Tony Ladesich

Show recap: Apocalypse Meow 6

On any given night in KC or Lawrence, there are bands playing to groups of varying sizes and intensity levels. Some of the audience is on its feet dancing. Some of them have their noses stuck in their electronic habitats. People order a few drinks at the bar during a quiet song, maybe smoke a cigarette between songs. The Friday night kick-off party of Apocalypse Meow 6 was one of those rare nights when the audience unified to experience and be captivated by the music.
This is the first Apocalypse Meow show since the death of Abigail Henderson, who—along with friends and husband Chris Meck—founded Midwest Music Foundation after friends held a benefit for Henderson when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. On Friday, Meck debuted his trio The Guilty Birds (pictured above), the first project without his wife since they began 10 years ago in Trouble Junction, and his very first project as primary singer/songwriter.
The trio (including Tiny Horse members Zach Phillips and Matt Richey) played a short but poignant rock/soul-infused set, while a packed crowd locked eyes and ears to draw in each note; to admire the musicianship, the ability, the fire, the obstacles and the affirming end result; to feel the anguish of a noticeable absence, but to honor and celebrate its legacy. The Silver Maggies kept the audience at attention with dark Americana propelled by intelligent songwriting. Hundreds of raffle tickets for Meck’s custom-built (with assistance from Phillips, Chris Wagner, and Paul Marchman) Fender Telecaster were purchased on Friday alone, and that spirit of generosity graciously carried into Saturday evening.

With a larger-capacity venue at Knuckleheads, eleven bands/solo performers commandeered the indoor and outdoor stages on night two. She’s A Keeper began by grabbing and enveloping the filtering-in crowd with its brand of colossal folk rock. The entrancing, aggressive outlaw blues of the duo Freight Train & Rabbit Killer (pictured below) demanded attention with its minimalistic setup, menacing costumes, and otherworldly presence. Meanwhile, the acoustic stage was occupied by a few KC music legends, all of whom were dear friends of Henderson’s. This connection translated into each musician’s cathartic sound, beginning with heartstring-pulling stories from Tony Ladesich (pictured below). Betse Ellis followed (and guest starred with the other acoustic stage performers later) with a fierce fiddle that could have sliced through any act on the main stage.
As the evening grew colder, warm bodies migrated toward the front and moved their hips to power trio Not A Planet (pictured below), pushed by the dynamic rhythm section of Liam Sumnicht and Bill Surges and steered by Nathan Corsi’s steady, pitch-perfect vocals. And no matter which stage you chose or floated to and from, each remaining act performed with no shortage of moxie. Howard Iceberg—KC’s answer to Bob Dylan—played a quiet but potent, storied set that included a duet performance with Michelle Sanders, a dulcet complement to Iceberg’s earnestly gruff voice. Federation of Horsepower frontman Gregg Todt (pictured below with Ellis) traded in his distorted axe for to round out the acoustic stage with a bluesy soul tone.
The second half of main stage featured three acts with female powerhouses at the forefront. The Latenight Callers’ Julie Berndsen allured the crowd with a coy sensuality that developed into a fiery, lascivious character, enhanced by the band’s electrifying, mammoth noir sounds. The Philistines continued in that same vein of ferocity from Kimberely Queen, whose appropriately unbridled theatrics amplified the band’s barbaric psychedelic rock sounds. The musical climax came when Sister Mary Rotten Crotch (pictured below) was welcomed to the stage right after Meck’s guitar was raffled off and subsequently auctioned (Artie Scholes, the raffle winner and also owner of The 403 Club, gave the guitar back to MMF for this purpose) to the highest bidder. But outside of this positive gesture and outside of the fact that many fans had been waiting for Sister Mary to take the stage again (the band’s last performance before taking a five-year hiatus was Apocalypse Meow 1 in ’08, and they only recently reunited to play a couple weeks before), frontwoman Liz Spillman Nord injected the hungry audience with an acrimonious punk vitriol. The veteran band showed old and new fans alike that they still pack a mean, purposeful rock punch and they still don’t give a fuck what you think.
Midwest Music Foundation and Abby's Fund for Musicians' Health Care made $12,000 at Apocalypse Meow this year, thanks to the efforts of all that were in attendance or made a donation of time, money, and/or resources. And though it was impossible for each moment of Meow weekend to have been as uninterrupted and uplifting as its inaugural set was, a sense of community was felt by each attendee and volunteer/staff member, each auction bid, each raffle ticket that fell into each bucket, each embrace or tear shed, each note or beat played.
On behalf of Midwest Music Foundation and The Deli Magazine—Kansas City, we thank you for your support of local music and those who work to make it happen. We thank you for honoring Abigail and helping us continue to carry on her legacy.
--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. Thanks to everyone who made this weekend beautiful. #shinealight



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Artists on Trial: Tony Ladesich

(Photo by Todd Zimmer)
This week we’ll be featuring some of the artists playing at Murder Ballad Ball, this Saturday, December 8, at Davey’s Uptown. This will be the fourth annual Murder Ballad Ball, and benefits Midwest Music Foundation.
If there’s anyone who knows a thing or two about writing a good murder ballad, it’s Tony Ladesich. He’s penned songs and has written films about them. This year’s ball will feature his short film Two Sisters before his performance with The Secret Liquor Cure. We talk a bit with the filmmaker and former frontman of Pendergast and Sandoval about music and what’s coming up.
The Deli: Gun to your head, 1 sentence to describe your music. What is it?

Tony Ladesich: Sad.
The Deli: What does “supporting local music” mean to you?

TL: For me, supporting live music is trying to collaborate with bands and people that I love to create compelling videos and films with, using their music and/or about them. As I get older I personally don't get to go out as much as I used to, but I think it’s important to continue to foster a love for the live environment. Also, it means using Jaykco straps and Scarlett amps and JHS pedals—supporting the people that are making their living with musical products. And it’s easy, because those three companies are amazing. 
Also, if you want to know what it really means to support local music, ask Sondra Freeman, Rhonda Lyne, Chris Haghirian, Michael Byars, and Sherman Breneman. The list could go on. All these people could teach a master’s class in it and honestly put most of us to shame. Me especially. 
The Deli: Who are your favorite “local” musicians right now?
TL:  Mark Smeltzer, Betse Ellis, Kasey Rausch, Mikal Shapiro, Beau Bledsoe, Victor & Penny, Dollar Fox, Kyle Dahlquist, Ben Ruth. Still love In The Pines... and I think that Tiny Horse has come into their own in a way that blows my mind. Abby (Henderson) is singing with a delicate delivery that suits her voice so well, and Chris Meck is flat out as good as anyone anywhere. Also love The Silver Maggies. They have become a really, really cool band.
The Deli: Who are you looking forward to the most at Murder Ballad Ball this year?
The Deli: Tell us a bit about what songs you’re playing for the occasion.
TL: We are doing five tunes that I wrote, all murder ballads obviously, from different time periods in my songwriting. Also, we are doing “Nebraska” by Bruce Springsteen.
The Deli: Who are your favorite not-so-local musicians right now?

TL: The Low Anthem is my favorite band hands down right now and have been for a couple years. Also love The Hold Steady!, and Craig Finn put out an amazing solo record. Mavis Staples... Buddy Miller ALWAYS. 
The Deli: What is your ultimate fantasy concert bill to play on?

TL: I’m not worthy in any way to be on my dream bill, so here it goes. Triple bill: Sticky Fingers-era Stones, Tonight’s The Night-era Neil Young with The Band (Brown Album era) and early Faces. I would happily sweep up the floor of the arena after the gig and/or tune guitars and pour drinks for the bands.
The Deli: Would you rather spend the rest of your life on stage or in the recording studio?
TL: Behind a camera and on stage.
The Deli: A music-themed Mount Rushmore. What four faces are you putting up there and why?

TL: Neil Young (1973), Bob Dylan (1965), Levon Helm, Louis Armstrong. All reasons should be totally obvious.

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?

TL: (in British accent) Have a good time... all the time.
Ladesich will be performing with a cast of fine local musicians as The Secret Liquor Cure:
Kyle Dahlquist – accordion, pedal steel
Sam Platt – drums
Ben Ruth – bass

Ladesich’s film (which includes several Kansas City musicians) Two Sisters is slated to begin at 10:00 pm on Saturday, followed by The Secret Liquor Cure’s performance. The event kicks off at 7:00 pm at Davey’s. There will be stages on the bar side and on the venue side; Ladesich and friends will be performing on the venue side. Facebook event here. See the official trailer for the film below.

--Michelle Bacon

Michelle is editor of The Deli Magazine - Kansas City and plays drums in Deco Auto, Drew Black & Dirty Electric, and drums/bass in Dolls on Fire. She needs someone to tell her not to join anymore bands.

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