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Together Apart

Kansas City Musicians join forces while sheltering in place

March 24, 2020. The city fell silent as stay-at-home orders swept across the Kansas City metro area. Restaurants closed, parks succumbed to police tape, and people everywhere looked at each other with suspicion, wondering if the unknown menace of COVID-19 was lurking in their seemingly healthy lungs. 

For many, that shutdown meant lost wages for a short time. For the music community, the effects are wearing on longer. The restaurants and bars that hired them to bring in guests are struggling under capacity limits and depleted cash reserves. 

Times are bleak. But it's also in times like this that creators thrive, lighting the dark times with hope and healing. At least, that's the goal for David George, the singer/songwriter and driving force behind When We All Come Together, a song that he wrote and produced. 

As soon as the stay-at-home order was announced, George, known for his work with A Crooked Mile, and the Volker Brothers, as well as guests stints playing with John Fogerty, among others, started hatching an idea for an at-home musical collaboration to raise funds for the Midwest Music Foundation. 

The Midwest Music Foundation was created for these times of stress. For the last ten plus years, the MMF has been a lifeline for musicians in need of financial aid because of medical expenses. MMF was the vision of Abigail Henderson of The Gaslights. After receiving care for a hernia while on tour at the New Orleans Musicians' Clinic, she wanted to provide the same style of care for musicians that may not have health insurance or the cash to pay for expensive health care costs. 

Henderson was one of the first recipients of her dream, unfortunately, when she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. One of the organizations' first fundraisers was Apocolypse Meow, a concert that brought together artists spanning genres to raise money to fund her treatments. Henderson lost her battle with cancer in 2013 but her impact is felt by musicians every day that benefit from the MMF's health care grants, mental wellness services, and career services.  

For George, the choice of recipient for the funds was an easy one. 

"As self-employed people, musicians are particularly vulnerable. We've all needed this type of help from time to time, and I'm just glad that I'm in a position to try and help," says George. 

George started with an idea--to work on a song that captured the spirit of togetherness, even while apart. He tapped audio engineer and drummer Giuliano Mingucci to weave together the strands of music. And then he called up nearly 100 of his closest friends and got to work. 

The resulting song evokes the collaborative songs of LIVE AID, but with a fresh and very local flavor. The musicians involved span genres--classical musicians, folk, pop, jazz, and hip-hop are all represented. George says that even though he has worked all over the country, it was important to him to keep the talent for this project local. 

And local it is. So local, that each and every musician that participated filmed their track in their make-shift at home recording studios. In the accompanying video, edited and compiled by Steve Gardels and Michael Lopez, musicians multiply and meld, all swathed in backgrounds of sarape blankets and in closets to let their music shine. 

Mingucci, in addition to playing drums, mixed his biggest track to date.

"In the end, there were 113 different musical tracks. It was complex, but it was also a really great challenge for me. It was really cool to see it come together," says Mingucci. 

When the song debuted on May 11, the MMF had already dispensed nearly $37,000 to musicians that were out of work and needed health care. With no end in sight for the moratorium (whether official or not) on live music, that need is only growing. 

When We All Come Together brings to light the need for not only support for the music community but the great wealth of talent that Kansas City holds. George is releasing the track on BandCamp with donations going directly to MMF. Find it here: