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Tiny Horse




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



New single: "Ride" by Tiny Horse

(Photo by Michael Forester)

Tiny Horse, the dynamic duo of husband/wife team Abigail Henderson and Chris Meck is back at it again with a new single called "Ride," featuring Zach Phillips of The Architects, Matt Richey of The Grisly Hand, and Cody Wyoming. The single was recorded this week and mastered by Chad Meise.

The duo made its triumphant return to the stage back in April, and continues to go strong with intimate but powerful live shows, showing no signs of slowing down. This new single showcases Meck's seemingly innate talent on the guitar coupled with Henderson's unique, captivating voice. 

You can see Tiny Horse tomorrow (Friday, August 17) at The Brick as they perform with (of) Tree. 

--Michelle Bacon





Grinding Gears with Chris Meck


It's great to know why musicians do what they do. Why they write songs about heartache or joy. What kind of emotion they're trying to express. Who they most look up to. That's the magic of what they do. But then there's the science of it. How do they make the most raw or sensual sounds come out of their instruments?

For our newest feature, Grinding Gearswe first sit down with guitar extraordinaire Chris Meck, who has been a mainstay in the Kansas City music scene for years. He and his lovely wife Abigail Henderson have been writing music together in The Gaslights, Atlantic Fadeout, and currently, their duo Tiny Horse. Chris, with Abby, is also a co-founder of the Midwest Music Foundation.

The Deli: What kind of gear are you using?

Chris Meck: Guitar-wise, I use two guitars that are Fender designs but that I made. I don't like current production guitars, so I hunt parts online until I find just the right body, and just the right neck, with just the right finish and the pickups that I like best, etc. So I have a Stratocaster and an Esquire (a one-pickup Telecaster) that are "Meckocasters". I also have a '50s era Supro lapsteel that I screetch around on, and it all goes into my heavily modified '72 Fender Deluxe Reverb. Oh, and pedals. I use a lot of pedals. Analogman Sunface fuzz, modified tubescreamer, a modified Rat and a modified Line 6 DL4 delay mostly.


The Deli: What makes your particular gear achieve the sound you're looking for in your music?

Chris: It's all very touch-responsive and full-frequency reproduction is there. I like a balanced sound so that I can manipulate things with my hands to get different sounds.

The Deli: How would you describe your sound?

Chris: Old school, deconstructed.


The Deli: How was the process of finding your right equipment to achieve your sound? 

Chris: That's a good question. I don't think it's ever really "achieved." The process is the point. I'm always tinkering, looking for improvements. I'm always going to sound like me, both the good and the bad, but am seeking the best version of that I can put forward.

The Deli: What projects are you in you're in right now?

Chris: Tiny Horse, mostly. Getting our recording studio up and running.

The Deli: What other instruments do you play?

Chris: Just guitar. a tiny bit of lap steel. I'm just learning, really.

The Deli: Who are your favorite or most inspirational players (of your instrument[s]), both in KC and beyond? 

Chris: In KC, Marco Pascolini, Jimmy Nace and Mike Alexander come to mind. Overall, I really like Doug Pettibone (Lucinda Williams and Marianne Faithful), Bo Ramsey, Buddy Miller. I pretty much want to be Buddy Miller when I grow up. When I was just learning, it was the Jimmy's (Hendrix and Page). Keith Richards. Hubert Sumlin. early Clapton. The usual.







The Deli: What is your ideal dream equipment set up? 

Chris: I'm pretty much there. If I had slightly smaller and slightly larger versions of my amp with the same sound for varied size gigs I'd be a little happier, I guess. I'd like to build a Jazzmaster and a Jaguar just so i had the full set of bastardized Fender designs.

The Deli:

 Where do you like to shop for gear, and why?

Chris: Because I'm very specific about my gear, I shop online a lot. If I go to a music store, it's usually Midwestern Musical Co. For strings and stuff like that. Maybe a nice Jaykco guitar strap.

The Deli: Do you have a favorite KC venue to play in terms of sound quality? 

Chris: recordBar. It used to be Davey's, but I don't really feel as at home there these days. Crossroads is cool.

The Deli: Ever made or have thought of making your own custom gear? 

Chris: Almost all of it already is. :)

You can see Chris in action this Sunday at recordBar at the Sonic Spectrum Dealer's Choice tribute show. He and Abby will be playing as Tiny Horse with a crew of friends. They'll be playing several selections handpicked by Sonic Spectrum host Robert Moore. You can also frequently spot Chris running sound at local venues across KC, and doing a damn fine job of it.

-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 looks extremely angry at all times, even when you might not think so.

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Chris Meck


Tiny Horse






Show preview: Sonic Spectrum Dealer's Choice at recordBar, 7.29.12

If you haven't been to one of the shows in the Sonic Spectrum Tribute Series at recordBar, this is one to experience. Since debuting the series last January, host Robert Moore has selected local bands and musicians to play songs of eclectic artists like David Bowie, Talking Heads, The Pretenders, Neil Diamond, The Clash, and most recently, Minutemen.

This Sunday, Moore will be celebrating his birthday and has handpicked a few Kansas City musicians to play songs of his choosing, from artists as diverse as Bauhaus, XTC, The Beatles, Loretta Lynn, Devo, T.Rex, and many others. Performances will be from some of Moore's (and Kansas City's) favorite musicians:
Erik Voeks & His Merry Men: Erik Voeks, Cameron Hawk (The Dead Girls, Hidden Pictures), Dave Tanner (The Depth & The Whisper, Liverpool), Patrick Hawley (The What Gives), Cody Wyoming 
Tiny Horse (Abigail Henderson and Chris Meck) featuring Zach Phillips (The Architects), Matt Richey (The Grisly Hand) and Cody Wyoming
And Moore promises a few other surprises, so be there if you can.
Doors: 7 pm
Showtime: 8:00 pm
$7 cover; A portion of the proceeds from this show goes to Midwest Music Foundation.

Upcoming Sonic Spectrum tributes include:
August: Fela Kuti, featuring Hearts of Darkness
September: The Doors
October: The Ramones
November: Devo
December: The Rat Pack

--Michelle Bacon

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