Cultural Shorts

Discussions about the artistic impulse and creative drive, these interviews and features bring a local focus on the global art community of artists, authors and musicians.

Ken Burns is to contemporary television what baseball is to contemporary sports: a vestige that remains relevant, no matter that there are gadgets and gizmos galore competing for our attention. Just as families once flocked to the box on Sunday nights to see Ed Sullivan introduce the most exciting entertainers of the day or others gathered around the tube to witness historic programs such as Roots, so too do we find occasion to hunker down and dig into a new Burns series every now and again and learn something more about America's cultural heritage.

During the settlement of the West, one in four cowboys were black. But their contributions have long been overlooked by the mainstream historical record.

One need only look at the backlash over 2019's biggest single, Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road," to see how overlooked black cowboys have become.

When Wrangler jeans teamed with the rapper, the company faced criticism over what some claimed was cultural appropriation—that the cowboy image was the province of white America.

Hugo Phan / KMUW

For many music lovers, Woody Guthrie is the quintessential folk artist.

He is the man who scrawled "This Machine Kills Fascists" on his guitar and sang about social injustices.

But Guthrie's musical legacy reaches far beyond the folk designation. For some, he is a founding father of country music.

Joshua Moon Wilkins

Kansas native Chuck Mead is the subject of KMUW's upcoming music tasting on Thursday, Sept. 5, at Roxy's Downtown.

Raised in Lawrence, Mead is a founding member of the Grammy-nominated band BR549. He also brought the Tony Award-winning musical Million Dollar Quartet to life via his understanding of the intersection between rural and urban music.

Jacob Blicken

Earlier in 2019, Gov't Mule released Bring On The Music: Live at the Capitol Theatre, a multi-format collection celebrating the outfit's quarter-century career.

In addition to a stand-alone live album, fans can also witness the concert via a DVD/Blu-ray release, which features behind-the-scenes footage and band interviews. Directed by Danny Clinch, the film captures the veteran act's visual impact in great detail.

Nate Burrell

Texas-based musician Scott H. Biram has been something of a touring phenomenon over the last two decades but says that these days he's pulling back a little.

Are you touring more these days than in the past?

No. I've actually tried to dial it back in the last few years. I was doing 200 dates a year at one point. In the last couple of years, I've tried to dial it back a little bit. I probably do 150-165 dates a year. Four or five tours a year it seems like.

Jay Marshall

Earlier this year, Wichita-based band After Judo released its first album, Harvard Avenue, and now the band is about to embark on its first-ever tour.

Band members Joe Hagen and An Nguyen recently visited the KMUW studios to talk about the band's history.

Take me back and tell me how this whole thing started.

Michelle Mavrides

Wichita is the latest stop on a tour in support of Shawn James' latest album, The Dark & The Light. Influenced by soul, gospel, blues, rhythm and blues, and more, James provides a seamless blend of all those styles through the music on the deeply personal album.

Zach Bauman

Josh Berwanger was a member of the highly revered Lawrence, Kansas, band The Anniversary, which issued a series of enduring albums and EPs between 1997 and 2003.

Mintypics

Released in January 2019, Old News is the sophomore release from Nashville's The Steel Woods. The record encapsulates the collective's musical diversity. Neither entirely country nor entirely southern rock, the band appeals to fans of a variety of idioms, often within a single tune.

"I love James Brown as much as I love bluegrass as much as I love Bill Monroe. I like good music," says co-founder Jason "Rowdy" Cope. "I guess we're a classic rock band. We're just not old enough to be classic rock."

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