Monthly Archives: September 2011

Announcing the Gene Clark Symposium

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This picture of Gene Clark is a still from performance footage of the Byrds that was recorded in 1966 but never released. The footage will be shown as part of the Gene Clark Symposium in November.

I’m pleased to announce an event that will showcase some important Kansas City music history.

The Gene Clark Symposium will be a unique gathering of Gene Clark collectors and fans from across the country (and in a couple of cases, from Europe). The event is the idea of Whin Oppice, a noted Gene Clark collector. I’m assisting with planning and logistics, and will give a presentation on my own Clark research.

The symposium is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, Nov. 4-5, in Overland Park, Kan., a suburb of Kansas City.

Gene Clark grew up in Kansas City and was one of the founders of the Byrds, one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll bands of the 1960s. He also had an influential solo career and is considered to be one of the architects of folk-rock, country-rock and the singer-songwriter movement of the 1970s.

One of the ironies about Gene’s recording career is although there were long stretches between official releases, he wrote prolifically and recorded often. For a variety of reasons, much of this material remains unreleased. Through the years, as material became available, collectors bought it and preserved it.

This will be the first gathering of Gene Clark collectors in real life, although many frequently communicate online. It’s fitting that it’s in Kansas City, where Gene grew up.

The symposium is open to all Gene Clark fans, and you don’t need to contribute material to attend. For more information, go the Gene Clark Symposium section on this site.

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Frank Driggs: An Appreciation

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Jazz historian Frank Driggs died yesterday at age 81. Driggs not only had the world’s finest collection of jazz photographs, he is considered to be one of the foremost experts on Kansas City jazz.

His book Kansas City Jazz: From Ragtime to Bebop — A History, written with Chuck Haddix of the Marr Sound Archives at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, is essential reading for anyone interested in the history of Kansas City and its music.

I use this book all the time, and it’s valuable not only for its precise roll call of Kansas City’s musicians, but for it’s chronicle of the social and cultural forces that helped shape Kansas City music in the first half of the 20th century.

If you’re interested in learning more, read Griggs’ obituary in the New York Times, as well as this 2005 profile from Smithsonian.

The Billboard Roll Call: Rusty Draper

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The Billboard Roll Call is a listing of regional artists who charted a song on the Billboard Top 40 from 1955-2009. The introduction has additional information.

Rusty Draper initially started his career as a country singer, but found his greatest success in the mid-1950s with a rockabilly-flavored sound.

Draper was born in Kirksville, Mo., about 180 miles northeast of Kansas City, in 1923. He initially worked in radio in the 1930s and 1940s. According to his obituary in the New York Times, he often filled in for Ronald Reagan when both worked at a station in Des Moines, Iowa.

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The Billboard Roll Call: David Cook

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The Billboard Roll Call is a listing of regional artists who charted a song on the Billboard Top 40 from 1955-2009. The introduction has additional information.

Anyone looking to see how much the music industry has changed can look at David Cook’s career.

A native of the Kansas City suburb of Blue Springs, Mo., Cook was the winner of the 2008 season of American Idol. Since then, Cook has worked steadily and has established a moderately high profile. If he has not reached the level of such Idol winners as Carrie Underwood or Kelly Clarkson, he hasn’t flamed out either.

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