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Apocalypse Meow

Apocalypse Meow 6 Preview: Chris Meck and The Guilty Birds

(Photos by Todd Zimmer)
Chris Meck is a mild-mannered, often soft-spoken man. Like his wife Abigail Henderson, he’s the type of person you instantly feel comfortable around, but in very different ways from her.
From a musical standpoint, Henderson was the bold frontwoman whose voice and presence commanded every room she performed in. She also lived with a ferocity that kept her strong through a five-year battle with breast cancer, taking the stage (at Knuckleheads) for the last time with Tiny Horse only weeks before her passing in late August (Read here for an interview with Henderson right before last year’s Apocalypse Meow to find out more about her).
On the other hand, Meck’s musicianship has typically been defined by its tastefulness. Though he plays with a finesse and texture that few other guitarists are able to pull off, he exudes a high volume of emotion and heart through each note. Likewise, he has been the perfect complement to Henderson’s big brazen personality and even larger heart. The two of them started Midwest Music Foundation five years ago, after Henderson was diagnosed with cancer. Apocalypse Meow was the name of the benefit originally held in her honor, and they helped provide the resources and manpower for it to continue as a benefit for musicians' health care for many years.
This will be Meow’s sixth year, and it’s expected to be the biggest one yet. Days before his wife passed, Meck decided he still wanted to play this show, as it had been a tradition since Henderson's benefit for the two of them to play the first night of Meow (they were unable to in 2011 due to Henderson’s illness). He had no idea what this project would eventually become, but he knew that it should happen.
“It’s not Tiny Horse, won’t even try to be,” said drummer Matt Richey. “Chris has his own approach to writing, especially now that he's taking on the role of frontperson; he's experimenting a lot too.”
Meck’s project The Guilty Birds will make its debut at The Midwestern Musical Co. for Apocalypse Meow 6 on Friday. It will be his first time as a frontman and primary songwriter of a band, both duties that Henderson assumed in all of their previous projects, which included Trouble Junction, The Gaslights, Atlantic Fadeout, and Tiny Horse.
“I stopped writing songs about 15 years ago. My tastes exceeded my grasp, so I decided I was probably a better guitar player and became a side man. I was playing with all these people that were prolific and I didn’t need to write,” he explained. “In our bands, Abby would usually bring in what she would call the bones. Basic musical changes, lyrics, melody. I would do the arranging. That’s kind of what I’m doing now, with the roles switched.”
Richey and Zach Phillips provided the rhythmic backbone of Tiny Horse since it was realized as a full band (Cody Wyoming also rounded out the five-piece), and remain with Meck in this new venture. “His writing is sharp and we're really making an effort to keep the focus on the songs, not overplaying as many trios tend to do,” stated Richey. “At its heart it’s still pretty straightforward rock ‘n roll, but there are elements of soul and country. It’s pretty high-energy as well. The more he continues to write, the more it will change.”
But Meck seems slightly concerned to be at the forefront. “I’m terrified,” he remarked. “But I’ve always heard... if something scares you, you should probably do it.”
He explained that he barely touched a guitar for about a month after his wife passed away. "She was the most prolific songwriter I knew. We played together for 10 years, just a couple months after we started seeing each other.” Not long before she passed, the two of them discussed her songwriting process. "Abby used to say, ‘ass in seat.’ Even when we were on tour, she would always be up early sitting in the corner of our hotel room with a guitar. So I sit down every morning with a notebook and fill it with drivel, waiting for something good to come out."
On Friday, The Guilty Birds will execute Meck's newly exercised songwriting process, debuting four original songs, along with a few covers. This year’s Meow will be notably different with Henderson’s absence, even more so while three-fifths of her band performs for the first time without her. "There will be a lot of nerves and it's likely to be quite emotional," said Richey. "I have no idea what to expect it to feel like, but I'll be up there with good people who I have a great deal of respect for and surrounded by a lot of friends. That's what matters the most.”
With Meck at the helm, it’s certain that he will take a divergent path from Henderson’s style of songwriting, but it will be handled with the same delicate sense of care and earnestness. “I don’t know if the end result is gonna be good or not, but I'm enjoying the process. It’s a new adventure for sure."
--Michelle Bacon
Michelle is editor of The Deli Magazine - Kansas City, and also plays drums Drew Black & Dirty Electric and bass in Dolls on Fire and The Philistines. Chris Meck is her all-time favorite tall guy (take that, Abe Lincoln) and has one of a very select few hug passes.
To find out more about MMF, visit http://midwestmusicfound.org. Find out more about Abby's Fund for musicians' health care also. Be sure to join Chris and The Guilty Birds at Midwestern Musical Co. on Friday, November 1 at 8 pm along with The Silver Maggies. It's a free, all-ages show, donations welcome. Head to the big event on Saturday night at Knuckleheads. Visit http://www.apocalypsemeow.net for a full lineup and schedule. Ticket link. Facebook event page.

Tiny Horse "Ride" from Jetpack Pictures on Vimeo.

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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.


--Michelle Bacon

Photos from Apocalypse Meow 5, 11.2 and 11.3.12

This year was the biggest yet for Midwest Music Foundation's Apocalypse Meow benefit—a fundraiser for the musician's emergency health care fund. The event kicked off with a pre-party on Friday, November 3 at Midwestern Musical Co. with Dead Voices and Tiny Horse

Dead Voices

Tiny Horse

The main event kicked off on Saturday at The Beaumont Club with School of Rock, consisting of more than a handful of tweens and teens masterfully playing covers from bands like Rush, Led Zeppelin, Foo Fighters, and many more. The band's stellar performance set an energetic tone for the rest of the evening, which ranged from acoustic Americana to power pop, surf rock, country, indie rock, and ballistic punk rock.

School of Rock

Amy Farrand

Deco Auto

The Empty Spaces

The Blue Boot Heelers

Clairaudients (formerly The Atlantic)

The Architects

And finally, a big thank you from all of us at Midwest Music Foundation for supporting our fifth year of Meow. We're so very grateful for your support of Kansas City and our musical community!

All photos by Todd Zimmer. Please do not use without permission.

--Michelle Bacon

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Artists on Trial: The Architects

By putting out four successful albums, playing national tours like Warped Fest, and delivering gigantic riffs and reverberating rhythms to fans over the past 8 years, The Architects have established themselves as THE rock band of Kansas City. And this year, Midwest Music Foundation is pleased to have this four-piece group headlining Apocalypse Meow this Saturday. Today, we talk with bassist Zach Phillips and get some insight on what the group is up to. 

The Deli: Gun to your head, 1 sentence to describe your music. What is it?
Zach PhillipsThe new recordings are all over the place as far as style. My favorite songs so far are really fast, tight punk beats with melodic chord progressions and my brother Brandon howling some witty banter about being a cowboy and keeping his gun clean. Think Rancid with brains and a bar of soap meets Queen live at Wembley.

The Deli: Let’s talk about what you have coming up. What can we expect?
ZachThe new recordings are coming in 2013. We have been working hard on them for 2 years and it’s wonderful to see the project finally come together. That’s all the information I'm at liberty to divulge right now. It’s not going to be your typical Architects release though.

The Deli: What does “supporting local music” mean to you?
ZachEvery town has a different local music scene. KC has always had a lot of great groups of people creating art, music, small businesses, etc. If you take an interest and participate then you're supporting it. Buying music and art from the artist/band always helps us make it to the next town or pay our rent!

The Deli: Who are your favorite “local” musicians right now?
ZachI love Lauren Krum from The Grisly Hand, Chris Meck from Tiny Horse, and Beckie Trost from Soft Reeds. Lauren’s got some great pipes and she’s fun to be around. Chris plays a mean guitar and if you ever get a chance to hold his Strat, you'll notice the neck he plays on is bigger than a baseball bat! Beckie’s the perfect match for Soft Reeds; she has great feel. I didn’t realize she was such a great bass player!

The Deli: What bands are you most excited to see at Meow?
Zach: I've been recording an album with Tiny Horse and it’s been great working with the people Chris and Abby (Henderson) picked to be in that band. I will be performing with them this Friday, November 2 at Midwestern Musical Co. and I'm and very excited for that one.

The Deli: Who are your favorite not-so-local musicians right now?
Zach: I love The BellRays. Someday I will have the chance to play bass with them, and then I will be able to die happy.

The Deli: What is your ultimate fantasy concert bill to play on?
Zach: The Replacements / Makers / The BellRays / Architects or Cramps / Black Flag / Bronx / Architects would rule also.

The Deli: Would you rather spend the rest of your life on stage or in the recording studio?
Zach: On stage. I like recording a lot, but nothing beats the bright lights, smoke machines, laser beams, and screaming girls that live performances have. I'm better at performing too.

The Deli: A music-themed Mount Rushmore. What four faces are you putting up there and why?
ZachPhil Lynott (Thin Lizzy), Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top), Freddie King, and Ron Wood (Faces/Rolling Stones). Phil is one of my bass heroes and Thin Lizzy is my favorite rock band ever. I love Phil’s lyrics, his voice, and the way he sings and plays is perfect.
Billy Gibbons is another amazing guitar playing and ZZ Top is a close second to Thin Lizzy for favorite bands. I don't think Eric Clapton would've existed if Freddie King wasn't around for him to rip off.
Freddie was a monster on the guitar and his band was always bad ass. My favorite things about the state of Texas are ZZ Top and Freddie King.
Ron Wood has been the new guy in the Rolling Stones for the last 30+years and it’s not fair. He also has a handsome face and would look nice chiseled out of stone next to Phil, Billy & Freddie. Ron’s band before the Stones was The Faces w/ Rod Stewart. Ron is a great guitar player and another hero of mine.

The Deli: All right, give us the rundown. Where all on this big crazy web can you be found?
Zach: ARCHITECTS are everywhere! I don't use the computer for much and I don't know anything about our web presence. I'm the bass player, what do you expect?
(If you’re interested, which you should be, you can check out The Architects’ Facebook page here.)

The Deli: Always go out on a high note. Any last words of wisdom for the Deli audience?
Zach: Don't sweat the small stuff. Stay in school and don't use drugs.
The Architects are:
Brandon Phillips – lead vocals, guitar
Keenan Nichols – lead guitar
Zach Phillips – bass, vocals
Adam Phillips – drums
Go see Zach lay down some wicked bass lines as The Architects headline Apocalypse Meow this Saturday, November 3 at The Beaumont Club (and he’ll also be performing with Tiny Horse on Friday, November 2 at Midwestern Musical Co). You won’t want to miss one of The Architects’ few performances this year; they will take the stage right around midnight.
--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 Auto, Drew Black and Dirty Electric, and Dolls on Fire. Her grandpa has a street in Malaysia named after him. Really.

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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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