This weekend, Midwest Music Foundation will be presenting its annual Apocalypse Meow benefit concert. “Apocalypse Meow is a chance for the community at large to come together and support music and musicians,” says Sondra Freeman, MMF Director of Promotions and Artist Relations. In its eighth year, the event will include 13 Kansas City-based music acts in three venues across the city: recordBar, Mills Record Company and Knuckleheads Saloon.
Apocalypse Meow weekend is an opportunity for musicians and fans to connect, expanding on the idea of a growing music community, but its main purpose is to foster artistic growth through health care assistance. “There continues to be a need for emergency health care for musicians,” says MMF Executive Director Rhonda Lyne. The event took root in 2008, when local musician Abigail Henderson was diagnosed with stage 3 inflammatory breast cancer. Her friends and family organized the first concert to pay for her daunting medical expenses, and this outpouring of support led her to co-found MMF. Since then, the organization has provided essential resources and programs for the Kansas City music community, along with raising funds to assist working musicians with emergency health care.
Although Henderson passed away in 2013, Apocalypse Meow continues to raise money for the fund named in her honor: Abby’s Fund for Musicians’ Health Care. “Abby’s Fund provides a safety net for the people courageous enough to make art their livelihood,” explains Freeman. “The music they make enriches all of our lives, and I feel they’re owed at least the comfort that comes from the knowledge that there is a buffer between them and financial devastation if they are unable to perform due to illness or injury.” This year, Apocalypse Meow 8 will be MMF’s largest fundraising event to date, spreading out over 3 days.
The first night (Friday at recordBar), originally reserved for one of Henderson’s projects, will feature her husband’s group Chris Meck and the Guilty Birds, along with a debut performance by Amy Farrand and the Like and a boisterous masked punk nightcap from Drop A Grand. “Night 1 of Meow was at Midwestern Musical Company for 6 years,” says Freeman. “After it closed, we wanted to be able to keep at least one portion of the weekend all ages and free as a service to the entire community.” For Saturday, The Deli Magazine – Kansas City has teamed up with Mills Record Company to curate a free in-store performance from KC’s indie pop/rock ‘n roll darlings Berwanger and Schwervon!.
The main event happens Sunday on three stages at Knuckleheads, with sets from Federation of Horsepower, The Noise FM, Yes You Are, Me Like Bees, Westerners, Kangaroo Knife Fight, Sara Morgan and Jessica Paige. Local businesses and collectives have also donated a number of items for a silent auction and raffles, including airline, concert and Royals tickets, vinyl records, gift certificates and more.
“It takes an incredible person to inspire people to act the way Abby did,” says Freeman, who has worked with Lyne and a handful of staff volunteers to continue MMF’s mission to the community throughout the years. “You can’t let that kind of passion and inspiration be extinguished. You must keep legacies built on love alive.”
Apocalypse Meow 8 kicks off at recordBar on Friday at 10 pm; tickets are available here. On Saturday, the show moves to Mills Record Company and begins at 7 pm; more info here. Sunday’s event at Knuckleheads starts at 5:30 pm; tickets are available here. For a full list of sponsors and information, visit this site.
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 and Chris Meck & the Guilty Birds. Her grandma just turned 102 years old and is by far the coolest person she knows.