2022 was a great year for the The Hoodoo Brothers. We learned a lot, made new friends, made improvements to the group, and have big plans for 2023.
The beginning of the year
The year started off with Mickey Munoz coming to the band. If there was a better way to start the year I really don’t know what it could have been. Mickey not only brought his years of experience and talent, but he is a helluva guy and now in hindsight I don’t see how we could have come this far without him.
With the band in place we hammered away at rehearsals, but in March a big event happened to us (at least in our minds it was huge) when Jim and Nic we’re performing with their Americana group “The Hot Toe Pickers” at DDubs Bar in Eudora, KS. At that show they met Kansas City Blues Society board member Dennis Nelson and KKFI radio personality Keith Washburn. Both turned out to be fortuitous for the group. Dennis not only has been a big fan of ours he also has gone out of his way to help us break into the Kansas City music scene with guidance, tips, and support. You could not find a better advocate for live, local music in KC than Dennis Nelson (plus, the man is EVERYWHERE)!!
The groups first show was scheduled for Lago Vista Grill in Ozawkie, KS. in April, however, the weather did not cooperate and the show ended up being cancelled. The first live performance was in downtown Topeka in May at Evergy Plaza for a Wednesday afternoon “Live @ Lunch” performance. The show went well and we really learned a LOT about our sound and show presentation. We had a decent crowd and was well received by all!
June and July saw us at The Kick Start Saloon in Topeka, KS (June) and D-Dubs Bar in Eudora, KS (July) with a fill in drummer, Gary McDaniel (Nic and Mark both have played with Gary in other projects) and both shows were another good learning experience and well received.
Middle of the year and the IBC
August and September we had two shows, one at Lago Vista in Ozawkie, KS and one at Tomorrow’s Bar in Junction City, KS. The show at Lago Vista was fun (even though we were hit with a little rain) and Miguel Cadena and his staff were awesome like they always are (the food is incredible too!) Conflicts turned the show in September 3rd in Junction City into a half Hoodoo Brothers, half Big Harry & The Back Street Blues band show. Both Jim and Mickey were unavailable for the show so Gary McDaniel and saxophonist Harry Muldrow filled in. It was different from a normal Hoodoo Brothers show but was a whole lot of fun nonetheless as we played a different variety of music than we normally would play.
The month of August began the transformation of the band and helped us realize our potential as a local group that could hold its own in the KC local market.
At the request of Dennis Nelson in August, The Hoodoo Brothers decided to enter the International Blues Challenge (IBC) regional competition to represent the Kansas City Blues Society in Memphis, TN in January 2023. This was being held at Knuckleheads Garage in Kansas City. The band needed to learn 25 minutes worth of original material before the competition on September 10th. Basically one month to put together a show. Nic brought in four original songs – “Never Go Back Again”, “Time Ain’t On My Side”, “Hell Hound” and “Trouble On My Mind” and as a group they decided to perform their version of the Dave Bailey Quintet’s “Comin’ Home Baby!”
August and September was filled with lots of rehearsals, going over the original songs, putting together a show that would fit within the 25 minute slot we were allowed, promotion and, quite honestly, psyching ourselves up for the event. The band also performed their IBC set at The Celtic Fox Thursday Open Mic (hosted by The Josh Vowell Band) in Topeka, KS. It went very well and really proved to us that we were ready to perform at the competition.
Keith Washburn invited the band to perform live on KKFI radio in KC on September 8th to promote the band and the IBC. But, nothing is ever smooth it seems like in the music world. Two days prior, our bassist, Mark Cavender ended up getting very sick and not only couldn’t make the radio broadcast, would not be able to make the IBC as well! The band was NOT going to pass this opportunity up and had to scramble last minute to not only find an available bassist, but someone who could learn the five songs with almost no rehearsal. Nic called his buddy, bassist Paul Gibson from Lenexa, KS. (who he played with in a variety of bands back in St. Louis, MO. in the 1990’s) to see if he was able and willing to fill in (which he was). Nic (in Topeka) and Paul (in Lenexa) crammed the songs through an online rehearsal (Jamulus is pretty cool!) and felt he was ready with one online rehearsal. He was unable to make the KKFI radio broadcast, but would be ready for the IBC. The radio show was fun and an incredible promotional opportunity for the band. We played a handful of songs live, talked and answered questions and promoted the band. (You can hear the broadcast here on the website).
Then September came and the IBC. We met a LOT of great musicians (great conversations with Jonny Green, JD & The Chasers Band, and others), event goers, and added another supporter in the form of current KCBS President, Betty Berry. The band arrived and when the drawing came for order of performance the band drew number 1. We would start the whole thing off!!
We took the stage and played our asses off. The sound system was incredible and in all honesty, made us sound better than we have before. Sure, there were hiccups, but they were minimal and by the response from the audience they must have have been unnoticeable. The applause when we finished was awesome. We completed our set in 24 minutes. Perfectly in the allotted time. We hung around, of course, for the other groups performances (every one of them were incredible) and awaited the results. We did not win (Coyote Bill and The Brood earned that win) but we got SO many good comments during and after the competition that we felt we had achieved just as much as winning. In fact, after we performed, KCBS President Better Berry told us “You guys set the bar for today!”
So, with the IBC behind us it was time to start looking forward to the rest of the year and our future.
Post IBC and closing out the year
Bassist Mark Cavender was still sick and with some other future potential sticking points, the band decided to go a different direction with the bass and offered Paul Gibson the position, which he accepted. Mark is an incredible bassist and quite frankly, a helluva nice guy. We couldn’t have done the things we did in 2022 without him we believe. Paul’s addition, however, VERY much changed the dynamics of the band. Paul also sings lead vocals and harmony very well, so that takes some of the pressure off of Nic doing all the singing as well as opening up the song opportunities the band can perform.
The first full show with Paul was on September 24 at D-Dubs Bar in Eudora. We again had to employ Gary McDaniel as Mickey had a previous commitment. Paul has a killer FOH system and we used that for the first time instead of our existing PA. It sounded incredible! We played well (D-Dubs is great place with great food too!)
October was another great month for the group. We were asked earlier in the year by KCBS board member Dennis Nelson if we would like to be the host band for the October monthly KCBS meeting/jam which was being held at The Hideout Bar & Grill in Gladstone, MO. (which we said of course). We loved the place (great food and the staff were awesome!) was super great to hob-nob again with KCBS board and society members, got to jam with some great folks (JD on harmonica and Bruce Sidener on guitar) and then near the end had “The Jonny Green Arrangement” play a few numbers before we finished out the night.
Also in October the band played at The Happy Basset Barrlehouse in Topeka, KS. This is a REALLY cool place and honestly one of the best places for live music in Topeka. We had a killer night, a great crowd, great response, and have booked future shows there that we are excited about!
The last gig for us this year will be on New Years Eve a The Kick Start Saloon in Topeka. We will be ringing in the new year doing what we love doing.
What does 2023 hold in store for us?
We are starting the year off with a band meeting to focus on how best we can position ourselves to being more well known by the Northeast Kansas (specifically KC) market and a show at The Happy Basset Barrlehouse in Topeka.. We also have a show on January 28th at Christine’s Firehouse in North Kansas City (which we will also have a special guest sitting in with us… more on that later), We have a few other shows booked, but are still trying to fill up our calendar with shows.
We have a plan, a goal, the skills, and the desire – all which make us a reckoning force in this market. In all honesty, 2023 is going to be our year of becoming known to the venues and people of Kansas City. Look for us, tell your friends about us, support us (and local music and musicians), come to our shows and chit chat with us!!
If you read this far, thank you. Look out 2023! Here comes the Hoodoo Brothers!!