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Money Wolf's songwriter stage at CMF promises musical diversity

(Photo by Todd Zimmer)
This week, we’ll be highlighting some of the events and artists at the 10th annual Crossroads Music Fest on Saturday, September 6. Please visit cmfkc.com for tickets or more information.
Along with The Record Machine (see our spotlight on them earlier this week), Money Wolf Music will be curating its own stage at CMF this year for the first time. This Kansas City collective/production house/record label has helped put musicians on display to different audiences in unconventional settings; for instance, they often put on exclusive secret shows and coordinate a private hotel showcase at the annual Folk Alliance International conference. By also co-organizing networking and informational sessions, recording and releasing albums, and advocating for its artist roster—which includes Dollar Fox (pictured above), The Hillary Watts Riot, Dead Ven, and others—Money Wolf is an important resource to Kansas City music.
This year, Money Wolf will host a songwriter showcase at Celina Tio’s Crossroads district restaurant, Collection. The event will feature songwriters’ circles: four sets of four artists will trade off songs. Tommy Donoho, one of the main forces behind Money Wolf and the frontman of Dollar Fox, talks to us about what we can expect from Saturday.
The Deli: The Money Wolf stage at Collection features 16 different acts. Tell us why festivalgoers should make a point to check out this showcase.
Tommy Donoho: We worked hard to put together a lineup that truly represents the amazing diversity in this city. From folk to punk to blues to instrumental to pop to country to full-on freaks, we wanted people to really experience a taste of ALL the great songwriters this city has to offer. Plus, we're doing a very intimate, simple mic set-up—kind of the old time approach—to capture the real essence of what these people sound like. It's a songwriter-focused stage in every possible way.
The Deli: Do you have any surprises in store?
Donoho: You know us all too well. For us, the surprise was the diversity of the lineup. It's something we're really reaching towards—getting people to see ALL the music KC has to offer. Of course, you get this many folks together, I'm guessing someone is going to bust out something that inspires collaboration.
The Deli: Why did you decide to curate a stage at CMF?
Donoho: Last year, Justin [Penney] was hired to run sound at the venue for CMF and it went well. Over the last year, he and I have had more contact with both Celina and Bill [Sundahl] and it made sense to bring us back this year.
The songwriter circle idea came from Bill. I think he saw the potential of what we were pulling together with our involvement with Folk Alliance International some of the songwriting circles we've been hosting with a variety of artists. What can I say? Bill trusted us to make something unique.
The Deli: What value does this have for the KC music community?
Donoho: I'm hoping musicians make new friends and fans. I'm hoping fans find more musicians they weren't even aware existed. And mostly I'm hoping we'll get more and more people out to see a wider variety of shows in the future. The town and the people who write songs in it are fucking amazing. I'm starting to see the city embrace this notion more and more. I'm hoping they'll embrace our vision of how there's no difference between Mikal Shapiro and Mike Alexander. They write songs and damn good ones; music fans should see the musicians at the core of what they are. And that's the biggest benefit we can hope for: to have people walking away saying, “Holy shit, those people can write some songs.”
The Deli: What else does Money Wolf have coming up that you’re looking forward to?
Donoho: We're actually hosting our second Sonic Saturday Social Club at 3:00 on the day of CMF. It's an event we're working on with Coda, where we bring in rock bands on the first Saturday of each month. Day drinking, rock and roll, all ages, good food. It's all about exposing people to great music.
On September 22, we're hosting another of our infamous Secret Shows. We have Zachary Lucky from Canada rolling in. He blew people away at the FAI conference and we're hoping to get him in front of more people. He writes some of the best sad bastard tunes around. He picked the most depressing day of the week to hit town. So we're going to celebrate all the sadness by serving up some delicious competition smoked BBQ and music. We're calling it All Your Hopes Go Up in Smoke. It'll be limited to a mere 20 tickets. We'll be announcing all of it soon.
The Deli: Tell us what some of Money Wolf’s artists have going on.
Donoho: The Hillary Watts Riot has been playing a ton in and out of town and are about to release a new video. Dead Ven is playing everywhere, including a set with the Ataris, I believe. He's a really spectacular songwriter. Dollar Fox is woodshedding for a while, but I'm always out playing. And we just did the Records with Merritt live show, recording. It was a huge success and songs are being mixed to ship out to press here very soon.
We stay busy here at Money Wolf Music. And this CMF event is something we're crazy excited for. It's gonna be a great night.
Start your day off early at Coda and catch Money Wolf’s Sonic Saturday Social Club at 3:00 p.m., with The Thunderclaps (our artist of the month!) and Oldfield Victory. Facebook event page. Then, at 6, be sure to hit up the showcase at Collection, with 16 different songwriters. Facebook event page.
--Michelle Bacon

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Spotlight on CMF artist: Onward Crispin Glover

(Photo by Mark Peterman)
This week, we are highlighting some of the artists playing the 10th annual Crossroads Music Fest this Saturday, September 6. For more info or tickets, visit cmfkc.com.
Onward Crispin Glover released its first and only album, The Further and the Faster, in 2001 on Anodyne Records—a Kansas City-based label that has released albums from the likes of Shiner, The Architects, Roman Numerals, and Meat Puppets. The band had a punchy, glammy pop vibe infused with boisterous punk, starring a cast of experienced musicians from groups such as Frogpond, TV Fifty, Truck Stop Love, and Rocket Fuel is the Key. And though it released just the one album, Onward Crispin Glover has remained on the minds of many in KC music ever since.
One of those minds was that of Bill Sundahl, who has organized every CMF since its inception in 2005. Sundahl specifically requested for OCG to reunite for this year’s festival. “Every now and then I would run across The Further and the Faster, put it in my CD player, and it always held up,” he comments. “I can't think of many recordings from 2001 I can say that about.”
And it certainly does hold up, even 11 years after the band’s demise. Though OCG’s style was heavily rooted in ‘90s power pop/punk—comparisons to Superchunk and Archers of Loaf have often been drawn—it was far more expansive than that. The members cite Elvis Costello and The Afghan Whigs as influences, which immediately eliminates them from being stuck with a simple power pop branding—something you can tell after a single listen to The Further and the Faster. Costello had a penchant for writing some of the hookiest and most timeless pop songs ever, with a new wave/punk attitude; this is absolutely evident in OCG’s songwriting.
“It began with a very pop-oriented sensibility and progressed toward a noisier, more chaotic sound,” says bassist Kristin Conkright.
Elements of that chaotic but catchy sound has manifested in Knife Crime; three of the band’s four members are also original members of OCG: Byron Huhmann, Conkright, and Brad Huhmann. With Byron’s striking, pronounced vocals at the helm—he is also primary songwriter of both bands—Knife Crime is something of a modern-day, slightly more grown-up version of its members’ previous incarnation.
Onward Crispin Glover formed in 1999, with Byron on vocals and guitar, Brad on guitar, Conkright on bass, and Billy Johnson on drums. Brad chose not to tour with the band and was replaced by Marty Robertson—who, along with Johnson, was in Frogpond. Robertson later handed the reins off to Steve Tulipana. In 2003, the band folded and went on to a number of other successful projects, such as Federation of Horsepower, Anvil Chorus, and Red Kate
Conkright also lists “the KC affinity for really, really fucking loud guitars” as one of the trademarks of OCG’s sound. On Saturday’s reunion show, the group will once again deliver on this promise more than ever before. The lineup will include a triple axe arsenal of the Huhmann brothers and Robertson. Conkright tells us that the biggest, yet most rewarding challenge is “figuring out how to work all three guitar players into one set without smashing eardrums.” Chris Fugitt of Federation of Horsepower will be sitting in on drums, as Johnson will be out of town.
For now, old and new fans will have the chance to experience Onward Crispin Glover at Crossroads Music Fest this weekend. But the members note that they’ve had so much fun revisiting the songs that they might play more after the reunion show. And as well as OCG’s songs hold up more than a decade later, we’ll probably want them to.
--Michelle Bacon
Michelle is editor-in-chief of The Deli KC and plays in bands. Crispin Glover scares her a little.
Onward Crispin Glover will be playing in the Mercy Seat Alley for CMF on Saturday, kicking off the evening at 7:00 pm. Don’t miss it.
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Spotlight on CMF artist: Scott Hrabko & the Rabbits

(Photo by M. Krebotchnik)
This week, we’ll be highlighting some of the artists playing the 10th annual Crossroads Music Fest next Saturday, September 6. Please visit cmfkc.com for more information.
Scott Hrabko has been making music for over 25 years now, but only recently released his debut album in late 2013. The singer/songwriter composes thoughtful, reflective tunes with a backing band that provides the soul, swing, and twang that gives his music a classic country feel. We talk with Hrabko about his history and how he got back into the music scene.
The Deli: Down and dirty: 1 sentence to describe your music. What is it?
Hrabko: Singer/songwriterly, semi-autobiographical songs with rambling lyrics, played in a somewhat offbeat country/folk/blues hybrid with an emphasis on soulful three-part harmonies.
The Deli: How did you get back into writing and playing your own songs again?
Hrabko: After I moved from KC in the '90s, I had some good bands in Chicago and Austin that maybe 20 people knew about. When I came back, though, I was having trouble meeting musicians who had any interest in the kind of stuff I write. I grew kind of disillusioned about writing songs for awhile and my only connection to music was this cover band, The Original Sinners, playing semi-obscure R&B songs from the '50s a few times a year at parties. When the urge to write started pestering me again, my wife strongly suggested that I get out and play some solo acoustic shows. That was when I asked Howard Iceberg for advice and he introduced me to Elaine McMilian. Elaine booked gigs for me and helped get my music back out in public. She and her friend, the late Tom Ryan, were huge supporters early on. That helped because I was very nervous about the whole thing and had no idea how it would be received. It's not easy to go out and perform without a band, but I'm glad I did; I really learned whether my songs can stand on their own, without all of the seductive instrumentation.
The Deli: How did you hook up with the rest of the Rabbits?
Hrabko: I met Emily Tummons a few years ago at the Howard Iceberg tribute show at Crosstown Station. My old band, the Splinters, was invited to play a couple of Howard's tunes; Emily and her sister Beth sang a couple by themselves and with Scott Easterday. Their sound really knocked me out. It was very old-timey—the kind of harmonies you just don't hear these days. I thought, “I have to find a way to sing with those girls, somehow.” I figured we might run into each other eventually, but right after the show as I was loading up my car, Emily came right up and introduced herself and asked if I ever needed any backing vocals. Beth was too busy with her home life to commit to anything, but Emily wound up singing on my album and then joined the Rabbits.
Josh Arnold was the first musician who joined us after that. He had gone to school with Emily and played bass with the Tummons Sisters. He and Emily had sung harmonies before, as well, so they already had all this history. I knew immediately that we had a good combination. He's a great, intuitive bass player, and the two of them just have this telepathy when they sing together. With previous bands I was probably guilty of micromanagement, not letting the musicians be themselves and find a flow, but with Josh and Emily I just say, “here's the song—go to it,” with only an occasional suggestion of what they should do. They're also great people, and very funny.
We just lost our badass guitarist, Kirk Scott, who moved with his family to Massachusetts, so we're a trio now, but we have a fourth member lined up; it’s just not official yet. Emily sang some harmonies on my CD, Gone Places and we started rehearsing with Josh about a year ago in preparation for the CD release, which was last November at Coda.
The Deli: What have been your greatest accomplishments as a band?
Hrabko: I think it has been developing our own unique sound in a very short period of time. I always dreamed of having a band with a strong element of harmony and the first time we sang together I knew it could be something special. And, for me, personally—I was really out of the music scene for years, so getting back into it and being so warmly received is really gratifying.
The Deli: You released your debut album Gone Places last November. What can people expect from it?
Hrabko: Gone Places came out late last year. That one was me and some old friends and some guest musicians I'd just met, recorded mostly in my basement. Scott Hrabko & The Rabbits are putting the finishing touches on a new album which will be out some time this fall.
The Deli: Who are you most looking forward to seeing at Crossroads Music Fest this year?
Hrabko: There are a lot of bands I already like that I want to hear, as well as some I'm curious about. It's very nice that it all takes place within a few city blocks. After our set I think I'm just going to go wherever the wind takes me. It all sounds good.
The Deli: What does supporting local music mean to you?
Hrabko: It's about acknowledging how lucky we are to be in a small-to-mid-sized major city smack dab in the middle of the country and we're absolutely surrounded with good music. Can't swing a dead cat. I'll give you an example: we have this local, non-touring band, Dead Voices, who are making music that is just historically good, and they're like our little secret. For the time being we have them to ourselves. It's really lovely to see all this music happening here, because I can remember a time when it wasn't, aside from a handful of true believers.
It's not the product of hype, or a response to some kind of market pressure, either. It's just growing on its own, taking its own quirky course.
The Deli: What has changed about the local music landscape? Why do you think it’s growing at a rate it wasn’t before?
Hrabko: There seems to be a convergence of musicians who came up together in the ‘90s and early ‘00s, who are all friends and play in each other's bands. Many of the bands just seem to be part of one organism! It kind of sustains itself. It helps that the music is worth listening to.
Second, it seems that there are more entrepreneurs around who are musician-friendly or musicians themselves who are starting up venues and record labels, organizing festivals, etc. That infrastructure definitely wasn't around back in the day when a band like mine could play a Monday night at The Grand Emporium or maybe open for somebody at Parody Hall.
Third, the internet. Being able to post your music online for anybody to check out has been a godsend for socially challenged musicians like me, and all of the social media has made it much easier to get the word out. Going around, stapling fliers to telephone poles seems very quaint now. I would also add that there are more true music lovers—especially for live music—than you would think there would be in a town this size, so people do come out. And of course we have KKFI!
The Deli: Who are your favorite local musicians right now?
Hrabko: It kills me to leave so many out, but I am a huge fan of Mikal Shapiro, Dead Voices, of course -- anything David Regnier is involved in, Jason Beers, Marco Pascolini, Howard Iceberg, Brent Jamison, Kasey Rausch, Old Sound. John Greiner, but he just moved to the east coast, so he's no longer local. Emily and Josh from my own band kick my ass on a regular basis.
The Deli: Who are your favorite not-so-local musicians right now?
Hrabko: Lately I've gotten into these mysterious, English folky women, like Cate LeBon and This Is The Kit. Also digging back into the late Townes Van Zandt's early catalog and finding I really didn't know all I thought I knew about him. What a lyricist... like William Blake or something! Fred Neill, early John Martyn (a lot of dead guys, I guess!), Michael Kiwanuka.
The Deli: A music-themed Mount Rushmore. What four faces are you putting up there and why?
Hrabko: Leonard Cohen, Robert Johnson, Joni Mitchell, Jimmie Rodgers, Captain Beefheart (I know, that's five): great music that has stood the test of time. I've had so many musical heroes that I've either outgrown, disavowed, or gotten sick of, but I still get chills when I listen to these people’s songs. It still has as profound an impact on me as it did when I was much younger and knew even less.
The Deli: What other goals does Scott Hrabko & the Rabbits have for 2014?
Hrabko: Stay healthy, stay busy, stay visible, write great songs, and grow as a band.
The Deli: Where can we find you on the web?
The Deli: Always go out on a high note. Any last words of wisdom for the Deli audience?
Hrabko: If it's crap, don't be deterred.
Scott Hrabko & the Rabbits are:
Scott Hrabko: acoustic guitar, lead vocals
Josh Arnold: bass, vocals
Emily Tummons: accordion, ukulele, vocals
Scott Hrabko & the Rabbits will be playing at The Tank Room for Crossroads Music Fest on Saturday. Their set is at 6:00 pm, followed by Old Sound. Facebook event page. You can also catch Hrabko at Coda every fourth Saturday, where he hosts a happy hour songwriter showcase.
--Michelle Bacon

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The Record Machine brings a formidable lineup to Crossroads Music Fest next Saturday

This week, we’ll be highlighting some of the events and artists at the 10th annual Crossroads Music Fest on Saturday, September 6. Please visit cmfkc.com for more information.
This is the first year that The Record Machine will be curating its own stage at CMF. The record label, based in Kansas City, was launched in 2003, has released more than 50 albums, and has powered breakout area [and national] acts such as Cowboy Indian Bear, Minden, Soft Reeds, and Making Movies. The Record Machine also curated and has helped organize Ink’s Middle of the Map Festival each year since its 2011 inception. 
Today, Nathan Reusch (who co-founded TRM with Mike Russo and Richard Robinett) owns the label and works with more than a dozen indie acts, many of whom are based in Kansas City. By booking them on widely attended showcases, helping them with touring, putting out records, among other invaluable services, The Record Machine has been a viable resource for the KC/Lawrence music community. We ask Reusch a few questions about what we can expect at the fest and in the future.
The Deli: Do you have any surprises in store for the CMF showcase?
Reusch: We will be unveiling some new branding for the label and we are excited about it. We will be launching a new website and video series from footage that we’re going to be making that weekend. We will likely have a pinata or two to smash in between bands.
The Deli: The showcase includes five artists on The Record Machine label. Why did you choose these acts?
Reusch: We are excited to have Max Justus, La Guerre, The Noise FM (pictured above), Chambers, and Ghastly Menace all on one show. They all have new records that either just came out or about to come out next year. So it’s really an accurate picture of where the label is at.
The Deli: What are some of the label’s greatest accomplishments?
Reusch: We are lucky to have released great records over the last few years from some of our favorites like Capybara, Cowboy Indian Bear, Soft Reeds, Spirit Is The Spirit, and a lot more. Between the work we do with The Record Machine and curating Ink's Middle of the Map Fest, I feel like the label has hit a really great stride.
The Deli: Why did you decide to curate a stage at CMF? What value does it have for the KC music community?
Reusch: We were super honored to be asked to curate our own stage by CMF founder Bill Sundahl. I think it’s a great fest that shows a broad swath of what is going on in KC. It’s nice for us who have bands from around the region to join in the fest. A lot of our bands call KC a second home with The Record Machine being here.
The Deli: What else does The Record Machine have coming up that you’re looking forward to?
Reusch: We have an EP coming out this fall from Stolen Nations. It’s KC native Jon Terrey (The Chariot, The James Dean Trio). It’s really cool and fun to have Jon back on the label; he was in The James Dean Trio back in 2003 when we first started the label and was part of our first release. We also have new records coming out from Ghastly Menace, La Guerre, and Max Justus that we hope to have release dates for soon.
We’re currently starting work on 2015’s Middle of the Map Fest, which is always an exciting and fun event to plan but takes a lot of time for everything to come together. We also always try to throw a pretty sweet free Christmas party/winter showcase and looking at doing that in early December.
Be sure to make The Record Machine’s showcase one of your CMF stops on Saturday night. It takes place at Czar, with Ghastly Menace (6:00), La Guerre (8:00), Chambers (10:00), The Noise FM (12:00), and Max Justus (1:00). Facebook event page.

--Michelle Bacon


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Coming up: the 10th Annual Crossroads Music Fest

Next Saturday, September 6, the 10th annual Crossroads Music Fest will be held in the Crossroads Arts District in Kansas City. The annual event, presented this year by KKFI 90.1 FM, will feature over 30 performers on seven stages. Visit cmfkc.com for a complete schedule and ticketing info.
These musical acts will be featured at Crossroads KC at Grinders, The Brick, Czar, The Tank Room, Mercy Seat Alley, Collection, and Green Lady Lounge. Highlights will include a reunion set from Onward Crispin Glover, who has not performed since 2003; showcases curated by The Record Machine and Money Wolf Music; and a diverse collection of rock, jazz, roots, and indie sounds representative of the Kansas City music scene.
From noon to 5 pm, the Kansas City Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts (KCVLAA) will present the third annual Legal Bootcamp for Musicians at Czar. Topics will include copyright law, licensing agreements, band agreements, and other essential topics for the business-minded musician.

Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the gate. Individual venues will charge a lesser fee. Tickets can be purchased at Vinyl Renaissance (the 39th St or Overland Park location), Crossroads KC or Grinders, The Bottleneck, or at this link. Facebook event page.

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