10 Must See Acts in The Kansas City Roots Scene Right Now!There is so much good music in Kansas City.. Here's who is on our radar in the Roots scene.
10 must see acts in the Kansas City Roots scene right now.
Kansas City has some of the best talent out there that’s for sure.. It would literally take a month to list and tag everyone that we think is great. It was difficult, but we’ve narrowed it down to 10 must see full band, duo and solo acts currently working the KC music scene.
In no particular order here is some of the best Bluegrass, Honky Tonk, Blues and Roots populating our local music venues.
Chad Graves and His Honky Tonk Habit– When Dobro Player of The Hillbenders steps into the local Honky Tonks and listening rooms, he brings with him an unmatched talent on any instrument he touches. His instruments of choice in this project? Pedal Steel and Baritone guitar.. Nobody plays either better. Honky Tonk Habit is the name used for the rotating cast of powerhouse players that accompany Graves when he rocks the KC Market. Hailing from Springfield, you’ll often find him moonlighting in KC when not on tour with Tommy: A Bluegrass Opry.
AJ Gaither OMB – AJ is the cream of the crop when it comes to one man bands. In an economy where it’s hard to maintain a band, a lot of songwriters turn to the ol’ foot percussion, guitar and harmonica trick. Sometimes, that’s where it stops. Not with AJ. Arguably the hardest working OMB in the game, he is also the most unique. Handcrafting every instrument he plays, down to the wooden mechanics in his pedals, Gaither produces a sound that literally nobody else can replicate. With his intense schedule, his live show is dialed in and it causes audiences to join the party. Especially if they enjoy songs about whiskey, weed and the daily tribulations of the common man. Part Blues, part Hillbilly all roots, AJ Gaither holds the title of “coolest” one man band that we know.
Freight Train Rabbit Killerand The Legion of Ghosts- FTRK has always been awesome. We’ve also always been a fan of every project that these guys have ever been in. But this past October, when the duo expanded into a full band, something important happened. Full brass, Keys and a solid rhythm section makes FTRK the most awe inspiring ensemble we’ve seen in some time. Don’t believe us? Watch The Video. Somewhere Between Satanism and Swing music, lay the Legion of Ghosts.
Julian Davis – Out of rural Pittsburg, KS, Flatpicking champion Julian is the youngest picker we know. Even though he’s only 16, he might also be the best flatpicker we know. If he’s not, he’d give #1 a run for their money, no matter what their age. Julian’s career hasn’t even taken off yet. With his first release only a couple weeks old, the sky’s the limit for this eccentrically talented youth.
The Kansas City Bear Fighters – These guys are certainly the weirdest “roots” act on this list. Their instrumentation is traditional with upright, acoustic, sometimes banjo, sometimes piano and sometimes accordion… but their sound, lyrical content and stage show is nothing less than bizarre. Songs about human sacrifice and toddler bodybuilders are entwined with dancing bears and Quin Mccue’s ability to hypnotize a crowd into a dance trance. From stage, we’ve seen KCBF give ridiculous instructions to hundreds of people, and they follow them without hesitation. Here’s a video of theirs that got it’s fair share of attention quickly.
Dusty Rust– For years Dusty spent his time as a hired gun. Upon his pilgrimage to KC, by way of Portland, he decided it was time for HIS name to be in lights. Dusty is a star Tele picker who delivers authentic 70’s and 80’s Honky Tonk. His songs sound like hits you somehow missed out on when you were a kid and his presence is greatly appreciated in the local music community.
Dan Bliss This 20 year KC Music Veteran is an INCREDIBLE finger picker. Specializing in Blues and Jazz, there is not many who can hold a candle to Dan. He’s placed twice in the International Fingerstyle Guitar Championship at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, KS. We could go on, but the proof is in the pudding. We’ll let the video speak for itself.
The Kansas City Hustle – KCH is probably the most refreshing bluegrass on the scene. Out of Lawrence, Ks., This powerhouse quartet of upright bass, fiddle, banjo and guitar have the ability to keep a room dancing all night long!Some of the best late night party dancing We’ve seen has happened to the Beat of The Kansas City Hustle.
CJ Walker – The Blues doesn’t always get the attention it deserves in Kansas City. Talent like 21 year old CJ Walker will change all of that. Not only does he excel at a sound from an era that he should be too young to know anything about, he has done it against all odds. CJ suffers from a physical disability. We’re not really sure what it is. It really doesn’t matter and we’ve really never asked. Mostly because we’ve always been too mesmerized by his playing. The point is he plays better blues guitar than most people we know. and he does it without the full use of his left hand. He’s a showman with a voice fit for the blues who can keep a crowd moving. He’s a nice guy to boot. We’re calling it now. Keep an eye on this kid. He will be famous.
Kelly Hunt– Kelly is relatively new to the roots scene in KC. We don’t really know a lot about her. We do know that she has a voice similar to what an Appalachian angel would sound like. Often found solo with just a Banjo, Kelly is that artist that everyone shuts up and listens to in a normally rowdy bar.