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Amy Farrand

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Album review: The Silver Maggies - My Pale Horse

(Photo by Todd Zimmer)

The origin of The Silver Maggies can be traced back to 2009, when musician and Jaykco Guitar Strap peddler Patrick Deveny did what many other makers of music do: he got a bunch of friends together and formed a band. Early returns were good, and the country-rock sounds being made were fine, but after taking part in the Murder Ballad Ball of 2010, Deveny wanted something a little different. He recruited American Catastrophe’s Terrence Moore soon after, and fellow AC member Amy Farrand a couple years later, thereby taking The Silver Maggies to a place much darker and pensive, but still stylish and sophisticated. After some tweaking and fine-tuning, the band released My Pale Horse, its first full-length album, earlier this year.
 
Having seen Terrence Moore perform as a solo artist numerous times, I’m familiar with a few of the songs he brought to the band. Hearing “Trouble” as a fully-formed work is a revelation, as the starkness of the singer-songwriter is replaced with the muscle and polish of this seven-piece juggernaut. Moore’s voice has a natural sinister quality, which lends itself well to the lyrical content of this opening track (“proceed to the exit quickly / cause I’ve got a match that’ll burn this place down / to the ground”).
 
By contrast, in the second cut, “To the Quick," Deveny’s well-weathered voice slides over the music, coercing the listener to join him on a desert drive, windows down, the landscape lit by the waning light of dusk. When the chorus hits, I hear a perhaps-unintentional-perhaps-not taste of ‘90s alienation of “Nearly Lost You” by Screaming Trees, giving the track that much more of an isolationist feel.
 
When the distant horn comes in on “It All Went South," you may get a sense of influence from Arizona legends Calexico—and you would be absolutely correct. The band’s signature trumpet sound comes from the embouchure of Jacob Valenzuela, who lends his services to My Pale Horse in a most distinctive and impressive manner. To further the connection between the two bands, the album was mixed by long-time producer-engineer and Calexico collaborator Craig Schumacher in his Tucson, AZ studio.
 
Labels such as “gothic country” and "high desert noir" are not so cut-and-dried as “rock” or “blues”; they are far more descriptive and far more challenging to attain, as they hint at music that is very cinematic in scope. This isn’t the sound that you want as low-level background ambiance—these genres should take the listener into a far more visual realm. A daunting task to live up to, and The Silver Maggies—which also include Jonathan Knecht on drums, Felix Dukes on guitar, Steve Tubbert on bass, Samon Rajabnik on Hammond B3 organ, and guest vocalists Claire Adams and Katy Guillen—have risen to the challenge. When I listen to My Pale Horse, I not only feel as if I’m watching a sepia-tinged Western movie; I feel as if it’s getting to the part where the good guys and the bad guys are getting ready to settle things once and for all.
 
Sounds like trouble—but a kind of trouble I’m happy to bear sonic witness to.
 
My Pale Horse was released on March 28 by KC music collective Money Wolf Music. The Silver Maggies' next live appearance will be at Cowtown Mallroom on Sunday, April 28 at 3:00 p.m. It'll be a free, all-ages show in one of KC's most historic venues. 
 
--Michael Byars
 

Michael Byars may or may not be pickling things at this moment. It’s possible that he’s already had four or five bottles of Mountain Dew by now. There’s a chance that he is at a hookah bar somewhere. You may say he’s a dreamer. But most of all, he spells pretty well and he works for free, so we let him write stuff for us sometimes. 

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Photos from Apocalypse Meow 5, 11.2 and 11.3.12

This year was the biggest yet for Midwest Music Foundation's Apocalypse Meow benefit—a fundraiser for the musician's emergency health care fund. The event kicked off with a pre-party on Friday, November 3 at Midwestern Musical Co. with Dead Voices and Tiny Horse

Dead Voices

Tiny Horse

The main event kicked off on Saturday at The Beaumont Club with School of Rock, consisting of more than a handful of tweens and teens masterfully playing covers from bands like Rush, Led Zeppelin, Foo Fighters, and many more. The band's stellar performance set an energetic tone for the rest of the evening, which ranged from acoustic Americana to power pop, surf rock, country, indie rock, and ballistic punk rock.

School of Rock

Amy Farrand

Deco Auto

The Empty Spaces

The Blue Boot Heelers

Clairaudients (formerly The Atlantic)

The Architects

And finally, a big thank you from all of us at Midwest Music Foundation for supporting our fifth year of Meow. We're so very grateful for your support of Kansas City and our musical community!

All photos by Todd Zimmer. Please do not use without permission.

--Michelle Bacon

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On The Beat with Amy Farrand

We have drummer, bassist, solo artist, emcee, reverend, and jack of all trades Amy Farrand in the hot seat this week. She tells us about her longstanding drumming career in this city, along with her penchant for toy drum kits. Catch the beat right here!

On The Beat is typically brought to you by Sergio Moreno, but has been overtaken this week by drummer and The Deli - Kansas City editor-in-chief Michelle Bacon. This weekly interview features some of the many talented drummers in the area.

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On The Beat with Amy Farrand

 

If you're involved in Kansas City music, chances are you've heard of Amy Farrand, be it through her work as a drummer in Sister Mary Rotten Crotch, Atlantic Fadeout, or Whiskey Boots; her work as a bassist in American Catastrophe; her career as a solo artist (she recently took home the Pitch Music Award for Best Female Singer-Songwriter); and any other number of things. Fortunately, we were able to pry her away from her busy schedule to talk drums with us for a bit.

The Deli: You've been a mainstay in the music community in KC for several years. Did you start out playing drums?

Amy Farrand: Drums were my first instrument. I started playing them when I was 7 years old. I'm sure it was pretty awful to listen to then.

The Deli: So, how did the drums find you?

Amy: Music in general found me. I was the little kiddo who would run up to any instrument I saw and put my hands on it, despite the "No! Don't touch that!" I would usually hear. It would never stop me, and in most cases I would have to be physically removed from the instrument. I wanted to play everything. I asked for drums, and I used to tap and beat on things, so I was given a toy Muppets drum kit. I beat it to shreds, so it was time for a real set. I still play that kit to this day.

The Deli: Besides the Muppet kit, tell us about the kits you currently use. I especially want to know about the toy drum kit you busted out at a Weirdo Wednesday a few months back.

Amy: The kit I play now is the one I got when I was a little girl. Early '70s Slingerlands. It is a rare, copper-plated 7-piece kit. I believe they were only made for a very brief period. I play it as a 4-piece. I use the second rack tom instead the first, because I like a bigger, deeper sound. I also converted a mid-60s marching snare (15 x 12). I had to mount floor tom legs on it as it was too tall for my snare stands. When I started playing with Sister Mary Rotten Crotch I covered them with red plaid. I decided to leave them like that after I left the band.

As for the toy kit, it's just a crappy thing I bought at a megamart. My old roomie had one too. We would put them together for toy drum double kick badassery. Yes! They actually sounded really good recorded. Who knew?

The Deli: What have you learned about your approach to drumming through all the different bands you've played drums in?

Amy: I have learned that my style is pretty unorthodox, and it is an adjustment for some to get used to, so I'm told. I'm predominantly self-taught, except for my brief stint in Africa. I'm sure that has a tiny little bit to do with it. Ahem.

The Deli: You mentioned that you're starting a new project. What can you tell us about that?

Amy: It's still under wraps right now. Baby stages. I will say that I'm playing drums with Heather Lofflin, who I played with in Whiskey Boots, and two other people. No further comment.

The Deli: Obligatory question: favorite drummers?

Amy: John Bonham, Rob Ellis (PJ Harvey), Phil Puleo (Swans, Cop Shoot Cop), Bill Ward (Black Sabbath). There are many more, but these were the first that sprang to mind..

The Deli: You're not only a drummer; you play bass, guitar, you're a solo performer, an emcee, an artist, a host, and you probably do a lot of other things I don't even know. Is there anything Amy Farrand can't do?

Amy: I am a crappy bowler, and I'm horrible at Battleship.

The Deli: You mentioned to me once that when you were starting out, there weren't a whole lot of female musicians in town, so they weren't taken seriously. Do you think that's changing now?

Amy: I took a lot of crap when I was starting out. A lot. "Pretty good for a girl," or, "I didn't think girls could play drums." That kind of bullshit attitude. I would be setting up on stage and hear things like, "Oh, a chick drummer. This band is gonna suck." All it did was encourage me.

I remember once Sister Mary was playing a huge street punk fest at El Torreon. There were bands from all over the country and the UK. By the second or third song in our set I noticed a pack of guys standing off to the side of the stage with their arms crossed, just staring at me. They were watching everything I did. I later found out that all of them were drummers in other bands. None of them said a word to me after our set. Later, one of the guys came up and asked me about something I was playing. He was the drummer for Beerzone from the UK. I took him into a practice space and gave him a lesson before his band took the stage. Ha! He was a pretty nice guy. I was 15 years old when I played in my first band. That was 23 years ago. Thankfully a lot has changed since then. It has been quite some time since anyone told me I was pretty good for a girl.

The Deli: If we ever form that lady percussion circle, would you rather play triangle, toy drums, or other? 

Amy: I will play junk and toys. I don't even own a triangle.

Amy hosts the Weirdo Wednesday Supper Club each week at Davey's Uptown from 7 to 9 pm. It's fun and it's free! She'll also be performing on Friday, September 7 at the Slap 'n' Tickle Gallery. We look forward to having her as one of the featured artists in The Deli KC's first music showcase on Friday, November 9. Details to come. 

--Michelle Bacon

Michelle is editor-in-chief of The Deli - Kansas City. She also has a weekly column with The Kansas City Star and reviews music for Ink. She plays with Deco AutoDrew Black and Dirty Electric, and Dolls on Fire. If you ever joke or attempt to taunt her with an eight-legged creature, she will hate you forever and that's no lie.

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Amy Farrand

Photo by Michael Forester



Photo by Michael Forester
 
 

 

 
 

 

 

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