Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear

Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear (9:30 PM)

KaiL Baxley (8:30 PM)

Tue, October 6, 2015

8:00 pm


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Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear - (Set time: 9:30 PM)
Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear
At home, Madisen and Ruth Ward are family members. Onstage, they're the leading members of Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear, a soulful folk band whose sound is anchored by twin guitars and two big, booming voices.

The music started in Kansas City, where Madisen grew up watching his mom perform cover songs at local coffeeshops. Before long, he was writing his own tunes, mixing the old-world influence of his family's folk records with the unchained, energetic stomp of modern-day rock & roll. The two began playing entire shows together, ditching the cover songs in favor of Madisen's original material. Both sang, both played guitar, and both watched as their band's audience slowly grew.

For years, though, they kept a low profile. This was honest music, performed by a band of blood relatives with no record label, no manager, no budget. Still, it was hard not to notice Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear. Onstage, they were solemn one minute and electrifying the next, able to command an audience's attention with little more than two acoustic guitars and Madisen's super-sized baritone vocals.

"Most of the musicians I've really loved have very unique and slightly awkward voices," he says. "Voices that stand out among the rest. When we were playing those early shows, I'd think, 'Belt out something that makes people set their coffee down and really pay attention. Do something to make them stop in their tracks.'"

Madisen Ward & Mama Bear's songs spin tall tales (and a few biographical truths) about life in the Midwest. They unfold like short stories, with Madisen — who grew up writing fiction — preferring to cut things off before any sort of ending can be reached. The goal isn't to paint a concrete picture for the audience. It's to hand the audience the paint brush and allow them to finish the design.

Word spread beyond Kansas City. The band headed south to Muscle Shoals for their first out-of-town performance, stole the show during the 2014 Americana Music Festival in Nashville and opened for blues legend B.B. King. Even so, it was the support of Kansas City's alternative-rock radio station, KRBZ, that truly turned the tide. Programming director Lazlo Geiger took the group under his wing, eventually connecting the Wards to the staff at Glassnote Records. A record deal followed, and Skeleton Crew — the Wards' first release on Glassnote's roster — will arrive on May 19th.

Produced by Jim Abbiss, known for his award-winning work with Arctic Monkeys and Adele, Skeleton Crew captures Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear in their most natural setting. The two tracked most of the tracks live, sitting across from one another in the recording studio. They didn't use a click track. With help from a handful of session musicians, the two Wards captured the sound they'd been making since those coffeeshop days — a mix of folk, rock and driving roots music that nods to the past while still pushing forward.

The family connection may be unique, but this is a duo that is purely about the music.
KaiL Baxley - (Set time: 8:30 PM)
KaiL Baxley
KaiL Baxley’s songs cut right to the bone for many reasons, so pay attention. First, there’s the cast of characters from the deep south, who KaiL carries with him every day. There’s his father, an outlaw who he only met once but insists is a good man. Then there’s his mother, who he visited on Sundays at the state penitentiary as a child. And his mother's fellow inmate James Brown (yes, the James Brown) who sang at that prison’s church and taught a shy KaiL how to dance. And there's his grandfather, whose anecdotes and wisdom KaiL will be quoting ad infinitum. Finally, there’s the best guitar player he's ever met: his small town's local mechanic.
Second, there’s the stories which KaiL’s hesitant to share, the stories hidden behind his poignant, timeless songwriting. A Golden Glove boxing champion's dream of fighting for the US olympic team sidetracked by a run in with the law. The gunshot wound on his left
shoulder he probably will never mention. The loss of a close friend honored in his
devastating song “Chasing James Dean.” How he drove across the country to LA without
much more than a guitar. How he was so poor, he slept in an RV for 2 years on Selma blvd in order to pay for his first record Heat Stroke / The Wind and The War. And how, astonishingly, that record, a soul wrenching mash of gospel, soul, blues and damn good songwriting, went on to be nominated as album of the year by NPR.
Then there's his second record that’s better than the first: A Light that Never Dies. Released last July, KCRW and NPR snuck in as early adopters, hailing the album a true reflection of Baxley’s greatest talent: seeing beauty in our darkest of moments. Much
more of a slow burn than a flash in the pan, the magic of KaiL’s music continues to spread via word of mouth and his captivating live performances. We all have been dealt a bad hand in life at some point or another. How one chooses to play that hand, however, is what truly defines a person and every time, with his music and unwavering spirit, KaiL Baxley chooses to double down.
“Killin’ Floor” and “High On the Moon” were released in February 2017 and continue on with KaiL’s signature blues/soul sound.
Venue Information:
9081 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA, 90069

All lineups and times subject to change