Midwest Music Foundation

Midwest Music Foundation Staff Spotlight: Rhonda Lyne

The Midwest Music Foundation staff constantly works behind the scenes at live music events you have likely attended. They’re the ones who search for facilities, supply entertainment, coordinate with vendors, and generally ensure that your live music experience will be a good one. They’re also the ones that get the word out about musicians’ health care and other educational resources for musicians, filling a vital gap in the community.
 
Before the advent of the sixth annual Apocalypse Meow benefit, we hear back from some of the staff to find out what they do and why they do it. Read on to find out more about Rhonda Lyne, MMF’s Director of Development.
 
The Deli: When and how did you first get involved with MMF?
 
Rhonda: I first got involved with MMF helping with the first Apocalypse Meow in 2008. The MMF was formed after this event and I was asked to join soon after inception to help with various fundraising events based on my contributions to the first Meow.
 
The Deli: What is your current role with the organization?
 
Rhonda: My roles have changed over the years based on need, but mostly I work to organize fundraising events, schedule volunteers, work with health care grant applications and dispense grants, and just make tons of multi-tabbed spreadsheets. :)
 
The Deli: Why is MMF such an important cause to you? What do you hope it will accomplish in the future?
 
Rhonda: I got involved with MMF because of my friendship with Abby and her passion for the organization inspired me as well. I made a promise to her before she passed that I would carry on her mission to the best of my abilities. Over the years, it has become a huge part of my life as well. I have always loved live music and did what I could to support it, be it attending shows, hosting bands at my house, or just spreading the good word of the amazing music made in KC and the Midwest. I hope in the future, we can continue to grow and provide resources so that our musicians are compensated for the work they do and can make a living making music. It's such an important part of life and the folks that made it work extremely hard for often very little money or appreciation.
 
The Deli: Who are some of your favorite local artists?
 
Rhonda: Oh wow, not sure where to even start on this one. I think I’ll just say "I love them all" as not to get myself in trouble.
 
The Deli: Do you have a favorite memory of a past Meow? 
 
Rhonda: Usually I'm too busy working at Meow and other events to really remember much of anything. Some time after the silent auction ends and everyone has paid is when I get to let loose and have some fun. The first year was really amazing how so many folks from the community came together to help Abby. We had to keep adding days because so many bands wanted to play. I had never seen Parlay or Sister Mary Rotten Crotch; Pendergast and Sandoval both played, which were favorites of mine as well. I'm pretty sure Abby got up and sang with Howard Iceberg—that was always a treat. Every year has had tons of great memories with so many amazing bands and people coming together. At Meow 3, I think one of my favorite memories is when the event was over and I was sitting on the coach in the green room at The Riot Room with Abby and Adam Lee and we all had a bottle of Jim Beam in our hands. Abby was the only person that could get me to drink that vile stuff. :)
 
The Deli: What are you most looking forward to about this year's Meow?
 
Rhonda: I'm looking forward to hopefully one of our biggest years yet. Knuckleheads is a great space and hopefully Mother Nature will be kind to us so we can fully utilize the entire venue. We have some awesome auction and raffle items and a great lineup. Looking forward to hearing The Philistines for the first time and the return of SMRC to Meow. Also, the addition of the acoustic stage, which we haven't had since the first Meow. It will be bittersweet because Abby won't be there, but I know her spirit will be with all of us that night. I'm sure there will be much laughter and tears and I hope we can raise a ton of money so we can help more musicians in need.
 
 
If you can catch her, say hi to Rhonda this weekend at Apocalypse Meow. It starts tomorrow, November 1 at The Midwestern Musical Co. and Saturday at Knuckleheads. Doors open at 6 pm both nights. Friday’s show is free and all ages, Saturday’s show is $10, 21+. Visit http://www.apocalypsemeow.net for a full lineup and schedule. Ticket linkFacebook event page. To find out more about MMF, visit http://midwestmusicfound.org, and learn about Abby's Fund for musicians' health care.

  

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Midwest Music Foundation Staff Spotlight: Angela Lupton

 

The Midwest Music Foundation staff constantly works behind the scenes at live music events you have likely attended. They’re the ones who search for facilities, supply entertainment, coordinate with vendors, and generally ensure that your live music experience will be a good one. They’re also the ones that get the word out about musicians’ health care and other educational resources for musicians, filling a vital gap in the community.

 
Before the advent of the sixth annual Apocalypse Meow benefit, we hear back from some of the staff to find out what they do and why they do it. This time we’ll be talking with Angela Lupton, co-founder and Executive Director.
 
The Deli: When and how did you first get involved with MMF?
 
Angela: I was involved with MMF at its inception. Abigail [Henderson], Chris [Meck], Mac [McSpadden], and I would sit around on our back porch and talk about all manner of things. We would talk about the ills of the world and what we considered the solutions to be. The gap in support for musicians in town was one of the issues we were sure we could actually do something about. So, the MMF was born in the hearts and minds of four people. I was the initial Executive DIrector because Abigail thought I should be. She did not want to be in charge, which is crazy because she was a person who got things done.
 
The Deli: What is your current role with the organization?
 
Angela: Currently, I am the Executive Director of the MMF. Mac and I had to step away from our initial roles when our daughters were born and I was in graduate school full-time, but have returned to the role now.
 
The Deli: Why is MMF such an important cause to you? What do you hope it will accomplish in the future?
 
Angela: MMF is important to me not only because I co-founded it with my best friend, her husband (now one of my best friends as well), and my wife, but because I love music. I go to music for everything in my life: to celebrate, to calm, to excite, and to grieve. The people who make music are so important and we should treat them that way. Musician should be a viable career option. In the future, I want the MMF to establish what, for ease of use, I am calling a musicians' community center. It will be a space for the MMF offices, a performance space, several practice spaces, recording space, professional library, and computer lab. This space would provide a community gathering spot for musicians as well as a permanent home for the MMF to conduct professional development workshops for musicians. This is the big idea. This is the dream. Along the way there we will continue our current projects as well as develop a musician micro-grant program and we have some other things in the works.
 
The Deli: Who are some of your favorite local artists?
 
 
The Deli: Do you have a favorite memory of a past Meow? 
 
Angela: The very first Meow. In the planning stages of it, Mac and I went over to Abigail and Chris’s little brown mouse house in Waldo. Abigail did not want a benefit. She liked to take care of herself. I told her it was happening whether she liked it or not. If she wanted some kind of input she could go ahead and consent to my plans. Otherwise, someone, somewhere was going to do it anyway and she would have no say. She consented. We were off. It ended up being three nights and four venues. Everyone wanted to help. Everyone still does.
 
The Deli: What are you most looking forward to about this year's Meow?
 
Angela: I am looking forward to the storytelling that I am sure will accompany this particular event. Stories of Abigail and how we all ended up in this place. Kansas City takes care of its own and anyone else that might drop by.
 
 
 
Join Angela this weekend at Apocalypse Meow. It starts tomorrow, November 1 at The Midwestern Musical Co. and Saturday at Knuckleheads. Doors open at 6 pm both nights. Friday’s show is free and all ages, Saturday’s show is $10, 21+. Visit http://www.apocalypsemeow.net for a full lineup and schedule. Ticket linkFacebook event page. To find out more about MMF, visit http://midwestmusicfound.org, and learn about Abby's Fund for musicians' health care.
 

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Midwest Music Foundation Staff Spotlight: Jenni "Mac" McSpadden

 
 
The Midwest Music Foundation staff constantly works behind the scenes at live music events you have likely attended. They’re the ones who search for facilities, supply entertainment, coordinate with vendors, and generally ensure that your live music experience will be a good one. They’re also the ones that get the word out about musicians’ health care and other educational resources for musicians, filling a vital gap in the community.
 
Before the advent of the sixth annual Apocalypse Meow benefit, we hear back from some of the staff to find out what they do and why they do it. We’re talking here with Jenni “Mac” McSpadden, co-founder and Managing Director.
 
The Deli: When and how did you first get involved with MMF?
 
Mac: I was there at the beginning. Before the beginning, actually. Angela [Lupton] and I worked with Amy Farrand and Abigail [Henderson] on a pre-MMF organization that never quite got off the ground (or rather just became MMF). I believe it was a Tuesday night at Davey's Uptown when we crystalized the ideas and mission of MMF and decided to make a go of it.
 
The Deli: What is your current role with the organization?
 
Mac: Cat herder and list maker. I am the Managing Director. It means that I take care of the day-to-day running of the organization, as well as work on projects such as membership, volunteers, and programming.
 
The Deli: Why is MMF such an important cause to you? What do you hope it will accomplish in the future?
 
Mac: I am a painter and I have directly and indirectly benefited from the vast support system in place here in KC for visual artists. I am also a musician—well, I am trying and learning to be one. Art and music are the things that, to me, make life worth living. Devoting oneself to their pursuits is not only a worthy endeavor, it is essential work. It deserves to be treated as such. Unfortunately in our society too often artists of all kinds are marginalized. Organizations like MMF seek to counter that. My dream for MMF is that it is a place (both physical and digital) where musicians can come and find the support they need to do what they do best. I would love for us to have a building with a performance space, recording, and practice studios, and be a place where musicians can work together and network with the community at large. We have an incredible pool of talent here in KC. I not only want young musicians to realize that KC is a town that loves its music and want to stay here, I want musicians from other places to move here because they know they are valued and respected.
 
The Deli: Who are some of your favorite local artists?
 
Mac: I haven't been out in the world for a couple of years with any regularity—children will do that—so many of my favorites are no longer: Pendergast, The Supernauts, It's Over, to name a few. Current favorites are Amy Farrand, The Grisly Hand, Howard Iceberg, and Not a Planet. The Gaslights were my first KC band though, and they will always have my heart.
 
The Deli: Do you have a favorite memory of a past Meow? 
 
Mac: My favorite Meow was the original one. Three nights of balls-to-the-wall insanity. I ran the stage that year and the night we were at Davey's I had to plan my movements 15 minutes in advance because there were so many people there; it took that long to get around! It was astounding to see the outpouring of love and affection that our community heaped on Miss Abigail that weekend.
 
The Deli: What are you most looking forward to about this year's Meow?
 
Mac: That is a tough question, because of course I am looking forward to it, but it’s going to be a hard one without Abby there. I know I won't be the only one feeling that and so I think that what I am most looking forward to is that sense of community that I felt at the first Meow and have felt so many times since. I look forward to being with my people, listening to music in this town that I love so much, and raising my glass to my friend who I miss so much.
 
 

Raise a glass with Mac this weekend at Apocalypse Meow. It starts tomorrow, November 1 at The Midwestern Musical Co. and Saturday at Knuckleheads. Doors open at 6 pm both nights. Friday’s show is free and all ages, Saturday’s show is $10, 21+. Visit http://www.apocalypsemeow.net for a full lineup and schedule. Ticket linkFacebook event page. To find out more about MMF, visit http://midwestmusicfound.org, and learn about Abby's Fund for musicians' health care.

 

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Midwest Music Foundation Staff Spotlight: Michael Byars

The Midwest Music Foundation staff constantly works behind the scenes at live music events you have likely attended. They’re the ones who search for facilities, supply entertainment, coordinate with vendors, and generally ensure that your live music experience will be a good one. They’re also the ones that get the word out about musicians’ health care and other educational resources for musicians, filling a vital gap in the community.
 
Before the advent of the sixth annual Apocalypse Meow benefit, we hear back from some of the staff to find out what they do and why they do it. We’re talking here with Michael Byars, Executive Assistant.
 
The Deli: When and how did you first get involved with MMF?
 
Michael: I had fairly recently begun exploring the local music community after having gotten a glimpse of it from people I knew, and as I learned about more bands and artists and as I became acquainted with more of them, I wanted to do something to be more supportive than merely attending shows. When I learned about the MMF, I thought this might be an opportunity to serve those who I admire and respect because of their talent and the work they put in to create the amazing music I was so lucky to be exposed to.
 
The Deli: What is your current role with the organization?
 
Michael: I think my official title is assistant to Angela Lupton, one of the administrators. Unofficially I'm sort of a "maybe I can help here or do something there" volunteer, just trying to lend a hand or a voice wherever best needed. (Editor's note: He writes some damn fine reviews for The Deli KC, too!)
 
The Deli: Why is MMF such an important cause to you? What do you hope it will accomplish in the future?
 
Michael: It's important to me, and important in its own right, because the women and men who go up on the stages of recordBar, Davey's, The Brick, Liberty Hall, Knuckleheads, Replay Lounge, and various other locations in the Kansas City/Lawrence area provide a vital service: the music they make not only serves as an expression of their art, it draws patrons to the bars and clubs and venues. It's a cycle of support that's very fragile and needs to be nurtured, and with the MMF offering a somewhat more secure future for the musicians of our area—maybe that little easing of the mind will help them take their music further by allowing them to focus more on the creative side as opposed to constant concern over the fiscal side.
 
The Deli: Who are some of your favorite local artists?
 
Michael: This is a difficult question; it's like asking me, "Who are your 724 favorite children?!" There are so many incredibly talented people who add to such a widely diverse palette of sonic entertainment that it really depends on what kind of mood I'm in and what soundtrack would best suit that mood. Just to rattle off a few: The Pedaljets, The Conquerors, Grisly Hand, Betse Ellis, The Blackbird Revue, Cowboy Indian Bear, The Philistines, Be/Non, Lennon Bone, Vi Tran Band... and I know I've left out loads more.
 
The Deli: Do you have a favorite memory of a past Meow? 
 
Michael: I think my personal favorite Meow was in 2011, because it was my first one as an official volunteer, and while I was floating around and doing what I could do to help wherever I was needed, I started taking pictures—but not only of the performers; I wanted to capture some of the staff and attendees in natural, unposed settings to try to show some of the work that went into putting on such an ambitious event. I think that may have been when I first felt as if I really was fitting in to the community in a way, because I got to share laughter (and a healthy amount of Jim Beam) with some of the finest people I've ever had the privilege of knowing. It was a successful event from a fundraising perspective, but from a personal standpoint it was successful beyond my wildest dream.
 
The Deli: What are you most looking forward to about this year's Meow?
 
Michael: Let's see... I'm looking forward to Knuckleheads as the Saturday setting because I love that space. If Mother Nature cooperates and lets us use the indoor and outdoor stages, it's going to be pretty special. Musically I'm excited to witness the debut of Kansas City's newest sensation, Chris Meck and the Guilty Birds, Friday night at Midwestern Musical Co., and Saturday will have so much going on that I'll try to catch a little of it here and there in between working on things and stuff and more things and even more stuff. I can't wait to see Freight Train & Rabbit Killer, I know Gregg Todt is going to close the acoustic portion of the evening with greatness, and Sister Mary Rotten Crotch... come on. Need I say more than that?
 
 

 

Say hello to Michael this weekend at Apocalypse Meow. It starts tomorrow, November 1 at The Midwestern Musical Co. and Saturday at Knuckleheads. Doors open at 6 pm both nights. Friday’s show is free and all ages, Saturday’s show is $10, 21+. Visit http://www.apocalypsemeow.net for a full lineup and schedule. Ticket linkFacebook event page. To find out more about MMF, visit http://midwestmusicfound.org, and learn about Abby's Fund for musicians' health care.
 

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Midwest Music Foundation Staff Spotlight: Brenton Cook

 
(Photo by Forester Michael) 
 
The Midwest Music Foundation staff constantly works behind the scenes at live music events you have likely attended. They’re the ones who search for facilities, supply entertainment, coordinate with vendors, and generally ensure that your live music experience will be a good one. They’re also the ones that get the word out about musicians’ health care and other educational resources for musicians, filling a vital gap in the community.
 
Before the advent of the sixth annual Apocalypse Meow benefit, we hear back from some of the staff to find out what they do and why they do it. We’re talking here with Brenton Cook, Web Admin and Music Promotions Assistant.
 
The Deli: When and how did you first get involved with MMF?
 
Brenton: I guess MMF first came to my attention around 2010 as I was heading down to attend my first SXSW. That first year [the MMF showcase] was called Midwasteland Takeover and I had an absolute blast down there. In 2011 after spending some time with the staff at Murder Ballad Ball, I decided to volunteer some of my time and filled out the online volunteer form online at work one day. I heard back from Rhonda within an hour and I've been spending time on various projects with them ever since.
 
The Deli: What is your current role with the organization?
 
Brenton: My background is computers, particularly software programming. There was a real need for someone to handle all of the web updates when I started, so it just seemed natural that that's where I could help out best, so I've been the web administrator since I started, but I work on a lot of different stuff. You'll find me behind the MMF booth at a lot of events, or asking questions at the Musicians' Bootcamp, or working with bands to get tracks contributed for MidCoast Takeover samplers or the Midwestern Audio compilation series that I have been assembling.
 
The Deli: Why is MMF such an important cause to you? What do you hope it will accomplish in the future?
 
Brenton: I've always been such a music nerd and even though my experience in physically creating music is limited, I feel like I have a really good ear for it and a genuine passion to push Kansas City music further. That's one thing that I’ve found to be so great about MMF: the idea of helping form this community of musicians and music enthusiasts and make the most out of what is already here. And there are so many very talented musicians in this area. I'd like to see MMF continue to grow and provide more opportunities for everyone; be it more exposure, more musical connections or better health care and easier access to emergency medical funds. There are several similar organizations that are thriving in other music cities that I think serve as a good guide for what we could grow into.
 
The Deli: Who are some of your favorite local artists?
 
 
The Deli: Do you have a favorite memory of a past Meow? 
 
Brenton: Last year's Meow was pretty memorable. It was at the cavernous Beaumont Club, but we still did a pretty good job of filling the room, and the love and support was really felt. My favorite memory from Meow though was a sealed envelope casually handed into our donation jar. I knew the person who put it in there and couldn't resist opening it at the end of the night as we were counting up the proceeds. I was surprised to see a crisp $100 bill, and I knew that this was from a person that normally has to watch every dollar spent. It was a strange feeling at first, but I knew that this person wanted to share what they had with their music community.
 
The Deli: What are you most looking forward to about this year's Meow?
 
Brenton: I'm very interested to see Chris Meck’s new trio (The Guilty Birds) play songs for the first time. I just feel like this is going to be something really special. I'm also excited that day two is at Knuckleheads this year. I can't wait to see Meow fill that space full of people enjoying the music and be a witness to the outpouring of support for the local music community.
 
 
Say hello to Brenton this weekend at Apocalypse Meow. It starts tomorrow, November 1 at The Midwestern Musical Co. and Saturday at Knuckleheads. Doors open at 6 pm both nights. Friday’s show is free and all ages, Saturday’s show is $10, 21+. Visit http://www.apocalypsemeow.net for a full lineup and schedule. Ticket linkFacebook event page. To find out more about MMF, visit http://midwestmusicfound.org, and learn about Abby's Fund for musicians' health care. 
 

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