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Brody Buster has by far the best resume of any Kansas City musician.  At age 10, Brody was featured on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

Brody grew up playing the harp on Beale Street in Memphis Tennessee at BB King's nightclub.  BB King personally invited Brody to open up his new nightclub in Los Angeles.  One night while performing at BB King's in Los Angeles, Brody was discovered by The Tonight Show - and the rest is history.  On January 25th, 2008, Brody Buster shared the bill with BB King for one of his final shows at The Uptown Theater in Kansas City.

Brody with BB King in Los Angeles

In 1996 at the age of twelve, Brody was invited to perform at the prestigious "Montreux Blues and Jazz Festival" in Montreux Switzerland with Quincy Jones, Isaaac Hayes, Oleta Adams, Chaka Khan, Phil Collins, Keb Mo', Richie Havens, and Melvin Taylor.

Brody can be seen today performing all over the Kansas City area as well as special performances in Los Angeles, Chicago and other regional venues.

Check out this CNN Report on Brody Buster!



By Phil Cauthon   

Think back to when you were 7 or 8 years old.

Maybe you'd mastered reading and writing a la Dick and Jane. Or you might have been embarking on cursive or memorizing multiplication tables. If you were 'gifted', it's possible you could handle long division no problem.
B.B. King: 'the greatest harmonica player of our time'
If you were Brody Buster, you were jamming with old-guard blues masters, blowing them away with your prodigy-style skill on the harmonica.

By age 10, Paola-born Brody Buster had already earned perhaps the highest praise possible -- the blessing of the king of blues himself, B.B. King.

As Brody's father Curtis Buster recalls, "That's when the phone started ringing off the wall." Well before he hit puberty, Brody had appeared on the Tonight Show, VH1, the Jon Stewart Show, Entertainment Tonight, the BBC and a slew of other major media programs.

A decade later, 17-year-old Brody says he doesn't feel any pressure to prove he's moved beyond being a harp prodigy.
Video ::
Check out Brody in the media

Preview ::
'Live at the Grand Emporium'

"I know I can take it to another level," he said with perfect self-assurance. "I can do just about anything with that thing.

"I think the level I'm going to have to take it to is not making it sound like a harmonica," he said. "I've been trying to make the harmonica sound like a horn section so I can play horn parts."

He said the next level also involves less of the instrument that put him on the blues map and more guitar and vocals.

"If anything is going to make me famous some day, it's going to be the guitar with the harmonica. I can't do it just being a harmonica player," he said.

"And no one's going to go see Brody and the Blues Busters if Brody ain't even singing. You gotta have the vocals in there."

Brody said a glimpse of what's to come is in a song he wrote called "Trinity," a tune off his third CD -- Live from the Grand Emporium -- which will be available at his upcoming shows.

On "Trinity," Brody's blues harp plays a supporting role to his vocals and to his guitar, both of which have moved decidedly away from any standard blues sound.

"It's stretching a little bit from blues partially because of a band called Pomeroy," said Brody. He said he hooked up with the trip-hop-pop band from Manhattan after his keyboardist played some shows with them. The Brody Buster Band later opened several shows for Pomeroy.
Brody Buster ::
On Eugene Smiley

On the Grand Emporium

His brushes with B.B.

Why he'll head to L.A. after highschool

"The Pomeroy crowd doesn't know who we are, only the blues crowd does. But the kids are diggin' it. They're diggin' it, man. We're takin' blues to the kids. But we're takin' it to 'em in a new way."

Brody and his band, the Blues Busters, are likely going to take their music to Los Angeles, too -- just as soon as he graduates high school.

"We want to take it national, maybe even worldwide someday. That's the goal. I think we could. I really think we could," he said.

"We can't really get big from Kansas though. It's no place to be in music. Once you've been to LA, man, you can't get enough."

Brody's ascent to the bigtime traces back to his mom, Janet, who played harmonica in a KC blues outfit called Cotton Candy until her son came along.

She introduced him to the blues harp quite unintentionally one day when the two found one while cleaning out a closet at home in Paola, Kansas.

"I taught him about keys and some basic things, but pretty much he's learned as he's gone along," Janet told the BBC in a 1995 interview. She now lives in Ireland.

"There's not a lot you can teach about harmonica. It's kind of an instrument where you can't show someone where to put their fingers or anything. It's a feel."
Brody on stage, 1994

Brody and his mom began frequenting jam sessions in the K.C. area. At one of those jams he met Eugene Smiley, whose band was the first to play behind Brody.

"Though the rest of the guys in that band have left, he's stuck with me," Brody said. "He's gone through all the ups and all the downs."

The first big 'up' was opening two nights for Jerry Seinfeld at Caesar's Palace when he was 8.

That break came thanks to some attention he got playing sideshows on Beale Street in Memphis.

Brody's mom took him on an unusual, extended summer vacation to Memphis during his first break from school after he picked up the harmonica.

There for two months in the cradle of blues, they rented an apartment. But Brody didn't spend much time there. He spent most of his days and nights out on the town, playing in pick-up jam sessions on the street for tips.

Eventually he hooked up with Rodriguez Bonds, a kid with amazing back-flip skills who would later appear briefly in The Firm doing flips down Beale Street alongside Tom Cruise.

The very visible Brody/Bonds duo routinely earned $300 a night in tips from huge crowds. Before the summer stint ended, bands had invited Brody to join them inside the clubs.

One such invitation came from Ruby Wilson, lead man for the house band at B.B. King's original club on Beale Street.

That gig led to the next big break in Brody's career: getting on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

After the Buster family was back in K.C., Brody got a call inviting him to come help open the L.A. version of B.B. King's.

So the family moved again, this time for two years to Los Angeles.

While Brody went to grade school there, he played every Sunday at the club's Gospel Brunch and sat in on as many jams as he could swing. Eventually he hooked up with a band and opened every Friday and Saturday as Brody and the Blues Busters.

On an otherwise unremarkable night at B.B.'s, the cast for the Tonight Show threw a going away party for Brantford Marsalis there. Brody was on stage.

"I was in the right place at the right time, man," said Brody. The Tonight Show was just the beginning of a media chain reaction that has left Brody's resume loaded with national TV appearances.

Flipping through one of his son's photo albums -- which is loaded with page after page of Brody with celebrities -- Curt Buster recalls those days ...

"I look back and I try to remember the timeline of everything. He was busy, busy. And still is," he said, pausing on a page with Brody posing next to Jimi Hendrix's dad. The next page shows Brody with Charlie Mussle White, an elder top harp player. Then there's one with Isaac Hayes, Janet Jackson, Duran Duran, Steve Allen and too many more to name. Oh, and of course, many shots with B.B.
Brody with Leno, 1995

"It wasn't any big deal to him," said Curt.

"He'd go out to dinner with Billy Crystal and no problem. Me, I'd choke. I wouldn't know what to say to Billy Crystal. And Brody would just climb up to the table and eat off B.B.'s plate. I remember seeing that and realizing, that's what celebrities like. Somebody that's not ga-ga over them."

"He's not a little kid anymore. But he can still go out to L.A. for nine nights and play eight in the top clubs," his dad continues, referring to Brody's spring break tour. The March trip marked Brody's first time in L.A. since he lived there over five years ago.

"That's hard to do. Hard for anybody to book that kind of tour."

Small wonder Brody's set to move out to L.A. as soon as he graduates high school next year.

"Out in LA, you're playing in a bar, a record producer could walk in there, an actor could walk in there and if an actor walks in there, who says he couldn't get you a deal doing a soundtrack for a movie or something.

"Or just someone that works for NBC or even some little thing that needs a jingle for a commercial. You know how much more money there is in a jingle for a commercial than playing in a bar in Kansas City til 2 in the morning?

"A lot," he said.

Until the imminent departure, Brody can still be found every Friday at 5:30 for the Rush Hour Rendezvous at the Grand Emporium in Kansas City -- a gig he's played every week for the past three years with Smiley's band.
Brody and Smiley, 2002

He's learned a lot playing at KC's well-known blues spot, and a lot of the lessons have come from Smiley, said Brody, "Everything from how to handle rotten club owners to how to handle groupies, all that stuff.

"He's shown me how to survive in the music business without getting my head lost in the temptations out there. A few temptations are okay, but you gotta keep your head straight in the music business and he taught me how to do that.

"He's my main man, and I'm his main man. We're family. We're family. We're in it together, wherever it happens."

And whatever music they're playing, he said.

"Lately I've been writing a lot of songs. I've got a whole other CD of all originals for the next one.

"Our next CD won't be blues, but people are still gonna categorize it as blues. It will be blues-based, though."

He said Smiley and the rest of his band -- Scott 'Shag' Rundquist on keys, Kevin Easterwood on drums, Dave Grey on bass and Bobby Carson, the band's new guitarist -- are completely cool with youngest member steering the band's creative development.

"You know how long Smiley's been playing blues? He's probably sick of it," Brody said. "Smiley's down for anything. The coolest thing about having him in the band is he keeps everything real. He makes everything blend together and have a little more soul to it."

For his part, Smiley said he's blessed to have been able to play with the talented Buster all these years.

"Brody's a natural," said Smiley. "He doesn't know a lot about the technical aspects of music. He just plays what he feels."
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