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.

Christian Bordeau, Courtesy Baby Robot Media

When Katie Jo Oberthaler interned at KMUW as a high school student, she says she never expected to end up on the air.

More specifically, she never expected that songs she'd written would wind up on the airwaves at that very same station.

But her new album, Pawn Shop Queen (recorded as Katie Jo), is changing that. The record, tracked in Long Beach, California, is already earning her critical acclaim and airplay.

The Sundance Film Festival has helped launch some of the biggest names in filmmaking over the last three decades, including Quentin Tarantino, Steven Soderbergh, and Paul Thomas Anderson.

Mel Mercer

Self-Acceptance Speech, the new album from Old News, arrives Oct. 15 via We're Trying Records.

The band's first full-length album finds guitarist/vocalist Beau Harris, drummer Max Abood and bassist Blaine Martin subverting expectations of the math rock and emo genres across material such as "Pulling Teeth," "Heads Like Projectors" and "Sunday Suit."

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Oct. 9 sees the release of Forest Standards Vol.2, the new album from guitarist David Lord and his second collaboration with the BIG EGO label.

As with its predecessor, Lord tracked the majority of the music in Los Angeles, then finished work at his own Air House Studios. Joining him on the sessions for the second Forest Standards collection is the core band of Jeff Parker (Tortoise, Isotope 217) on guitar, drummer Chad Taylor (Chicago Underground Duo) and bassist Billy Mohler (Dolly Parton). Sam Hake adds vibraphone throughout.

John Abbott

Matt Wilson's 2018 LP Honey and Salt: Music Inspired by the Poetry of Carl Sandburg earned the veteran musician a Musician of the Year from the Jazz Journalist Association while the LP itself was named Record of the Year.

Wilson, who is no stranger to accolades, has earned some new ones with his latest release, Hug!, credited to the Matt Wilson Quartet.

Jerry Cadieux

My Getaway is the full-length debut album from Dustin Arbuckle & The Damnations.

The record features songs written primarily since the group's inception in 2017 and taps into the collective's rich confluence of musical influences, including various strands of blues, rock and jazz.

Joining Arbuckle on the recording are bassist Mark Foley, guitarist Brandon Hudspeth and drummer Kendall Newby. (Caleb Drummond performs bass duties on three tracks.)

Laura Domela

Storm Large will perform at Salina's Stiefel Theatre on Saturday, Feb. 8.

The multi-faceted Large continues to impress with her range of talents, including acting, writing and playwriting, though singing remains central to it all. Her musical performances are dynamic, dramatic and cover a wide range of material.

Rick Bumgardner

The Wichita stage production of The Wiz debuts at Roxy’s Downtown next week.

The show is based on the classical musical fantasy The Wizard of Oz, but with an all-black cast and an R&B and jazz score.

Nate Burrell

St. Louis-based singer-songwriter Beth Bombara will perform at Barleycorn's Tuesday, Jan. 21, on a bill with Joey Lemon and Samantha Crain.

Bombara's 2019 album Evergreen earned accolades from the critical community and further established her as a recording and touring entity.

She recently spoke with KMUW about the album and her ongoing friendship with Crain.

At times Evergreen recalls Neil Young or Emmylou Harris albums from the '70s. Were those touchstones for you?

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Though she shares a name (and manager) with blues pianist and vocalist Kelley Hunt, Kansas City-based singer-songwriter Kelly Hunt has a sound distinctly her own. The Tennessee native's songwriting is steeped in the Americana tradition — her songs spare and intimate, as heard on her debut album Even The Sparrow.

Released in May 2019, the record has already earned Hunt a global audience and acclaim from outlets such as Rolling Stone and PopMatters. It was selected as a finalist for the International Folk Awards Album of The Year.