Monday, June 4, 2012
The People's Liberation Big Band of Greater Kansas City: An Appreciation
Impressed by one of the monthly appearances of the People's Liberation Big Band of Greater Kansas City at the RecordBar, a prominent musician recently posted a screed at Facebook. He suggested that he would no longer tolerate any barroom discussions about Kansas City's best bands that didn't automatically place PLBB in the top slot. Very few locally-based acts working in any genre, he noted, begin to approach the adventurousness, playfulness and musicianship exhibited by PLBB.
I concur. While I'm smitten by a broad array of Kansas City musicians- including the raucous rap of Tech N9ne, the unforgiving thrash of Hammerlord and the exquisite work of Bach Aria Soloists- PLBB's experimental yet accessible sensibility makes it unique.
The first set at last night's show was no different. With notables like James Isaac, Matt Otto, Mike Stover and Rich Wheeler in the band, it's a forgone conclusion that the music is going to be imbued with zestful creativity. Even the subs impressed yesterday. Andrew Stinson filled in admirably for bassist Jeff Harshbarger while keyboardist Roger Wilder joined the band for the second set in place of the out-of-town bandleader Brad Cox. Young trombonist Brian Scarborough turned in a fine solo. In addition to selections by John Zorn and Charles Mingus, the band played memorable original material by Peter Lawless, Otto, Hunter Long, Brad Cox, Patrick Alonzo Conway.
So how is it that the musicians on the stage outnumbered the members of audience as the first song was played? The audience swelled to about fifty an hour after the band began, but the lack of support accorded to Kansas City's best act is tragic. I refuse to accept that the assertion that PLBB's repertoire is too challenging. The music may be difficult, but it's also really fun. And the venue certainly isn't the problem. The RecordBar has good food, friendly service and reasonably-priced drinks.
I realize I'm preaching to the choir here at Plastic Sax, but I implore music lovers of all stripes to do themselves a favor by spending $5 to see PLBB at the RecordBar at 8 p.m. on July 1.
(Original unrelated image by Plastic Sax.)