Sounds Good: Janelle Monae @ Uptown, Harry Connick, Jr. @ Midland

Things are winding down for the holiday season…

It always gets a little bleak for music junkies like myself between Thanksgiving and Christmas (and even into mid-January), when it comes to live music.  So take advantage of the last couple weeks of live music to tide yourself over.

Then you can fully focus on cramming as much food and booze into your piehole as you can for the next month or so.  Ahh, the life…

Friday, November 15th

Janelle Monae at the Uptown in KC

Most people either really love or really don’t “get” this Kansas City native’s odd blend of funk, rock, soul, hip hop, R & B, and, well just pick another genre – she can do it.  Her latest release, 2013’s The Electric Lady, features appearances by a handful of A-listers like Prince, Erykah Badu, Miguel, and Esperanza Spaulding.  Most music outlets have tagged the album as “best new music” or whatever other designation they use to tell you what is cool at the moment.  And by all accounts, she brings it hard live.  Here’s what Consequence of Sound‘s Frank Mojica said of a recent energetic LA performance:

“Sometimes I wondered if Janelle Monáe really is an android from the future because how can someone be such a firecracker for so long and sound spot-on while doing so? During an ultra-extended take on “Come Alive (War of the Roses)”, Monáe hushed the crowd to confess her diagnosis as a “short person” and commanded them to crouch lower and lower as she walked through the pit, eventually allowing everyone to stand again to catch her as she attempted to surf.”


Sunday, November 17th

Harry Connick, Jr. at the Midland in KC

So apparently, Harry does not age.  Seriously, he looks the same as he did in 1995, and his voice is the same, too.  Maybe it’s some of that New Orleans voodoo at work.  Who knows.  What I do know is that he’s been the preeminent crooner for quite some time, and he’s touring on the back of an album released earlier this year called Every Man Should Know.  He’ll be bringing a dozen or so musicians with him, and he almost always plays a really diverse set that includes plenty of his charming-as-shit humor and stage banter as well.  He’s just such a showman, he does stuff like this, as reported by John Serba after a recent Michigan gig:

“Frank Sinatra’s “Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams (And Dream Your Troubles Away)” was an uptempo delight, Connick duetting with trombonist Lucien Barbarin, the group’s primary featured musician. They coyly exchanged lines, cracking each other up. When Connick picked up a trumpet and went to take a solo, the trumpeter on the bandstand stepped on his lines in a bit of choreographed comedy. Connick playfully chastised the horn player: “Go sit under the horse,” he said, referring to Meijer Gardens’ Leonardo Da Vinci Horse sculpture. “You have a time out.””

Oh, Harry you devil.

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