My New Work in Progress

I guess that title is a little misleading. I mean, like a lot of writers, I have a lot of balls in the air. Seeing one project all the way through to the end before starting another seems almost quaint. For anyone keeping score at home, I currently have:

One novel I’m continuing to sub—I’ve had three full manuscript requests for this one, so I’m trying to stay optimistic that it just needs to find the right publisher.

A second novel that I’m getting ready to sub—query letter, summary, synopsis, etc. I’m hoping it’s ready to start sending off by the end of the month.

A third that is currently in limbo. I wrote a first draft that I feel *really* good about, and I think with some of the usual tweaks and rewrites could be something really special. I will probably tackle the second draft of that after…

A fourth project that is just a nugget of an idea right now. I’ve jotted notes and have a general outline in my head. I need to get it out on paper, mostly because I feel like I need the freedom of writing a first draft before I buckle down and start getting real with editing and rewriting.

None of that, however, is what this post is about. I have yet another work in progress, and it’s arguably the most important one of them all. Let me back up a few days.

I was in my garage, tidying up and rearranging boxes and whatnot to make some more room for things we need to store out there. Among the boxes of “stuff” we still haven’t unpacked since we moved last summer were four trunks. My dad insisted I take these four trunks with me when I moved out of the house years ago, and I have schlepped these trunks from address to address from California to Kansas, for the better part of two decades now.

I knew they held old things—I think my grandpa’s sheriff’s uniform is in one, photos and mementos, things like that—but I honestly couldn’t remember ever looking in them. I was hefting them around (and they are heavy) when I stacked the last one on top of the other three and said to myself, “What the hell is in these things, anyway?”

I opened the latches and lifted the lid.

Newspapers. Photos. Greeting cards. Yearbooks (my mom’s). And right on top, my baby book.

I opened the baby book half-interested and casually flipped through it and my jaw dropped. It was packed full of writing. It had some of my baby teeth taped in it, a $2 bill, silver dollars from my great-grandma, and entry upon entry upon entry. I went back to the front of the book and started to read. As I read my mom’s cursive writing about what I was like as an infant, I was completely overcome with emotion.

It was such a complex mix of emotions, none of which I had anticipated. So many of the family members my mom wrote about are no longer around, including her, which hurt to think about how much they would all love my son if they could see him. But on top of that, I felt some guilt.

Here I was, decades after it was written, seeing all the time my mom took to document these special moments from my childhood (I had to get a tetanus shot after stepping on a nail when I was around six, and came out of the hospital saying, “Whatever that nurse did sure hurt my butt.”), and I look at my 18 month old son and realize the time has flown by and I haven’t done anything like that for him.

Don’t get me wrong, I have hundred of photos, and video clips of some of his first laughter, one of his first walks across the living room on his own, etc. but…looking at that baby book, the stuff I was doing suddenly didn’t seem like enough.

And so, with that, I began yet another writing project: writing letters to my son, to look back on someday and see what he meant to his mom and me, and how much he’s loved. I’m not sure on the frequency with which I’ll write them—monthly seems about right, maybe more often if something especially significant happens.

I’d love to put together a baby book for him, too. My wife has a locket of hair from his first haircut, so we’re on the same page there. But either way, with the letters he’ll have something to look back on and hopefully feel a little of the gratitude I felt when I saw how much time my mom spent writing about my early years.

Besides, what’s one more writing project on the pile, right? 🙂

The Perks of Being a Tear-Harvesting Deity

The past week has been…interesting.

For those that may not know, along with writing and photography, my other passion project is a music website and podcast I handle with my friend in California (you can visit Kill Boring Music to read reviews, check out our concert photos, and listen to episodes of the show, or pull up The Ringing Ear Podcast on the podcast delivery system of your choice).

We talk about all types of music, and at the end of every episode we feature an unsigned artist. This means we’re constantly on the lookout for new bands to play, and last week I found a band in Pennsylvania that gave me a little more than I bargained for.

Sleepsculptor is a mathcore-influenced metalcore band from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. They just released their debut full-length LP Entry: Dispersal, available for sale on Bandcamp and streaming on all major services. I found the band on Twitter and followed the links to check out the album. If you like metal, you’ll probably like it. I sure did, and I wanted to play them on the show. I also did what I always do when I find a band I like (unsigned or not)—followed them on Twitter and liked their Facebook page. A day or so later, I got an invite to a Facebook group called Sleepsculptor: Oasisposting. This is where things get interesting.

If you’ve never heard the term “shitposting”, here’s a quick explanation: the point of shitposting is, as the name implies, to post large amounts of pretty much the dumbest stuff you can find. Memes, terrible jokes, gifs, etc. Now, I’m not entirely new to shitposting—I’m actually in a couple of shitposting groups on Facebook. But I’ve never seen the level of idiocy that I encountered in the Sleepsculptor group. It was actually pretty amazing. A flood of awful (but still mostly funny) content deluged my phone to the point where Sleepsculpor: Oasisposting had nearly overshadowed all my other activity on Facebook. I was so impressed that I decided to publish a simple post declaring my admiration, ending with the sentence, “I’m not sure what I’ve gotten myself into.”


Apparently, “I’m not sure what I’ve gotten myself into” is akin to “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” or “Goodness, it’s already almost 10, I have to get ready for bed”. These idiots (and I mean that as a term of endearment) proceeded to utilize photo manipulation to plaster my face all over things related to the band. The amount of content they created in such a short amount of time was staggering.

I can’t deny that even though I knew they were clowning me I found it utterly hilarious. Besides, I remember what I was like when I was their age (which I assume to be early-to-mid 20s). Hell, I remember being 23 and mercilessly teasing a 27 year old for being old. So I did what came naturally—I leaned into the whole Kenneth Movement, telling them they were right to create all this content on my behalf, because as we all know, I’m awesome.

This led to an evolution of the memes being made, and honestly I’m not even sure how it came about. One of the guys in the group would have to explain it, although that would almost certainly make it considerably less funny. The point is, once I started playing along, somehow my image started being placed on religious imagery and I was declared some type of all-knowing, all-seeing deity that fed on tears. Behold:

“All Hail Kenneth” became their new mantra. Nearly every post included the phrase at some point, and they demanded that everyone react to posts and comments with the sad emoji—so I could harvest the tears, naturally.

Things have cooled down just a little bit now, as I assumed they would; this kind of thing usually runs its course pretty quickly. There has been some talk, however, of Sleepsculptor merchandise emblazoned with my smiling, lovely face, and they did decide to create Kennethkoin, a me-branded cryptocurrency that as of yet is completely worthless, though that could change at any time.

It’s been quite the roller coaster ride, and I’m happy to be the defacto mascot/deity for a band this good. Seriously, hijinks aside, there’s no reason Sleepsculptor can’t be huge on the metal scene. All that’s stopping them is visibility—they have the chops and their music is on point.

So, again, if you like chaotic metal with plenty of groove and heavy riffs, and being fronted by two vocalists to boot, check out Entry: Dispersal by Sleepsculptor. They probably won’t anoint you a religious figure, but maybe I can name you a disciple in the Cult of Kenneth. Then you’ll be the one saying, “I don’t know what I’ve gotten myself into.”

Click the photo or click here to buy Entry: Dispersal

It’s Time for Me to Come Clean About My Porn Addiction

Relax, it’s not what you think.  🙂

Life is full of stressors. Work, school, kids, money, politics, waiting for the new season of Bojack Horseman—it’ll drive you mad if you’re not careful. That’s why the concept of self care has become more important than ever. You have to find time to do things for yourself, for both your mental and physical well-being.

Some people do spa days. Some go to the gym or take up running. Some turn to drugs or alcohol, which while certainly not recommended, is unfortunately a fairly common type of self care. Personally, I like getting out with my camera (be it on the street or out in nature) and taking photos, or maybe dusting off the ol’ guit-fiddle to bang out a few bars to an old classic, like Love Me Do or Dead Skin Mask (if you don’t know that second one, by all means look it up).

Lately, though, free time has become more and more scarce; there are simply not enough hours in the day to work, write, run errands, keep a toddler alive, and still find time for myself. So, when I found something new that calmed my frazzled nerves, I took to it like a duck to water. The only problem is…it’s a little awkward to talk about.


Wait, hold on. Not like regular porn.

Internet porn.

Come back! Let me explain.

On Reddit, that bastion of good taste and decorum, many of the subreddits on the site end with the word ‘porn‘. It’s just kind of a wink to people who get the joke. For example, the sub featuring stunningly beautiful landscape photos is called r/EarthPorn. Astro photography is in the sub r/SpacePorn. But my favorite? You’ll never guess.

Here’s a hint.

r/PowerWashingPorn has over 770,000 members. Popular videos in the sub routinely get upwards of 15,000 upvotes (the Reddit equivalent of ‘liking’ something). As the name implies, the vast majority of the videos are of people using power washers to clean…well, anything and everything they can.

Stone walkways are popular, as are concrete driveways, all types of vehicles, brick steps, wooden decks, patio furniture…the list goes on. And I know what some of you are thinking: “How can watching someone hose something off be enjoyable?” In response, I present Exhibit A—watch this guy spray off this filthy Alpha Romeo and tell me it doesn’t give you just a bit of satisfaction.

If that doesn’t do anything for you, let me give you another. This guy cleaning this brick driveway is a thing of absolute beauty. Watching this is almost like popping a Xanax for me. It soothes my soul!

Look, I know it might seem silly, but these vids are so satisfying that I’m just about ready to seriously declare them part of my self care regimen. Life can be ugly, messy, dirty business. If I find solace in someone blasting shit off a dirty sidewalk, then why the hell not, you know?

So give it a shot—spend some time on r/PowerWashingPorn and see if maybe it does the same for you., and for once you can have a porn addiction that doesn’t require your credit card number.

Reverend Horton Heat/Fishbone 09/30/17—The Cotillion Ballroom, Wichita, KS

You could make a lot of assumptions about the city of Wichita, KS. You could assume it’s a flyover state hellhole devoid of any culture or art, but you’d be (mostly) wrong. You could assume it’s a city full of hayseeds and rednecks who don’t take kindly to outsiders, but you’d be (mostly) wrong. You could assume there aren’t a lot of options for live music outside of country concerts…and you’d be almost right on the button.

There are others, however, who perform in our fair city time and time again—the dogged road warriors who tour relentlessly and build their following the old fashioned way, before YouTube hits made someone a celebrity without leaving their bedroom. When I think of who has played Wichita (country acts notwithstanding) more than anyone else, two names come to mind: rapper Tech N9ne from Kansas City (which practically makes him a local), and Dallas rockabilly legend Reverend Horton Heat.


L-R: RJ Contreras, Jim Heath, Jimbo Wallace

RHH has played Wichita maybe six or eight times over the past decade. That may not sound like much, but as someone who’s spent the last ten years in the sunflower state pining for the old days when I could drive to LA or Las Vegas to see any concert under the sun, six or eight times in ten years is a lot. As for me, I’ve personally seen RHH at least eight times now in three different states, with three different drummers, but that hardly matters. No matter the circumstances, The Rev always puts on a fantastic show, and Saturday night at The Cotillion was no exception.


Jimbo Wallace

One of the things I’ve always liked about Reverend Horton Heat is that, as with a lot of bands who tour exhaustively, they end up playing with just about everyone, which makes for some especially eclectic shows. Over the years, RHH has played with everyone from traditional rockabilly and country acts to White Zombie and Motörhead. Which is to say it should’ve come as no surprise when RHH hit the road with ska/funk/punk heroes Fishbone.


Angelo Moore

Some may remember Fishbone from their early 90’s commercial peak with the release of The Reality of My Surroundings, featuring their only two singles to make the charts, Everyday Sunshine and Sunless Saturday. Some may also wonder what happened to them since then. It turns out Fishbone is doing just fine, thank you very much.


L-R: Paul Hampton, Angelo Moore, Walter Kibby

Fronted by original vocalist/saxophonist Angelo Moore (one of three original members still playing with the band), Fishbone took a somewhat lukewarm crowd and had them eating out of the palms of their hands by the end of their almost hour-long set. Opening with the aforementioned Sunless Saturday, Moore and company set the bar high for the energy level they had to sustain for the rest of the set—a bar they had no problem clearing, and then some. Moore is as entertaining and energetic a frontman as you’re likely to find. His exaggerated facial expressions and grandiose, frenetic body language was fun to watch and a blast to photograph.


Angelo Moore

With occasional help from a trusty roadie, Angelo switched from vocals to one of a myriad of different saxes with ease, even placing and re-placing the mic stand for his horn on cue every time. I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say the band sounded incredible. I spent the majority of the set planted in front of bassist and fellow original member Norwood Fisher, who laid down incredible grooves on an array of beautiful basses. By the end of closer Party at Ground Zero, the crowd was hyped and ready to testify.


L-R: Walter Kibby, Norwood Fisher


Reverend Horton Heat, aka Jim Heath, has been cranking out his brand of rockabilly/punkabilly/psychobilly/whatever you want to put in front of “billy” since 1985, and has hardly let up since. Heath and his loyal sidekick/bass player Jim “Jimbo” Wallace were in the midst of recording a new album when previous drummer Scott Churilla decided to go his own way, leaving the band in a tight spot. Luckily, fate intervened in the form of fellow Texan Arjuna “RJ” Contreras, formerly of the terrific-yet-vastly-under-appreciated polka band (yes, that’s right) Brave Combo. He stepped in to record his parts for the album and was on the road touring before he knew what hit him. So would the new drummer change Reverend Horton Heat’s sound? Yes and no.

That’s because many of the songs in RHH’s set were classics and fan favorites. It would take some truly radical drumming to change the sound of set-opening instrumental Big Sky, or the dynamic push and pull of The Devil’s Chasin’ Me, but Contreras definitely has his own style, tinkering with certain drum parts and making them his own. Personally, I think RJ is a great fit for the band and I hope he has a permanent gig with the guys.


RJ Contreras

The Cotillion Ballroom is probably my favorite venue in Wichita, and possibly the Reverend’s too, as he proudly declared how happy he was to be “in Wichita, Kansas at The Cotillion on Friday night!” despite it being Saturday. He may have been joking (he repeatedly said it was Friday, possibly just to mess with the inebriated), but if he was really confused, it’s easy to forgive—this was their 23rd show in 29 days. I’m impressed he even knew what city he was in, but then, when you’re the hardest working man in rockabilly, I assume touring with nary a day off becomes old hat.


Jim Heath, RJ Contreras

As it turned out, the show at The Cotillion marked the end of their month-long tour with Fishbone and Los Kung Fu Monkeys (the tour’s other support act, Strung Out, bowed out the night before in Peoria, Illinois), and they commemorated the end of the tour by having a huge jam session on stage with members of all three bands. At one point during Fishbone’s set, I even caught the Reverend himself standing three feet from me, taking pictures of the band on his cell phone. It was a great show, and the best part is that with a band that works as hard as they do, I can count on them coming back to town soon.

Side note: if you don’t believe the “hardest working man in rockabilly” claim, check out RHH’s Facebook page—they already have tour dates up for the entire month of October, featuring some shows with country swing and doo wop master Big Sandy, and the entire month of December, those shows being an amazing triple bill featuring roots rock legends The Blasters and country guitar virtuoso Junior Brown. If they’re coming to your town, I highly recommend checking them out. If not, don’t worry—there’s a good chance eventually the Rev will come to you.

***Catch all my future music-related writing at—concert and album reviews, and check out the music podcast I’m co-hosting, The Ringing Ear. Here’s my latest concert review, P!nk at Intrust Bank Arena!

The Black Dahlia Murder 08/20/17—The Crown Uptown, Wichita, KS

I’ve been a Wichita resident for eleven years, and a metal fan for considerably longer. Until recently, those two things—being a metal fan and residing in Wichita—rarely intermingled, as live bands playing anything but country or classic rock were few and far between (Steve Miller Band, anyone?). There  was the occasional metal show here and there, but not much in the way of a scene that people could support.

That may be starting to change.


Brandon Ellis, The Black Dahlia Murder—sadly, the only zippered leather vest spotted all night.

In 2017, Wichita has seen shows by Mushroomhead, Cattle Decapitation, Superjoint, Amon Amarth, Hellyeah, Born of Osiris, and now, The Black Dahlia Murder. Combine that with the steady stream of shows full of local bands at smaller venues, and you’ve got yourself the makings of an actual scene.

The Crown Uptown is a gorgeous place. Although originally a movie theater when it was built in the 20’s (and dinner theater for years after), it seems almost custom made for concerts. As for TBDM show, turnout seemed a bit thin (blame the bad luck of having to book the show on a Sunday), although the fans who did show up were enthusiastic and appeared grateful to have another metal show in their town.

Kicking off the night was hometown act Parallax, playing a short but energetic set. Vocalist Trevor Rickett gave his all to try and pump up the crowd, with help from some vocal Parallax fans in attendance. The band was also shooting a video for a brand new song, so keep an eye out on social media for that one to drop.

Side note: Parallax is playing at The Elbow Room next month opening for Hed PE 09/22, so do yourself a favor and go see these guys while they’re still playing local shows—it may be only a matter of time before they’re touring nonstop and hardly ever home.

Betraying the Martyrs was up next, from Paris, France as a last minute replacement for Russian act Slaughter to Prevail. Their ultra heavy beats and growling vocals warmed everyone up, but the crowd was perhaps not ready for the occasional clean vocals and prominent keyboard parts that permeated the set.

At one point vocalist Aaron Matts urged the crowd to get moving and jump with the music, which the crowd did eagerly until the heavy riff they were jumping to gave way to keyboards and clean vocals, and the crowd lost their momentum. They’re a good band and they gave a tight performance, though by the end it I was thinking of them as “The THX band” due to the number of times their songs had beats drop like the THX surround sound intro that plays before a movie.

New Jersey’s Lorna Shore was up next, playing a short, tight set that was the first of the night to succeed in sustaining a circle pit for more than twenty seconds and consisting of more than two people. Closing with the title track off their newest LP Flesh Coffin, the band succeeded in loosening the crowd up for the remaining chaos yet to come.

Side note: Lorna Shore is returning to Wichita next month, opening for Miss May I at Rock Island Live 09/21. Don’t miss another chance to see this excellent band.


Adam De Micco, Lorna Shore—guy liked to shred with his leg propped on his monitor.

The final opening slot (in the disappointing absence of Dying Fetus from this stop of the Summer Slaughter tour) belonged to the crushing Oceano. Led by one of metal’s most guttural vocalists in Adam Warren, Oceano brought an intensity the previous bands lacked. In fact, Warren even issued a warning to a member of the crowd to properly channel his enthusiasm, after he sprayed Warren with water during the opening number. After a reminder from Warren that people at the front of the stage were vulnerable to face-level kicks from Warren if he were splashed any more, the crowd put an end to the shenanigans and put their energy into proper displays of enthusiasm like a frenetic circle pit and the evening’s first instances of crowd surfing. Oceano was the band I was most excited to see and they did not disappoint. They were brutally heavy, buzzing with electric energy, and had the crowd worked into a frenzy for the night’s headliners.


Adam Warren, Oceano—breaking it down while a fan headbangs.


Chris Wagner, Oceano—you can tell he’s pounding that bass, look at his top string.

The Black Dahlia Murder capitalized on the crowd’s energy level and never let it drop throughout their hour-plus set. Running like a precision machine, TBDM cranked through song after song without sounding like they were rushing to get through their time on stage. Vocalist Trevor Strnad had a good rapport with fans, simultaneously joking around and keeping them buzzing between songs by encouraging them to keep the crowd surfing and stage diving going throughout the set, particularly among the females in attendance, who were up to the challenge.

TBDM closed with a brand new song, the title track from their upcoming LP Nightbringers, which was reminiscent of some of their most popular material. If that song is any indication, fans won’t be disappointed when the album drops in October.


Trevor Strnad, The Black Dahlia Murder—pointing to a superfan.

Side note: Brian Eschbach had an absolutely insane guitar tone that made this guitarist and former member of metal and hardcore bands incredibly jealous.


Brian Eschbach, The Black Dahlia Murder—he knows his tone is sick, look at him.


The Black Dahlia Murder—orchestrating chaos.


Brian Eschbach, The Black Dahlia Murder—sponsored by PBR.


Max Lavelle, The Black Dahlia Murder—mid-headbang


Alan Cassidy, The Black Dahlia Murder—they had him tucked away and not even on a drum riser, like he was some second-class citizen. Drummers are people, too! (Barely)

It was a satisfying night of deathcore and extreme metal, with every band delivering in a big way. One can only hope that attendance was good enough to keep bringing metal acts to town and for a scene to develop. Time (and perhaps turnout at the upcoming D.R.I., Miss May I, and DevilDriver shows) will tell, but when crowds are as enthusiastic as this it’s only a matter of time before word spreads among fans and before you know it you have a thriving scene. May Wichita be so fortunate.


Soles of shoes in a crowd shot = good concert.


Ecstatic crowd surfer.

How Exactly Does One Become a Buff?

It’s weird. People who are into music are called audiophiles, people call themselves a geek or a nerd about whatever subject they’re into, but it seems like I only ever hear two types of people call themselves ‘buffs’: film buffs and history buffs.

I’ve been a self-proclaimed film buff for years—I know there are tons of people who know way more about movies than I ever will, but to the average Joe I’m pretty knowledgeable. History, on the other hand, well…in school, history was up there with math as classes I’d sooner get a root canal than attend. Part of it might be because my teachers always seemed to make it so dry and uninteresting (what was up with that, Mr. Curi?). It wasn’t until college that I took a history class that was somewhat interesting, and it only covered up to the revolutionary war, but it did stoke my curiosity a little. So this past weekend when I was checking TripAdvisor for things to do for a trip to Kansas City with my significant other, I was interested when the first thing that popped up was the National World War I Museum and Memorial.


What I knew about WWI could fit on the inside of a matchbook, so everything I saw in the museum fascinated me. Everyone has at least a cursory knowledge of WWII, but The Great War seems to be somewhat overlooked in school.

The first thing I noticed upon entering the museum was the abundance of poppies—pictures of poppies on the walls, poppies on plates and keychains, on mugs in the gift shop, and this sight under your feet as you make your way from the lobby to the museum itself:


It looked odd, seeing all the flowers with no grass or anything green around them, and although it’s hard to tell in the picture, there are a couple of wooden planks in the middle of it all. What did it all mean? We wouldn’t find out until the end of our visit.

We were guided to a cozy auditorium showing a short film that tried to explain as quickly and clearly as it could what led up to the war, namely the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. In the virtual blink of an eye following the assassination, multiple countries had declared war on each other and all hell broke loose.

The museum had more content than you could shake a stick at: Uniforms of the soldiers and nurses; gas masks, firearms and artillery; life-sized recreations of the trenches on the battlefields and the enormous craters left by the rounds fired from a tank; and my personal favorite, propaganda posters.




There were dozens upon dozens of posters on display, and a really cool interactive feature that let you create your own mashup poster from the ones provided. There were also some newspapers from the time and various quotes from historic figures regarding the war.



And the poppies?

Unhappy with the lack of any real explanation, we wandered to the information desk where an elderly volunteer was more than happy to explain it to us. As it turns out, under the right conditions poppies can grow wild (being as much like a weed as they are a flower), and the atrocities of war gave them near perfect conditions to flourish: the heavy foot traffic and vehicle wear aerated the soil, the decomposing bodies fertilized it, and a chemical from the artillery shells killed off any pests that would eat or damage the flowers.

The result was that the battlefields that had been stripped barren of any sign of life (and instead were full of death and decay) soon were brimming with poppies. Soon after the war it became a symbol of remembrance not only for the Americans but for all the soldiers who died in the war worldwide. As for the scene under our feet when we entered? Each poppy below us represented 1,000 military lives lost in the war, 9 million in total.

We spent about two and a half hours at the museum, but could’ve easily spent twice that long. Your ticket is actually good for two days (although we had just one day to spend), which makes it that much more of a value. Being there over Veteran’s Day weekend meant that a) tickets were half price, and b) it was exceptionally crowded. I look forward to going back to the museum at a more relaxed pace to try and take it all in. If you’re ever in Kansas City, I highly recommend it.

I almost forgot to mention how cool the gift shop was! They had all sorts of things, from t-shirts to mugs to dishes to collectible replica helmets. I was absolutely tickled to find stoneware coasters with some of my favorite propaganda posters on them, and this mug which delighted my girlfriend to no end:


Considering I was already gaining an interest in war and general history, I may soon be adding history buff to my self-proclaimed film buff status, which is cool because I know damn well those are the only kinds of buff I’ll ever be. 

Chaos with a Smile: Andrew W.K.’s The Power of Partying Tour

In  the pantheon of great motivational speakers, certain people come to mind:images-2




One of these things is not like the other.

Saturday night, thanks to an overwhelming sense of curiosity and a girlfriend who’s always up for something new, saw me at a venue normally associated with rock performances, hosting a rock singer. This, however, was different. It was a spoken word appearance by self-proclaimed King of Partying Andrew W.K., as part of his 50 state The Power of Partying tour.


What I knew going in: I knew of Andrew W.K., as I suppose a lot of people might, from the 2001 hit single “Party Hard” (which, along with some other singles, has popped up in various video games) and from the now-iconic album cover featuring W.K. with one doozy of a bloody nose. Beyond that, all I knew was that Andrew had parlayed the party lifestyle he’d become famous for into serious motivational speaking gigs framed by his own rock ‘n’ roll viewpoint. He had some material prepared, but a large chunk of the evening would be open to Q & A from the audience.

Side note regarding the venue: I can’t believe it took me over a decade to finally go to Barleycorn’s. The place was cleaner, nicer, and smaller than I expected. Over the course of the night I must’ve remarked at least three different times “I really like this place.” I can’t wait to go back and see some bands, as with a capacity of only around 250 people there is literally not a bad seat in the house.

What I found upon arrival: Free pizza? Are you kidding me? Okay, the guy knows how to start a party—music, pizza, and alcohol. We got settled into one of the few remaining seats with our party accoutrements, and not a moment too soon—the show uncharacteristically (for a typical rock show, anyway) started right on time.

Andrew began the show by getting what I would’ve called in my prime pro wresting watching days “a cheap pop”—pandering to the home crowd for some easy applause. And yet, right off the bat I felt a vibe coming off W.K., in all his white jeans/plain white t-shirt wearing glory: the dude was completely genuine. There was no pandering, he was actually happy and excited to be there in Wichita, KS.

He spoke about the rigors of a 50 state tour, and how if he’d taken any time to think about it before committing he may have reconsidered. Before long, he got to the topic at hand—what it means to party in Andrew W.K.’s world.

So, what does “party” mean to man who’s practically made a career out of the word? A lot of things, actually. Positivity—being upbeat, finding the silver lining, etc. He spoke of having feelings of melancholy since he was a little boy, and how music helped him (then and now) weather the storm of negativity and gloom that would seemingly invade his thoughts.

One thing that really resonated with me was this (paraphrasing slightly): “Some of the biggest sparks of inspiration can come from the lowest of places. If you know how to acknowledge that bad feeling and roll with it, you can create something incredible.” I know exactly what he meant, as I’ve had a lot of bad things to draw inspiration from in the last year or so.

Although he didn’t use the term, a lot of what he touched on related to the concept of mindfulness. I’m nowhere near knowledgeable to go into detail about it, but if I had to try and sum it up in a sentence, it involves learning to acknowledge feelings and sensations as they happen without judgement (plus an awful lot more—again, I’m no expert). A major part of mindfulness is meditation, and while certain aspects appear to be easier to grasp than others, it seems incredibly beneficial to your mental and physical well-being if you can get a handle on it. You can learn more about mindfulness (highly recommended) by clicking here.

Upon opening the floor to questions, I was surprised how many people wanted to ask Andrew about coping with depression. I expected more rock ‘n’ roll stories from the road, or meeting celebrities, that sort of thing. (One guy asked about his high-energy live shows and W.K. described it as “chaos with a smile”, with raging mosh pits that would stop everything to help someone look for their glasses.)

My favorite exchange of the night was when a young woman asked him how she could help a friend who suffered from chronic depression and sometimes had suicidal thoughts. Without a moment’s hesitation he said, “Love them.” He went on to elaborate on that, but I (along with everyone else in the venue) was struck by the touching simplicity of his answer.

After the Q & A session, W.K. invited anyone who still wanted to talk or take pictures to come see him in the back of the bar by his merch table. Almost everyone in the room got in line to talk to him, or so it seemed. I was positioned to be able to see him with just a slight turn of my head, and I admit I enjoyed watching him interact with his fans, for a couple reasons.

First, just the act of hanging out like that to meet people and talk to them is a cool thing to do. He didn’t have to do that. It took upwards of 90 minutes for him to talk to everyone, shake every hand, take every picture. Second, he wasn’t just going through the motions. He was there, in the moment, with everyone who came before him. Eyes locked on theirs, listening intently to whatever it was they had to say to him. That really spoke volumes about the kind of guy he is, and I have to say it left me pretty impressed. That’s not to say he didn’t make a bee line out of there once the line was gone, but still. Just an awesome guy.

What I learned:  I learned that even guys who seemingly never have a bad day still struggle with their own demons. In the case of Andrew W.K., those don’t seem to be the typical rock ‘n’ roll demons of drugs and alcohol (I don’t think he even had a drink after the show, even though I’m sure people would’ve lined up to buy him one), but much more common ones: depression, self-worth, seizing the day, etc. It was nice reinforcement to know a fellow death metal loving oddball goes through it too.

W.K. mentioned he was about 1/3 through his 50 state tour, if he comes to your town I highly recommend catching him. He’s a good guy with a good message, and given the year I (and the nation) have had, you really can’t have enough people like that. Here’s a link to his remaining tour dates, check him out.


I almost forgot, he also created a political party, The Party Party (naturally). I don’t know about any of you, but I’d sure vote for the guy.