Ode to the Hot Toddy Trio

Last night one of the most exciting live music residencies in recent Kansas City history concluded with a three-set performance by the Hot Toddy Trio featuring Todd Brozman (electric piano), Dave Brick (drums), Brett Hendricks (bass) and Seyko Groves (vocals) live at Peter’s Loft. This ensemble specialized in soul/jazz interpretations of pop, grunge and yacht rock, putting a funky instrumental spin on everything from Queen to the Pixies while paying more direct vocal tributes to Stevie Wonder and Al Green. It was a truly magical run of shows over the past 12 months, and to commemorate I wrote a piece I intended to read live but didn’t quite put together in time. So I’ve written it out below instead—a tribute to a special microchapter of KC musical history and the unique yet rapidly changing neighborhood where it all took place.

An Ode to the Hot Toddy Trio Ft. Seyko Groves aka Aloha Means Both Goodbye and Hello

At midnight the train of souls rolls past 11th & Santa Fe
The floorboards rumble
The stairs shake

At midnight your Uber turns into a pumpkin
Then rolls perilously down Beardsley
Until we smash it
Pick up the fragments and turn it into musical Kintsugi

At midnight Alice slips out of her chains
Stevie wonders if Mary has what it takes
And Prudence replies to your letter to say:
Dear Dave, I too like to shake it loose 
it’s (almost) a brand new day

At midnight the Edge of Hell moves to the center
Bats fly out of antique pianos 
Gorgons escape from overpriced turquoise cabinets
Scattering vintage dresses and terrorizing suburbanites

At midnight the ghost of Jay B. Dillingham wakes up and packs his pipe
Smokes out 670
Covers the promontory in fog
The Marriot blinking like a stoned robot

At midnight the groove builds to ever climbing temps
Hot Toddy all through your body rock the sporadic weekend Wurlitzer party

At midnight Peter pours the Torn Label until our workaday sorrows are mended
The musicians play on his handcrafted stage
Backed by the municipal scoreboard lights
Like a field of dreams
He built it and we came

At midnight the West Bottoms are sold to the highest bidder
On the promise of work/play utopias
But these developers have no idea what they’ve purchased
What chambers of horrors and wonder they’ve added to their portfolios

You can empty the stockyards
Buy all the buildings
Chase away the ghosts
Turn Kemper into Hyvee
But this neighborhood will always be haunted

Remember the Bottoms, such as they are
And will continue to be 

And yet, we concede
change is the only constant

You can’t pee in the same river twice
Especially if it’s two rivers
The Kansas and the Missouri
The Republican and the Big Muddy

At midnight the Green Dolphins breach the levees
Our heads swim in tones of Afro Blue
We’re always on the verge of drought or flooding
It’s not safe to cross
But who says we can’t fly?

But now we say bye bye to T
On the eve of his move to NYC
Today the skies cried in anticipation of this parting
Todd’s a cool cat
“When you go, you take the sunshine”
Please visit and bring a slice of it back

Dave B will keep on keeping the beat
We used to play Meters jams in his basement
And now he writes genuine soul anthems
Rise Up!

To Brett, our prodigal southpaw, back from Bali and beyond
With a heart as big as his bass runs deep 

and Seyko, whose singing us carries us
Higher than these five flights of steps ever could
Her voice lifts us all the way to the top of the bottoms

The four of you together have been magic
For those of us in the crowd
And your musical guests

“Shades of delight, Rich as the night”

One day these brick cities will be forgotten
But not tonight
Hot Toddy has more songs to play

* * *

Todd may be off to NYC soon, but you can catch Dave and Seyko’s other group, The Freedom Affair (an outstanding nine-piece funk-soul outfit) live at Lemonade Park next Friday, May 26. Hope to see you there!

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