dead ven

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 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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Artists on Trial: Dead Ven

As one of the artists of Kansas City’s Money Wolf Music collective, Dead Ven brings a rough-edged, socially conscious folk approach to the local music scene. We talked with frontman Ven Smith about what the band has in store for the year, including its upcoming appearances at Middle of the Map Fest and Center of the City Fest.
The Deli: Down and dirty: 1 sentence to describe your music. What is it?

Dead Ven: Street-folk, positive anthems of discontent for the working class. Woody Guthrie meets OI! a la Angelic Upstarts…? Damn. It all sounds so pretentious.
The Deli: What other artists are you looking forward to seeing at MotM?
Dead Ven: Besides all my Money Wolf Music family and all the great KC bands I see all the time? The Whigs—I'm a sucker for '90's, ‘00's alternative, stoked to see White Lung and a lot of other bands I haven't gotten to experience yet!
The Deli: Let’s talk about something you have coming up this year. What can we expect?
Dead Ven: Dead Ven has an ultra-limited 7" pre-order coming out in the next month or so on Money Wolf Music with punk legend Kevin Seconds of 7seconds. It's a dream for me, growing up listening to 7seconds and all the the great hardcore-punk of that era—plus he's a great guy and his singer-songwriter stuff is incredibly passionate and well-written.
The Deli: So, you guys are playing Center of the City Fest too? Busy!
Dead Ven: Wow, you noticed. Yeah, I think we're the only band playing the "fest" and the "anti-fest,” haha. Dead Ven was asked back to return to Center of the City after playing the inaugural fest last year and prior to Money Wolf Music being given a stage at Middle of the Map. There's a lot of backstory in there, but we're happy as hell to be participating in anything and everything that supports Kansas City and all the music and arts contained therein. I think in the end, that's what everyone involved in both is really going for: growing the scene.
The Deli: What does supporting local music mean to you?

Dead Ven: Go to shows. Buy the records. Eat/drink Boulevard at the bar. Tell people about shows and bands you like. Make something cool happen. Be excellent to each other.
The Deli: Who are your favorite local musicians right now?

Dead Ven: Wow, so many. Of course all my (obligatory self-promotion) Money Wolf Music labelmates— there's so much talent there, but recent discoveries? I just saw The Electric Lungs and they put on a hell of a show, The New Riddim made me "skank" for the first time in a decade, love Bent Left, Smash the State and The Rackatees (Lawrence) bros and their ethic about making stuff happen. I also just had a chance to play a stripped down set with Gregg Todt; that dude is so intensely good.
The Deli: Who are your favorite not-so-local musicians right now?

Dead Ven: Bob Fucking Mould put out a new record this year. Bruce Springsteen put out a new one last year. Also, I could list about a hundred more punk bands that are currently slaying. I would be remiss if I didn't mention how much I still love Tim Armstrong and Chuck Ragan and Hot Water Music.
The Deli: What is your ultimate fantasy concert bill to play on?

Dead Ven: The one where all my best friends spend part of the show in the crowd and part on stage and we all sing along with each other's songs. Also, if I could play claves for The Foo Fighters.
The Deli: Would you rather spend the rest of your life on stage or in the recording studio?
Dead Ven: Stage, all stage. I’ll never be a “recording artist.” That's not my jam; I'm in it for the community, the experience of sharing with good people. I greatly prefer hearing the noise of a show over myself in some earphones, plus I get tired of my songs really easily.
The Deli: A music-themed Mount Rushmore. What four faces are you putting up there and why?
Dead Ven: Neil Young, Ian MacKaye, Bruce Springsteen. No explanation, but god that makes me feel old. And… Fred Durst. Yeah, Fred Durst for sure.

The Deli: All right, give us the rundown. Where all on this big crazy web can you be found?

The Deli: Always go out on a high note. Any last words of wisdom for the Deli audience?

Dead Ven is:
Ven Smith
Nathan Long
Ethan Taylor
Justin Penney
Dennis Hinaris
Check out Dead Ven at Middle of the Map Fest next Friday, April 5. They will be playing the Money Wolf stage at 8:00 pm at Westport Coffeehouse, followed by Dollar Fox, The Latenight Callers, and The Hillary Watts Riot. They will also be playing at Center of City Fest at The Black & Gold Tavern (formerly The Newsroom) on Saturday evening at 9:15 pm. 

--Michelle Bacon