Welcome to January! New Year, New You, amiright? We love using this as a time to reset, recharge, and reevaluate our social schedules. While January tends to be, uh, “recovery mode” for a lot of scenesters (yeah, we all went a little overboard over the holidays), Lawrence is still packed with exciting live music for those of us getting a second wind and chugging along. Here are the events that can help you restore your pluck and kick off 2020 in style.
The Replay, January 2
This is one of those must-see lineups. Every one of these acts brings something new to the table. The Black Creatures have such a unique approach to their music, and fans of sci-fi will want to take note of their expert lyricism. Bad Alaskan is Lawrence’s top-notch synth wizard, bringing ultra-cool and jazzy takes to the table. Collidescope features the absolutely lush and deep vocals of up-and-coming songwriter Hadiza. Altogether, these three acts are chill enough to easy you back into the scene once your NYE hangover has subsided.
All Women’s Singer-Songwriter Showcase with host, Megan Luttrell. Featuring Joleen Thorpe, Joy Zimmerman, and Sally Vee
Kaw Valley Public House, January 2
One of the biggest breakout stars of the past year is Megan Luttrell. You’ve probably seen the folk musician’s name plastered everywhere. She’s been busy, playing all over town every week (she hosts an open mic every Monday). Never limiting herself to Downtown Lawrence, she has booked showcases in both South and North Lawrence. Her Kaw Valley Public House showcases, however, are where she shines.
The All Women’s Singer-Songwriter Showcase features a rotating cast of folk, bluegrass, indie, and pop musicians. This is where four women gather, all taking the stage at once. They take turns, with one musician performing one song at a time, while the others listen to their song introductions and performances. It’s a cozy and amiable affair that strengthens the bond between the female solo musicians in town. There’s no better way to start the year than by getting familiar with this ultra-supportive and camaraderie-building event.
The Replay, January 5
If you haven’t seen the Kansas City Bear Fighters, boy are you in for a treat. These Vaudeville-esque performers, usually clad in white suits, throw a gleeful show thanks to their humor and quick wit. Come for the catchy folk tunes, stay for the cheeky jabs in their lyrics. The show is early (starts at 5:00 p.m.), which is good because children tend to enjoy their sets and arrive en masse. They’ll be joined by the very bearded, boot-stompin’ Tyler Gregory, who make take the title for the politest folk musician in Lawrence.
Gaslight Gardens, January 11
Take a country band, sprinkle a little glam into it, and you’ve got Cowtown Country Club. This Kansas City group tends to delight audiences with their take on country songs, as well as Western-versions of poppier ones. You might hear them cover “Choo Ch’boogie” or “Long Tall Texan,” or you might hear them take on the R&B classic, “Waterfalls.” No one knows what to expect with these country crooners. We can only hope they gift their Lawrence set with their acapella harmonizing in Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.”
The Granada, January 30
The Granada is jam-packed with country concerts all throughout January. But the one that’s getting the most attention is Aaron Watson’s show at the end of the month. The popular Country star is a pretty big deal, having produced nonstop music over the course of 20 years. He’s stopping by as part of a massive tour this year supporting his recent release, 2019’s Red Bandana. Watson has an impressive track record, releasing 15 studio albums, charting with Billboard, and spending time collaborating with artists like Willie Nelson. Later this year, Watson’s set to be inducted into the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame.
Other noteworthy concerts this month:
Internal Bleeding / Logistic Slaughter / Embryonic Devourment / Depulsed / Torn the F*ck Apart at The Bottleneck
Fally Afani is an award-winning journalist with a career spanning more than 15 years in media. She has worked extensively in radio, television, newspapers, magazines, and more. Currently, she resides in Lawrence, Kansas, where she works as a music journalist and is the Editor of I Heart Local Music.