, Backstreet Boys, and ‘N Sync. We’re playing four or five rock songs an hour now, which, you know, isn’t the same as the old Lazer, but it’s a lot easier to listen to.”
The Will Matthews Trio appearance at The Blue Room on Thursday, Feb. 10, may mark the first time the group has played out together, but Matthews has a long history of collaborating with the other two members. “Ken (Lovern, organ), we met probably in the late ’80s, playing with Ida McBeth,” recounts Matthews. “He was the pianist and I was playing guitar…. He wasn’t even playing organ at the time that I know of. It was a long time, years, before I even saw him again. I was playing out at a place called The Elbow Room, and he popped in. He was there just having dinner, he came up, and we kind of got reacquainted again. So I went over and sat in with his group. He has a trio that plays all the time at Tomfooleries on Wednesdays. I just decided that I like playing with an organ, as well, so the first opportunity I got, I wanted to do something with him.”
Drummer Donovan Bailey completes the trio. “I’ve been playing with him off and on with people like Ahmad Alaadeen. We recorded a CD with him called Blues for RC and Josephine Too, so we’ve been playing in a lot of different situations together,” Matthews says, noting that Bailey’s seat behind the set isn’t his only talent. “He’s a good singer, too, so we’ll be showcasing his vocals.”
And do that the three-piece will, on a set of originals and a set of music from late jazz legend Grant Green. “Grant Green is one of the great guitarists. He recorded on the Blue Note label back in the ’60s, and he died very young. He was just one of the great pioneers of the guitar. It was around the same era that Wes Montgomery and Kenny Burrell and all those guys were recording, and he was right there,” Matthews says. “There aren’t too many people playing his music, either, so it’s something different, kind of a change of pace for the listeners and some fresh stuff for us to play as well.”
February is quite the busy month for Matthews. Just a few weeks after that appearance at The Blue Room, he’ll hit the road on Feb. 21 to perform some dates with the Count Basie Orchestra. “That’s kind of my regular gig, so I’m in and out of town,” he says. “Over 30 weeks out of the year I’m on the road with the Count Basie Orchestra. I’ve been doing that for the last four years, recorded five CDs with the band. We tour all over the world, nationally and internationally. All the members of the band live all over the USA, everywhere from L.A. to South Carolina.”
Needless to say, a slot in the group isn’t easy to come by. “The band was here in Kansas City at Crown Center, so I went down to the gig and I met the guitarist. His name is Charlton Johnson — we call him CJ — and my best friend introduced me to him in 1990. We exchanged numbers and stayed in touch throughout the years, and when he decided that he was leaving, he recommended me for the job,” Matthews remembers. “That’s the only way you get the job with that band is by recommendations. There’s no auditioning or anything like that…. Lucky for me, they told me to be in New York Jan. 15 of ’96.”
Just as it doesn’t hold much in the way of auditions, the Count Basie Orchestra doesn’t do much in the way of practicing together either. “The band doesn’t really rehearse. We get the itinerary, and they send us a plane ticket and we all meet wherever that first engagement is. We go to the gig and have a sound check. If there’s something new that maybe the band either wants to go over or check out, we might play through it,” Matthews explains, though there are a few instances where a rehearsal is deemed appropriate. “Not unless it’s for a record date, or unless we’re working with someone. We worked with Tony Bennett, the late Joe Williams, and the New York Voices, and there might be a rehearsal then just to run through whatever they’re doing.”
And keeping with that tradition of doing things on the fly, Matthews doesn’t know yet where the upcoming shows are going to be. “They fax me an itinerary and a plane ticket maybe a week before the engagement or so, and I just go to the airport and get there.”
If nothing else The Sunshine Vandals had this going for them: extremely cool parents. With only one member, frontman Timbo, of the last-name-eschewing four-piece out of high school, the band hasn’t made the mistake of letting class get in the way of rock.
“Our parents are really cool and really supportive, and my dad helps out a lot,” Timbo says. “If (the rest of the band) just needs to take some time off of school, they go as long as they get caught up. We’ve already been on a full tour, and they had to take some time off school and it was cool. It works out good, and everyone pretty much has their stuff together. They’re good kids.”
Timbo wasn’t even in high school yet, though, when the band first started performing some five years back. “I had been playing in bands since I was 7 or 8, me and my brother (Dallas, drums) was just in the basement playing to, like, Poison and Bon Jovi. But we started playing shows when I was 14,” he says. “We’ve gone through so many guitar players and bass players.”
The Sunshine Vandals quickly made friends with members of the well-established Season to Risk, who have been nice enough to give the boys some reasons to have the parents call them in sick every now and then. “I think we were playing a show … at The Hurricane, and Steve Tulipana was bartending. He heard us and thought it was really cool what we were doing. So he asked us to go to Iowa with them, and we went up and played Des Moines. From there on out it was just rad,” he recalls. “We’ve started to become really good friends with them, and they’ve started to ask us to do more shows. And now they’re just like really rad guys that we love to play with whenever we get the chance.” The two bands will head out to Nebraska in early March but not before a show together at The Hurricane on Thursday, Feb. 10.
Send local music information to Robert Bishop or J.J. Hensley at email@example.com.
TURNSTYLE With eight members in the band, all of whom appear on the album’s cover frolicking in a grassy field, The Daybirds would appear to be a Grateful Dead-type ensemble, in touch with the earth and ready to jam. However, when instrumental opener “Welcomer,” which features a Sgt. Pepper-style trumpet salvo, leads into the heavenly harmonies of “All You Need is Time,” it becomes obvious that this group favors another legendary ’60s outfit. The influence of The Beatles is everywhere, from the bouncy pop melodies to the psychedelic touches to the “ooh ooh” and “na na” background vocals. “She Ran Away” and “Nothing” offer perfect examples of the band’s upbeat sound, while “So Here We Are” and “Brother” prove that The Daybirds can succeed with slow, somber songs too. This consistently above-average 18-track effort establishes The Daybirds near the top of the local pop pile, and hopefully some of the Fab Four fans who dutifully take in shows by Beatles cover bands will also pack clubs to see a group that plays original songs in the same vein.
FAMOUS GIRL DETECTIVE It wouldn’t take a supersleuth to turn up Rechelle Malin; the singer-songwriter has lined up coveted opening slots for such nationally known folk artists as Susan Werner and Allette Brooks. With Famous Girl Detective, Malin drops even more clues about her talent. On such songs as “Ray’s Cafe” and “Martin County,” she proves herself to be a gifted lyricist who is able to reveal her characters’ essence and to meticulously re-create settings. Many of Malin’s tunes have a country twist, which is reinforced by Pat Ireland’s fiddle-playing, while some of the slower songs, such as the title track, hint at Fleetwood Mac-style pop. Female singer-songwriters have carved an impressive niche for themselves in the area during the last year, and Malin’s folksy full-length debut makes for another satisfying discovery.
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