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Midwest Music Foundation

Words of Love Gives Back to the Local Music Community

On Saturday, a collection of Kansas City acts will take the stage at Coda for the first Words of Love benefit concert for Midwest Music Foundation. The show was organized by Joelle St. Pierre, who volunteers for the nonprofit music organization. Read our Q&A with her and find out more about the show.
 
The Deli: Give us a brief overview of what Words of Love is all about.
 
Joelle St. Pierre: Words of Love is a collection of artists that include Wyatt West with Tom Hall, Bryan Hicks, AJ Young, Amanda Fish, Nicki Scruggs, Eems, Sean McDonnell, Thomas Freight Train Walker, Max Berry, and more for a musical tribute to the many faces of love. The musicians will play in different groupings as a full band and as duets, smaller ensembles, etc.
 
The Deli: How did this show come about?
 
St. Pierre: The concept began almost a year ago when Matthew Stevens donated to the KKFI band auction for Wyatt West to play an event and had always wanted this to be a benefit for MMF. Matthew has received funds from MMF to cover rent for a local musician who was injured. I began as coordinator and contacted Wyatt, who put together the musicians, theme, date, venue, and logo. Wyatt is a top-notch singer songwriter with 2 new CDs out in 2015 and is associated with the musicians that have volunteered their time for our fundraiser.
 
The Deli: How did you get involved with MMF and volunteering in the music community?
 
St. Pierre: I began 3 years ago after a dear friend turned me on to Diana Ennis's KKFI Tasty Brew show and have volunteered for all fundraisers at the studio and many in our local area. My MMF volunteering began with Crossroads Music Fest and I can't get enough!
 
The Deli: What kind of influence do you think MMF has on musicians and the local music community?
 
St. Pierre: MMF brings together a collection of local musicians to support one another, which is vital for the continued success of musicians as well as local venues and MidCoast Takeover. This particular fundraiser began with a music fan who wanted to recognize MMF for their efforts to help him and the musician. The impact of MMF is widely felt, as it takes very little to become homeless and destitute when injured or ill. MMF creates a feeling of relief, a shelter from the storm and perhaps, even greater, a recognition of the importance of live and recorded music and the venues in which the music is made.
 
The Words of Love show begins at 9:00 pm with a suggested donation of $10. Facebook event page. If you’d like to get involved with Midwest Music Foundation, visit midwestmusicfound.org.
 

--Michelle Bacon 

Show review: The Band That Fell To Earth at Uptown Theater, 1.31.16

David Bowie is a god of artistry, performance, and music. We are all created in his ever-changing image. Cool in our uncoolness, beautiful awkward outcasts, only appreciated and understood in our circles of the same. May it be Bowie as a distorted, sexy, sci-fi, glam-rock angel, or toying with the absurdity of gender and sexuality and what belongs to it, or Bowie as a poetic confrontational storyteller, or merely the voice of a collective us who seeks guidance and shelter from the normal; David Bowie changed the world.
 
On Sunday night, Bowie fans all over the metro came to pay tribute to our god. Upwards of 850 people showed up at the Uptown Theater, some with painted faces and all ready to do their part. This show was originally booked for Knuckleheads Saloon but moved when the demand became too great for it to handle. Our local musicians leading us in praise, calling themselves The Band That Fell To Earth, played more than 2 hours of Bowie—25 songs. And still left us wanting more. Always more Bowie.
 
Michelle Bacon, editor and writer for our very own Deli along with 90.9 The Bridge and Ink, on her cooler days plays bass for The Philistines and drums for Chris Meck and The Guilty Birds. She handpicked this very talented group of her friends and peers and coordinated a masterpiece of a tribute. Ultimately presented by The Deli KC, this performance was all created from the depths of her Bowie fandom. Kansas City thanks you, Michelle.
 
Michelle with her shiny hair, tight red pants, and perfectly played funky bass lines, wasn’t the only star onstage that night. Stephanie Williams was the other half of the rhythm section; she and her beautiful bangs play drums in Katy Guillen & the Girls. Kyle Dahlquist, of The Hardship Letters and Amy Farrand and the Like, took care of the synth and keys. Alex Alexander of Drop a Grand and SquidsKC melted faces with his lead guitar. Rich Wheeler, who plays with The People’s Liberation Big Band and Son Venezuela, was the brass section. Betse Ellis and Clarke Wyatt of the folk duo Betse & Clarke were the string section. Andrea Tudhope, Lauren Krum (The Grisly Hand, Ruddy Swain), and Rachel Christia (Hearts of Darkness) were personality and backup vocals. The main vocals were handled by Nathan Corsi of Not a Planet, Michael Tipton of Kodascope, and Steve Tulipana of Roman Numerals.
 
Besides the talent, the key to this tribute was the huge video screen behind the band (provided by XO Blackwater). It played clips of videos and live performances that went along perfectly with the set list all night. It gave us a needed tool to fully reminisce. It allowed us to compare dance moves between Bowie and whoever was taking on the vocals at the moment, which was a very fun element. The screen started the show with the “Lazarus” video—it sobered the crowd right up and we all remembered that we were in mourning.
 
The Band That Fell To Earth started their first set with “Let’s Dance.” The seats cleared and I became fully aware of what a special night this was going to be. Steve Tulipana carried the brunt of the lead vocals. I have been lucky enough to catch him in a couple of tribute projects, one being a Joy Division tribute. He became Ian Curtis that night and blessed us with the transformation into David Bowie on Sunday night. Steve brings icons back to life, just for one day. His moves, his vocals, and emphasis were captivating. He was David Bowie and the crowd loved it.
 
“Heroes” has been such a covered and loved track for so long. I’ve heard it recorded and covered live so many times. But something felt different about it on Sunday. This anthem, professing love and proclaiming individuality and how truly heroic these things are, is who David Bowie was. It is an anthem to me. It means so much. And Rich’s horn during this song was everything. Bless him and his contribution to this project.
 
Popular favorites “China Girl,” “Young Americans,” and “Modern Love” turned the crowd into a dance party. Old and young dancing and singing every lyric wildly at each other. But the real shock was the last song of the first set, where Nathan Corsi captivated the crowd with his vocal interpretation of “Life on Mars.” No one around me spoke. Some had tears in their eyes. Dressed in suspenders with his beautiful brunette mane, Nate was not Bowie. He was a fan. He was paying tribute. His voice represented how we all felt. He left his crowd blown away. We all needed an intermission to gather ourselves.
 
We came back from intermission with “Fame” and the stripper moves came pouring out. Michelle and Kyle became Nine Inch Nails on “I’m Afraid of Americans” and I cannot stress enough how spot-freaking-on this was. During “Suffragette City,” the screen above showed clips from Labyrinth and everyone took notice.
 
“Sound and Vision,” which is one of my personal favorite tracks, was done justice by Kyle on the keys. He was a vision (see what I did there?). “Space Oddity,” was taken on by Nate and Andrea. Andrea was center stage and ready to do her part to pay homage with Nate to her left. I felt nervous as these vocals felt like maybe they would be a stretch for anyone to take on. I was so wrong. They, along with the string and horn section, took us to church and made us all believers. It was one of many “WOW” moments of the show. But, not to be outdone, “Moonage Daydream” produced its own stars. Alex seemed to have been taken over by some sort of rock guitarist demon and Clarke broke his bow. Now THAT is rock ‘n roll.
 
The Band That Fell To Earth played an encore of “Rock n Roll Suicide” and “Under Pressure.” Michelle began the last song of the night with that bass line we all know so well. We prepared ourselves for the grand finale. The backup vocalists danced. All performers of the night graced the stage. David and Freddie took over the screen and we all celebrated, together.
 
David, thank you. Thank you for the music. Thank you for the courage. Thank you for instilling the belief that we are all ok as we are, no matter what that might be. Thank you for changing us and the world. RIP.
 
--Jess Barrett
Haver of sweet dance moves and stealer of t-shirts
 

 

Apocalypse Meow 8 is coming up!

Midwest Music Foundation is proud to present the eighth annual Apocalypse Meow! Mark your calendars for November 6-8 and enjoy 3 nights of music at 3 great Kansas City spots for a very important cause.
 
 
Friday, November 6 at recordBar
Amy Farrand and the Like
Get your tickets here. 18+ / $7
 
 
Saturday, November 7 at Mills Record Company
A free, all ages show presented by The Deli KC!
 
Sunday, November 8 at Knuckleheads Saloon
 
Get your tickets here. 21+ / $15
 
Apocalypse Meow 8 benefits Abby’s Fund for Musicians’ Health Care, which provides emergency health care grants to musicians in need. Raffles will be held throughout the weekend and a silent auction will be held on Sunday at Knuckleheads, with items, gift certificates, and tickets donated by local businesses and organizations. Click here for a full list of items and contact rhonda@midwestmusicfound.org if you’d like to donate.
 
Huge thanks to all our sponsors, volunteers, and musicians that make this event possible each year! For more information and a full list of sponsors, please visit http://midwestmusicfound.org/apocalypse-meow-2015
 

The Deli KC Presents at Grain Valley Fair 2015

This Friday, we’re taking a fantastic lineup of performers out to Grain Valley for their annual Grain Valley Fair. Tickets are only $5! The stage will be located by the Grain Valley Chamber of Commerce at 711 Main St., Grain Valley, MO 64029. Preview the bands, bring your lawn chairs and blankets and come say hi to us! Midwest Music Foundation will also have a table near the stage. Facebook event page.
 
11:15 – Not A Planet
 
 
Not A Planet
 
 
 
The Philistines
 
 
 
Katy Guillen & the Girls
 
 

  
Kangaroo Knife Fight
 
 

Folk Alliance 2015 conference celebrates music from around the world

(Photo above of Betse and Clarke)
 
The sentimental thank you Facebook posts have all gone out. The Instagram pictures have all gotten their double tap hearts of approval. The videos of various raucous late night room parties have been shared. The hangovers have (mostly) subsided. Over the next 12 months, the hazy “remember that time at Folk Alliance when…” stories will joyously be told and retold. As most of us return to the wicked monotony of the work week, we must finally accept that the 2015 Folk Alliance International conference is over.
 
Simply put, it was an unparalleled celebration of music over the course of 6 days. For those who did not attend or are not familiar with the conference, it’s like a musical version of Disney Land AND Disney World combined into two hotels with a 4-minute skywalk in between. There was something going on most days in excess of 20 hours. You could rise early to partake in group yoga and meditation before spending the morning in seminars, classes, or the open exhibit hall. Catch a showcase or speaker in the afternoon. Head down to the lobby where a jam with musicians from 4 different continents has spontaneously busted out. As evening hits, the official showcases begin in the ballrooms. As night rolls in, one could argue the real fun begins as damn near every room on floors 5, 6, and 7 of the Westin hosts a showcase put on by organizations across the world. Partake in the various libations flowing freely throughout and wander in and out of rooms listening to hundreds of performers until the wee hours of the morn. Make a plethora of new friends from Australia, Canada, Japan, France, etc. Maybe catch a few zzz’s and then wake up and do it all over again. It is truly unbelievable the sheer amount of activity crammed into a relatively small amount of time and space. Therefore, it would be impossible to offer a full recap, but there were things that stuck out from the sensory overload. Here are some of the highlights.
 
Official KC Showcases/Local Representation
 
 
Wednesday night saw a slew of official showcases played solely by local artists. These musicians did a fine job representing the strength and variety in our music scene. Driving down to the conference, I was treated to Ruddy Swain being live broadcasted on KKFI 90.1 FM from their showcase. A stripped down version of The Latenight Callers (pictured above) offered a sultry set of noir pop tunes. Dollar Fox emerged from a somewhat lengthy hiatus with a slimmed down lineup and new musical focus towards pure rock ‘n roll.  Some of the rooms featured “in the round”-style setups with 4 artists trading performances for hour-long blocks (memorable acts included Amy Farrand, Vi Tran, Cheri Woods, Jen Harris, Ben Byard, amongst many others). The Hardship Letters closed down their room with a fantastic set of emotional rock songs.
 
Upstairs, the KC Music Collective Tower Room showcases (put together by some of the fine folks from Midwest Music Foundation, Money Wolf Music, and others deeply involved in the Kansas City arts scene) further showed that our little slice of “flyover” country is not to be ignored. Some comments coming later on specific highlights from these rooms.
 
 
 
It’s an odd thing to wander into a random hotel room around midnight and hear a group that describes itself as “a real dance-along turbo-Nordic-folk band which brings back the energy, purity, and sincerity of Estonian folk music.” Featuring a 12-string guitar, a cajon, a jaw harp and more sing-songy group vocals than you can shake a kepp at (thank you Google Translate), this trio was delightfully entertaining, also working the crowded room between each song with gusto.
 
 
 
 
(Photo by Tyler Bentson Jennings)
 
Another “I wonder what is going on in this room …” discovery, this duo from Los Angeles (real names Lee Ferris and Bianca Caruso) served up an impactful set of smartly written acoustic pop songs. The real draw here is the sensational natural blend of their vocals. Some voices just seem made for each other with the ability to weave into a singular force of vocal performance. Ferris and Caruso have found their respective vocal soulmates, the kind of perfect harmonies that send a gripping shiver down the backbone of the listener.
 
 
 
 
I caught a few minutes of their set on Wednesday night, but it was the performance on Friday that really stuck out. A little less “official,” a little more raucous, a little better sound, and a little more just all-around fun, the band took us through vast points of their catalog with the jangly precision that we’ve come to expect from the country rock sextet. Vocalists Jimmy Fitzner and Lauren Krum are another example of two voices that join forces so damn well as one. Krum also exhibits such exuberance on stage, bobbing and weaving to the groove with a warm childlike cackle that just makes you grin.
 
 
 
 
This was my first Carswell and Hope show, surprising since they are based in Lawrence and it is musically right in my wheelhouse. Songwriter and lead vocalist Nick Carswell clearly knows how to write intelligent, poignant pop songs. Dreamy and textured in all the right ways, the band behind him (especially keyboardist Austin Keys) provided the perfect complement of additional instrumentation without getting in the way of the raw beauty of the material. It ends up sounding something akin to the more recent mature work of Nada Surf or the poppier moments of the Sigur Ros catalogue. Safe to say, I will be checking them out much more moving forward.
 
 
 
 
(Photo by Michael Byars)
 
Another local artist I am kicking myself for not being more familiar with before this event, Arsenia played a very entertaining set of tunes, both while strumming a harp and a cappella. He has such an impressive appearance and performance, like folk vaudeville with a voice that is just unbelievably strong.
 
 
 
 
In an event with this sheer amount of activity, there is a good chance no two reviews will read the same. Everyone will see a different batch of performances. Everyone will look for their favorite attributes. That is the inherent beauty of an event of this magnitude.
 
That said, The HillBenders should and will end up on most Best of FAI2015 lists. It’s the age old story of bluegrass band does Tommy by the Who (my tongue firmly planted in my cheek, if you could not tell). Not selections from Tommy. The whole damn thing. Beginning to end.
 
Now, I will admit that I don’t have an avid knowledge of Tommy. I have heard the record a few times, but I would never describe it as important to me; it’s not even my favorite The Who album. The HillBenders are already fantastic in their own right, but the treatment the Springfield quintet gave Tommy was inspirational and transcendent. The musicality was there, the harmonies were brilliant, the stage presence was vigorous. They took an album featuring arguably one of the most powerful percussionists in rock ‘n roll history and blew the cover off it with no percussion whatsoever.
 
If I saw anything at the conference that I would label as “about to break,” it would be this.  
 
 
The Cody Wyoming Show
 
 
God love this man, I won’t soon forget his late night showcase in one of the KC Music Collective rooms. If ever a public event was suited to one individual, it would be Folk Alliance 2015 for Cody Wyoming. It was far from a perfect performance, but more importantly it was a perfect example of the power and purpose of our community as Wyoming invited several random musicians in the room to join his set minutes before he started. This sentiment was shown time and time again throughout the event, but it was his showcase that sticks out in that regard.
 
 
The Dollar Fox Room Party Collective
 
 
(Photo by Michael Byars)
 
Rivaling the aforementioned Wyoming for the “Who is Folk Alliance Conference 2015 best suited for?” award, what I will call the Dollar Fox Room Party Collective rolled through the various private showcase floors like bearded ball lightning, leaving a trail of empty whiskey bottles, knocked over furniture, and amazed faces in their wake. It’s hard to encapsulate (or remember) who all was involved at what points. Mostly consisting of members of various Money Wolf Music artists, it’s probably a shorter list of who wasn’t involved in the horde (hell, even I sat in with them for a set late Saturday night). In an event where it is very easy to be forgotten as “just another dude playing an acoustic guitar and singing sad songs,” this group took great care to make sure their show was special, brash and, above all else, damn entertaining. Whiskey, oh whiskey indeed…
 
 
I really could write for days about everything I saw, but those are just a few that stuck out. I am sure there were countless other wonderful performances I missed. Folk Alliance 2015 was an amazing event to experience, both as a performer and member of the media. My overall suggestion: do whatever you have to do to attend next year (and any other year you can).
 
The countdown begins. Only 357 shopping days until Folk Alliance 2016.
 
--Zach Hodson
 

Zach Hodson is a monster. He once stole a grilled cheese sandwich from a 4-year-old girl at her birthday party. He will only juggle if you pay him. I hear he punched Slimer right in his fat, green face. He knows the secrets to free energy, but refuses to release them until Saved by the Bell: Fortysomethings begins production. He is also in Dolls on Fire and Drew Black & Dirty Electric, as well as contributing to various other Kansas City-based music, comedy, and art projects. 

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