Looking back on my KC musical happenings
Hello there, hope things are going well for you. Time for another post in Blake’s Blog, as I come galloping down the stretch for a victorious finish to my three years here in Kansas City. My last post dealt with why I moved to KC in 2020, and why I’m moving to Florida now. Today’s post will touch on my musical happenings while I was in KC, and there will be more than just this one post about this topic. There are so many people I formed musical and personal relationships here over the past three years, it will take a couple posts to acknowledge my thoughts and revelations about this subject. Here I go…
I arrived in Kansas City in May 2020, just in time to have Covid shut down the live music industry. After being a full-time bassist in Denver for so many decades and working nearly every week, it was a shock to be forced into hibernation for eight months. That was the weirdest time period thus far in my career. I didn’t know anybody here, and while I did start to introduce myself to the local musicians here it was not very productive. I was thinking about my career and wondering if it was circling the drain, that’s how it felt.
One of the first people to reach out to me here was a cool guy named Jamie Green. He has a great podcast called “Trading Fours” and he has interviewed numerous industry icons and countless artists, both locally and nationally. Jamie is also a versatile guitarist and singer. He saw me trying to introduce myself on social media and was kind enough to reach-out and offer his support. He also interviewed me on “Trading Fours” which was a thrill. I went on to play several gigs with Jamie over the last two years, duos, trios and full-on rock band gigs. I even played the bass track on the “Trading Fours” theme song from the show! I am grateful to Sir Jamie for being the first to welcome me to KC and glad he and I have become friends!
In 2020 I discovered a nearby haircut place called Scissors & Scotch. This is a chain of salons that offers men’s haircuts and other spa-like treatments, and they have a bar with a huge selection of scotches and other artisan cocktails. Pretty cool franchise idea, and the stylist that cuts my hair there is a great young lady. One day the dude who worked at the bar and front desk was singing along with the overhead music, he was goofing around with Anita baker’s “Sweet Love” and it made me laugh. After my haircut I asked him if he was a musician, and that moment started a friendship and also a great work opportunity for me. That ‘dude’ is David Olson, a guitarist, keyboardist, bassist and singer. David works for one of KC’s top wedding band organizations, Patrick Lentz Entertainment (PLE). I told David about my many years of wedding band gigs in Colorado, and that I was looking for gigs. Based solely on David’s recommendation, I was hired by Patrick Lentz to start doing regular gigs.
The band that PLE produces is named “KC FLO” and on any given night there might be eight to ten (or more) different gigs around the country with “KC FLO” performing. This is a company that employs a large but elite roster of singers, musicians and sound techs. While I routinely work alongside familiar personnel, the makeup of the band is different on every gig. I am by far the oldest musician working for PLE, it is interesting. Many of the singers and players are in their 20’s and 30’s and it is fun to realize I am the ‘most seasoned’ one on stage. Lol.
The KC FLO music is much more contemporary than what I was used to, and the young brides nowadays love a mixture of current rap, hip hop, and pop. Maybe some country too, especially here in Kansas. Anyway, the singers who work for PLE are truly amazing and they have to cover a TON of material. Also, some very exceptional musicians work for PLE.
I met some of the area’s top jazz horn players on these KC FLO gigs. That’ll be in the next post…
For the most part these gigs use play-along tracks for the entire gig. Audio track plus click track. This is nothing new, this motif has been around for years. Using these tracks ensures that the product will always be ‘reliable’ and that everybody onstage will have to assimilate to the material and learn their parts. The tracks actually already have bass on them. (Sometimes they don’t even dispatch a bass player to these gigs) I transcribed these intricate, long and challenging mashup tracks and wrote out the bass parts as accurately as I could. I feel like I really learned the material and like to have fun while reproducing, augmenting and improving upon the bass that exists in the tracks.
I am grateful to have worked for PLE during my time here in KC. During the last 2 1/2 years
I played a lot of gigs with them in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska and even Los Cabos, Mexico. Muy bueno!
As for my friend David Olson, he is a great guy. In addition to KC FLO, David and I also played numerous gigs together as a duo. So glad I came into Scissors & Scotch and met David, it started my whole networking situation here in Kansas City.
Last topic for today’s post is my 2 1/2 years of teaching bass lessons at Music & Arts in Shawnee Mission, KS. Music & Arts is owned by Guitar Center, so my paycheck is actually from Guitar Center! The manager there was a bassist himself, and was kind enough hire me to teach there in 2020. He evaluated my skill as the top tier in their ranking system. I am at the ‘Master’ level of instruction there, this makes me smile.
I’ve had very few students since moving here, unlike the previous decades where I taught a lot. Still, I enjoyed working with the students I met here! One student inspired me to transcribe several Slipknot songs, which made me a better person.
Today is my last day as an instructor at Music & Arts, and my last day as a Guitar Center employee. I will have to say goodbye to the students and store employees tonight. I know I warped their minds pretty well with all the triads, scales, roots, 5ths, octaves, modes, harmonics, Stevie, Jimi, Zeppelin, Rage, Maiden, chords, charts, theory and banter.
Okay, just about two more weeks until we head to the new town!
Thanks for reading, stay tuned…