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Rockers and Roadies: Dads Take the Stage at Boulevardia

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If you’re a Kansas Citian, pampering Dad has gotten a little easier in recent years. On Father’s Day weekend, Boulevardia will again present the flavors of the city’s brewed, creative, and culinary landscapes. From this Friday to Sunday, the West Bottoms will overflow with activity and entertainment for the entire family, from carnival rides to beer tastings to a maker’s market.

Of course, there will be music, from headliners like Soul Asylum and Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness to a variety of local acts. And for many of these local acts, who are often playing late-night bar gigs, Boulevardia gives their families a chance to see them perform. The three music stages will be beaming with supportive dads witnessing their children playing, and kids admiring their dads on stage.

blvdia eems

Known by his stage name Eems, Phillip Jackson is a one-man band and a veritable force of nature. The rapper, singer, multi-instrumentalist, producer and engineer creates material that toes the line between hip-hop, dance pop and alternative music. He’s also a dad of three: PJ, Phenix and Lyric. He performs on Father’s Day (Sunday) on the Greenville Acoustic Stage at 1 p.m.

How will you be spending your Father’s Day?

I will be tearing down the stage at Boulevardia! But after that, I will most likely just relax. I have everything I want and after stressing over what to do on stage, I’ll just want to kick back with the family.

Do your kids ever get to see you perform?

[T]hey finally got to see Dad perform a few weeks back at my EP release show.

What makes you a proud dad?

The thing that makes me a proud dad is actually something really simple (and a bit cheesy). But seeing my kids smile just brightens up my day. Like with everything going on, kids are just so innocent and they remind you that everything will be OK.

Do you encourage your kids to follow a musical path like you did? Do they have any musical inclinations?

I don’t push music on the kiddos, although my firstborn literally watched me record an entire album from start to finish. They all definitely enjoy music, but the oldest may have a real gift. He has a strong tone for a 6-year-old and has been memorizing songs in their entirety since about age 3.

What’s your ultimate Dad music playlist?

Not sure what a “dad playlist” is, but for sure there is some Ed Sheeran in there. And probably my second favorite artist right now, a Norwegian singer-songwriter named Bernhoft (check him out!).


blvdia damon

The MGDs serve up a frenetic dose of New Orleans funk, jazz, soul and blues, helmed by the colorful melodies of frontman and keyboardist Damon Parker. Boulevardia has become an annual event for Parker, a dad of two (Byrnes, 5, and Winnie, 1), who will be making his third consecutive appearance at the festival. The MGDs play Friday at 5 p.m. on the Qdoba Native Flavor Stage.

How will you be spending your Father’s Day?

I will be spending the day with my whole family: my wife, son and daughter, watching the Royals and grilling out.

Do your kids ever get to see you perform?

My son has seen me on many different stages from Boulevardia’s main stage to him and Winnie seeing me last year on the acoustic stage at Boulevardia, to Sunset Music Fest, to the Whole Foods patio gigs.

What makes you a proud dad?

Waking up every morning with them and realizing I have so much to teach them, and they have so much love and passion to teach me. They make me proud every day because I love them so damn much.

Do you encourage your kids to follow a musical path like you did? Do they have any musical inclinations?

I will always encourage music in my kids, but will in no way push it on them. Byrnes has close to perfect pitch and his rhythm is phenomenal. He will be an amazing musician, but Winnie is too young to tell.

What’s your ultimate Dad music playlist?

Byrnes’ favorites:
Bruno Mars – “Uptown Funk”
Jon Cleary – “Popcorn”
The Jungle Book –  “I Wanna Be Like You”


blvdia adam

Adam Phillips is undoubtedly one of the heaviest and most solid drummers in Kansas City, but his greatest claim to fame is being father to 5-year-old Stella. He’ll be sharing the stage with his brothers in The Architects at 9:05 p.m. Saturday on the Qdoba stage.

How will you be spending your Father’s Day?

I will likely spend most of Father’s Day pounding coffee drinks, doing yard work, hopefully listening to music with the fam and doing untold amounts of laundry before heading down to catch The English Beat play Boulevardia.

Does your daughter ever get to see you perform?

She saw us play with The Bad Ideas awhile back at the old Vinyl Renaissance on 39th Street and again in Lawrence at the Granada. She had a great time at both shows, but she thinks we play, “way too loud,” even with her headphones on.

What makes you a proud dad?

I have way too much to be proud of to list it all here, but this is an easy story to tell. One time when she was 3 years old, we were out running errands in the car with the radio on. Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock and Roll” comes on…

“Dad, Dad, Dad, this is a meat and potatoes beat.”

I almost cried.

Do you encourage your daughter to follow a musical path like you did? Does she have any musical inclinations?

I absolutely want her to learn music and love music. Music and visual art are so important for kids. Everyone really, but especially for kids. She takes piano lessons and loves to play just about any instrument I put in front of her.

What’s your ultimate Dad music playlist?

When I think of dad music, I think of things I love listening to with Stella. Her reaction to the songs is what gets me more than the songs themselves.

Kenny Loggins – “I’m Alright”

Lindsay Buckingham – “Holiday Road”

Fine Young Cannibals – “She Drives Me Crazy”

Bobby Darin – “Splish Splash”  

Little Richard – “Tutti Frutti”


blvdia radkey

Matt Radke introduced his sons Dee, Isaiah, and Solomon to the music that’s helped propel their massively successful career. He’s also managed Radkey from its inception, and continues to handle tour management and day-to-day operations of the band. Radkey will be playing on the Qdoba stage, Friday night at 9:20.

How will you be spending your Father’s Day?

We’ll be playing the first date of their West Coast tour in Denver. We’ll probably just enjoy the elevation and relax after the show.

What makes you a proud dad?

I’m proud to have three kind and caring young men that I’m fortunate enough to call my sons.

How do you think you’ve helped foster your sons in their development as professional musicians?

I’ve always believed in them and supported them in any way I could. They wanted this and they’ve worked their asses off to make their dream a reality.

How else do you support the band’s endeavors?

I try to take care of the everyday stuff so they can focus on whatever the job at hand is.

What’s your ultimate Dad music playlist?

TV On The Radio – “Wolf Like Me” 

Local H – “The Misanthrope”

Cheap Trick – “He’s a Whore” 

Queens of the Stone Age – “The Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret”

Sturgill Simpson – “Turtles All the Way Down” 

Ask me again in 5 minutes and it’ll be different.


blvdia ben

Ben Summers is a jack-of-all-trades. He’s an essential component to The Grisly Hand’s sound, lending his talents as a guitarist, mandolin player, vocalist and songwriter. He’s also proud papa to 18-month-old Yuji.

How will you be spending your Father’s Day?

My band is playing two sets on Saturday (3:30 p.m. at the Boulevard Main Stage and 9 p.m. at The Ship), so I plan to be pretty wiped out by the time Sunday rolls around. I’m looking forward to going swimming with Yuji. He loves the water.

Has your son ever gotten to see you play?

Yeah, Yuji has seen us live a couple of times. We’re fortunate to get to play a family-friendly event every now and then in addition to the club shows we do. We played Waldo Fall Fest last year, and it was so awesome to look out and see him—at less than a year old—clap almost in time with the music.

What makes you a proud dad?

Parenting is such a mind-bending and transformative thing. I get to see the totally unobstructed inherent goodness in another person on a daily basis, and I don’t think that’s something you get in any other type of relationship. Even when it’s overwhelming and occasionally frustrating, the simple things like peek-a-boo or a new word really help bring me back down to Earth.

Do you encourage Yuji to follow a musical path like you did? Does he have any musical inclinations?

He’s got really good rhythm and is pretty intrigued when I play songs at home. We’ve been singing to him since he was a little bean. Tomomi, my wife, and I have rewritten just about every radio jingle to be about him. The Anthony Plumbing, Heating and Cooling song is his favorite.

What’s your ultimate Dad music playlist?

John Lennon – “Beautiful Boy,” from his house husband years.

Born Against – “The Good Father.” Some people say, “Punk’s not dad,” but it totally is.

Gary Floater – “That’s What I’m Gonna Do.” Proceed with caution.

The Grisly Hand – “Baby Talk.” I didn’t write it, so I guess it’s fair game.


blvdia wayne

If you’ve ever gone to a Katy Guillen & the Girls’ show, chances are you’ve seen or even talked to Wayne Williams. He’s one of the most supportive band dads out there, driving across the country to see his daughter Stephanie perform or helping her load up her drums after gigs. Look for him at their set at 2:40 p.m. on Father’s Day on the Qdoba stage.

How will you be spending your Father’s Day?

I plan on having a busy Father’s Day this year. In the morning, I will drive to Joplin, Missouri, to pick up my youngest daughter Katie from resident Girl Scout camp. In the afternoon, I will attend Boulevardia and see a few bands, including Katy Guillen & the Girls. They played on Sunday on the inaugural year in 2014, and it was the best Father’s Day ever.

How do you support your daughter’s band endeavors?

Our main support is by attending as many shows as possible and providing a friendly face in the crowd. I try to make sure that the band has little things they need, whether it’s ordering Steph a set of drum heads periodically to keep her sound fresh, or ordering some buttons and stickers to give away to fans.

What makes you a proud dad?

Stephanie has grown into a great person and makes me proud everyday. She earned a degree in psychology, with a minor in music, of course, from the University of Central Missouri because it was always her desire to help others. She has put that degree to use doing social work. Music and live performance, in particular, has really helped Steph develop as a person and musician.

How do you think you’ve helped foster Stephanie’s development into becoming a professional musician?

I have always encouraged Steph to try out for things of interest to her, even if she thought she had no chance. More times than not, she earned those positions, which was not only a huge confidence boost, but also provided new experiences and techniques that she has incorporated into her unique style. Her drumming has influences from previous projects including metal, drumline, jazz, hip hop, country and many others. Since middle school, I was her roadie, helping her get here or there with a vehicle large enough for drums and equipment.

What’s your ultimate Dad music playlist?

I love music in general, so it’s difficult to narrow it down to genres or songs. If I had to pick a playlist, it would probably include:

Joan Jett – “I Love Rock N’ Roll”

Katy Guillen & the Girls – “I Can’t Live Here Anymore”

The Bangles- “Walk Like An Egyptian”

Katy Guillen & the Girls“Smaller Each Day”


Michelle Bacon is a musician and writer dedicated to the Kansas City music community. She advocates for and helps spotlight music in the area, writes web content for 90.9 The Bridge, and plays with The Philistines and Chris Meck & the Guilty Birds. Her grandma is still the coolest person she knows.