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Artists on Trial: Dead Ven

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Artists on Trial: Dead Ven

As one of the artists of Kansas City’s Money Wolf Music collective, Dead Ven brings a rough-edged, socially conscious folk approach to the local music scene. We talked with frontman Ven Smith about what the band has in store for the year, including its upcoming appearances at Middle of the Map Fest and Center of the City Fest.
The Deli: Down and dirty: 1 sentence to describe your music. What is it?

Dead Ven: Street-folk, positive anthems of discontent for the working class. Woody Guthrie meets OI! a la Angelic Upstarts…? Damn. It all sounds so pretentious.
The Deli: What other artists are you looking forward to seeing at MotM?
Dead Ven: Besides all my Money Wolf Music family and all the great KC bands I see all the time? The Whigs—I'm a sucker for '90's, ‘00's alternative, stoked to see White Lung and a lot of other bands I haven't gotten to experience yet!
The Deli: Let’s talk about something you have coming up this year. What can we expect?
Dead Ven: Dead Ven has an ultra-limited 7" pre-order coming out in the next month or so on Money Wolf Music with punk legend Kevin Seconds of 7seconds. It's a dream for me, growing up listening to 7seconds and all the the great hardcore-punk of that era—plus he's a great guy and his singer-songwriter stuff is incredibly passionate and well-written.
The Deli: So, you guys are playing Center of the City Fest too? Busy!
Dead Ven: Wow, you noticed. Yeah, I think we're the only band playing the "fest" and the "anti-fest,” haha. Dead Ven was asked back to return to Center of the City after playing the inaugural fest last year and prior to Money Wolf Music being given a stage at Middle of the Map. There's a lot of backstory in there, but we're happy as hell to be participating in anything and everything that supports Kansas City and all the music and arts contained therein. I think in the end, that's what everyone involved in both is really going for: growing the scene.
The Deli: What does supporting local music mean to you?

Dead Ven: Go to shows. Buy the records. Eat/drink Boulevard at the bar. Tell people about shows and bands you like. Make something cool happen. Be excellent to each other.
The Deli: Who are your favorite local musicians right now?

Dead Ven: Wow, so many. Of course all my (obligatory self-promotion) Money Wolf Music labelmates— there's so much talent there, but recent discoveries? I just saw The Electric Lungs and they put on a hell of a show, The New Riddim made me "skank" for the first time in a decade, love Bent Left, Smash the State and The Rackatees (Lawrence) bros and their ethic about making stuff happen. I also just had a chance to play a stripped down set with Gregg Todt; that dude is so intensely good.
The Deli: Who are your favorite not-so-local musicians right now?

Dead Ven: Bob Fucking Mould put out a new record this year. Bruce Springsteen put out a new one last year. Also, I could list about a hundred more punk bands that are currently slaying. I would be remiss if I didn't mention how much I still love Tim Armstrong and Chuck Ragan and Hot Water Music.
The Deli: What is your ultimate fantasy concert bill to play on?

Dead Ven: The one where all my best friends spend part of the show in the crowd and part on stage and we all sing along with each other's songs. Also, if I could play claves for The Foo Fighters.
The Deli: Would you rather spend the rest of your life on stage or in the recording studio?
Dead Ven: Stage, all stage. I’ll never be a “recording artist.” That's not my jam; I'm in it for the community, the experience of sharing with good people. I greatly prefer hearing the noise of a show over myself in some earphones, plus I get tired of my songs really easily.
The Deli: A music-themed Mount Rushmore. What four faces are you putting up there and why?
Dead Ven: Neil Young, Ian MacKaye, Bruce Springsteen. No explanation, but god that makes me feel old. And… Fred Durst. Yeah, Fred Durst for sure.

The Deli: All right, give us the rundown. Where all on this big crazy web can you be found?

The Deli: Always go out on a high note. Any last words of wisdom for the Deli audience?

Dead Ven is:
Ven Smith
Nathan Long
Ethan Taylor
Justin Penney
Dennis Hinaris
Check out Dead Ven at Middle of the Map Fest next Friday, April 5. They will be playing the Money Wolf stage at 8:00 pm at Westport Coffeehouse, followed by Dollar Fox, The Latenight Callers, and The Hillary Watts Riot. They will also be playing at Center of City Fest at The Black & Gold Tavern (formerly The Newsroom) on Saturday evening at 9:15 pm. 

--Michelle Bacon 

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