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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Kansas City blues is a genre of blues music. It has spawned the Kansas City Blues & Jazz festival and the Kansas City Blues Society. Today Kansas City is home to many great blues artists and blues fans alike.


Kansas City Blues History

Although Kansas City, Missouri is known primarily for Jazz, Kansas City has contributed to the history of and the preserverance of the style of music known as Blues.

Kansas City did not really enter into blues history until the 1940s. Kansas City blues artists Pete Johnson and Big Joe Turner recorded a style of music called jump blues which later provided the foundation for rhythm and blues, and later even rock and roll. Famed Kansas City Jazz legend Charlie Parker dabbled in the blues in the late 1940s with his release of "Now's the Time", a Bebop jazz number that gave a nod to the popularity of the blues in Kansas City by using the familiar blues pentatonic scale and blue notes.

The blues scene in Kansas City produced Jay McShann, Sonny Kenner, Little Hatch and Cotton Candy and the blues was very popular in small nightclubs and after-hours Jam sessions. Many Kansas City musicians would finish their "paying" gigs at weddings, jazz clubs etc. and then pack up and head to the 18th and Vine-Downtown East, Kansas City district to participate in all-night parties that would sometimes continue well into daylight. The 18th & Vine jam sessions continue today at Kansas City's famed Musician's Foundation. The Musician's Foundation has immunity from liquor laws and happily serves alcoholic beverages to its visitors until the sun comes up. The musician's foundation has not changed its look since the 1940s and remains a Kansas City music staple.

Louis Jordan is sometimes incorrectly referred to as a Kansas City Musician, playing the Kansas City Style of Jump Blues.

Notable Kansas City Blues Artists

Kansas City blues guitarist Sonny Kenner - photo courtesy of Adam Blue Productions

Clarence "Sonny" Kenner - 6/2/1933 - 1/23/2001

Sonny Kenner spent a lifetime entertaining audiences, both in Kansas City and around the globe. Born into a family of entertainers on June 2nd, 1933, Sonny grew up only a block away from what is now the Kansas City Musicians Foundation where as a child he was able to hear some of the city's finest jazz musicians.

During Sonny's career he shared the stage with Bob Hope, Quincy Jones, Red Foxx and Charlie Parker. "I could hardly play when I was on stage with 'Bird," remembers Sonny with a smile. "I was too busy just trying to listen to him! He was a real idol of mine." Over the years Sonny became good friends with (comedian) Red Foxx. "We'd hang out together after shows and he would take me to all the parties. I couldn't believe all the movie stars I used to see at those things."[1]

Sonny was always very close to his audience. In his later years, Sonny became a favorite performer among young college students. The college crowd loved Sonny because he would hang out with them on his breaks and talk about life and music. He would stop several times throughout a performance to gather requests from the audience. The young college girls loved to make their requests right into Sonny's ear and often give him a peck on the cheek before stepping down from the stage. He was very philosophical in his late years, and on his breaks you would find him surrounded by his fans listening to stories about life and music. Sonny left us on January 23rd, 2001 but we will never forget him.

Provine Hatch, Jr. - 10/25/1921 - 1/16/2003

"Little Hatch" was a regionally famous Kansas City harmonica player and band leader from the 1950s until 2003 when he passed at the age of 81. Little Hatch spent decades tirelessly performing the blues all over Kansas City and the Midwest.

Annetta "Cotton Candy" Washington - 1/1/1931 - 12/25/2007

Cotton Candy was Kansas City's reigning queen of the blues. She was an accomplished singer, songwriter, pianist, author, and poet. Cotton was born a New Year's Day baby in 1931. Cotton won numerous awards, including being one of the few women inducted into the Elder Statesmen of Jazz. She is a founding member of the Kansas City Blues Society, and donated her time and energy to a variety of charities.

Brody Buster - 8/22/1984 -

Kansas City harmonica prodigy Brody Buster became a professional musician at the age of 7. For a short time Brody teamed up with a child street dancer and performed as a duo on Beale Street for tips. It was there that he was discovered by B.B. King who owned a nightclub in the area. B.B. invited 8 year old Brody to perform at his nightclub on Beale Street and later asked him to do the grand opening of his new nightclub in Los Angeles called B.B. King's Blues Club.

Brody soon became a regular at B.B.'s club in Los Angeles. One night the cast and crew from The Tonight Show stopped in. Impressed with the 9 year old harmonica wizard, they asked him to be on the show. The Tonight Show went over so well that Brody was asked to perform at the Montreux Jazz Festival hosted by Quincy Jones where Brody sat in with several of the headline acts.

Today Brody resides in Lawrence, Kansas and continues to perform at major concerts and festivals.

Current Local Blues Artists

  • 40 Rider Blues
  • Abb Locke
  • Back Alley
  • Big John & The 39th Street Blues Band
  • Big Slim's Full House Blues Band
  • The Big Three
  • Bill Carter's Blues Revue
  • Blue River Ordonnance
  • Blue Shoe Sole Revue
  • Blues Notions
  • Bluesville
  • Blues 88
  • Blues Trip
  • Bluetonium
  • BluzBenderz
  • Bradley Allen Band
  • Bobby Carson
  • Brody Buster
  • Charlie Tweed
  • Connie Lush & Blues Shouter
  • The Cobalt Project
  • Cordon Bleu
  • Dan Doran
  • Dangerfield/McNally Band
  • Deja Blue
  • Dick Dangerous & Her Band
  • Divine Spark Flashing
  • The Doghouse Daddies
  • Dog House Blues Band
  • Doc Hoc & Blues Deluxe
  • Dr 88 (aka) Bill Laursen
  • Driving Wheel
  • Evan Dease
  • Eugene Smiley
  • Eugene Smiley Jr. & Out of the Blues
  • Fast Johnny Ricker
  • Four Fried Chickens & a Coke
  • 40 Riders
  • Frank Ace Band
  • Groove Indigo
  • Harmonic Mo Paul & His Blanco Gringos
  • Hideaway
  • Jimmy Lewin & the King Tones
  • Jeff Lucas & & Ice Cold
  • Jerry Dowell Band
  • Jerry Forney Blues Band
  • John Paul Drum aka Papa Lightfoot
  • Johnny "i" & the Receders
  • Jr's Flat Six
  • K.C. Brass & Electric
  • Kelley Hunt Band
  • Kevin May & The Deaconairs
  • King Alex & the Untouchables
  • Knock Kneed Sally
  • Lawrence Wright (deceased 2004) & the Outlets
  • Lemon Peel Long & The Blues Kings
  • Levee Town
  • Lil Joe Sherrick
  • Linda Shell & the Blues Thang
  • Lonesome Hank & the Heartaches
  • Lonnie Ray Blues Band
  • Loosenz w/ the Tighten Up Horns
  • Main Street Rhythm Devils
  • Mama Ray & the Rich Vansant Band
  • Marvin Hunt and the Born Lovers
  • Mary Moore
  • Mike Elrod
  • Millage Gilbert's Downhome Blues Band
  • Moe Blues Band
  • Mud Slinger with Clayton Goldstein
  • Night Train
  • Phil Callier & Jhamm
  • Psycho Joe & the Hipnotics
  • The Rain Dogs
  • The Real Deal
  • Rhythm Rockets
  • Rich Berry Acoustic Blues
  • Richard Townsend and the Gotto Band
  • Robbie Ray & The Ribb City Blues Band
  • Rockin'Daddy
  • Rowland Allen Band
  • Ron Teamer Kansas Blue Kick Band
  • Salty Dawg's COLD SWEAT
  • Smith Brothers
  • Sonny Kenner
  • Soul Bandit
  • T. "Bones" Morris
  • Trampled Underfoot
  • The Tommy Andrews Band
  • Uptown Rulers
  • The Waxed Tadpoles
  • W.B. Bluze
  • Big Woody Blues Band

See also


  1. ^

External links

Blues | Blues genres
Jug band - Acid blues - Classic female blues - Country blues - Delta blues - Jump blues - Piano blues - Fife and drum blues
Jazz blues - Blues-rock - Soul blues- Punk blues
African blues - British blues - Chicago blues - Detroit blues - Kansas City blues - Louisiana blues - Memphis blues - Piedmont blues - St. Louis blues - Swamp blues - Texas blues - West Coast blues


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