Benefitting All: Ebony Tusks live in Lawrence, KS 12/01/16
If you’re in or around the Kansas City area and you have even a passing interest in the local music and/or art scene, odds are you probably already know about Ebony Tusks. But for the uninitiated, the trio is simple to describe – simply the most captivating hip-hop act in the Midwest.
The benefit for Just Food – a food bank feeding people in Douglas County – was brought to a raucous close by Ebony Tusks, featuring poignant and enigmatic frontman Martinez Hillard, backed by hypeman extraordinaire Nathan Giesecke and beatmaker Daniel B. Smith. At times, the sound was cut completely while Hillard delivered a sermon-like performance of verses that walked the line between street life and social commentary. That didn’t stop them from bringing out the bass and crowd interaction to turn the moderate Thursday night crowd into what felt like a giant dance party. In a way, their energetic-yet-insightful set capping a night of local music coupled with donating to a great cause is what makes this local scene one of the best in the country.
Filling out the lineup were three eclectic and talented local acts showcasing the strength of this music scene. First up was local household name CS Luxem. Just one man with a guitar and pedals upon pedals, Luxem created soundscapes that build on each other that complimented his strong singing voice to create music that sounded like it was coming from a full band – not just one guy on a stage. Truly a gem in the local music scene. Toughies were on the bill as well, bringing their sometimes-jangly, sometimes-fuzzy feel-good rock that seemed to go over very well with anyone in the audience looking to dance. Some of the best vibes you’ll get from a local band all year long. Direct support fell to Spencer MacKenzie Brown who was an absolute treat. He, along with his talented backing band, flew through a half-hour set that was maybe the best opening set from a local group this year. Every member of the group is dripping with talent, especially Brown himself with his stunning vocal range and melodies. Absolutely delightful.