Be an integral part of continuing Kansas City's rich history of jazz innovation!
The Spine Showcases is a music series that invites adventurous Kansas City jazz musicians to program a set of original compositions and arrangements. With the freedom to perform material that is not feasible in Kansas City’s classic jazz venues, their performances are imaginative, exciting, and ambitious.
Our series is hosted in the Charlotte Street Foundation's “Capsule” performance arts venue at 17th and Broadway. Each showcase features two ensembles, each playing one set. The Spine Showcases have already featured musicians including Eddie Moore, Matt Villinger, John Kizilarmut, Ernest Melton, and Matt Otto.
In the second half of the season, we’ll spotlighting 13 more musicians:
- July 25: Peter Schlamb and Ryan J. Lee
- August 22: Kadesh Flow and Amber Underwood
- September 26: Bob Bowman, Ben Markley, and Hermon Mehari
- October 24: Merman (Alyssa Murray and Adam Schlozman), Curtis Brink and the Drty Ten
- November 21: Shay Estes and Marcus Lewis.
- November 28: Spine Showcase Thanksgiving: Logan Richardson
We’ll wrap up the season with an evening of best-of performances from the year, taped with a live audience on December 30.
The Music from Kansas City's Jazz Heyday is Alive and Well, but the Innovative Boldness that Permeated those Days is in Danger.
If you go to any jazz club on the planet, toes tap to the signature walking 4/4 feel that was created in Kansas City. Groundbreaking musicians like Charlie Parker, Lester Young, and Count Basie set new standards while working in Kansas City. During a period of fertile creativity, music pumped out of Kansas City, and the music history made was so rich that the songs persist to this day, as familiar as the “Mona Lisa” or “Starry Night.”
We're honored celebrate Kansas City's legacy, but as most painters would not be satisfied simply reproducing the works of da Vinci and Van Gogh, our current-day local musicians don’t play these standards alone. If galleries weren’t willing to hang brand-new original work on the walls, painters would wither creatively or move to greener pastures. If music venues and local audiences don’t come to hear original compositions and new music, Kansas City’s generative musicians will suffer the same fate.
Can we Celebrate Kansas City's Future in Jazz as Much as we Revere our Past?
I’ve gone out on a limb to finance the first half of this series mostly out of pocket on the “If you build it, they will come” principle. I think there is an audience that wants to hear this music as much as the musicians want to perform it. The Spine Showcases is my attempt to connect the two to each other. If you fund it, it will continue.
Risks and challenges
Our main challenges are budgetary constraints, representation, and finding our audience.
Budget: We pay $150 per musician each showcase. It’s a great hourly wage, but consider that a set of original music consumes months of work and rehearsals. Musicians who perform a set with us can't go perform for another two or three hours somewhere else to earn a full night’s wages. It’s important that musicians aren’t sacrificing their well-being in order to showcase their work.
Charlotte Street Foundation normally does not ticket their events. They offer us a $250 stipend per event, and all of the manpower needed to promote, photograph, and set up the performance space.
Representation: I've booked musicians who are generating new work, and who I perceive to lack opportunities to present it. There are many more ensembles that I would like to feature, but unless we can fund the series through 2020, there aren't enough spaces available to properly showcase all of the talented musicians in Kansas City's jazz scene.
Audience Engagement: There are usually a dozen jazz performances in Kansas City on Thursday, that’s a lot of competition! We need to use some funds to promote our events and get the word out about what we're doing so that we can connect to our audience.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (28 days)