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artist of the month

Artist of the Month: New Baboons

Congratulations to New Baboons, our first Artist of the Month for the new year! Take the sounds of foundational rock bands and add in a few groovy washes of ‘60s psychedelia and you have New Baboons, an up-and-coming contender in KC’s rock ‘n roll scene. Read our Q&A with a few of the members, and check out their music.
The Deli: Down and dirty: 1 sentence to describe your music.
Elliott Seymour: We play rock and roll with melodies, hooks, and choruses. 
Adam Scheffler: New Baboons are a supple pillow of influence dragging over 60 years of crumpled rock ‘n roll bedding.
Tom Livesay: I guess I would describe our band as sounding more like rock from the late ‘60s to the early ‘90s than it does to anything since then.
The Deli: Give me some background info on New Baboons. How did the band come to be? Also, you used to be called Vidal Baboon. Why the name change?
Elliott: We all work together. One day Adam and I got together to run through some old songs we had each written. We just asked Tom and Josh if they were interested and we spent a few days just playing for hours. It fit really nicely together, so we just kept trying songs that Tom, Adam, and I had written over the years. Shockingly, very few people seemed to get the Vidal Baboon reference, so Josh suggested New Baboons as an easy switch. It has a rather evolutionary sound to it, I think. I was outvoted on my choice: The Pelican's Briefs...
Adam: We’ve been together for about 2 years, ever since we all talked about playing music together at Half Price Books where we all work. We changed our name because Vidal Baboon is a bad name for a band.
The Deli: What inspires your music and songwriting? What is your songwriting process? Does one person write everything or is it collaborative? 
Elliott: Tom, Adam, and I write our songs individually. We then present them to the band and we all just bang them out. I am usually inspired by whatever music I happen to be obsessing over at the moment. I'll just hear a progression or part of a melody or just catch a mood. I'll just play something over and over until it starts to take shape. I'll work with it until it finally sounds like a complete song. I usually come up with the lyrics as I'm going. I kind of dread writing lyrics.
Adam: Either Elliott, Tom, or myself write a song on our own, then we kind of come together and flesh out the parts. Then we play it to josh (ze drummer) who comes at it from a structural point of view, and then we flesh out tempos, mood changes, and vocal parts.
The Deli: What have been your greatest accomplishments as a band?
Elliott: I think recording an album in my basement on a little 8-track was pretty cool. It certainly isn't perfect, but it has a sound that lends itself well to the type of songs we chose to record. They are all pretty melodic and classically structured, so I think the songs speak for themselves. I'm pretty happy that we were able to play recordBar a few times before it closed. That place was the coolest and I think we're all pretty sad to see it go. 
Adam: Winning this here Deli KC thing and being able to play this long with everybody working at the same place.
The Deli:Tell us about your debut LP. What can listeners expect? What future plans do you have for getting your music out there? 
Elliott: Our first album, New Baboons, is pretty representative of our collective influences—mainly rock and roll from the ‘50s and ‘60s, with a little ‘90s sensibility thrown in there. People tend to hear Velvet Underground and ‘60s psych or garage. I hear some Elephant 6 sounds, especially in Tom's songs. We are going to record about 11 new songs at Temple Sounds recording studio sometime in the next month, so I think our next album will have a much different sound. The songs will still be the strength of what we do, but our production value should go up a few notches. 
Adam: The first album is a collection of songs everyone had lying around, and then once we connected, we added new songs to the mix. Also, Paige Newcomer played keys on all that and she added a lot to the sound of that album. Expect well-formed rock n roll songs that people call “quite good.”
Tom: I think our first album has lots of variety, partly due to the 3 songwriters. I hear VU, Television, and Rolling Stones influences, plus some garage band psychedelia, disco, and Motown. Sometimes there's some newer-sounding stuff mixed in there too.
The Deli: What does supporting local music mean to you?
Elliott: It's about a sense of friendship and community to me. We share venues and audiences and often hang out in the same places, you know, it's really cool. I use Bandcamp and Soundcloud to keep up with local bands, as well as patronizing local record stores and going to shows. Being part of something like that is really cool. I think only the most hipster of hipsters could be cynical about it. 
Adam: Going to shows, buying things made locally, connected with other musicians through social media or one's physical form.
The Deli: Who are your favorite local musicians right now? Non-local?
Elliott: Locally speaking, I love Thunderclaps. Those guys are friends and we've played a lot of shows together. I love rock and roll bands that are saturated in their influences. It just sounds so classic and pure. I'm also impressed with what I've heard from The Conquerors. They make songs with the ‘60s sensibility of singles, when singles still meant something. We've really enjoyed playing with SquidsKC—they are pros, and Dan Jones is a great songwriter. As far as non-local, I'm lately into rockabilly like Johnny Burnette, Eddie Cochran and Stray Cats. Also digging Dion and Buddy Holly. 
Adam: I enjoy Phantom Head quite a bit and Thunderclaps has been one of our bad-boi backbones. Non-local I'd say U.S. Girls’ new album Half Free had tickled me lately.
Tom: My favorite bands are The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Kinks, but I've been inspired by Pavement, Cheap Trick, and The Pixies on certain songs. I don't get out enough to know what local bands I like other than SquidsKC.
The Deli: What is your ultimate fantasy concert bill to play on?
Elliott: I'd love to play with The Velvet Underground and The Kinks. Brian Wilson would play piano instrumentals between sets and David Bowie would do some miming. 
Adam: Uh... I guess opening up for 10cc and Frank Ocean with Scott Walker closing it all up. Shit ya.
Tom: My fantasy bill would be opening for The Kinks and McCartney/Starr.
The Deli: A music-themed Mount Rushmore. What four faces are you putting up there and why?
Elliott: Lennon/Macca (one hybrid face), Lou Reed, Brian Wilson and David Bowie. The Beatles are my favorite band and their influence is incalculable. Paul's bass lines and the way they used the studio and Ringo's fills and George's melodies and John being John, It's all so brilliant.
Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground for the massive grooves that they were capable of—Sister Ray is still untouched in that regard. Brian for giving us such beautiful sounds and David Bowie for being the one-of-a-kind musical icon that he was and will always be. All of his characters and mythologies are so much of what got me interested in rock and roll to begin with. He is endlessly fascinating. 
Adam: Lou Reed, ‘nuff said. Damo Suzuki from CAN. 1960s-era P.P. Arnold because I could listen to her voice all day. I guess last it would be Charles Mingus because I wanted to round this out nicely with some of my faves.
Tom: I would probably have Lennon, McCartney, Ray Davies, Jagger, and Richards. I know that's one too many.
The Deli: What other goals do you have for 2016 and beyond?
Elliott: My goals are to have more band practices (always!) and play some different venues than we have. I want to get our second album out and listen to more music than I did in 2015. I think a split 7" with the Thunderclaps would be great. 
Adam: Goals and rock n roll have nothing to do with each other. Just make music.
Tom: My hope is to get more shows, record a second album that's better than the first, and just keep getting better.
The Deli: Always go out on a high note. Any last words of wisdom for the Deli audience?
Elliott: Buy a lot of David Bowie records and listen to them.
Adam: Please learn from the world's wealth of point of views and catch yourself when you’re selfish, treat others better than you'd treat yourself, listen to New Baboons, listen to Frumpy Congo Love that's me, and stop being cool or trying cuz you're fucking everything up.
New Baboons are:
Elliott Seymour - guitar, vocals
Adam Scheffler - guitar, vocals
Tom Livesay - bass, vocals
Josh Klipsch - drums
Your next chance to see New Baboons live will be at Josey Records on February 26 with Braggers and The Red-Headed League. Check them out!

--Michelle Bacon 

Artist of the Month: The Old No. 5s

Congratulations to our current Artist of the Month, The Old No. 5s! A compelling power trio, the group has made its name known in the blues scene over the past 3 years. The musicianship among guitar/vocalist Brock Alexander, drummer Aaron Thomas (the two have been playing together for almost 10 years), and bassist Derek Tucker is apparent on the band’s latest album, Steam, and at their dynamic live performances. Not willing to be pigeonholed strictly as a blues act, each member brings in his own influences, personalities, and passion, resulting in a ferociously rocking, funk-filled groove.
The Deli: Down and dirty: 1 sentence to describe your music.
Brock Alexander: It's kind of a gumbo: roots, rock, blues, soul.
Aaron Thomas: Our music is a unification of our individual skill sets, musical pallets, and fan expectations.
Derek Tucker: It's a hard, crunchy blues-based shell with an experimental and eclectic gooey center.
The Deli: Give me some background info on the band.
Brock: We've all played our instruments 15+ years, performing just as long in countless capacities. Aaron and I have played probably 700 shows together since 2006. Derek joined us in January 2013. We've released 2 full-length original albums, toured, done awesome shows, shitty gigs, and everything else in between. But we are still on the hunt for whatever happens next.
Aaron: Brock and I have been playing together since college. Derek joined the group early 2012 and we haven’t looked back since.
Derek: I can't speak for what happened before me... but I filled in with the 5s a few times before I was offered the position and the immediate thing that struck me was Aaron's approach to groove and where he naturally places emphasis. The three of us together snapped into place instantly and our creative process is much more intuitive than in other projects I've worked in. I still feel that some of our greatest ideas and musical moments come from the three of us just being who we are naturally without trying to force any specific concept.
The Deli: What inspires your music and songwriting? What is your songwriting process? Does one person write everything or is it collaborative? Has that process changed in the 4 years you've been a band?
Brock: The idea for The Old No. 5s was originally my vehicle to play blues rock music. As we've evolved over 4 or 5 years and become more of an original act, I continue to write the bulk of the material, with Derek adding more and more tunes each record, but the evolution of songs is very much whoever comes into rehearsal with the song ideas gets the main point across and then we just jam them. Play them at shows, try different arrangements, play them until we are tired of them, and then we usually all come back satisfied as individual players and as a group. Every song on the new album was finalized as a group. Which feels cool, because it sounds like us. Not us trying to piece things together, we are just playing.
Aaron: I personally take a lot of inspiration from drummers/percussionists that I have studied over the years, but I think in this project, I take most of my inspiration from Brock and Derek. One of them will bring in an idea and we will work together to develop that idea. Giving it form, phrasing, dynamics, and turning it into a working song that we then play at gigs until we start getting reactions from our fans. When we start hearing things like “that new song… ‘Barn Party’… that thing is killer!” We know the song is where it needs to be.
Derek: This last record was very collaborative compared to Sourmash. The three of us have very strong, independent personalities, and the writing process for Steam was a great learning experience for us on to how to write together. We consciously made the decision to all be very active with input and ideas and I believe the record is much stronger for it. Each one of us comes from very different perspectives, experiences, and preferences in style and it's the amalgam of compromises we make, added to our intuitive cohesion, that manifests itself in the current 5s experience. There's an obvious evolution from Sourmash to Steam and personally I'm excited to see who and what we become with the next record. We don't put down parameters we have to fit inside as a group, and the courage to operate in such a manner while still being commercially relevant is one of the things about the 5s I'm the most proud of.
The Deli: What have been your greatest musical accomplishments?
Brock: Surviving. A lot of people try to achieve success at varying levels, but when you get down to it, I think we are happy to have found a positive outlet to play music, be original and creative to ourselves, and continue to improve every year in our ambitions.
Aaron: As a band I’d say the biggest accomplishment is a consistently full calendar every month. We’ve been to the International Blues Competition, we’ve done the King of The Roots thing, but nothing that makes you feel more accomplished than playing 130+ gigs a year on average. Personally though, finding myself on a beach, knee deep in the Gulf of Mexico after spending the previous night in a minivan stuck on a one-lane bridge in Kentucky. We got stuck in a blizzard that dropped 4 feet of snow on either side of our van on the way to play a festival in Bonita Springs, Florida. For me, the best accomplishments in life are when you work through conflict to achieve your goals. The sand feels a little more amazing under your feet when you and two of your best friends are always striving to be the best they can be as artists.
Derek: Steam, hands down. We took a lot of risks with the way we approached this record. Working together to consciously evolve was, at times, strenuous and stressful, but we didn't just want to put out just 12 more songs in compact disc form and call it a record. This album is a testament to the three of us growing as people, friends, and musicians, and the performing and songwriting on the record reflects that. There's a depth to Steam that speaks to who we were, who we are, and who we are going to become, and I don't feel like that's always a common thing in the modern era of music.
The Deli: Tell us about your latest album Steam. What can listeners expect? What future plans do you have for getting your music out there?
Brock: I would say it’s very diverse. Lots of rock, blues, but also lots of soul and pop. It's tough to pigeonhole it, because it really is pretty different tune to tune. I think our main goal with our music is to simply get it into as many ears as possible. Whether that be live or via the Internet or telepathy.
Derek: As far as getting our music out there, we're still approaching this with the tried and true method of building awareness, one new fan at a time. The more you put yourself out there, the more opportunities people have to hear what we are doing and respond favorably. We gig a lot, and we're slowly making further and further trips away from our home base. Everything we do is in house, from booking to merch design, and while DIY can be taxing at times, it allows us to be 100% who we are. That's important to us as a unit.
The Deli: What does supporting local music mean to you?
Brock: I think it simply means you value the main stage acts like Taylor Swift or Tool as much as the guy or girl playing on a weeknight for 12 people. Really, what's the difference if it sounds good?
Aaron: Supporting local music is partly financial, partly attentive, but mostly social. When asked to “support” music, I think a lot of people immediately think of having to part with their hard-earned money. I won’t lie—we all have bills to pay. But the most important part about supporting local music is being enthusiastic and outspoken about your favorite bands, artists, and shows. Fifty years ago, music was a social experience. One could argue that it still is today, but it’s nowhere near what it was in its prime. Music has become a more private experience. Rarely do you hear about 5 friends hanging around their stereo at home jamming out to the new [insert your favorite band here] record. Most people have earbuds in. Music is purchased alone, at home, electronically. If music is social, it’s while riding in a car with friends, or at a show with a group of people. Being social in your local music scene connects you with the most creative, talented, interesting people in any city on this planet. Personally, supporting local music is about sharing my enthusiasm for what I do, with the people I am around.
Derek: We're usually on the receiving end of support here locally and I can say that, being a transplant to the KC area, the amount of interest in live music I see here is encouraging. One of my favorite parts of moving here has been getting involved in the musical community and I love how vibrant and varied (not to mention talented) it is.
The Deli: Who are your favorite local musicians right now? Non-local?
Brock: The Sheepdogs, Dawes, and Ryan Adam's Taylor Swift album 1989.
Aaron: WOW!!! Locally I feel like I could write a book, but I have a special place in my heart for a few specific people. Pat Adams, Todd Strait, Keith (Big Poppa) Mallory, Chris Hazelton, Todd Wilkinson, Nick Rowland, Adam Hagerman, and of course, Derek and Brock. As far as local bands go, because we play most evenings, it’s hard to get out to see other groups. But the last band I saw that really blew me away in terms of being the whole package—musicianship, skill, content, and showmanship, etc—was My Brothers and Sisters. I could not sit still. I dig The Nace Brothers, Chris Hazelton’s Boogaloo 7, and Matt Hopper’s trio with Kevin Frazee on drums. Nationally, the list of drummer I follow reads like a dissertation. But the short list would be Carter Beauford, JoJo Mayer (Nerve), Terreon Gully, Todd Sucherman, Bill Stewart, Glenn Kotche, Steve Smith, and Robert “Sput” Searight. My list of bands is also unending. But if I had to pick one, it will forever and always be Tower of Power. 
Derek: Bandwise, there are too many to, list. There are so many fantastic acts coming up in KC right now that I honestly couldn't pick favorites. As far as players, I'll say that bass players like Paul Greenlease and Jacque Garoutte are perfect examples of always playing the right notes in the right groove all the time. Dylan Reiter's creativity on bass knows no bounds and I'm constantly trying to emulate his approach and feel. On drums, the three guys I'm always excited to play with are Aaron Thomas, Adam Watson, and Adam Hagerman. There are so many guitarists and vocalists I love that I can't list them all, but Sean McDonnell, Jake Koivisto, Dave Hays, and Brock are cats that always stand out to me on guitar. As far as non-local acts are concerned, the bands I'm constantly listening to are The Main Squeeze, Snarky Puppy, Umphrey's Mcgee, and the Neville Brothers' Live On Planet Earth is a primer for funking it right.
The Deli: What is your ultimate fantasy concert bill to play on?
Brock: I'd really love to jam with Doyle Bramhall II or Taylor Goldsmith from Dawes. As far as a favorite concert bill, I'd play with anyone who'd have me. Lumping it into bills would be a drag.
Aaron: It would be a festival. Soulive, The Old No. 5s, Lettucem Norah Jones, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Galactic, Snarky Puppy.
Derek: It would never happen, but Tool, Elton John, Phish, The Main Squeeze, Snarky Puppy, Medeski Scofield Martin and Wood, Peter Gabriel, YES, and Soulive. But we would have to go first at that festival, because my head would explode at some point.
The Deli: A music-themed Mount Rushmore. What four faces are you putting up there and why?
Brock: John Lennon: ‘Cause your ambition should far exceed your abilities.
Jimi Hendrix: 'Cause... it's Jimi.
Jack Kerouac: ‘Cause he is my spirit animal.
Johnny Depp: ‘Cause we share birthdays.
Aaron: Buddy Rich: NOBODY… plays like Buddy. Buddy died before I was old enough to see him in concert, but this is a man that inspired generations to the drums. Always striving to better himself, and those around him, he had high expectations for everyone.
Levon Helm: I mean… do I need to explain this?
John Coltrane: Coltrane is a pop culture icon, but not everybody understands what he brought to the music world. John was a major contributor to the deep understanding of improvisation and the birth of bebop/modern jazz. This man knew his classics, as well as he invented the future. John was influential to all the jazz musicians who followed in his giant-steps. A man who touches music like that, has to go on my mountain.
John Williams: Before I get yelled at, I realize Williams is primarily a composer and conductor, and is best known for his film score compositions. But if you really put his entire career into perspective, you can’t help but to realize that this guy should be on everyone’s list!!! 22 Grammys, 2016 AFI Life Achievement Award, 2004 Kennedy Center Honors, conductor of the Boston Pops, SIX DECADES and is still working!!! THIS GUY is “living the dream.” I mean… watching any of his movies with no music score. Star Wars, Jaws, Indiana Jones, Schindler’s List, Superman, the list goes on and on.
Derek: James Jamerson, Jaco Pastorius, Stanley Clarke, and Rocco Prestia. In my opinion, their combined brilliance is what defines the epitome of bass guitar playing.
The Deli: What other goals do you have for 2016 and beyond?
Brock: We wanna write another album and get it out faster than we did the last layover. I think we would like to release a Christmas EP next year. Ultimately, I hope we continue to grow, evolve, and create.
Derek: To keep living the dream and expanding the horizon. I feel positive about our trajectory and I'm really excited to see what is to come. One of my favorite things about the 5's is the balancing act we do between accessibility and indulgence, and the evolution of that is something that keeps me invigorated and present. I've been with the 5's for 3 years now and I'm nowhere close to bored or complacent. I feel like the three of us have a special chemistry and approach that I've never experienced with any of the many groups I've played with in the past and I can't wait to see what we try to pull off next!
The Deli: Where can we find you on the web? Also, provide a link to streaming music and/or video.
Brock: You can visit our website for almost all of our info. http://www.oldno5s.com
The Deli: Always go out on a high note. Any last words of wisdom for the Deli audience?
Brock: Don't be afraid to dream up your reality, and then work to make that dream real. It's crazy to think that people can and are affected by your music. And really that's all the inspiration a musician needs.
Derek: Cheese tastes good! Years ago I was showing a song to a friend and was worried that some of the ideas were too "cheesy.” He looked right at me and uttered those words with a gravitas that implied wisdom from the universe. For some reason that has always stuck with me.
--Michelle Bacon

The Old No. 5s will be playing at Coda next Wednesday for their monthly 5’s + 1 show, where they bring in a special guest. Ben Hoppes will be featured on banjo this month.  

September Artist of the Month: 3 Son Green

Congrats to 3 Son Green, The Deli KC’s September Artist of the Month! 3 Son Green is the collaboration of Jamie Anderson, Evan Carlson, Trey Green, and Patrick Suckiel. These guys take the jam band genre to another dimension, incorporating improvisonational techniques and a high level of musicianship. They’ve been hard at work on the Midwestern festival circuit, recently playing Crossroads Music Fest in Kansas City. Get to know this band a little better with our Artist on Trial.
The Deli: Down and dirty: one sentence to describe your music.
3 Son Green: "I'm melting!" -The Wicked Witch of the West
The Deli: Give me some background on 3 Son Green. Have you all been together since 2007?
3 Son Green: Bass and guitars, yes, since high school, 2007. Our original drummer, Steven Pearson, moved to Houston to get a real job in 2014, and Patrick Suckiel joined us.
The Deli: What have been your biggest accomplishments as a band?
3 Son Green: The opportunity to play multiple music festivals across the Midwest, releasing our debut full length album in 2013, a music video in 2014, KC Psych Fest and Crossroads Music Fest, and this Deli KC honor is pretty cool, of course.
The Deli: What inspires your music and songwriting?
3 Son Green: The music of others inspires us, of course, as well as inspiring one another. We all write, so one of us will cook a little something up, bring it to practice—we'll chew on it together for a bit & see what we can make of it, so collaboration is an important part of our compositions.
The Deli: What recorded music do you guys have and what is coming up for you?
3 Son Green: Our debut album, Redbird, is available on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon MP3, YouTube, and at local music stores near you. Right now we are recording our second album, which we plan on releasing a single from in the upcoming months.
The Deli: What does supporting local music mean to you?
3 Son Green: Going to local shows and spreading the word about the local music scene. Usually you can pay $5 to see multiple great local bands. That's less than a beer at some famous artist's concert, and it means a lot more to the local musician.
The Deli: Who are your favorite local and non-local musicians right now?
3 Son Green: Local? Black Crack Revue, an Afro-Nuclear Wave Funk Swing Reggae Tango band that's been around for more than 25 years. Non-Local? Robert Glasper Experiment. They play a healthy mix of Jazz, Hip-Hop, and R&B.
The Deli: What is your ultimate fantasy concert bill to play on?
3 Son Green: Just us, headlining at Madison Square Garden. If it's just us at that big of a venue, then we've made it pretty far, and for 3SG, that would be the ultimate concert bill.
The Deli: A music-themed Mount Rushmore. What four faces are you putting up there and why?
3 Son Green: Frank Zappa, Jerry Garcia, Jimi Hendrix, and The Beatles. They are all pioneers in music, whether it's songwriting or musical ability. (The Beatles is that one "Imagine" guy, right?)
The Deli: What goals does 3 Son Green have for 2015, and beyond?
3 Son Green: Besides finishing our second album, getting out on the road as much as possible. Touring is one of our biggest priorities right now.
The Deli: Where can we find you on the web?
3 Son Green: www.3songreen.com and facebook.com/3songreen are the two ways to best keep in touch with us, although you can also find us on Twitter, Instagram, Jambase, Soundcloud, etc.
The Deli: Always go out on a high note. Any last words of wisdom for the Deli audience?
3 Son Green: "When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me speaking words of wisdom, let it be." -Elvis
3 Son Green is:
Jamie Anderson: guitar, vocals
Evan Carlson – guitar, vocals
Patrick Suckiel – drums
Trey Green – bass, vocals
You can catch 3 Son Green next Friday, October 9, at the Jazzhaus in Lawrence. Facebook event page.
--Michelle Bacon
Michelle Bacon is editor of The Deli KC and plays in bands.

July Artist of the Month: John Keck

Congrats to our July Artist of the Month, John Keck! Keck—who partially recorded his debut album The Jack Moon Sessions at the famed Sun Studios—depicts his personal experience in thoughtful ways, with an Americana flair. His music evokes Ozark traditions and southern rock, with a visceral emotional tinge. Read more about Keck in our Q&A.
The Deli: Down and dirty: one sentence to describe your music.
Keck: I think my music is very personal, and hopefully because of that people who listen to the lyrics can find something that speaks to them, or at the minimum they can see the image I'm trying to create, the story I'm conveying.
The Deli: Give me some background on your musical career. How long have you been playing music? What made you decide to become a songwriter?
Keck: I started playing in front of people in 2008 at open mics, and started booking shows regularly in 2010, so just a short time compared to my friends. I have a lot of catch-up to do. I found songwriting to be a therapy for dealing with my emotions, I guess it’s a bit of an escape too. In 2008 I ended a marriage of 14 years and found myself feeling very raw and exposed to life in a new way. I also didn't have anyone to fight with anymore and so I guess I started fighting with myself. To me,  writing a song is a fight with yourself; it’s an argument between your fear of letting other people know how you feel and the desire to be honest in a public way.
The Deli: What inspires your music and songwriting?
KeckMy relationships and encounters with people are my primary inspirations. I don’t write much about the way the trees make me feel or something like that… It seems that even when I try to write about someone other than me, my personal experiences come out in my lyrics, so I don't really try to fight that anymore and just accept that I can’t be neutral to what I observe. I would like to be better about my work ethic and writing process, to be more diligent. I don't feel like I spend enough time on it. But I guess I don't really like to think of what I'm doing in comparison to anyone else, even my idols. So I don't keep regular hours, like some people I know, I let it come to me. Sometimes it's in waves, sometimes there are long dry spells. I try to record every thought I have, even when I know it’s bad in the moment. If I think it is good, I usually remember it and can come back to it. Usually it’s in the morning and makes me late for wherever I'm going. I'm always late, I apologize to everyone, maybe I was writing a song about you.
The Deli: What have been your greatest musical accomplishments?
Keck: Being played on the radio is surreal to me. The radio was so important growing up. I don't think people can appreciate it now. With access to the world’s known recordings on our phones, but as a kid before tapes even, anyway... it means everything to me. I think about it in terms of immortality. Those frequencies are traveling in the universe farther than I can conceive. How do you top that? I also played at the Troubadour in London, which was unreal. It’s the first place that Dylan played when he got to England (supposedly), and everyone else that you can imagine. I recorded my parts of my album at Sun Studios in Memphis, so that was kind of too good to think about—the same room Johnny Cash stood in (I sat). The radio wouldn't have happened if the album wasn't made. Honestly, every time someone tells me they like one of my songs I feel like I've accomplished something.
The Deli: Tell us about your debut album, The Jack Moon Sessions at Sun Studios and Chappy Roads. What can we expect?
Keck: I do have a debut album called The Jack Moon Sessions at Sun Studios and Chappy Roads. For the future, I've been writing and writing and have started working with other people to create a new album. I’m going to call it “Photo Booth,” and the songs that will be on it are written with a particular image in mind… does that make it a concept album? That title has many meanings to me, but an easily accessible idea is that I think of my songs like photographs that capture a moment with a certain light, like a black and white photograph. The album cover will explain more.
The Deli: What does supporting local music mean to you?
Keck: It’s become my passion. I try to go to as many shows as I can. Sometimes I feel like a stalker. Music is my religion, so attending services regularly at our local sanctuaries is critical to enlightenment.
The Deli: Who are your favorite local musicians right now? Non-local?
Keck: I don't typically have favorites of anything, but I have to have a good goddamn reason to miss a Dynamite Defense show, if you hear and see Chris Tady play the guitar you'll understand why. Also their songs have such a classic feel to them you really don't know what decade they were written in, I like that a lot. Of course Scott Hrabko, I could listen to his music over and over again. The Silver Maggies and Potters Field: I go home after their shows and wish I could play, sing, and, write songs like them. The Philistines I think have a unique sound too, with so much intensity and drive, they have me hooked. I’m inspired by all of these groups and so many more, but I’ll blush if they read this and then we have to talk about it later. I don’t think Tady goes on the line, so we are safe there. Non-local? I've really gotten into Houndmouth in the last few weeks, both albums are strong in my opinion, I may have already burned myself out on them actually, but I have enjoyed our brief affair.
The Deli: What is your ultimate fantasy concert bill to play on?
Keck: I guess I should be better about dreaming big... I honestly feel like I'm living a fantasy right now, so each new thing is its own dream. I played Boulevardia last month; that was something I never considered possible before getting asked to do it. Last Saturday, I was at a dinner party with some truly talented people that I was in awe of; they took turns playing my guitar and singing their songs. We were up all night enjoying the moment. That seems like a fantasy now. But like every other person who’s ever scribbled a tune down, I would be on cloud nine opening for Neil Young, or Willie Nelson, or Scott Hrabko.
The Deli: A music-themed Mount Rushmore. What four faces are you putting up there and why?
Keck: Dylan, Young, Keith Richards, John Lennon (in no particular order). I think valid arguments could be made for so many others and certainly the people that influenced those four, but just shooting from the hip, these guys created a profound impact in the culture as receivers with a true talent, then as focal points of sound that came through them and out to all of us, in ways that we don’t even know about. Blah blah, lists.
The Deli: What goals do you have for 2015, and beyond?
Keck: I plan to tour this fall, a small one of the Midwest. I’ve never really done an extended journey for more than one night, and I think that’s my next step in evolving as a performing artist. Record and release the new album. Create a band. Play as many shows as “they” will let me.
The Deli: Where can we find you on the web?
Keck: Everything I’m up to is on http://www.johnlkeck.com, including videos and streaming music.
The Deli: Always go out on a high note. Any last words of wisdom for the Deli audience?
Keck: Listen to whatever you want to, don’t let anyone tell you a piece of music is bad or good, if it speaks to you, then it is good to you. I hear people say all the time, “that’s too poppy” or “I don’t like country,” blah blah blah, If you limit yourself to a certain taste, you create a boundary that prohibits your universe from expanding and then it’s expanding without you.
You can catch Keck tomorrow night at Davey’s Uptown at 9 pm. He’ll be sharing the stage with fellow songwriters Cody Wyoming and Nathan Corsi. Facebook event page.
--Michelle Bacon
Michelle Bacon is editor of The Deli KC and plays in bands.



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