Friday, August 18, 2006

Happy Trails

I was stunned to read this morning that Kansas's greatest band, Split Lip Rayfield, is playing its final shows this weekend (8/18 and 8/21) at the Bottleneck, as singer/guitarist Kirk Rundstrom (second from right) is terminally ill.

Split Lip released some great records on Chicago's Bloodshot label and toured extensively, but never quite had the national breakthrough they deserved.

They played what might be called hardcore bluegrass--traditional hillbilly music played with the loudness and intensity of punk rock. I've never seen a band generate more power with acoustic instruments (guitar, mandolin, banjo, and the infamous gas-tank bass). You never even noticed that there were no drums--they would have been redundant.

Find out more about the band and listen to their music here. My faves are "Crazy" and "Movin' to Virginia."

It's fitting that their swan song is at the Bottleneck; I've seen them there at least a half dozen times, and can honestly say I've never had more fun at a concert than at those shows. The noise, the intensity, the heat, the crush of people--it was like the Fieldhouse during a Mizzou game. I wish I could be there this time ...


  1. That really is a shame. A favorite of mine (though I lack the depth of familiarity enjoyed by Mr Lee) is "Hundred Dollar Bill," which you can download for free from

    It appears, DGL, that they'll soon be in places like Chicago (8/25) and Austin (9/23 & 9/24)--maybe there's hope for one more Lawrence show? We're thinking about Chicago, but the advance tickets are gone, and it's a bit of a drive to take our chances at the door . . .

    Either way, though it's too bad it has to be like this, that "go out with a bang" plan gets my full approval.

  2. Definitely the end of an era. Very sad.

  3. I was under the impression that the Lawrence shows were their very last, but now I see those other dates on the website. I'm glad to know the show will go on a little while longer even if I can't be there.

    And it's nice to see them selling out venues even in Chicago ... Maybe CR could be your advance man for tickets there, Yance.

    Thanks for the good times, Kirk.