she's a keeper

Show recap: Chris Haghirian's Birthday Bash at recordBar, 6.29.12

(pictured above: Oriole Post)

Friday night saw the celebration of a few events at the recordBar. First, the birthday of Chris Haghirian of Ink Magazine. 
Second, the farewell show for Oriole Post, who performed a hearty but bittersweet set to a packed dinner crowd.
An unspoken celebration was one for the local music scene. The early show (Olassa/Oriole Post) was packed nearly to capacity with the faces of familiar musicians, families and friends. The late show was not quite as full, but the spirit was jovial with the lively sounds of The Hearts of Darkness and the dynamic instrumentation of She's A Keeper. 17-year-old Georgia Gordon, who hails from Scotland, opened up the show with a series of acoustic songs to lead into the other eclectic acts of the evening. Chicago's Stephen Paul Smoker also added a heavier, psychedelic element to the show, keeping the crowd on its feet for the headliner, The Hearts of Darkness. With a blend of fantastic local acts and emerging national/international acts, and a mixture of new and old faces, recordBar helped prove that there's a viable, up-and-coming music scene in Kansas City.


Georgia Gordon

She's A Keeper

Stephen Paul Smoker

The Hearts of Darkness

Photos © Todd Zimmer, 2012. Please do not use without permission.

Show of the day: Chris Haghirian's Birthday Bash at recordBar

Tonight, several of the best artists in Kansas City and beyond will be at the recordBar to help celebrate the birthday of Ink Magazine's Chris Haghirian. Haghirian is one of the biggest proponents and supporters of the Kansas City music scene, co-establishing the Middle of the Map Fest, which has helped get national acts on the Kansas City stage. He's spearheaded a number of events to get regional and national exposure for Kansas City acts, including MidCoast Takeover at SXSW, MidCoast Cares: A Benefit for Joplin, the Ink Music Stage at the Plaza Art Fair, and Ink's Local Music Showcase at Kauffman Stadium. Most notably coming up, he and Ink have teamed up with the MLB host an All-Star FanFest for the MLB All-Star Game at Bartle Hall on July 8-9.

The show will begin at 7:00 p.m. with Oriole Post; this will also be the folk band's farewell show. Olassa from Lawrence will follow. This early show is $7.
The music continues at 9:00 for $10, or you can get a combo ticket for both shows for only $12. Acoustic performer Georgia Gordon, who hails from Edinburgh, will kick off the set. After that, emerging Kansas City group She's A Keeper (check out our album review here), followed by psychedelic Chicago musician Stephen Paul Smoker. Closing out the evening in true party fashion will be local favorites Hearts of Darkness. It'll be a fine way to celebrate a fine man. If you're a part of or a supporter of the Kansas City music scene, come out and watch some great artists, and pat the birthday boy on the back.

Here's the video for "Green City" from Stephen Paul Smoker:


"Vega" by Olassa:

And something off Hearts of Darkness's upcoming release:


Album review: She's A Keeper - She's A Keeper

Someone get Zach Braff on the phone. He is going to want to get in on She’s a Keeper before someone else does. Having already packed local clubs to capacity and having performed at Midcoast Takeover this year at South by Southwest, if you haven’t heard of this band yet, you damn well should have. And assuming the band keeps making albums like this one, you will hear of She’s a Keeper whether you want to or not.

She's A Keeper really hit the purposefully rusted nail on the head with this effort. These cool kids got off the bus in some random Kentucky town and quickly put the from-the-jug drinking locals to shame. It makes me wonder which one offered up his or her poor young soul to the devil to comprehend and create alt folk rock so well. It is really, really good. As a fellow local musician, I have to admit it is angry good. It is jealous good. It is damn impressive.

She’s a Keeper pulls off this click of music to near perfection. The more rock moments tinge on the metronomic energy of Phoenix. The upbeat songs are a hootin’ and hollerin’ good time, reminiscent of the Avett Brothers’ early work. The slower, “purtier” efforts tenderly kick you in the stomach and leave you wanting to thank the boot.

Songs like “Guidance” and “Love Me Like a Summer” carry a consistent yet dynamic energy. As is typical in this modern-folk-rock genre, She’s a Keeper enjoys being playful with song structures, often utilizing beat and meter changes to keep the ears surprised.

In “Branches,” my favorite tune of this bunch, the band shows a masterful control of its music. The song is built up and torn down many times in many unique ways, yet it never seems excessive. It features a grand range of instrumentation, but, impressively, each instrument is used in exactly the right amount and way. The restraint and respect shown to the song as a whole is something from which even the most seasoned songwriters could take a cue.

The following two tracks showcase the other side of what She's A Keeper can do. “Hometown” is a stripped-down effort overflowing with honesty and emotion. It produces the power and impact of the previous track, but with 20 percent of the instrumentation. “Show Me State” starts out very much the same, featuring only the comforting flicker of a xylophone to accompany the spot-on harmony vocals and layered guitar. But just when you think they’re losing their steam, the rest of the band return and bring the track to an exciting and dynamic conclusion. I would say without reservation it is the best three-song stretch I have heard on an album (local or not) in quite a while.

And so it continues over the 12 songs. There are not a lot of criticisms to be had here. The album does lack an obvious radio single, but as soon as She's A Keeper stumbles upon its “Caring is Creepy” or “Lisztomania,” all bets are off.

Do yourself a favor. Go “like” this band now. Go get this record. She’s a Keeper is doing it right, and you should know about it.

She's A Keeper will be performing this Friday, June 29 at recordBar for Chris Haghirian's birthday bonanza, which begins at 9:00 p.m. with Georgia Gordon, Stephen Paul Smoker and Hearts of Darkness. Tickets are $10 and are available here.

 -Zach Hodson

Zach is a lifetime Kansas City resident who plays multiple instruments and sings in Dolls on Fire, as well as contributing to many other Kansas City music, art, and comedy projects.  He is very fond of edamame, treats his cat Wiley better than he treats himself, and doesn't want to see pictures of your newborn child (seriously, it looks like a potato).

Editor's note: This album was released in 2011 and followed up by a live recording performed at Midwestern Musical Co earlier this year. She's A Keeper will be releasing a follow-up studio album in August.