The 2nd Annual Making Movies Carnaval at Knuckleheads
It’s next to impossible to have a bad time if Making Movies is on stage. With a blend of propulsive percussion and searing guitar rock with a Latin-influenced flair, the band sets off a cordial burst of energy that permeates an entire room. But though its music has been able to resonate across audiences and cultures, this is only where the band’s reach begins. For years, Making Movies has been able to use its music to positively affect the community.
M.U.S.I.C.A. (Musicians United by Social Influence and Cultural Awareness), the group’s annual summer music camp at Mattie Rhodes Center, is just one example of its involvement with the local community. Frontman/guitarist Enrique Chi explains that the camp has been a way to allow the students—who often come from low-income immigrant families—to express themselves in ways they hadn’t previously thought possible. “We show them that music isn’t a commodity; it’s a deep spiritual conversation that humans have been having since the dawn of time. We try and open the door for the students to engage in that conversation and to share their own stories through music.”
This Saturday, Making Movies will host its second annual Carnaval at Knuckleheads Saloon. Not only will the event be a festive celebration of music and culture, it also provides further community outreach. Students from the camp will be performing on the youth stage and will have an opportunity to participate in a songwriting workshop hosted by Alynda Lee Segarra of Hurray for The Riff Raff, who plays that evening. Other activities include Ballet Folklorico (Mexican folkloric dancing), kids’ carnival games, face painting and Brandon Draper’s Drum Safari, an interactive drumming program for kids.
“The mission of Carnaval is to celebrate with the community of supporters we’ve cultivated here in Kansas City and bring in acts that don’t normally make a stop here,” says Enrique. This year’s acts also include Las Cafeteras from Los Angeles, Migrant Kids from Austin, Gio Chamba from Houston, and KC’s own Hearts of Darkness. “Everyone we bring walks away so surprised and impressed by the vibrant music community we have here. Kansas City is diverse, and I believe our Carnaval can celebrate a lot of that diversity,” says bassist Diego Chi.
The Chi brothers were born in Panama but grew up mostly in the United States, providing them with a multicultural perspective that has also informed their musical backgrounds. According to Enrique, the band’s goal is to live in the common thread that lies within all [North and South] American music. Making Movies' music draws deeply from traditional African rhythms, but also packs a driving indie rock punch and a pop sensibility. “When we meet people who have experienced multiple cultures in their lives, they usually connect with us in a really deep way,” Enrique mentions. “We’ve built a lot of beautiful friendships this way; this band has expanded our family.”
By using its music to cast a wide multicultural net while doing good for the local community, Making Movies has found success that goes far beyond the scope of album sales and Facebook likes. “When you’re really making music, you are tapping into something far bigger than yourself, and although you may be sharing your story, it resonates with others because of the universal qualities of the human experience,” says Enrique. “When you grow as an artist, you realize that you are the voice for a group of people. This group can be as small as your friends and family or as large as a worldwide audience. Either way, voicing concerns about your community seems like a natural part of the conversation when creating real music.”
Carnaval is an all-ages event that takes place this Saturday at Knuckleheads Saloon. Doors open at 4:00 pm, and tickets can be purchased here.
Michelle Bacon is a musician and writer dedicated to the Kansas City music community. As editor of The Deli Magazine-Kansas City and staff member at Midwest Music Foundation, she advocates for and helps spotlight music in the area. She also plays with The Philistines, Dolls on Fire and Chris Meck & the Guilty Birds. Her grandma is 101 years old and by far the coolest person she knows.