Record Store Day Preview: Part 1

April 18th is Record Store Day. The exclusive albums, the performances, and the vibe of the whole day make the cruelest month seem a little less so. For these 24hrs, vinyl-philes come together to acknowledge that while there are as many genres as there are people in the world (and some of them aren’t for everyone) all music lovers should be able to experience the warmth of uncompressed sound. This is why Mills Record Company will be hosting a day long concert, featuring some of best acts the area has to offer.

11081472_462576797239314_1493180680242627103_nRecord Store Day wouldn’t be anything without record stores and their records. This year, Mills Record Company plans not only to be stocked with its usual array of records but also to have plenty of exclusive Record Store Day releases. In addition to the bands in the parking lot, artist booths with dot the edges, offering the perfect visual complement to the music. And the festivities will continue into the night with indoor performances by Madisen Ward and The Mama Bear and The Grisly Hand. Both bands will be apart of Middle of the Map fest, but I doubt their shows will be as intimate an event as their Record Store Day performance will be.

Madisen Ward and The Mama Bear (Madisen’s mother, Ruth Ward) have branched out from Kansas City. Their music has wowed people at Rolling Stone, on Letterman, and at SXSW. The mother-son duo makes some damn good music. Their sound toes the line between the weariest blues and an enthralled preoccupation with the physical world. Both of the Wards have voices that are bittersweet in the most literal ways. Madisen’s initial confidence is augmented with a subtle self-doubt that warbles just underneath the surface, and Ruth’s harmonies have the type of beauty that only comes through having experienced pain. Whether the singer-songwriters are describing one’s death day or the idea of singing forever, they swerve between tonal resonances to add a dimension to the lyrics and songs that is often left unexplored by other artists.

Likewise, their guitar playing spans the entire spectrum between can’t-get-out-of-bed sadness to the most ecstatic strumming. This aspect to Madisen Ward and The Mama Bear’s music is played up in their live performances. As shown above (and below), the duo knows how to milk a groove of every bit of emotion. Madisen moves through Ruth’s melodic progressions with an ease that is as fun as it is heartbreaking. Madisen Ward and The Mama Bear is not a musician to miss live–and especially not this performance as Ward will be releasing an exclusive two song CD that day.

Likewise, The Grisly Hand has been a force to reckon with for over five years. Their music sits comfortably in alt-country. It blends rock and folk into the mix, but the band grounds their undeniable twang in the forefront of each song and decorate it with the very best of other genres. Whereas Madisen Ward and The Mama Bear swells with rural drama, The Grisly Hand skates through their songs with an ear for narrative and its subtle arcs.

The band has a palpable chemistry. And their live show plays up their comfortableness with one another. With most bands, there seems to be a give and take mentality, but the members of The Grisly Hand seem to be all give. The instruments add necessary textures to their songs, but they never take away from the track as a whole. The result are songs that organically build energy that the band then shares with its audience.

While Record Store Day‘s evening events will be spectacular, they will merely be carrying an all day celebration of music and its greatest format, vinyl, into that good night. On April 18th, Mills Record Company will open at 8am and will hold free ticket drawings for shows at The Midland. Free record label swag will be readily available as well as free coffee from Oddly Correct. There will be exclusive vinyl, signed posters and lithographs, and more bands packed into one space than should be allowed by law. Record Store Day will be a great way to spend a Saturday and an excellent excuse to pick up all the records you could ever want.

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