MidCoast Takeover

The Nation of Love: connecting musicians with music lovers

With a mission to “create fresh, inventive art with musical sounds” andpromote skillful musicians and songwriters whose goal is to compose from mind, body, and soul,” The Nation of Love is an independent record label that connects passionate music makers with devout music lovers.
 
In 2009, songwriter/drummer/producer Phylshawn Johnson founded the label out of a desire to create and promote albums. “Inspired by Motown Records having musicians and artists that searched for a new sound and had a professional way about them,” Johnson remarks, “the mission was to find artists to compose in a unique way but also connect with the listener.”
 
Mr. History was the first band whose album was released under The Nation of Love’s purview, and the label has since added fellow KC band The Future Kings and Columbia artists Violet & the Undercurrents, Ruth Acuff, Zorya, Violet Vonder Haar, and Phylshawn. “I wasn’t looking for the most popular musicians,” says Johnson, “but those who would always make music because it’s their calling and love.” As a result, the label’s artist roster is an interconnected and collaborative collective of musicians that has released more than 15 albums altogether since its inception.
 
Johnson runs The Nation of Love from Columbia, where the music/arts scene has gained tremendous support and traction in recent years. Most of the label’s Columbia artists have been building their fan base in various projects for over 10 years, helping establish the city’s musical identity. “I believe that every artist/band should have their town or city behind them, and bands should represent their town or city. To me, artists express the world around them and the world that influences them.”
 
The Nation of Love continues to expand its reach by embarking on its first tour in March with Ruth Acuff, Violet & the Undercurrents, and Future Kings. They’ve also launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for travel and showcase expenses. The Golden Hour Tour, from March 14-21, will cover venues in Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, and Louisiana, with several unofficial showcases at the big music fest in Austin (including a day party at MidCoast Takeover on March 19).
 
As the label grows, Johnson hopes to connect with more artists, venues, and fans. For now, The Nation of Love relies on a solid foundation of artists savvy in the music business. “Each NOL artist is special and unique in a sonic way,” Johnson says. “Also, they are more than artists; they are my friends and family. We are all connected in some way.”
 
--Michelle Bacon
 
Michelle is editor of The Deli KC and plays in bands.
 
 
This Saturday, January, 31, The Nation of Love will be showcasing four of its artists (Ruth Acuff, Zorya, Violet & the Undercurrents, and The Future Kings) at Coda. Doors at 8 pm. Facebook event page.
 

You can also visit this page to help The Nation of Love reach its goal for The Golden Hour Tour; the campaign ends February 6. Listen to tunes from each of the artists at this link 

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Recap: MidCoast Takeover 2014

It’s an ever-expanding, atypical tradition, five years in the making.

It might seem difficult to grasp the concept of traveling over 700 miles to see several bands you could normally see at a venue a couple miles away from home. But there’s much more to it than that.
 
Each year, thousands of people from around the globe descend upon Austin, Texas, for an annual music fest that—with each growing year—features bigger names and flashier advertisements. Fortunately, unofficial, free showcases are literally wall-to-wall along 6th Street. For the mere price of navigating through a sea of people and eating at a few taco trucks along the way [oh, and transportation and boarding], you can see hundreds of bands of varying genres and qualities. You might randomly stumble into a dive bar to hear a band you’ve been digging for a couple years, you might discover a band barely anyone else knows about. That’s all an important part of the experience. But for a couple hundred folks from the Kansas City/Lawrence area, the Austin experience holds a deeper meaning.
 
In its fifth year, last week’s MidCoast Takeover was bigger than ever, with over 100 bands on a giant outdoor stage and an indoor acoustic stage at Shangri-La on East 6th Street, an area just on the other side of the I-35 divide that has increased in foot traffic and event volume over the past couple of years. The bar itself is typically a popular haunt for Austin natives, with a huge outdoor patio that reached its 230-person capacity during the four-day showcase.
 
MidCoast Takeover is organized by Midwest Music Foundation, an organization that helps musicians with emergency health care, but also aims to be a voice for the music community. One way of doing this is with MidCoast, which places local/regional musicians on a national stage in front of hundreds, be it a random passerby, the drummer in your band, or Exene Cervenka (yeah, she stopped by).
 
A few of the MidCoast bands from the KC area were official showcase acts (including Radkey, Beautiful Bodies, Josh Berwanger Band, Pedaljets), stacked up with other notable-as-of-late locals (Shy Boys, Me Like Bees, Not A Planet, Katy Guillen & the Girls) and national bands (Not In The Face, Two Cow Garage, Sphynx), on one of the largest stages with one of the most impressive productions in all of downtown Austin. At any given time between Wednesday and Saturday, quality music emanated from Shangri-La, ranging from The Noise FM’s indie-rock dance party to Heartfelt Anarchy’s smooth hip-hop/jazz mashup to Jorge Arana Trio’s calculated noise-rock grooves. Let’s also not forget the acoustic stage, which featured poetic songs from Vi Tran; bluesy, emotionally weighted tunes from Gregg Todt (Federation of Horsepower); quirky dance numbers from Nan Turner (Schwervon!); driving but delicate harmonies from Clairaudients, among dozens of other artists who injected a special type of heart and personality into their deconstructed songs.
 
 
 

 

Still, this begs the question: Why would you go all that way to watch a bunch of bands, primarily from your hometown?
 
Perhaps it’s that notion of community that has been established in KC music and has found a resurgence over the past 5 years, due to MMF’s efforts. As MMF’s late co-founder Abigail Henderson pointed out to me in a 2012 interview, there is a strongly held belief that KC musicians do not simply make up a scene, but “a community that fosters itself—a thinking, doing community of people practicing an art.” So what comes out of this annual pilgrimage for the musicians and organizers is not typically a huge record deal or overnight worldwide success. Statistically for a band, it can result in nothing more than a few new Facebook likes, some t-shirt/album sales, and a whole bunch of poles and trash cans with your stickers attached to them. But in addition, it can be a nourishing, satisfying, proud experience to observe and participate in.
 
The sense of pride comes from witnessing the breadth and depth of music on each stage, in many cases being created by people you know personally. Watching the dedication of MMF/MidCoast staff—from sound engineers to promoters to stage managers—who work on this effort throughout the year and tirelessly run nonstop for a week to throw a party that has made several best unofficial showcase lists. Spending hours, even days with respected acquaintances that quickly develop into friendships, jam partnerships, and/or artistic inspiration. Watching each night close with a stronger fervency than the previous one. David Hasselhoff on Acid ended the first evening by melting eardrums and grey matter with its instrumental prog-rock onslaught. Not ones to be upstaged, The Architects rounded out night two with a raucous, tight set that one would come to expect and desire from a professional but unapologetic rock ‘n roll band. By Friday night, the majority of the KC contingent [and other festgoers] had arrived, poised and ready to celebrate a vacation weekend with several dozen friends. Of course, Hearts of Darkness was the ideal band for the task of charging an eager, over-capacity crowd with even more energy and jubilation. And on Saturday, in spite of a couple hours of inclement weather and resulting schedule changes, the showcase ended with a euphoric sonic inundation. Drop A Grand had the audience dancing and grinning along to its wacky brand of garage punk, and left them spellbound by ending the set with “Baba O’Riley,” featuring the fiddle-brandishing badassery of Betse Ellis. Maps For Travelers followed up in fine fashion, with the drive, the emotion, and the post-hardcore intensity that naturally led into the final act, Federation of Horsepower. The heavy-hitting rock machine punched that first power chord around 11:28 p.m., kicking the commencement into high gear. A raging crowd shook fists and banged heads, while others hugged, shook hands, and shed celebratory tears for a job well done.
 

 

That 700-mile trip teaches many of us that we co-exist in this microcosm with other like-minded individuals, some of whom we can forge genuine connections with, and some of whom can inspire us to delve deeper into our artistic passions. Whether it’s the veteran who’s played in dozens of bands since the ‘90s or the doe-eyed 19-year-old playing his first time out of town, there’s something to be learned and celebrated about each piece that fits into that puzzle.
 
Thank you to everyone who participated by playing, organizing, or just stopping in. We’ll see you next year. Same time, same place.
 
--Michelle Bacon
 
Michelle is editor-in-chief of The Deli Magazine-Kansas City and is a member of The Philistines, Drew Black & Dirty Electric, and Dolls on Fire.
 
 
 

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In Memoriam: Abigail Henderson, 1977-2013

(Photos by Todd Zimmer)

Music is an art. It’s something that needs to be tended, and the people who make it need to be cared for… The currency to building a city is investing in its artists.” —Abigail Henderson

The Kansas City music community has suffered an irreplaceable loss today with the passing of Abigail Henderson, who fought a long, courageous battle with cancer. With her husband Chris Meck, Abby co-founded Midwest Music Foundation when she was diagnosed in 2008, with the goal of providing health care assistance to musicians. Since then, MMF has given a number of grants to musicians with health emergencies. Apocalypse Meow, which began as a benefit for Abby, now benefits the musicians' emergency health care fund and will reach its sixth year in November.
 
With the conviction that musical talent from the Midwest rivaled that of anywhere else in the nation, she also helped create MidCoast Takeover, a regional music showcase at SXSW that reached its fourth and most successful year this past spring. The Deli named MidCoast one of the best unofficial showcases of 2012, and approached MMF to head up a Kansas City chapter. Thus, The Deli Magazine—Kansas City was born and thrives with Abby's goals in mind: to promote local music, foster talent, and provide a sense of community and inclusion among those who have a hand in KC music.
 
Abby was also frontwoman and songwriter of Tiny Horse, which began as a duo with Chris Meck and was eventually realized as five-piece band (link to video below). She was also in notable bands including Atlantic FadeoutThe Gaslights, and Trouble Junction.
 
I had the distinct honor and pleasure of interviewing Abby for The Deli KC last fall in preparation for Apocalypse Meow 5. If you want to know more about this amazing woman and read her words (because mine simply cannot do them justice), please click this link. And as a fellow musician/MMF staffer/friend, I want to personally thank Abby for her steadfast spirit, support, inspiration, beautiful stories and songs, friendship, and the wonderful people she's helped bring together as a result of all those things. And I'm certain that I'm one of a multitude of individuals that share this sentiment.
 
To commemorate Abby, please take a moment to find out more about MMF and its mission by clicking on the image below. Donations are always appreciated and will continue to benefit the musicians' emergency health care fund.

Thank you, Abby, for the effect you've had and will continue to have on the music community here. Kansas City has undeniably become a brighter, more vibrant place with you in it.

Tiny Horse "Ride" from Jetpack Pictures on Vimeo.

#shinealight

--Michelle Bacon

On The Beat with Liam Sumnicht

(Photo by Jodie Platz Photography) 

From promoting local music by presenting it on the radio or pounding on a kit on stage, Liam Sumnicht is a loud proponent of the Kansas City music scene. His band Not A Planet is getting its name known in the area with an album release in the next month, and is playing one of the MidCoast Takeover fundraisers this weekend. To find out more about Liam, catch the beat right here!
 
--Michelle Bacon
 
On The Beat is an exclusive feature from The Deli Magazine-Kansas City that showcases many of the talented drummers in the Kansas City area. 
 

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