Fighting Homelessness in the Heart of America

On January 20th, at the beginning of a weekend of worldwide protests and demonstrations, KC musicians did what musicians so often do. At two different clubs, multiple bands gathered to support those who, in the words of Woody Guthrie, “got no home in this world anymore.” Neither event was a “benefit for the homeless” in the traditional sense, but that’s still what was going on. The night started with a record store concert organized by punk band Sister Mary Rotten Crotch, who shared the stage with one of KC’s great women’s blues-rock acts, Katy Guillen & the Girls. Proceeds went to KC’s Rose Brooks Center, a shelter for women and children fleeing domestic violence. Later in the evening, one of Kansas City’s prime musical showcases, RecordBar, held an event called Musicians for Active Justice: Get Loud! Proceeds and donations to this benefit went to a group called KC for Refugees.

A metal-sized attack from the two man-act The Medicine Theory opened that show, which was followed by statements from organizer Sondra Freeman (of the Midwest Music Foundation) and KC for Refugees’ Dr. Sofia Khan, who pointed out that the U.S. has indeed taken in the majority of the world’s refugees but less than 1% of the world’s refugees find their way to resettlement. After Khan’s moving statement, three man Hipshot Killer delivered a relentless, heart-racing set before the more stately goth of Emmaline Twist and a final house-rocking set by Cantankerous (a last minute fill-in for one of our biggest local bands, The Architects, derailed by illness). Cantankerous is led by one of Kansas City’s legendary frontmen, Ernie Locke, a rocker’s rocker known for his house-shaking blues harp.

Locke’s presence was a reminder of the days when his two great early bands, The Sin City Disciples and Tenderloin, used to play show after show for the Kansas City Missouri Union of the Homelessness, an organization indeed run by and for the city’s homeless. It was the perfect capper for a night when a broad cross section of KC’s rock and roll community sought refuge with one another. It’s hard to summarize how much love and affection reverberated throughout that club of new and old friends fighting their own fears by devoting their talents to others. All in all, the whole night underscored why the fight for home is close to the heart of music itself. We build the home we need and want every time we come together and play. DA

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