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MMF

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 preview: Midwestern Audio Vol. 2 CD Release Party

 
(Artwork by Sheppa)
 
Join Midwest Music Foundation for the release of the Midwestern Audio, Vol. 2: Electric Hullabaloo local music CD compilation series this Saturday, October 5, at recordBar. The lineup includes four local acts featured on the compilation: Jorge Arana Trio, Les Izmore (of Heartfelt Anarchy and Hearts of Darkness), Rev Gusto, and Spirit Is The Spirit.
 
Show starts at 9:45, 18+, $8, and entry gets you a free CD. Chipotle is also offering a BOGO burrito coupon to the first 100 people through the door.
  
On Sunday, October 7, the compilation will be available at http://music.midwestmusicfound.org. Volume 1 is currently available at that site for a pay-what-you-want download. All proceeds go to Midwest Music Foundation.

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Spotlight on Midwest Music Foundation and Apocalypse Meow with Abigail Henderson

(Photo by Paul Andrews)

If you haven't had yet been acquainted with Abigail Henderson, you haven't had a chance to meet a person with an incredible passion for Kansas City, its music, and its musical community. The voice of Tiny Horse (as well as The Gaslights and Atlantic Fadeout) gives us some information on Midwest Music Foundation, a nonprofit organization that she heads that works toward emergency health care for those in the Kansas City musical community. She also tells us about Apocalypse Meow, a benefit originally created when Henderson was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. Five years later, Meow has become a huge benefit for all local musicians. In her words, it creates a net for musicians when they fall.

Find out more about these programs and the woman herself at the link here.

--Michelle Bacon

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Spotlight on MMF/Apocalypse Meow with Abigail Henderson

 

She’s sitting across from me drinking a cup of coffee and wearing a Sons of Great Dane t-shirt. We talk a little bit about what she’s been up to, how many bands I’m in today, how lukewarm the coffee is, how we are both ultra-evil political operatives, and I forget that I’m supposed to be doing an interview.

Abigail Henderson was the reason behind Apocalypse Meow, a benefit that begun in 2008 when she was diagnosed with stage III inflammatory breast cancer. Her friends in the Kansas City music community rallied around her to hold a benefit named (by local filmmaker and musician Tony Ladeisch) after her penchant for kittens, her inner strength, and the severity of the disease she was facing. But she told me that the entire impetus for Midwest Music Foundation happened well before.
 
“I had just come back from a tour with The Gaslights. We played a show in New Orleans, and I realized something was wrong with my stomach,” Henderson said. “Someone told me that Louisiana State University had a musicians’ clinic, but I didn’t have the money to go. Turns out, all I needed was to give them a CD. I went to a real doctor, who said I had a tiny hernia and told me how to get through the rest of tour.”
 
When she returned to Kansas City, Henderson thought that a safety net for musicians would be a good idea. But like many large, grand ideas, this one went to the wayside. Until 2008.
 
“When I got diagnosed, I realized that we had enough of a community and a need. We had been doing benefits, but we really needed a net for musicians when they fall.” And thus, Midwest Music Foundation was born, with Henderson and her husband/creative partner Chris Meck at the helm.
 
Midwest Music Foundation is, by definition, an educational art organization that unites musical performers and audiences in the Kansas City area. But if you talk to Henderson and watch the intensity in her eyes as she talks about it, it’s much more than that. It’s a passion to foster an artistic community, a desire to allow musicians to follow their own dreams but still be able to live within their means, a need to show the rest of the country that there’s something to the Midwest.
 
“The music that comes out of Kansas City rivals anything made on either coast, and I honestly believe that, because we’re in the middle, we have to kick so damn hard to be listened to,” she tells me. “And as a result, a lot of our music is better because we have the tenacity to get it out there. We have to fight to be heard.”
 
One way MMF has represented Kansas City and allowed us to be heard has been at its own showcase at South By Southwest, MidCoast Takeover.
 
Henderson mentioned, “It was never something we discussed doing; it just happened. Suddenly we were planting our flag on the biggest music festival in the country.” And it’s paid off. Last year, MMF, the showcase, and several Kansas City musicians were highlighted in USA Today. The Deli Magazine named MidCoast as one of the best unofficial showcases at SXSW, and asked MMF to head up a Kansas City branch of the magazine.
 
“There’s something to be contended with in Kansas City. Not just a music scene, but a community that fosters itself—a thinking, doing community of people practicing an art.”
 
It’s clear throughout the conversation that Henderson wants to give something to the local music community and prove to the nation at large that our city is a force to be reckoned with. “After the first Meow, I had no idea what to do except have incredible gratitude and indebtness to those who helped me. I realized that I was home. I never would have to leave this city. I just wanted to know what I could do to give back.”
 
And give back she has. Midwest Music Foundation has not only helped put Kansas City’s stamp on a national music stage, but has provided emergency health care to a handful of musicians.
 
“It’s good to have an organization that cares about the work you do; it’s important to the livelihood of the community. If you blow out your knee, or fall off a ladder, or have a terrible situation, we can help you immediately.” She mentioned that other smaller cities like Austin and Memphis had become places that the musical community could count on, and hoped that MMF could become that for Kansas City. But why does it matter so much?
 
Henderson was more than happy to tell me. “Because music is an art. It’s something that needs to be tended, and the people who make it need to be cared for. And not just in the health care sense, but also a sense that musicians are important and what they do is important, and it’s a conscious decision, a sacrifice that they make to do what they do. And the currency to building a city is investing in its artists. It’s a cultural infrastructure.”  
 
Now in its fifth year, Apocalypse Meow has become a bigger benefit than ever. The event will be held on Saturday, November 3 at The Beaumont Club with seven bands, raffles, auctions, food vendors, health care information, and much more. On the evening before, Dead Voices and Henderson’s project Tiny Horse will be performing at Midwestern Musical Co.
 
“I’m really looking forward to playing the pre-party. Last year I was too sick to do it.” Henderson’s cancer came back with a resurgence last year and she was unable to play. “This year, Chris and I will be playing with a full band. Matt [Richey] has a true arranger’s brain, Zach [Phillips] has an incredible mind for melody, and Cody [Wyoming] is just brilliant. A treasure.”
 
She tells me that she’ll just be excited to be there, especially when she never realized that Meow could get to its fifth year. “When I thought I was dying, I told my lawyer that I wanted $5,000 to go to MMF; it’s that important to me. I want this thing to get bigger and go on, even if I can’t be a part of it. I want there to be an Apocalypse Meow 15.”
 
And with a person with such a determination toward creating a musical community, who possesses such a persistence to bring good music to the ears of others, there’s no doubt that MMF and Apocalypse Meow will continue with that same spirit, conviction, and humility.
 
“I’m still the girl at shows who geeks out over the guitar. I’m still completely struck by people who make music. It’s the soundtrack of our universe. It’s what you get married to; it’s what you die to; it’s what you drift down highways in cars to.”
 
To find out more about MMF, visit http://midwestmusicfound.org. Be sure to join Abby when Tiny Horse plays at Midwestern Musical Co. on Friday, November 2 around 9 pm. Say hi to her at the big event at Beaumont on November 3. Facebook event here. Visit http://www.apocalypsemeow.net for a full lineup and schedule.

--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. She memorizes license plates, but not on purpose. 

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Abigail Henderson

Photo by Paul Andrews


Tiny Horse
 
 

 
 
 

 

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