Beginning with a friendship back in high school, two young men discovered a mutual passion for all things music. Countless hours were spent at Ron Rooks’ Music Exchange in Westport arguing over who had first dibs on a prized promotional album, and buying records based solely on intriguing album covers. A few doors down, they could be found at Penny Lane chuckling over one of LeRoi’s “Riding With The King” album reviews in KC Pitch that doled out his infamous “Fly Me” mark of shame. Further treks south took them to Peaches Records to fill the wooden peach crates with the latest releases, with pit stops at Exile Records to score used new wave, punk, and blues cassettes, while drooling over the cheap concert t-shirts unavailable anywhere else in the States.
College came and even though they went their separate ways, they always found the time to meet at Anne Winter’s Recycled Sounds to trade in their old tapes for bootleg compact discs. Regular road trips were taken to Love Garden in Lawrence to look for rare vinyl, extended remixes and Japanese imports. Their thirst was insatiable. This led to a new appreciation of local artists to be found at a seemingly endless supply of venues: The Homestead Grays at The Bottleneck or Jazzhaus in Lawrence, The Bon Ton Soul Accordion Band at Kiki’s Bon Ton Maison or The Hurricane, or The Sin City Disciples at Davey’s Uptown or The Shadow to name a few. And let’s not forget the late, great granddaddy of them all, The Grand Emporium, that was practically a second home during those years.
More time passed and both of the young men moved away from their families in Kansas City for some time in search of their dreams. Mix tapes and CDs were sent across states and continents. Music and home were never far from their minds though, and they both eventually returned. James Andrews has worked in the publishing business since 1999 and is now part-owner of Andrews McMeel Universal. Patrick Sprehe has been a teacher for 25 years, first serving with the Peace Corps in Kazakhstan, and then moving on to Raleigh, NC; Oakland, CA; and Tokyo, Japan. He spent the past 13 years teaching at Academie Lafayette.
As both men approached 50, their discussions about music led to the decision to make a difference in the Kansas City music community. Not being musicians themselves, both James and Patrick wanted to find a way to give back some of the joy they had felt over the years while finding a way to share the rich, storied musical heritage of Kansas City with the rest of the world. The variety of musical genres found in KC is enormous, and lines are blurred constantly as artists collaborate and create a unique sound which can only be described as Kansas City. Kansas City is truly at the geographical center of America, and they believe it is also at the center of the musical universe.