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Sister Mary Rotten Crotch

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Show recap: KC Uncovered III - Shine A Light

Throughout the first day of the winter solstice, the streets of Kansas City glazed over with ice and various events around town were canceled. While much of Westport and surrounding areas were relatively desolate, a healthy-sized crowd gathered at the recordBar to pay tribute to the music, the work, and the life of Abigail Henderson.
 
It’s one thing to cover the music of a musician whose work you respect. It’s another thing to cover the music of a musician you know personally whose work you respect. It’s yet another thing to cover the music of a musician whose work and life was esteemed by every person in the room, from those who knew her best to others who had possibly not even met her. Though this was quite the challenge for each musician who took the stage, each one honored Henderson’s music in his or her own way.
 
 
The audience was somewhat subdued when The Clementines stepped up to the stage, perhaps fully beginning to grasp the fact that they would be hearing these songs live for the first time since Henderson’s passing. But as soon as the first note of “Gods, Guns, and Glory” (an early Gaslights tune) kicked in, a collective smile swept over the room. Throughout the band’s five-song set, Nicole Springer captured everyone’s attention with a vocal inflection and country twang very akin to Henderson’s. Her charismatic control over Tiny Horse’s “Ghost” and confident command over “Last Dollar” (The Gaslights) was reminiscent of Henderson’s range.
 
 
Katie Gilchrist picked up right where Springer left off, evoking the late singer’s grit and tenacious attitude with “15 Hands” (The Gaslights). Vi Tran Band interpreted some of these songs in a different way, with slightly different arrangements to highlight Gilchrist’s voice or to emphasize the weight of the words Henderson wrote—for instance, the band performed acoustic versions of “One Trick Pony” (Tran on lead vocals) and closed out the set with “Galveston” (Gilchrist on lead vocals). On Atlantic Fadeout’s “Better Run of Bad Luck,” Gilchrist channeled the brazenness of her friend, providing one of the many musical highlights of the evening.
 
 
Where the previous two frontwomen amazingly called upon Henderson’s voice with their similar vocal deliveries, the remaining acts put a different spin on the music. Power trio Not A Planet injected its own melodic, punctuated rock ‘n roll style into songs of a more country/Americana nature. Nathan Corsi proved that his own vocal pipes could stand up to the fiery deliveries of Springer and Gilchrist through Gaslights’ tunes like “Red Dirt” and “Wicked Love.” The band reinterpreted Tiny Horse’s “Ride” with a boldness that emphasized the story of the song and a delicateness that honored the song’s memory.
 
Next up was The Oil Lamps, a supergroup of Henderson's friends and former bandmates with featured guests. The main band included the event's co-founder Bill Sundahl, Mike Alexander, John Velghe, and Mike Meyers. Howard Iceberg appeared on guest vocals for "Lines and Wires," (The Gaslights) delivering his own punk rock resolve to the tune. Amy Farrand, who was the drummer for Atlantic Fadeout, stepped into the forefront to sing the band’s tunes “Blood and Bone” and “Break Your Heart.”

 
 
 
But one of the most compelling performances of the night was the band's performance of "On the Market," featuring Steve Tulipana on vocals. This was a Gaslights tune that Henderson sang in a quieter, more melancholy register than most of the band's work, perhaps more reminiscent of her vocal work in Tiny Horse. Tulipana turned this into a heart-clenching tribute, channeling the intensity of Tom Waits and Joe Cocker, each word calculated and phrased to drop like an atom bomb. 
 
Finally, Sister Mary Rotten Crotch (pictured above) took the stage, a perfect choice to end a cathartic evening. The tears that had been shed throughout the night ceased when Liz Spillman Nord started spitting lyrics from old Gaslights’ tunes. Her fierce punk vocals turned up to eleven put a completely different spin on Henderson’s music, but kept in step with the late singer’s intrepid spirit. By the end of the evening, the tight-knit crowd was at the edge of the stage pumping fists and singing along with the band on tunes like “Sundays and Interstates” and “Old Blue Love.” The night ended on a high, celebratory note, preserving the memory and honor of an individual that helped bring the Kansas City music community closer.
 
—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. #shinealight #voteformmf 
 
 
Saturday’s show also kicked off the beginning of the voting period for Boulevard Brewing Company’s 10% of KC campaign. The campaign continues through December 31 and includes three area charities—one being Midwest Music Foundation. Visit www.voteformmf.com to vote for one of the charities, once per day, per IP address.

 

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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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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

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