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Midwest Music Foundation

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Recap: MidCoast Takeover 2014

It’s an ever-expanding, atypical tradition, five years in the making.

It might seem difficult to grasp the concept of traveling over 700 miles to see several bands you could normally see at a venue a couple miles away from home. But there’s much more to it than that.
 
Each year, thousands of people from around the globe descend upon Austin, Texas, for an annual music fest that—with each growing year—features bigger names and flashier advertisements. Fortunately, unofficial, free showcases are literally wall-to-wall along 6th Street. For the mere price of navigating through a sea of people and eating at a few taco trucks along the way [oh, and transportation and boarding], you can see hundreds of bands of varying genres and qualities. You might randomly stumble into a dive bar to hear a band you’ve been digging for a couple years, you might discover a band barely anyone else knows about. That’s all an important part of the experience. But for a couple hundred folks from the Kansas City/Lawrence area, the Austin experience holds a deeper meaning.
 
In its fifth year, last week’s MidCoast Takeover was bigger than ever, with over 100 bands on a giant outdoor stage and an indoor acoustic stage at Shangri-La on East 6th Street, an area just on the other side of the I-35 divide that has increased in foot traffic and event volume over the past couple of years. The bar itself is typically a popular haunt for Austin natives, with a huge outdoor patio that reached its 230-person capacity during the four-day showcase.
 
MidCoast Takeover is organized by Midwest Music Foundation, an organization that helps musicians with emergency health care, but also aims to be a voice for the music community. One way of doing this is with MidCoast, which places local/regional musicians on a national stage in front of hundreds, be it a random passerby, the drummer in your band, or Exene Cervenka (yeah, she stopped by).
 
A few of the MidCoast bands from the KC area were official showcase acts (including Radkey, Beautiful Bodies, Josh Berwanger Band, Pedaljets), stacked up with other notable-as-of-late locals (Shy Boys, Me Like Bees, Not A Planet, Katy Guillen & the Girls) and national bands (Not In The Face, Two Cow Garage, Sphynx), on one of the largest stages with one of the most impressive productions in all of downtown Austin. At any given time between Wednesday and Saturday, quality music emanated from Shangri-La, ranging from The Noise FM’s indie-rock dance party to Heartfelt Anarchy’s smooth hip-hop/jazz mashup to Jorge Arana Trio’s calculated noise-rock grooves. Let’s also not forget the acoustic stage, which featured poetic songs from Vi Tran; bluesy, emotionally weighted tunes from Gregg Todt (Federation of Horsepower); quirky dance numbers from Nan Turner (Schwervon!); driving but delicate harmonies from Clairaudients, among dozens of other artists who injected a special type of heart and personality into their deconstructed songs.
 
 
 

 

Still, this begs the question: Why would you go all that way to watch a bunch of bands, primarily from your hometown?
 
Perhaps it’s that notion of community that has been established in KC music and has found a resurgence over the past 5 years, due to MMF’s efforts. As MMF’s late co-founder Abigail Henderson pointed out to me in a 2012 interview, there is a strongly held belief that KC musicians do not simply make up a scene, but “a community that fosters itself—a thinking, doing community of people practicing an art.” So what comes out of this annual pilgrimage for the musicians and organizers is not typically a huge record deal or overnight worldwide success. Statistically for a band, it can result in nothing more than a few new Facebook likes, some t-shirt/album sales, and a whole bunch of poles and trash cans with your stickers attached to them. But in addition, it can be a nourishing, satisfying, proud experience to observe and participate in.
 
The sense of pride comes from witnessing the breadth and depth of music on each stage, in many cases being created by people you know personally. Watching the dedication of MMF/MidCoast staff—from sound engineers to promoters to stage managers—who work on this effort throughout the year and tirelessly run nonstop for a week to throw a party that has made several best unofficial showcase lists. Spending hours, even days with respected acquaintances that quickly develop into friendships, jam partnerships, and/or artistic inspiration. Watching each night close with a stronger fervency than the previous one. David Hasselhoff on Acid ended the first evening by melting eardrums and grey matter with its instrumental prog-rock onslaught. Not ones to be upstaged, The Architects rounded out night two with a raucous, tight set that one would come to expect and desire from a professional but unapologetic rock ‘n roll band. By Friday night, the majority of the KC contingent [and other festgoers] had arrived, poised and ready to celebrate a vacation weekend with several dozen friends. Of course, Hearts of Darkness was the ideal band for the task of charging an eager, over-capacity crowd with even more energy and jubilation. And on Saturday, in spite of a couple hours of inclement weather and resulting schedule changes, the showcase ended with a euphoric sonic inundation. Drop A Grand had the audience dancing and grinning along to its wacky brand of garage punk, and left them spellbound by ending the set with “Baba O’Riley,” featuring the fiddle-brandishing badassery of Betse Ellis. Maps For Travelers followed up in fine fashion, with the drive, the emotion, and the post-hardcore intensity that naturally led into the final act, Federation of Horsepower. The heavy-hitting rock machine punched that first power chord around 11:28 p.m., kicking the commencement into high gear. A raging crowd shook fists and banged heads, while others hugged, shook hands, and shed celebratory tears for a job well done.
 

 

That 700-mile trip teaches many of us that we co-exist in this microcosm with other like-minded individuals, some of whom we can forge genuine connections with, and some of whom can inspire us to delve deeper into our artistic passions. Whether it’s the veteran who’s played in dozens of bands since the ‘90s or the doe-eyed 19-year-old playing his first time out of town, there’s something to be learned and celebrated about each piece that fits into that puzzle.
 
Thank you to everyone who participated by playing, organizing, or just stopping in. We’ll see you next year. Same time, same place.
 
--Michelle Bacon
 
Michelle is editor-in-chief of The Deli Magazine-Kansas City and is a member of The Philistines, Drew Black & Dirty Electric, and Dolls on Fire.
 
 
 

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The 12 Days of Christmas (and Voting): Day 1 – “Everything’s Gonna Be Cool This Christmas,” Sons of Great Dane

(Artwork by Sheppa)
 
Boulevard Brewing Company has launched its KC Pils 10% For KC Charities campaign to give back to area charities, and Midwest Music Foundation has been chosen as one of the three recipients. Of the three charities, The top vote getter will receive 60% of available funds from sales of KC Pils.
 
 
To celebrate this campaign, 12 days of holiday songs have been compiled.
 
The 12 Days of Christmas (and Voting): a collection of holiday music performed by Kansas City musicians.
 
VOTING STARTS SUNDAY
Vote once a day from Sunday, December 22 to Tuesday, December 31
 
Watch today's video and download a FREE mp3 of “Everything's Gonna Be Cool This Christmas” performed by Sons Of Great Dane (originally by The Eels):
 
 
 
Album credits:
All songs recorded (live), mixed, and mastered by Joel Nanos at Element Recording Studios, Kansas City, MO.
All videos filmed by Black Mariah Productions (Adam Brumback, Marshall Fife, and Bryan Koehler).
Compilation produced by Chris Haghirian, Sondra Freeman, Midwest Music Foundation, with a lot of help from Randall Paske.
All songs recorded and filmed November 10 and 11, 2013.
 
And join today's Facebook event for more updates. 

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Show recap: Apocalypse Meow 6

On any given night in KC or Lawrence, there are bands playing to groups of varying sizes and intensity levels. Some of the audience is on its feet dancing. Some of them have their noses stuck in their electronic habitats. People order a few drinks at the bar during a quiet song, maybe smoke a cigarette between songs. The Friday night kick-off party of Apocalypse Meow 6 was one of those rare nights when the audience unified to experience and be captivated by the music.
 
This is the first Apocalypse Meow show since the death of Abigail Henderson, who—along with friends and husband Chris Meck—founded Midwest Music Foundation after friends held a benefit for Henderson when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. On Friday, Meck debuted his trio The Guilty Birds (pictured above), the first project without his wife since they began 10 years ago in Trouble Junction, and his very first project as primary singer/songwriter.
 
 
The trio (including Tiny Horse members Zach Phillips and Matt Richey) played a short but poignant rock/soul-infused set, while a packed crowd locked eyes and ears to draw in each note; to admire the musicianship, the ability, the fire, the obstacles and the affirming end result; to feel the anguish of a noticeable absence, but to honor and celebrate its legacy. The Silver Maggies kept the audience at attention with dark Americana propelled by intelligent songwriting. Hundreds of raffle tickets for Meck’s custom-built (with assistance from Phillips, Chris Wagner, and Paul Marchman) Fender Telecaster were purchased on Friday alone, and that spirit of generosity graciously carried into Saturday evening.

 
 
With a larger-capacity venue at Knuckleheads, eleven bands/solo performers commandeered the indoor and outdoor stages on night two. She’s A Keeper began by grabbing and enveloping the filtering-in crowd with its brand of colossal folk rock. The entrancing, aggressive outlaw blues of the duo Freight Train & Rabbit Killer (pictured below) demanded attention with its minimalistic setup, menacing costumes, and otherworldly presence. Meanwhile, the acoustic stage was occupied by a few KC music legends, all of whom were dear friends of Henderson’s. This connection translated into each musician’s cathartic sound, beginning with heartstring-pulling stories from Tony Ladesich (pictured below). Betse Ellis followed (and guest starred with the other acoustic stage performers later) with a fierce fiddle that could have sliced through any act on the main stage.
 
 
 
As the evening grew colder, warm bodies migrated toward the front and moved their hips to power trio Not A Planet (pictured below), pushed by the dynamic rhythm section of Liam Sumnicht and Bill Surges and steered by Nathan Corsi’s steady, pitch-perfect vocals. And no matter which stage you chose or floated to and from, each remaining act performed with no shortage of moxie. Howard Iceberg—KC’s answer to Bob Dylan—played a quiet but potent, storied set that included a duet performance with Michelle Sanders, a dulcet complement to Iceberg’s earnestly gruff voice. Federation of Horsepower frontman Gregg Todt (pictured below with Ellis) traded in his distorted axe for to round out the acoustic stage with a bluesy soul tone.
 
 
 
The second half of main stage featured three acts with female powerhouses at the forefront. The Latenight Callers’ Julie Berndsen allured the crowd with a coy sensuality that developed into a fiery, lascivious character, enhanced by the band’s electrifying, mammoth noir sounds. The Philistines continued in that same vein of ferocity from Kimberely Queen, whose appropriately unbridled theatrics amplified the band’s barbaric psychedelic rock sounds. The musical climax came when Sister Mary Rotten Crotch (pictured below) was welcomed to the stage right after Meck’s guitar was raffled off and subsequently auctioned (Artie Scholes, the raffle winner and also owner of The 403 Club, gave the guitar back to MMF for this purpose) to the highest bidder. But outside of this positive gesture and outside of the fact that many fans had been waiting for Sister Mary to take the stage again (the band’s last performance before taking a five-year hiatus was Apocalypse Meow 1 in ’08, and they only recently reunited to play a couple weeks before), frontwoman Liz Spillman Nord injected the hungry audience with an acrimonious punk vitriol. The veteran band showed old and new fans alike that they still pack a mean, purposeful rock punch and they still don’t give a fuck what you think.
 
 
Midwest Music Foundation and Abby's Fund for Musicians' Health Care made $12,000 at Apocalypse Meow this year, thanks to the efforts of all that were in attendance or made a donation of time, money, and/or resources. And though it was impossible for each moment of Meow weekend to have been as uninterrupted and uplifting as its inaugural set was, a sense of community was felt by each attendee and volunteer/staff member, each auction bid, each raffle ticket that fell into each bucket, each embrace or tear shed, each note or beat played.
 
On behalf of Midwest Music Foundation and The Deli Magazine—Kansas City, we thank you for your support of local music and those who work to make it happen. We thank you for honoring Abigail and helping us continue to carry on her legacy.
 
--Michelle Bacon
 
Michelle is editor of The Deli Magazine - Kansas City, and also plays drums Drew Black & Dirty Electric and bass in Dolls on Fire and The Philistines. Thanks to everyone who made this weekend beautiful. #shinealight

 

 

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Apocalypse Meow 6 Preview: Sister Mary Rotten Crotch

Sister Mary Rotten Crotch. Try saying that name without making some sort of judgment about the music.
 
Not that your judgment would necessarily be wrong. We’ll let the band describe what they sound like, but it’s every bit as gritty and rowdy as you’d hope. The band got its start 15 years ago and reunited less than a month ago. Its last show was at the very first Apocalypse Meow. On the eve of the sixth and largest Meow yet, we talk to the four-piece to see what they’re up to and what they’ve been up to over the past few years.
 
The Deli: In a sentence, describe what Sister Mary sounds like.
 
Alison Dunlop-Sanders: Smirk, if you say it really fast.
 
Liz Spillman Nord: Your mom, when she's really pissed you didn't do the dishes or pick up your room, and you're getting an F in math... yep, that's what it sounds like.
 
Amy Farrand: Fun for the entire family.
 
Brent (Tammy) Kastler: Apple pie and Chevrolet. 'Merica dammit!
 
The Deli: Why did you decide to reunite now instead of moving on to your other respective projects and not turning back?
 
Alison: Personally, because no other band or project will have me. I can play only Sister Mary stuff, if I play anything else it'll sound like Sister Mary stuff. Who wants that?
 
Liz: We reunited because Alison wanted us to play the Mid-America Bully Rescue benefit. Collectively, I think, we decided we were having too much fun and we should ride the ride until the ride isn’t fun anymore.
 
Amy: It's the 15-year anniversary of the beginning of it all. Why not?
 
Tammy: Cause we are that good, damnit! We do what we want!
 
The Deli: What other projects have each of you been in through the years?
 
Alison: I was in the Itty Bitty Biggy Titty Band in my teens. We never actually played. Anything. And I played bass for The Skags for like 15 minutes, I loved it! Big fan of Rudy.
 
Liz: I think the music projects fall to Amy and Brent. Alison and I have focused on visual stuff long before the band, during the band, and after the band. I’ve spent the last several years trying to create little musicians of my own with my kids, so I guess that’s my music project. I like to play the piano with my son when he practices his bass. I force him to improv.
 
Amy: I'll just go over the ones since the old days. Shotgun Idols (guitar), American Catastrophe (bass), Whiskey Boots (drums), Rural Grit All-Stars (miscellaneous instruments), Experimental Instrument Orchestra (various homemade and experimental instruments), Dangerhand (drums), Atlantic Fadeout (drums), The Silver Maggies (theremin/percussion) Solo work.
 
Brent: In no particular order. Anti-state (bass) element (bass) the great planes (bass) the radtones (bass) chad Rex and the victorstands (bass) waiting for signal (bass) salt the earth (bass) spinal tap (drums) poison (vocals) milli vanilli ( backup dancer ).
 
The Deli: Have you written much new material or playing mostly material from before?
 
Alison: We haven't written anything new yet. But we have brought back some stuff that's new to Amy Lu and Tammy.
 
Liz: So far we have concentrated on our existing material. Amy and Brent have had to learn some songs that were crafted during the two John (John Barker and Jon Cagle) era. I have couple of little numbers in my head, and a draft on paper. We’ll tackle those following Apocalypse Meow. They will need massaged by the better poets in the group. Fortunately, there isn’t a shortage of stories or people to write about.
 
The Deli: What have been some of your biggest accomplishments as a band?
 
Alison: Epically bad humor. Epic, man.
 
I concur with Liz on our biggest accomplishments. I'm not even sure WE thought we'd pull it off, and I'm pretty damn sure no one else did. It really was kinda kismet. It didn't occur to us to NOT do it, we just kept plugging away without looking up in a way. We did shit we didn't even know how to do, but since we didn't know we couldn't do it we did. And we were so lucky to have amazingly talented people come along that never pointed it out, which was fucking awesome. We also had awesome support from other local musicians, who were also polite enough not to say "what the fuck are you doing?" hah. I freaked out once because I really have one style, that's it, I can't play other stuff because I have wackafied rhythms that I can't seem to not have so I went crying to John Cutler about it when he practiced upstairs from us at El Torreon with Parlay and he was like "so fucking what? Embrace that shit, you have a style. Own it." He probably doesn't even remember that but it totally made an impact on me. I was seriously ready to quit playing all together before that. I still have no fucking idea what I'm doing but fuck it. I'ma do it anyway. And I'm hurt that Liz is going to have a slumber party at Tammy's without me.
 
Liz: Some might say our Pitch awards are our biggest accomplishment, but I would argue that the biggest and best accomplishment is that after 15 years, we can still call ourselves a band. Granted, we’ve had some long breaks and a few changes in line-up, but considering this was really a gimmick when we started, this is pretty amazing. I will never forget the moment on Rico’s porch, July 4, 1998, when Alison said to Hannah and me, “Hey, I’m learning to play the guitar… thinking about starting a band. Wanna be in a band?” Me: “Sure, I’ll play Tim’s bass.” Meanwhile, Aaron was making bombs out of sparklers, and Tanya was telling the story about breaking her tailbone during childbirth. I’m pretty sure guns were shot into the ground in the back yard that day, and god knows what else. I don’t remember much after my kids were born, but I remember that day. What followed was a week-long discussion about the name… Sister Mary Sodomy was on the table, among others, and I believe Kathy Dunlop gave some solid advice.
 
Tammy: That we are still doing it! After all of the years and line up changes, time off. We can still get in a room and spend more time laughing than playing tunes. We have fun dammit!
 
The Deli: How do you think the music scene has changed around here since you all last performed together? Is it better? Any local bands you're really into right now?
 
Alison: I do not really know. Big fan of The Big Iron and Red Kate fo sho. And Amy Farrand is a bad ass. I'm old and stay in a lot tho.
 
Liz: Sadly, my life for the last nine years has been sucked away by the suburbs. I’m fighting my way out right now… My kids have been, and continue to be, my priority, so my life discovering new music and being involved has revolved around elementary school picnics and yearbooks. I am finally at a spot where I’m comfortable concentrating on things that I love, so ask me that same question in six months.
 
Tammy: I'm really into puddle of mudd.
 
The Deli: You're headlining what hopes to be the biggest Apocalypse Meow yet. What does this mean to you?
 
Alison: We're headlining? ... It's an incredible honor for sure, if that's true. Little overwhelming. Now I'm scared.
 
Liz: There’s a little pressure that accompanies the headline spot, but I don’t think we’d be in that position if the decision makers didn’t have faith in us. It’s an honor for me to even be on stage with Amy, Brent and Alison. I think the world of them… all three have more talent in their little pinkies that most of us have in our whole bodies. The caliber of musicians that will be performing over the weekend blows me away, and I feel blessed to be part of it, even if it all ends tomorrow.
 
Amy: It's pretty cool for me. I do what I can for this cause. It's very close to my heart, and I want to see it continue for a very long time.
 
Tammy: I'm stoked to be playing. It's a great cause.
 
The Deli: What else do you have planned? Anything in the works for you all?
 
Alison: I do what they tell me. And I wanna write some shit. I like writing shit. And then convincing these crazy bitches to go along with it.
 
Liz: I plan on staying the night at Brent’s house sometime in the near future. That is all.
 
Amy: More shows. More recordings. More. Taking over the world.
 
Tammy: Trying to piss people off one song at a time. I'm looking forward to truth or dare and the pillow fights that are gonna happen when Liz comes over for the sleepover.
 
 
You can hear some of Sister Mary’s music at http://sistermaryrottencrotch.com.
 
Sister Mary will be headlining Apocalypse Meow tomorrow, November 2, at Knuckleheads. It kicks off at The Midwestern Musical Co. Doors open at 6 pm both nights. Friday’s show is free (and features Farrand’s other project The Silver Maggies) and all ages, Saturday’s show is $10, 21+. Visit http://www.apocalypsemeow.net for a full lineup and schedule. Ticket linkFacebook event page. To find out more about MMF, visit http://midwestmusicfound.org, and learn about Abby's Fund for musicians' health care.
 
--Michelle Bacon
 
Michelle is editor of The Deli Magazine - Kansas City, and also plays drums Drew Black & Dirty Electric and bass in Dolls on Fire and The Philistines.
 

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Midwest Music Foundation Staff Spotlight: Michelle Bacon

(Photo by Todd Zimmer)
 
The Midwest Music Foundation staff constantly works behind the scenes at live music events you have likely attended. They’re the ones who search for facilities, supply entertainment, coordinate with vendors, and generally ensure that your live music experience will be a good one. They’re also the ones that get the word out about musicians’ health care and other educational resources for musicians, filling a vital gap in the community.
 
Before the advent of the sixth annual Apocalypse Meow benefit, we hear back from some of the staff to find out what they do and why they do it. Now we’ll turn the tables on Michelle Bacon, editor of The Deli KC and Promotions Assistant/Social Media Coordinator for MMF.
 
The Deli: When and how did you first get involved with MMF?
 
Michelle: Michael Byars asked me to help with some of the web admin stuff for The Mailbox (his now unfortunately defunct podcast). I had been interested in the organization since hearing about its mission; I started blogging a bit on the website and volunteered at events. Then last year at MidCoast Takeover, The Deli was so impressed by the showcase that they asked if MMF would be involved in expanding its local music publication to KC, making it 1 of only 11 cities in the nation represented. Rhonda [Lyne] asked me to head up the publication, and I was more than honored to do so.
 
The Deli: What is your current role with the organization?
 
Michelle: I’m the editor of The Deli KC, which you are feasting your eyeballs on right this very moment. I hope you dig it. I also help maintain MMF’s social media presence and sometimes help with show promotion and booking and such. And I’ll edit anything you send me, because it would drive me crazy not to.
 
The Deli: Why is MMF such an important cause to you? What do you hope it will accomplish in the future?
 
Michelle: The music community has provided me with just that—a sense of community and belonging and likemindedness. Having MMF in this city provides all of us local musicians with a commonality: our devotion to what we do and an understanding of why we do it. And I want to do as much as I can to get the word out about MMF in as many ways as I can. I hope that we continue to grow, and hope The Deli can be a catalyst to bring more attention to KC music.
 
The Deli: Who are some of your favorite local artists?
 
Michelle: I would tell you, but then I’d have to add more hyperlinks to this post. Darn.
 
The Deli: Do you have a favorite memory of a past Meow? 
 
Michelle: I’m still the new kid on the block. Meow 4 was my first time in attendance, and I barely knew anyone there. Last year was Meow 5, and I had the honor of performing as well as volunteering for the first time. The overall experience was wonderful; I interviewed Abby shortly before the event, and seeing the show executed so well made it even more affirming of how much of an accomplishment it was.
 
The Deli: What are you most looking forward to about this year's Meow?
 
Michelle: This weekend is going to be amazing for a number of reasons. I think everyone’s simultaneously excited and nervous, because it’s a big year—our first without Abby. It’s obviously going to be tough for many. I think the music will expose a lot of emotions, both for audience and musician. But this community has grown and will continue to grow together with these experiences; these are the kinds of things that push people to make astounding strides. I really think it’ll be beautiful, and I can’t wait to be a part of it. I’m honored to play again as well with an amazing group of folks in The Philistines.
 
 
Michelle will be at Apocalypse Meow all weekend, volunteering and playing bass with The Philistines on Saturday night. The event starts tomorrow, November 1 at The Midwestern Musical Co. and Saturday at Knuckleheads. Doors open at 6 pm both nights. Friday’s show is free and all ages, Saturday’s show is $10, 21+. Visit http://www.apocalypsemeow.net for a full lineup and schedule. Ticket linkFacebook event page. To find out more about MMF, visit http://midwestmusicfound.org, and learn about Abby's Fund for musicians' health care.
 

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