As longtime B&V readers know, we like to support local music (B&V Goes Out Drinking, Supports Live Music: Kansas City’s Amanda Fish). Doing that – supporting local music, or music of any kind – was difficult in 2020. Gone were concerts. Gone was going out to the local tavern, plopping down ten bucks for a cover charge, grabbing a brew and squeezing into an open space to listen to some live music. I miss standing awash in the roar of a crowd, sweaty shoulder to sweaty shoulder in front of a stage on a jam-packed floor while some guitarist attempts to melt my face off. I think the last show I saw live was Starcrawler and Arrow de Wilde spit water on me at the end of the show (Concert Review: Starcrawler, 10/14/2019, At Kansas City’s Riot Room – Punk Rock Rag Doll Delivers). Try to imagine that happening now in the age of COVID? No more spitting, young lady.
A few years ago I met a guy at a Black Sabbath concert through a mutual friend who has been referred to since then in these pages as “Drummer Blake” (Black Sabbath Live & The Four Horsemen of the Salinapocalypse). Immediately upon getting to know him, I realized that “Drummer” Blake Blackim was a man who took his rock and roll seriously. He hailed from Salina, Kansas and was in a band named Rockgarden. Rockgarden was in the process of winding things down, the lead singer was moving away, the band was splitting up. In subsequent conversations Blake admitted to me that he had been ruminating on some songwriting ideas and was itching to get a new band together. Over beers and shots of whiskey at the Quaff, a local watering hole, he showed me some nascent lyrics. I was impressed. After a false start on a new band, Blake texted to say he had a new lineup and they were called the Sunset Sinners. Little did I realize what a force they would become.
The Sunset Sinners arose from the Kansas prairie seemingly out of nowhere, like the tornadoes so often seen wreaking havoc on small, rural communities. The four men who came together to form the Sunset Sinners – Blake Blackim on drums, Chris Brungardt on guitar, Tony Bowell on vocals/guitar, and Brad Johnson on bass – came together around a sound. They call that sound Whiskey Barrel Rock. You won’t find these cats playing synth – or any keyboards for that matter – this is a good ol’ fashion guitar band. The sound, to me, conjures up the Black Crowes or the Georgia Satellites. It’s got a dash of country as well. But again, make no mistake, it’s guitars out front. Lead guitarist Chris Brungardt, who is the only member outside of drummer Blake I’ve personally met, absolutely shreds on lead. His solo’s will grab you but if you pay close attention there is a lot of great slide guitar all over the Sinners’ tracks, like “Always Time For One More Beer” (New Single: The Sunset Sinners “Always Time For One More Beer”). His crazy mad guitar skills are locked down by the thunderous rhythm section of Blackim and bassist Brad Johnson. All of this is the perfect platform for Tony Bowell’s vocals. The chemistry in this band is palpable – they’re serious about the music but they’re having a really fucking good time making it – and that comes across in their videos:
For me, a music fanatic, it has been fun to get an inside glimpse at a band’s creative process… well from up here in the cheap seats, anyway. To see them start with some lyrical ideas and progress to demos then to finished tracks has been a fascinating journey for me. To follow their songs from ideation to full release shows how much work it is to put together a record that sounds great. They sings songs about partying but those good times are always tinged with just a touch of regret. I read somewhere once that the reason the character of Tony Soprano was so interesting on ‘The Sopranos’ was not because he was a gangster but because he felt bad about it. The Sinners ethos is all fun, all the time but they too, maybe don’t feel bad about it, but carry that great, “Oh shit, what am I doing?” vibe that everyone can universally relate to. They’re kind of like Vegas… what happens with the Sinners, stays with the Sinners. I love the whole vibe of this band.
I caught up with Drummer Blake recently and he said the concert-less 2020 gave the band a lot of time to work on new material. I suppose a lot of bands were put in that position, unable to tour so they wrote songs… at least I hope so. I’m hoping 2021 leaves us flooded with new music. We could actually see a debut album from the Sinners later this year. Following up their two singles, “Always Time For One More Beer” and “Friday Night” the band is planning to release a new single “Act Your Age,” a James Gang style funky country rocker this month on January 15th. The Sinners have a big first responder, military following and they’ve got a great new song on the way, coming around March 1st entitled “Old Glory” to honor those folks and from what I’ve heard that one should be a crowd favorite. I have to admit to you, my favorite Sinners track is “Way To Go.” The track reminds me of the Georgia Satellites. I especially like Tony’s vocal on this track.
While we love local music down here at B&V, I don’t think the Sunset Sinners are going to be a “local,” regional band for much longer. They are apparently getting a lot of traction in France and their track “Friday Night” has entered the UK Indie Country Chart at number 1. I happen to know they’re getting some airplay in Australia as well. From doing B&V for a while now, I can testify to how many rock and roll fans there are out there from Salina to Paris to Canberra.
While I was hoping things would get significantly better in 2021, we hit a bit of snag out of the gates on Wednesday. There’s nowhere else to go but up from here, folks. And speaking of upwards, so too with the Sunset Sinners, I really think this band has a great future. If the Sinners’ music doesn’t get you up and wanting to party, you’ve been self-isolating too long. Anybody who wants to get in on the ground floor of this great sounding band – jump on and check out their stuff on Spotify. I’m hoping all this new music they have planned is merely the tip of the iceberg for us here at B&V and other bands are busy putting the finishing touches on new music… Let’s blow the dust off that shitty 2020 with some loud rock and roll because, you know, there really is “always time for one more beer…”
Cheers! Here’s to a better year in 2021.