Kansas Music Hall of Fame
You may vote for a total of up to ten potential inductees, or as few as one. They may be chosen from those listed below, or you may “write in” as many as two others, as long as they meet the criteria for induction (go to our website listed below for more information). All votes must be received by midnight on Monday, January 1, 2024. Email your votes to email@example.com or mail them to Kansas Music Hall of Fame, P.O. Box 189, Beloit, KS 67420. Please include your name, phone number and email address in case there are any questions about your vote. The 2024 inductees will be announced shortly after the above deadline on the Kansas Music Hall of Fame facebook page, and on our website: ksmhof.org. The date of the 2024 induction ceremony, either online or live, will also be announced at that time.
_____ Karrin Allyson – Kansas City
Karrin Allyson is an American jazz vocalist. She has been nominated for five Grammy Awards and has received positive reviews from several prominent sources, including the New York Times, that called her a “singer with a feline touch and impeccable intonation.” Born in Great Bend, Kansas, her father was a Lutheran minister and her mother was a psychotherapist, teacher, and classical pianist. In her youth, Karrin studied classical piano, sang at her local church, in musical theatre, and also began songwriting. Allyson attended the University of Nebraska Omaha on a classical piano scholarship, where she majored in classical piano and minored in French. During her college years, she was lead singer for an all-female rock band called Tomboy, while also developing an avid interest in jazz, performing both in college jazz swing choir and gigging with her own jazz ensemble. In 2022 she was award an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from The University of Nebraska Omaha. After graduating from college in 1986, Allyson moved to Minneapolis and concentrated on her jazz career. In 1990, she moved to Kansas City where her career took off. In 1992 she recorded her debut album, I Didn’t Know About You, which was so well received it was re-released on Concord Records in 1993. She subsequently recorded a total of twelve Concord-released albums, eight of them in Kansas City. In 1998, she moved to New York City with her longtime partner, classical music radio host Bill McGlaughlin, whom she met in KC in the early 1990s. Allyson sings in English, French, Portuguese, Italian, and Spanish. The songs she performs are drawn from a variety of genres including bossa nova, blues, bebop, samba, jazz standards and other jazz modalities:Also ballads, pop standards, the Great American Songbook and folk rock. She has also recorded vocal performances of several instrumental jazz compositions, using both scat and vocalese techniques. In 2009 she released a career-spanning “best of” collection, drawing songs from the 12 studio albums she recorded for the Concord Jazz label. Her first all-original record, Some of That Sunshine, was released in August of 2018 to rave reviews, with Jazz Times writing that “Allyson unleashes her equally impressive dexterity as a songwriter.” Five of Allyson’s albums have received Grammy nominations for Best Jazz Vocal Album: Ballads: Remembering John Coltrane (2001), Footprints (2006), Imagina: Songs of Brasil (2008), ‘Round Midnight (2011), and (2015) Many A New Day, Karrin Allyson Sings Rodgers & Hammerstein.
____The Appleseed Cast – Lawrence
The Appleseed Cast is an alternative rock band from Lawrence, Kansas. Their 1999 album, called “Mare Vitalis”, garnered much critical acclaim. The Cast have released 8 albums overall, with 2009’s “Sagarmatha” appearing on the Billboard Heatseekers chart. Having toured extensively across the U.S. and Europe, the band has been hailed for their audio/visual live shows.
_____Ric Averill – Lawrence
Ric Averill is the Emeritus Artistic Director of Performing Arts at the Lawrence Arts Center. Averill is a director, playwright, screenwriter, composer, director, conductor, actor and educator. Averill has composed a youth opera based on The Emperor’s New Clothes for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. The body of Ric’s Youth Theater work may be found at Dramatic Publishing and includes musicals and plays with music. Ric’s Seem-To-Be Songbook features children’s song heard across Kansas such as Ghostly Hall and The Pirate Song. Ric’s opera with modern dance, rock instrumentation and digital scenery, Midnight Visit to the Grave of Poe; A Grotesque Arabesque, premiered at the Lawrence Arts Center in October of 2015. Ric is currently working on a commission from the Rebel Playhouse to write a new musical, The Fantastical Dangerous Journey of Q, funded in part through an Aurand Harris Grant from the Children’s Theatre Foundation of America. Q will premiere in New York at the 14th Street Y on December 1st, 2018. Ric’s largest musical work was a drama/ballet based on The Snow Queen by H.C. Andersen, which opened in 2006 at the Lawrence Arts Center featuring a 12 piece orchestra. In addition to composing children’s songs, operas and ballets, Ric is often found as a professional performer and/or music director. Ric played keyboard for Theatre Lawrence’s Ring of Fire; The Johnny Cash Musical, and frequently plays incidental music on the mandolin, banjo, fiddle, guitar, bass or pretty much anything with strings. Ric’s primary instrument is the piano, which he can play backwards, with his nose and with his butt – rather John Cageian. Ric loves jamming with friends and looks for opportunities to hire fellow musicians for work in theatre as often as possible.
_____Banshee – Kansas City
Banshee, a melodic power metal band from the Midwest, was formed in the spring of 1986. The group was made up of members from the popular Mid-West touring act LICK, Tommy Lee Flood and Chuck Hopkins, plus Terry Dunn of Kansas City-based FRODO and GRANMAX, and Kent Burnham from Kansas City-based CRYPT KEEPER. By the fall of 1986, they released their first EP entitled ”Cry In The Night, “ a video of which was in heavy rotation on MTV. Hopkins left shortly thereafter to pursue other projects in L.A. and was replaced by local Kansas City bassist Bill Westfall.
In 1988, Metal Blade Records re-released “Cry In The Night” and included the song “We Want You” on a compilation record, “Metal Massacre No.9”. Later that year, the band released their first full-length album “Race Against Time” on Atlantic Rercord’s Titanium label, although their relationship was brief. In 1992, the band self-released their second full-length album”Take ‘Em By Storm” with members separating shortly thereafter. Reunion shows were played in 1999, 2000, and later in 2008. In 2008, a deal was negotiated with BlastZone Entertainment Group to provide worldwide distribution for a digitally remastered “Take ‘Em By Storm,” and saw distribution reach on Amazon.com, iTunes, and Wal-Mart, with the re-release of the other albums following. In 2012, the band released their fourth studio album ”Mindslave” on Snowblind Records. The album featured vocalist George Call (ASKA, Violent Storm, Omen), original bassist Chuck Hopkins, and drummer Marty Schiermann. In June 2012 in preparation for the upcoming tour, Hopkins and Schiermann were both unable to tour with the band and Mika Horiuchi (ex-Falling In Teverse and Celador) from Los Angeles, CA stepped up on bass, while Vinnie E. Parma from Dallas,TX played drums.
_____Boko Maru – Kansas City
Boko Maru is an impressive hybrid of professional music experience that can convincingly play any style of music – from Jazz, Rock, and Blues to Funk, Country and more. Composed of saxophonist /percussionist/vocalist Todd Wilkinson, guitarist/vocalist Terry Swope, drummer Keith Mallory, saxophonist/keyboardist Joe Miquelon, and bassist /vocalist James Albright, their mantra was “Musicians’ music for everyone.” Capable of laser-like intensity, improvisational fireworks, and uncanny in their ability to fuse styles, Boko Maru quickly developed a following of dedicated fans. Their original compositions and adaptions of cover tunes display an understanding of musical virtuosity combined with pop sensibilities.
Between 1994 and 2001, the group performed hundreds of gigs at clubs including, the Drum Room, the Point, Club 427, and Fedora on the Plaza, not to mention myriads of weddings, corporate events, and private parties. At the Drum Room, they were the backing band for Kevin Toney, Mark Murphy, Herb Ellis, and Karrin Allyson, as well as doing recording sessions and commercials with many local professionals.
Boko Maru was hired as the house band with the Wave FM Smooth Jazz Station, and received the annual Pitch Magazine ‘Klammy Award’ for Best Jazz Ensemble in 2000. During their steady gig at Fedora’s, they were discovered by Gary Cavanaugh (CEO of Fun Pro Records), and subsequently signed to the label. In late 2000, they released a highly acclaimed CD titled “Dreamland”, a signature work of compelling originality.
In 2002 the group disbanded to pursue other projects.
_____Gary Charlson – Kansas City
Kansas City KS native Gary Charlson first came to the attention of the local music scene in the mid ’70s, while fronting his hard rock cover band, Dynaflow. A chance meeting with the fledgling KC indie record label, Titan, led to the release of his first 7″ 45 in 1978, “Real Life Saver,” which was critically acclaimed in many national fanzines at the time. A 2nd Titan 45, “Shark,” was released in ’79, also to glowing reviews in the music press. By this time, Gary had formed The Gary Charlson Band, and was gigging regularly in local KC-area clubs. In March of 1979, “Just Another Pop Album,” a sampler album released by Titan in 1980, included Gary’s 45 tracks and also featured a previously unreleased Charlson-penned song, “Goodbye Goodtimes.” The album was well received by the national and international music scene. The Gary Charlson Band performed a live-in-the-studio set at Chapman Studios and tracks from this recording were released on a 12” EP by Titan in 1980. It featured the first-ever recorded cover version of Big Star’s “September Gurls,” later covered by the Searchers, the Bangles and several other groups. In the early ’80s, Gary and Guido Toledo formed the cover band the 4Sknns, who remained very popular in the Kansas City region for 2 decades. In addition, he is a founding member of the cover band, the Crayons, who continue to perform, and have a strong following in the region. On top of this, Gary does solo acoustic gigs regularly throughout the KC-metro area.
_____Chuck Cowan – Emporia
Chuck Cowan has performed as a professional musician for more than 50 years. His versatile repertoire includes Classical, Jazz, Country-Western, Rock & Roll, and Folk stylings. Chuck has displayed his gift for music with many famous artist, orchestras, and groups, both live and in the studio.
Cowan started playing guitar while growing up in Emporia KS. His first big break came while he was a freshman at Emporia State University. He and his band were playing their first professional gig – a country club near Branson, MO – when an agent spotted them. “He came up and said. ‘Do you guys want to go on the road?'” Chuck recalled, “I thought, ‘Oh good Lord, this guy must be deaf’!”‘. Over the years, he eventually toured the Midwest, the East Coast, the West Coast, Hawaii, and even as far away as Southeast Asia and Japan.
Ensembles he’s been with include the Glenn Miller, Woody Herman, and Les Baxter orchestras, plus Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys, Clyde McCoy, and Phil Campos & the Forum. A short list of artists he’s accompanied include Buddy Knox, Carl Mann, James Burton, Thumbs Carllile, Mundell Lowe, Sammy Davis Jr., The Coasters, the Shirells, Don Ho, Keely Smith, The New Christy Minstrels, and Michael Parks.
Cowan also played on a number of movie soundtracks, such as “Hells Belles”, “Blood Sabbath”, “Flareup” (with Raquel Welch), and the movie SMACK, which he wrote and scored the soundtrack for.
One of the more unusal turns in his career came when he was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. It proved to be a surprising event for both Chuck and for the Hall. “I’d never heard of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame,” he said. “And they thought I was dead!”
Chuck Cowan’s discography lists a number of singles recorded from 1962 through 1978 for labels like Sidewalk, Inner-Glo, and Olympic Records, plus a number of albums/CD’s released between 1961 and 2007. His latest CD “At The Lovers’ Lost and Found” is still in print.
_____The Fantabulous Jags – Wellington
The Jags were formed in late 1957. The group consisted of Dolph Ybarra (sax), Jack Potucek (guitar), Bud Gorman (stand-up bass), and Harold Little (drums). Their home base for many years through 1962 was the “It’ll Do Club” in Wellington, where they always set attendance records. With occasional personnel changes, The Jags branched out, playing gigs all over the state of Kansas, having an extended stay at Kansas City”s Peppermint Lounge in late ’63/early ’64. Also in 1964, the band had an extended stay in Denver, playing to packed houses and warm response from new fans. In the fall of 1965, the group made it to Las Vegas, where they worked successfully until they disbanded in 1966.
_____ Rick Faris – Topeka
Rick Faris was born to play music. Most kids learn to fish or hunt from their dad. Rick learned G-runs, fiddle tunes and musical insights from his.
Rick’s dad was a touring musician that rendered Bluegrass in the Ozarks, swung wide in dance halls with western swing bands, and even played with legends like Reba McIntyre on Hee Haw, Nashville Now, and the Grand Ole Opry. Rick says, “I didn’t know anyone who didn’t play or at least have an instrument in their house until I was five.” The family of humble musicians didn’t have a radio in the car, so the four Faris boys would spend the nine-hour trips up to their grandma’s house singing, playing, and entertaining each other. The four brothers plus mom and dad made up the award-winning Faris Family Bluegrass Band. They played festivals, taught Bluegrass in school programs, and shared real connections for the twelve years they toured professionally. After the family decided to stop touring, Rick was looking for a new full-time gig. He got his first big break when Bluegrass stalwart Greg Cahill called and asked him to audition for Special Consensus. The job was to be transformative for Faris, because Greg hired him to play mandolin rather than the guitar he’d been playing since childhood. With five weeks to learn the mandolin and win the audition, Rick stepped into the next stage of his career. After six years, a Grammy-Nomination and two IBMA Awards, he switched back home to guitar while the band picked up another three IBMA Awards and a second Grammy-Nomination. Rick spent a total of eleven years with the globetrotting Special Consensus. Under Greg Cahill, he learned the meaning of professionalism and giving back to the Bluegrass community.
Rick’s strong desire to shine out with a genuine connection to the fans and the players on stage caught Stephen Mougin’s attention. His label, Dark Shadow Recording, signed Rick Faris on as a solo artist in September of 2018. Rick started writing songs and selecting the right personnel that could handle anything he wanted to do. With watertight harmony singers and mind-blowing pickers, Rick set out to show the world what his brand of Bluegrass sounds like.
The first single, “Breaking In Lonesome,” was written by Rick, and was the blazing-fast title track of his first solo album. Released in March of 2019, it debuted at #2 on the Bluegrass Today Charts, only to climb to #1 the next week. Currently the album and various singles released from it are still appearing on the charts.
“Breaking In Lonesome” was ranked #6 in the Top 12 Albums of 2019 by Bluegrass Today, only a month after the albums’ official release in November of that year. Since going solo in 2018, Rick’s growth as an artist continues to elicit nothing but praise:
“Rick Faris has constantly wowed me with his powerful vocals and virtuoso mandolin and guitar
playing…I immediately noticed he is a great singer live…In short, I thought of the guy as the vanguard
of younger musicians who are carrying Bluegrass forward…Bluegrass music might be entering its ninth
decade, but “Breaking in Lonesome” proves it’s more vital than ever, and this project is a perfect
showcase for one of its truly bright lights.” – Tim Stafford of Blue Highway
Rick’s second album for Dark Shadow Recording, “The Next Mountain,” was released in November of
2021. “The Next Mountain” has been on the charts since its first single “Deep River” debuted at #2 on the Bluegrass Today charts, and then went to #1 the following week. A year and a half later, TNM is still on the charts. Going into the 2022 International Bluegrass Music Association Awards week, the Roots Music Report had “The Next Mountain” at #1 on their Contemporary Bluegrass Chart.
In September of 2022, Rick Faris was presented with the “New Artist of the Year” award at the 2022 International Bluegrass Music Association Awards ceremony. As “one of its truly bright lights”, Rick Faris can only look forward to a long and successful career taking Bluegrass forward into the next millenium.
For more information visit the Rick Faris website: http://rickfaris.com/
_____Jimmy Gallager – Kansas City
Jimmy Gallager began playing music in the Kansas City area at the age of 11. His first band was Flaming Youth, in which all the members were under the age of 14. He played in many other bands, such as Small Fortune, Wings of Steel, Ricky and the Kidds, and the Janet Jameson Band. Eventually, in his early 20’s, he moved to Las Vegas where he spent many years playing with Jonathan and Music Magic. Jimmy returned to KC in 2008 to marry his childhood sweedtheart, Mindy. It didn’t take long for him to become one of KC’s first call keyboardists, adding his unique flavoring to recordings by The Reverend Jimmy Bratcher, Ken Zans, and Terry Hancock. He played with many KC notables, but in 2013 began playing with the two bands that came to define him for Kansas City music lovers. He was part of Journeyman – The Eric Clapton Experience, and he played keyboards, guitar, mandolin, and sang with, by his account, his “favorite band ever”, The Kaopectones. Jimmy left us in August 2019, but his musical legacy lives on.
_____The Get Up Kids – Kansas City
The Get Up Kids are an American rock band from Kansas City. Formed in 1995, the band was a major act in the mid-1990s Midwest emo scene, otherwise known as the “second wave” of emo music. Their second album “Something To Write Home About” remains their most widely acclaimed album, and is considered to be one of the quintessential albums of the second-wave emo movement. They are considered forefathers of the emo genre, and have been widely credited as being an influence, both by contemporaries like Saves The Day, and later bands like Fall Out Boy, Taking Back Sunday, and The Wonder Years.As they gained prominence, they began touring with bands such as Green Day and Weezer before becoming headliners themselves, eventually embarking on international tours of Japan and Europe. They founded Heroes & Villains Records, an imprint of the successful indie rock label Vagrant Records. While the imprint was started to release albums by The Get Up Kids, it served as a launching pad for several side-projects such as The New Amsterdams and Reggie and the Full Effect. The band departed heavily from their established style with the release of their 2002 album ”On A Wire,” which saw the band take on a much more layered, alternative rock sound. Like many early emo bands, The Get Up Kids sought to dissociate themselves from the term “emo.” Due to internal conflicts, the band broke up in 2005. Three years later, the band reunited to support the tenth anniversary re-release of ”Something to Write Home About,” and soon afterward entered the studio to write new material. In early 2010, the band released ”Simple Science,” their first release in six years, followed in 2011 by the full-length ”There Are Rules.” Their most recent studio album, ”Problems,” which was seen by many as a return to their early style, was released in 2019. For more on The Get Up Kids, visit their Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Get_Up_Kids
_____Angela Hagenbach – Kansas City
Kansas City singer/songwriter, Angela Hagenbach, has been hailed as “one of America’s best fresh voices in jazz,” and a staple in the Kansas City scene for nearly three decades, singing everything from swinging straight-ahead Jazz Standards, Blues, and original compositions to sensual rhythmic Latin Jazz. A former trombonist and fashion model (at different times), her professional music career was launched in 1990. Angela’s national debut recording, ‘Weaver Of Dreams,’ released in January 2001, was nominated for a Grammy, and shot to the number five position on the Gavin Jazz Chart in six short weeks. Angela’s talents have placed her on the international stage, from The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to opening for Ray Charles in Marciac, France. She was twice chosen to represent the United States as a Jazz Ambassador to the world under the auspices of the United States Information Agency and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
_____Chip Hardy – Scott City
Chip Hardy is a 35 year veteran of the Nashville music business. His career has ranged from songwriter, to producer, to A&R at a major record label, to working with songwriters in music publishing. He was born and raised in the small town of Scott City in western Kansas “out in the middle of nowhere”. His mother is an accomplished keyboard player and his dad loved to sing. At the age of four, Chip was spinning old 78 rpm records of Glen Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Doris Day and Hank Williams, Sr. Around age seven, his mother taught him basic chords on ukulele, and he began playing and singing for various school and community events. At 12 he took up guitar and began writing songs. Throughout his high school years, Chip joined a Pop-Rock cover band that played western Kansas, the Oklahoma panhandle, the Texas panhandle, parts of Eastern Colorado and western Nebraska. He attended college at Fort Hays State University and was a music education major until his senior year. “I just wanted out” was his quote about college “because I knew I wanted to go to Nashville and write songs.” As a songwriter, Chip’s songs have been recorded by Dionne Warwick, Dean Martin, Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn, Charley Pride and The Whites. His production credits include Loretta Lynn, Dann Rogers, The Vega Bros., Rick & Janis Carnes and Joe Barnhill while being assistant to the producer on projects by George Strait, Reba McEntire, Waylon Jennings, The Oak Ridge Boys, Mac Davis, Roger Miller, Glen Campbell, Barbara Mandrell and numerous others. He was also in charge of artist development for MCA Records. During his publishing career, Chip recorded over 1,200 song demos for Hamstein Music including the demos for “Just To See You Smile” by Tim McGraw and “I’ll Think Of A Reason Later,” the first hit by Lee Ann Womack. He also helped develop Jerrod Neimann’s career while running Marathon Key Music Publishing, which was a joint venture between Billy Joe Walker, Jr. and Warner Chappell Music. Currently Chip is producing indie projects and songwriter demos at THE 515 Studio in the Berry Hill section of Nashville.
_____Mark Hart – Fort Scott
Mark Hart is an American musician and multi-instrumentalist best known for being a member of both Supertramp (1986–1988, 1996–2002, 2015-present) and Crowded House (1993–1996, 2007–2019), as well as being a group member, touring and session musician for acts such as Ringo Starr (during the 2000’s). In addition, Hart has also composed film scores, and is a record producer.
Mark was born in Fort Scott, KS and grew up there. From the age of seven, he received piano lessons, and followed with learning guitar some years later. Moving with his older brother to Kansas City during the ’70s, Mark studied classical music in college while playing with a number of local groups and doing session work. With a move to Los Angeles, he became a full-time session musician, working with varied artist in a variety of styles.
By 1982, Mark had formed Combonation, which was signed by Warner Brothers Records. Released in 1984, their self-titled album, was produced by Ted Templeman (Van Morrison, The Doobie Brothers, Van Halen, etc.). A few years later, Hart began his long associations with both Supertramp and Crowded House, and eventually Ringo Starr. Along the way, Hart has scored the motion pictures “Life Among The Cannibals” (1996) and “Mockingbird Don’t Sing” (2001), both directed by Harry Bromely Davenport. His producer credits include records for Tim Finn (leader of Crowded House) and Ceremony (Chaz Bono’s group) among others.
Mark Hart has two solo album releases: “Nada Sonata” (2002) and “The Backroom” (2014), both for PSB Records.
Currently, Hart continues to record and tour with Supertramp, and still does session work.
_____Arnie Johnson – Lawrence
Arnie Johnson, 79, was born in Salina. After a brief time in California, he moved with his family to Lawrence in 1952. The son of amateur musicians, he grew up listening to his extended family play country music together. He joined a local band as a singer in 1972 and in 1979 formed his own band, Arnie Johnson and the Midnight Special. Arnie led his band to iconic status in the region, performing at dance halls and nightclubs every weekend for decades. They drew people who love country music and love to dance. As time went on, Arnie augmented his rich baritone and stage presence by playing rhythm guitar, a vast repertoire of danceable country tunes, and a list of his own original songs. In 2017 he retired from the band, but continues sharing his love of music by performing as a guest artist with other regional performers.
_____Justus – Kansas City
In 1975 a group of six young musicians, each locally recognized for having played in some of the top bands in the Kansas City area, united to form the group Justus. Drawing from the best musicians they could find, these accomplished players joined to create their own style, and compositions. Together, they created original music uniquely contemporary, and unlike any other for the time. The band consisted of Doug Auwater on drums, Chuck Boyd on lead vocals and percussion, Mark Leggett on guitar, Gary Heatwole on vocals and bass, Mark Hart on keyboards, and Bill Bergman on sax. Like many bands, Justus performed for local establishments and events, including warmup act for Roy Ayers Ubiquity at the Music Hall, as the opening act for Grover Washington Jr. at the Uptown Theater, and at the Municipal Auditorium opening for Gino Vannelli. Their status in the musical community rose when they decided at the last minute to submit a tape for a highly publicized Midwestern Rock Showdown presented by the Radio Station KY-102. Out of 225 contestants, Justus was one of only five groups chosen to perform at the Uptown Theater. Out of those five groups competing in the showdown, Justus was chosen as the winner. According to the Station Manager, Bob Garrett, “All the bands were good… Justus was just a little better.” Justus continued to build a large following and performed with regularity until they disbanded in 1980. Their influence on the local music scene and respect from not only their audiences, but also their peers has left an indelible mark to this day. Justus’ former members are still active players in Kansas City, Los Angeles and surrounding cities, and as far away as St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.
_____Frankie Kay – Kansas City
Frankie Kay was born on Novermber 11, 1929. He grew up in Kansas City, KS. He started taking guitar and steel guitar lessons at an early age. By the time he was 12 years old, he was playing in various venues in the Kansas City area. At age 14 he started his own band. By the time he was 20 he was a well known band leader and was playing 6 nights a week at Johnny Bakers Club, while also playing live radio during the day on both WHB and KCMO radio stations. Then, legendary country radio DJ Dal Stallard told him that Cowboy Copas needed a steel guitar player in Nashville. He left Kansas City and joined up with Cowboy Copas’ band in 1951, touring during the week and returning to Nashville on the weekends to play the Grand Ole Opry. He did this for a little over a year, but was not making enough money, so he returned to Kansas City and started a new band, Frankie Kay and his Westernairs, playing live music six nights a week. He was a full time musician/band leader in the Kansas City area for the remainder of his life. Frankie Kay died on January 14, 2020 at the age of 90.
_____Mainstreet – Manhattan
Since the group’s founding in 1979, Mainstreet has continued its evolution from a jazz quartet into an established and popular six-piece horn band. Drawing from music of the ’60s,’70s, ’80s and more, Mainstreet has performed their signature blend of rock, funk, and smooth jazz for audiences in Northeast Kansas to as far north as Minneapolis. Along with drummer Richard “Felix” Smalley, three former music professors have made up the core of the group for much of its history: Rod Manges (keyboards, vocals and arranger), Daryl Batchelor (trumpet and vocals), and Richard Philbrook (lead vocals, trumpet and trombone). Other members over the years include Tom Hittle, Peter della Femina, Wayne O’Neal, Greg Spreer and Ric Barron (guitar and vocals); Al Thompson, Steve Johnson, Sonja Henning, Andy Bell, Dave Riat, and Frank Valdez (saxophones); Jessica Furney and Sarah Pratt (vocals); Corey Butler,and Howard Bradley (drums), and Kurt Morrow (bass). In 1992, Mainstreet recorded a cassette album that was released in limited numbers for promotional purposes only. In 2005, the self-titled studio CD “Mainstreet” was released. Personell on the recording were Richard Smalley (drums), Kurt Morrow (bass), Greg Spreer (guitar and vocals), Rod Manges (keyboards, vocals and arranger), Andy Bell (sax and vocals), and Daryl Batchelor (trumpet and vocals).
On special occasions, Mainstreet still does live performances. Continually expanding its unique musical appeal to an ever-widening variety of audiences, Mainstreet can always be counted on to do what it does best–make great music.
Mainstreet is on youtube with both studio recordings and live performance clips:
_____ Manilla Road – Wichita
Manilla Road was an American heavy metal band from Wichita, Kansas founded by Mark “The Shark” Shelton (vocals and guitar) and Scott “Scooter” Park (bass guitar), with Benny Munkirs on drums. Beginning in 1977, the early years of Manilla Road were spent playing mostly progressive rock and space rock, but eventually became noticeably heavier with time. The band’s later heavy metal sound became more apparent with the release of ”Metal” in 1982. Achieving moderate success in the mid-80s with several well-received releases such as ”Crystal Logic” (1983), ”Open the Gates”(1985), and”The Deluge”(1986), the band became known for both the nasal voice of vocalist Mark Shelton and his eclectic style of songwriting, with many of his compositions taking place in fantastical universes combining elements of ancient mythologies and of popular culture mythos, such as Robert E. Howard’s Conan and H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu. After a major breakup in 1992, the band was reformed by Shelton in the mid-90s, although without co-founder Scott Park and a record label. The following years for Manilla Road were spent mostly by taking gigs in underground mid-western shows without the release of any new material. Seemingly forgotten, Manilla Road was re-discovered by the metal scene after performing at the Bang Your Head festival in 2000, which resulted in the band signing a new record deal and the eventual releases of ”Atlantis Rising” in 2001, and “Spiral Castle” in 2002.This second era of Manilla Road continued until the death of founder Mark Shelton, who died in 2018 the day after the band played an outdoor festival in Germany. Over more than 40 years as a band, Manilla Road released sixteen studio albums, three live albums, and various other projects. To see a complete discography and much more about Manilla Road, visit their Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manilla_Road
_____The Micronotz – Lawrence
The Micronotz, also known as the Mortal Micronotz, were an American punk rock/ alternative rock quartet formed in 1980 in Lawrence, Kansas that, along with bands like The Embarrassment and Get Smart! were prominent on the local music scene in Lawrence during the early 80s. The band formed in 1980, when all the members were still teenagers. The Embarrassment were looking for an opening band for a show they had booked on December 12, 1980 at the “Off The Wall Hall” (now known as “The Bottleneck”). The Embarrassment knew John Harper and knew that he was putting a band together, so they asked him if his band could open the show, but the band hadn’t actually formed yet. At this point, the band just consisted of John Harper on guitar and David Dale on bass, so a drummer and singer needed to be recruited. Dean Lubensky and Graham Reece were recruited as vocalist and drummer. Dean was a good fit and became the permanent singer, and Steve Eddy replaced Reece as the drummer. The band soon came to the attention of local music promoter, Bill Rich, who wrote about them for his “Talk Talk” magazine and then signed them to his Fresh Sounds record label. Their first release for Fresh Sounds was the 4-band split cassette “Fresh Sounds From Middle America (Vol.1)” in December of 1981, just one year after the band formed. The “Fresh Sounds” compilation series was organized by Bill Rich as a way to promote regional bands nationally.When the band discovered that Bill Rich was an acquaintance of William S. Burroughs, they asked for an introduction, and Burroughs would end up giving them some lyrics for a song (“Old Lady Sloan” from the “Mortal Micronotz” album). Lead singer, Dean Lubensky, left the band sometime after the 1984 “Live Recording of the Video Soundtrack” EP. He was replaced by Jay Hauptli, who would remain the band’s vocalist throughout the rest of their career and subsequent reunions. After releasing three albums and two EPs, the band broke up in 1986. By 1995, renewed interest in the band lead Fresh Sounds to release two Micronotz compilations, called ”Complete Recordings Volume 1 and 2” where the first volume covered the Dean Lubensky recordings, and the second covered the Jay Hauptli recordings. A tribute album was also put together featuring William S. Burroughs and various other artists. The band still does occasional reunion shows, with Matt Kesler, formerly of the Pedaljets, playing bass in place of the deceased David Dale. In 2016, the Bar/None label digitally reissued the band’s entire catalog.
For more information on The Micronotz, visit their Wikipedia page: http://en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Micronotz
_____The Moving Van Goghs – Manhattan
The Moving Van Goghs was a Manhattan, KS-based rock band that existed in the late 1980s through the early 1990s. Brian Harris, with brothers Michael and Mitchell Leggs, formed The Moving Van Goghs in Manhattan while students at Kansas State University in 1986. During its heyday, the band was courted by, and played showcases for, record labels such as MCA, Atlantic, and Virgin, but never successfully inked a deal during the record industry’s feeding frenzy at the dawn of the grunge movement. Despite the absence of a major label deal, the band managed to independently release three recordings: The Moving Van Goghs (1988), Wintermind EP (1990), and Octaphenia EP (1992), They also toured regionally, sharing the stage with acts like:The Flaming Lips, Nova Mob, The Lemonheads, These Immortal Souls, The Swans, Too Much Joy, B.O.M.B., The Embarrassment, Scruffy the Cat, The Pedaljets and Love Tractor. Since the group’s disbanding in 1992, tracks by The Moving Van Goughs have appeared on a number of various artist compilation CDs, some of which are still available.
_____Patriarch – Lawrence .
In 1981 the band Patriarch was formed in Lawrence, Kansas. Patriarch is: Gregg Anderson (guitar, violin, vocals), Jeff Carroll (bass, vocals), Chuck Huels (keyboards, vocals), Steve Kuker (drums, vocals), and Mike Maxwell (guitar, vocals).
The band immediately focused on writing epic and meticulous progressive rock original music. Their sound is amazing and includes full keyboards, a hot rhythm section of drums and bass, two power guitars with tasteful solos, a world-class violinist, and features big-time vocals. All of the guys can sing, and their melodies and power block vocal harmonies are impressive.
For years, Patriarch practiced at least 3 nights a week, for 3-5 hours per night, played most weekends performing locally and regionally, and did a lot of recording. Their first EP was recorded in 1983 at Studio West in Olathe, Kansas. The band formed a record label called T.E.D. Records, in honor of Ted Maxwell (Mike’s father) who loaned the band the funds to produce their first record. Today the EP “Patriarch, First Hand” is selling all over the world for $200-$500 each! The band shopped their original music to record labels in New York but at the time, the labels were more interested in the English sound from across the pond, and Patriarch was declined. The following year, the band traveled to California to shop their music to major labels in Los Angeles. The west coast labels were much more receptive to the progressive rock sound of Patriarch. The band had interest from RCA and Atlantic records. Ultimately, Atlantic Records was very interested in the band, but Patriarch was not signed.
The guys had to make the difficult decision to set a date, and if they were not signed by that date, they agreed to move on with their lives. The band did not get signed and went their separate ways in 1987 to pursue careers, continuing education, and raising their families. They have stayed in touch over the years and have seen each other in person on occasion. However, for 27 years, they had not all been in the same room together… until 2014.
The flame never died for Patriarch. The guys all live in different cities and states now, so they hadn’t been able to practice together until 2014, with the discovery of new technology that creates a virtual studio where all of the guys are connected through the Internet. They had always been interested in doing a reunion concert and writing new material. Patriarch was fortunate enough to be able to perform a reunion concert on March 13th, 2014 at The Uptown Theater in Kansas City, Missouri. Their reunion and concert was filmed, and a documentary called “Getting the Band Back Together” was produced and is available on YouTube. The documentary and reunion concert were sponsored by Google Fiber.
Patriarch’s original studio recordings as well as the live tracks from the Uptown Theater are now available to the public. Video footage of the entire reunion concert “Patriarch: Live at The Uptown Theater” is also be available on YouTube. Patriarch is back! The guys are now practicing together again, writing new material, and performing concerts as the headline or pre-act. What does the future hold for Patriarch? STAY TUNED!! For more information about Patriarch, please visit the website: http://patriarchband.com
_____Paw – Lawrence
Paw was an American rock band from Lawrence, KS that was formed in 1990. The band’s original line-up consisted of vocalist Mark Hennessy, guitarist Grant Fitch, bassist Charles Bryan, and drummer Peter Fitch. They released two studio albums – “Dragline”, and “Death To Traitors” for A&M Records. They also released the B-side and outtake collection, “Keep The Last Bullet For Yourself” and the EP “Home Is a Strange Place” before disbanding in 2000.
Paw was frequently cited by industry insiders as potentially “the next Nirvana”, and a bidding war erupted to sign them.The band signed a three-album deal with A&M Records during the height of the Grunge wave, and released their first album “Dragline” in 1993. Their most well-known songs are from this period, which received moderate rotation on the radio and on Headbangers Ball, MTV’s hard rock/heavy metal showcase. Music videos were made for the hits “Jessie”, “Couldn’t Know”, and “Sleeping Bag”. Paw toured the UK in 1993, supporting Tool with Headswim (months after Tool’s UK support slot with Rage Against The Machine), introducing the band to an audience outside of America. The band recorded two sessions for BBC Radio One’s rock show in 1993 (when they played the Reading Festival). Their songs “Jessie”, “Pansy” and “The Bridge” (plus an alternate version of the video of the first) were used in the 3DO, PC, Segma Saturn and Play Station versions of the video game Road Rash.
In 1995, the band released its second album, “Death To Traitors” on A&M Records, recorded as a three-piece following the departure of bass player Charles Bryan, guitarist Grant Fitch doubled up on bass for the recording (with the help of two additional sessionist). During this period, the band evolved by adding more instrumental and country elements to soften their hard rock edge. The band toured Europe and the UK in early 1995, as well as touring Australia in October 1995. While the album received favorable reviews from the press, sales were less successful, and Paw was dropped by A&M in 1996, before their contract was fulfilled.
In 1998, Grant Fitch, Peter Fitch and Dan Hines formed the band Palomar and released the album “World Without Horses” under their label Outlaw Records. A reviewer described Palomar as “a gentler and more melodic sound than Paw.” Paw also released a full-length compilation of B-sides and rarities entitled “Keep The Last Bullet For Yourself” under said label. Paw still played together during this period, and both “World Without Horses” and “Keep The Last Bullet For Yourself” were released on these shows. Around this time, Mark left the band briefly and was replaced by Steve Tulipana (of Season To Risk fame).
In 2000, founding members Hennessy and Fitch signed Paw with Koch Records and released the mini-album ”Home Is A Strange Place” that same year. The new album incorporated a more pronounced southern rock element.
Shortly after that, the group disbanded. However, Paw still gets back together for occasional reunions, the latest being in 2019.
_____Ricky Dean Sinatra – Lawrence
Out of a lot of Kansas bands in the late 1980s, Ricky Dean Sinatra is one of the most original, popular, and enduring bands from that era. Alan Murphy (aka Ricky Dean) is not only a terrific front man but a great stream-of-conciousness type of unique poet/songwriter. Mark Roseberry (aka Dewey Mantini) is an original guitar player and Rock ‘n Roll poet in his own right. Shaw Wilson (aka Clovis Salvadore) is a very inventive drummer who went on to co-found the Country music group BR5-49. In the late 1980’s into the early 90’s, Ricky Dean Sinatra was the toast of Lawrence, with many newspaper articles, TV appearances, and huge crowds wherever they played. They were part of a recent documentary by Lawrence filmmaker Chris Snipes which was broadcast on Lawrence cable TV, and also on KC Public Television station KCPT. A 2010 CD release with 21 songs,“Galaxy of Love” documents the band’s heyday. Ricky Dean Sinatra is undoubtedly part of the great story of Kansas music.
_____The Rockin’ Continentals -Topeka
The Rockin’ Continentals made two 45s for the Kansas-based Casino label in 1962 – 63. The group came from Topeka, Kansas. Members included Johnny Thompson on lead guitar and vocals, Melvin Ralston on rhythm guitar, Chuck Smith on bass, and Bob Stanley on drums. The Rockin’ Continentals’ first release was a great rockabilly song with fierce drumming and scorching guitar and piano breaks called “The 309,” written by Johnny Thompson. The singer has a strong southern accent that doesn’t appear on their other songs. The original A-side was “2-3-4,” written by Melvin Ralston, which in comparison is basic riffing on blues changes. Their next and last single was “Cobra 289” written by Ralph Sandmeyer in tribute to the Ford/Shelby AC Cobra sports car first manufactured in 1962. Bob says that “Ralph Sandmeyer was a songwriter and close friend of Johnny Thompson.” “Count Dracula” is mainly instrumental with a spooky reverbed riff. Like “The 309,” it was written by Johnny Thompson. The Rockin’ Continentals are well known to Rockabilly and Garage band collectors worldwide. Both of these records are considered highly sought after collectibles, and have appeared on multiple compilation CD’s over the years.
_____The Scamps – Kansas City
The origins of The Scamps go back to the late ’30s and a CCC (Civilian Conservation Camp) in Parsons, Kansas. There, workers Earl Robinson from Kansas City, Kansas and James Whitcomb from Baxter Springs, Kansas along with two others, would entertain to pass the time. A Mr. Mason nicknamed them “The Scamps of CC Camp,” and the nickname stuck. As time went on, the unremembered two would be replaced by brothers Wyatt and Torrence Griffin, two more KC residents. By the early ’40s, World War II had put a temporary halt to The Scamps, with most all of the group enlisted in the armed forces. After the war was over, Earl Robinson and his friends were back in Kansas City, eager to pick up where they left off. The first official lineup of The Scamps was as follows: Earl Robinson (lead vocals and drums), Torrence Griffin (first tenor and dancer), Wyatt Griffin (second tenor and guitar), James Whitcomb (bass vocals and bassist), and Rudy Massingale (piano, sax, and background vocals). Their first professional appearance was in 1946 at the Sherman Bar, 9th and Locust, Kansas City, Missouri. Since the Scamps played various instruments as well as doing vocals and dancing, they made a decision to become a full-spectrum act, not just singers. Johnny Tumino, of Consolidated Orchestras of America, became their manager. Tumino booked them for some personal appearances in California, and they all piled into Rudy’s father’s car and drove out there. Tumino got someone from the Bihari Brothers’ Modern Records to come see them perform, and they were offered a recording contract. The Scamps first appeared on record in January of 1947, with “Don’t Cry Baby,” a tune that had been a big hit for Erskine Hawkins. It was backed with “More Than You Know,” which had been a charter for Ruth Etting in 1930, and for Perry Como in the summer of 1946. Drummer Earl Robinson was lead vocalist on all their Modern releases. The Scamps also recorded for Okeh, Peackock, and Columbia Records, with some releases listing them as “The Five Scamps”. With Earl Robinson as leader, The Scamps had many personnel changes over their long history. A partial list includes: James Whitcomb (bass vocals, upright bass, 1946-61), Wyatt Griffin (tenor vocals, guitar, 1946-51, 1954-57), Torrence Griffin (tenor vocals, 1946-48), Rudy Massingale (piano, saxophone, vocals, 1946-60), Edward Stafford (tenor vocals, trumpet, 1948-52), Evelyn Twine (vocals, 1949, 1952-53), Harold Slaughter (tenor vocals, guitar, 1951), Clarence “Sonny” Kenner (tenor vocals, 1951-53), Dusty Barron (guitar, 1953-54), Sam Alexander (guitar, saxophone, 1953-54, 1957-60), Walter Leonard (saxophone, 1954), Arthur Jackson (tenor vocals, saxophone, clarinet, 1954-70), Bill Jones (drums, 1955-70), Emmitt Finney (trumpet, vibraphone, 1960-70), Willie Rice (piano, 1960-70), and Sam Johnson (upright bass, 1961-70). Settling back home in Kansas City by the mid 1950’s, the Earl Robinson-led Scamps became a fixture in KC’s nightlife, holding court in every prominent Jazz club and concert setting the city had to offer. With numerous personnel changes, The Scamps continued on until 1970, when Robinson decided to retire. But by the mid-’70s he was back at it, recruiting alumni members Jackson, Finney, and Rice to return to the Kansas City nightclub circuit. Rudy Massingale later signed on as well, and both co-founders continued performing with the group well into their seventies. The Scamps remained a Kansas City live favorite for half a century after their birth; and In May of 2002, city officials renamed a section of 8th Street spanning from Broadway to Central as “Scamps Alley” in their honor. Both Robinson and Massingale were present at the ceremony. That same year, British reissue label Ace released Red Hot!, a 22-track collection of the group’s vintage recordings.
_____Mike Schmidt – Lawrence
Mike Schmidt began his career in radio in the early 1970s while a student of radio-tv-film at the University of Kansas, as a member of the on-air staff of both KUOK and KANU. During finals week May of 1972, Mike received a phone call from KLWN/Lawrence regarding an on-air position. He interviewed for the job and was hired. This entailed doing the evening to sign-off position for KLWN AM, the duties of which included feeding the cattle that station owner, Arden Booth had grazing on the land surrounding the radio tower.
After a few months, Mike was promoted to doing both AM Drive and PM Drive air shifts for KLWN-FM, as well as serving as program director for the contemporary hit station. On home KU football weekends he also did air traffic reports from high above Lawrence as the “Baron Von Schmidt.” Over the ensuing months, KLWN- FM began gaining listeners as well as attracting commercial sponsors. Industry trade publications and record companies began to take notice as the station became known for helping break new records and being among the first in the nation to add new singles.
In the mid-70s, KLWN FM changed call letters to KLZR and its identity as “The LAZER”, bridging the gap between a traditional CHR (contemporary hit radio) and a Progressive album-oriented station.
Together with the combined efforts of the record labels, local feedback from record stores in Lawrence and Kansas City, and the Lawrence Opera House, emerging acts routed through Lawrence and gave area music fans more opportunities to see as well as hear new bands and established touring acts. Rock, blues, ska and reggae, new wave pop and progressive bands came to town. Lawrence was gaining attention as a hot spot for emerging music and talented regional musicians and bands and remains so today.
In 1979, Mike joined the staff of KBEQ, Kansas City as Music Director and on-air talent when the station sought to shed its “teeny-bopper” image and attract a larger share of the 18-35 demo. In 1981, Mike headed West and a position as Music Director and on-air talent for highly rated KPKE, Denver, an AOR station owned and operated by Doubleday Broadcasting. With a chain-wide format change, he left Denver and spent the balance of the 80s as Program Director of two different stations in Springfield, MO, the local legend “Rock99” and US97.
Mike is the recipient of several Gold and Platinum record awards from the record industry for being among the first programmers in the country to play them and make them hits. He remains a fan of live music and hearing more new music than oldies, even though he’s now one himself.
_____Greg Skaff – Wichita
Greg Skaff plumbs the depths of creative artistry and honest emotion in his guitar playing, showing himself to be among the leading proponents of jazz music anywhere. No exaggeration. The native Kansan, whose first professional job was a five-year stay in the band of saxophone giant Stanley Turrentine, has flourished as a first-call sideman in New York City since the 1980s. He’s played gigs and/or recorded with past masters Ruth Brown, Freddie Hubbard, and David “Fathead” Newman as well as notables Ron Carter, Ben Allison, Bruce Barth, Pat Bianchi, George Colligan, Orin Evans, Joe Farnsworth, David Hazeltine, Mike LeDonne, Victor Lewis, Gloria Lynne, Ralph Peterson Jr., Jim Rotondi, E. J. Strickland, Bobby Watson, Matt Wilson, and others. Fronting his acclaimed trio, Greg has commanded the attention of discriminating listeners in club and festival performances throughout the country, including gigs at Smalls Jazz Club, Mezzrow, the Bar Next Door, the 55 Bar, and the Iridium in Manhattan, at the Artists’ Quarter in St. Paul, and at the Umbria Jazz Festival in Italy. Greg’s five feature albums have been well-received by jazz fans everywhere. The latest is ‘Soulmation’, his fifth overall and fourth consecutive release on the high-profile ZOHO Music label. For more information on Greg, visit his website: www.gregskaff.com
_____Son Venezuela – Lawrence
Son Venezuela has been a Latin music ambassador in America’s heartland for over 26 years, and has been an important force in the development of the Latin Community in Kansas. Since 1994, the Lawrence-based band has continuously brought Latin culture, through music and dance, to clubs, festivals, concert halls, and private events in Kansas, all over the Midwest, and beyond. Kansas City’s entertainment journal The Pitch Weekly called Son Venezuela “The premier Latin grove ensemble in the area,” and their readers agree. Son Venezuela has been voted best Latin/World music act six times. During their tenure over several time-spans, they’ve been one of the biggest drawing bands of any type of music in Lawrence and Kansas City.
Throughout the 26 years that Son Venezuela has flourished, the band has undergone very few lineup changes. Their original bass player Stanley Sheldon (2012 KSMHoF inductee) was a member of Peter Frampton’s band, and current conga player Fernando Reynoso was formerly with pioneer Kansas Latin band Caribe (2017 KMHoF inductee).
In all of their performances, Son Venezuela has always remained true to what they do, playing Caribbean music: Salsa from Puerto Rico, Merengue from the Dominican Republic, Cumbia from Colombia, Tamborera from Venezuela, Afro-Cuban Rhythms, Murga from Panama, Calypso from the Antilles and more. Their “repegoire” is all dance-oriented music that compells the listener to dance and enjoy the experience as one, no matter who they are or from where they came.
Son Venezuela has released two CD’s: the self-titled “Son Venezuela” (1994), and “Don’t Stop Me Now” (2005).
____The Upside Dawne – Lawrence
The Upside Dawne performed throughout the Midwest out of Lawrence in the mid/late ‘60s, playing a variety of rock, blues, and R&B music. In 1967 the band recorded an album at Audio House in, Lawrence. The group went through several evolutions, at times including psychedelic lights and horns. The Upside Dawne was a working group, and most importantly it was the starting point for a number of outstanding Kansas musicians who sharpened their skills playing in the group. Upside Dawne alumni who have already been recognized in the KSMHoF include Steve Hall, Jim Stringer, and Paul Miller (members of Tide), Garth Fundis, a major league Nashville record producer, and the late Scott Korchak, a member of the Grammy-nominated Blue Riddim Band.
_____Kelly Werts – Junction City
Kelly Werts has performed traditional and popular music throughout the Midwest for nearly thirty years. Kelly’s vocal and highly-individual guitar styles stem from a broad background of musical interests ranging from old-time folk music to blues and country. He has worked regionally with singers such as Connie Dover, Ann Zimmerman and Ashley Davis, as well as The Plaid Family, The Sons of Rayon, and more recently, Tiny Flowers. He has appeared at the Walnut Valley Festival several times with the Plaid Family and in a duo with his wife, accordion player Diana Werts. Kelly’s music has also been featured in movies and television, notably for the theme music to the KCPT-TV syndicated series on PBS, “Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations”. He placed twice in the National Fingerpicking Championship at Winfield, after winning the Kansas State Fingerpicking Championship. Kelly grew up in Junction City, has lived in Wichita, and currently lives in Fairway, part of the Kansas City metro area.
_____Larry Williams – Kansas City
Lawrence Lowell Williams is an American record producer, composer, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist who was born in Kansas City, KS and grew up in Overland Park. Williams studied at Indiana University School of Music, where he met Jerry Hey and Kim Hutchcroft, who would later become members of Seawind. He left Indiana University to work full-time with Seawind in Hawaii.
Soon after, he began regularly touring and recording with Al Jarreau. “He knows me inside and out” Jarreau said of Williams. “It was just natural for him to do (my) arrangements, because he knows where I’ve been, what I like doing, and how I am onstage”.
Williams burgeoning career as a session player had him playing tenor saxophone, flute and keyboards on Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album. Among others he’s recorded with are Christopher Cross, David Crosby, Helen Reddy, Lee Riperton, Lionel Richie, Mezzoforte, Michael Bolton, Michael Franks, Minnie Riperton, Natalie Cole, Olivia Newton-John, Pat Benetar, Patrice Rushen, Paul Young, Pink Floyd, Randy Newman, Ray Parker, Jr., Richard Marx, Rick Astley, Roberta Flack, Sheena Easton, Simply Red and Stevie Nicks.
For more info: Career Highlights – Larry Williams | Official Site
_____Annie Wilson – Wichita
Rancher, songwriter, and educator Annie Wilson is a founding member of the Tallgrass Express String Band formed in 2004. She has written and recorded nearly 60 songs in their 4-volume “Songs of the Kansas Flint Hills” CD series. In 2013 she was named the “Flint Hills Balladeer” by the State of Kansas. Her music has been featured in KANSAS! Magazine and on Sunflower Journeys. For the last seven years, her songs have been winners in the Winfield bluegrass festival song-writing contest. Annie was a recipient of the 2020 Friend of the Flint Hills award from the Flint Hills Discovery Center for her work creating resources for Flint Hills schools and Native Studies projects. Annie and her husband John operate the Five Oaks Ranch west of Cottonwood Falls.
_____XV – Wichita
Donavan LaMond Johnson (born July 9,1985) better known by his stage name XV is an American rapper, singer and songwriter from Wichita, KS. He first gained major attention after the release of his twelfth mixtape Everybody’s Nobody, for which he received two awards from DJBooth.net. His name, XV, refers to the age (15) at which he began his musical career. On July 26, 2010, XV announced that he had signed a recording contract withWarner Brothers Records via his Twitter page. Although two other labels were vying for the artist, he chose Warner Brothers, stating he felt the label had room to expand. Everybody’s Nobody was the first mixtape that helped XV gain fame outside of Kansas. Although the mix tape did not receive immediate acclaim, it has now been downloaded over 30,000 times. XV’s musical style employs the use of soulful, old school beats combined with a “futuristic twist”. His voice is described as “youthful yet deep [with] a refreshing articulation,” drawing comparisons to Drake. In an interview with Spinner, XV described his music as universal, as he employs melodic beats but includes “heavy and hard hitting drums which keeps the hard and street essence of hip hop instilled in the music.” He continued that his lyrics reflect his charismatic personality and he enjoys playing on words, and creating different song concepts. He also revealed his fascination with video games. One of his more popular songs, “Mirror’s Edge,” was inspired by the video game of the same name. He said, “The song isn’t talking about the video game, I just felt it fit the same mood as that video game and I liked the fact that the game was about running free and defying laws of gravity in real life.” He also created the song “Final Fantasy XV,” which alludes to the Final Fantasy video game franchise, particularly Final Fantasy VII. In an interview with HipHop DX, XV described how he enjoys collaborating with other artists, learning about their styles and incorporating elements of them within his own. He cites fellow artists Andre 3000, Rivers Cuomo from Weezer, Jay-Z, John Mayer, Kanye West and Lupe Fiasco as inspirations for his music.