Geoff Harkness

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Accepted eclectic

Lawrence's Approach takes the enlightened path to hip-hop credibility

By Geoff Harkness Though Sean Hunt -- better known by his stage moniker Approach -- is one of the most respected MCs in local hip-hop, there's one thing you'll never hear him do. "You might catch a 'damn' or a 'hell' here and there, if you listen real close," he says during a recent interview just around the corner from his KC crib.

THE MAG: Broken dreams

Independence's Broken Cowboys reach for the country-music industry brass ring

By Geoff Harkness The True Value Country Music Showdown is the kind of gig that most twangy groups spend lifetimes dreaming about. But it's reality for the six aspiring country acts gathered at Kemper Arena, including Broken Cowboys, an Independence, Mo., quintet that won two previous battles-of-the-band to get here. The top dog will travel on to Nashville and perform at the Grand Ole Opry, competing with three others in a prestigious, televised finale.

THE MAG: Esau's foibles

Area band bridges gap between white belts and spiked belts

By Geoff Harkness Some bands want to change the world with their music, but Esau just wants to increase the peace between local belt-wearers.

THE MAG: Power trio

Music production team aims its sights at the top of the charts

By Geoff Harkness Travis Bickle's maniacal, not-all-there glare watches over the proceedings at Lock-N-Load studios, his iced gaze permanently affixed to a well-thumbed copy of "The Portable Machiavelli." A few inches away, the original members of the Rat Pack shoot a game of pool, while Tony Montana and the cast of "The Usual Suspects" battle for elbow room next to a framed poster of H. Jackson Brown's "21 Suggestions for Success" ("Be honest," "Work at something you enjoy that's worthy of your time and talent").

THE MAG: Schizophrenic anesthetic

Milemarker solidifies its sound and lineup on latest release

By Geoff Harkness The keyboard may be one of rock's most maligned instruments, the bane of many a garage band's existence and the black sheep of the modern musical family. For better or worse, however, a burgeoning flock of bootstrapped rockers are introducing the 88s to unexplored aural environments, pairing Rolands and Yamahas with Gibsons and Fenders in ways previously unimagined. One such outfit is Chicago's Milemarker, an ever-evolving gang of four or five that's determined to use keyboards without watering down its sound or reverting to cheesy retro novelty.

THE MAG: All hell breaks loose

The Last of the V8s explode onstage and off

By Geoff Harkness Ryan Mattes has a faraway look in his eyes, as if something crawling across the ceiling has captured his undivided attention. He straddles the microphone stand like a man clutching the last shards of sanity. Slowly he comes back to earth, suddenly remembering that he's onstage and in possession of the eyes and ears of the small throng of devotees studying his every move, transfixed by his every utterance. The music  courtesy of Waysted Stacey (which is Parlay, minus frontman Ernie Locke)  swells behind him and the song roars back to life.

THE MAG: Dancing about architecture

By Geoff Harkness Elvis Costello once said that writing about music is like dancing about architecture one form of expression straining vainly to interpret another. Whether Costello was right or wrong depends on perspective some say that the golden era of music writing died with the passing of outspoken wordsmith Lester Bangs, while others claim it headed south the day his first word was published.

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