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Not Afraid Of The Dark: Wichita Frontwomen Celebrate Their Friend, Musician Jenny Wood

Aaron Bowen

A benefit concert in celebration of Wichita musician Jenny Wood is set for this weekend. 

Jenny Woodstock features Old News, The Travel Guide, After Judo, Cartwheel, Milkwave and The Cavves. Initially organized by Cavves' frontwoman Sophie Emerson as a summer kickoff party, the idea changed after Wood was critically injured in a car accident on May 5. She remains hospitalized.

The majority of the bands on the bill have a direct link to Wood. That includes Cartwheel: The band features Kristyn Chapman and Will Erickson, who are also members of Team Tremolo, which Wood fronts. Travel Guide bassist Caleb Drummond and the band's guitarist/vocalist, Thayne Coleman, have also served as members of Wood's solo band.

Chapman, Emerson and Milkwave's Annie Palmer recently came by to discuss the all-ages event. It starts at 4:30 on Saturday, May 25, at The Back Beat at Midwest Drum and Percussion, 2228 E. Douglas.

A June 16 show at Wave will also celebrate Jenny Wood.

Interview Highlights

I guess I'll start with this question: How do you know Jenny and what impact has she had on you personally and musically?

Annie Palmer: Jenny's one of the best listeners I've ever known, actually. There are people who go to shows just to play or just to watch their friends. That's fine. But the way that Jenny listens, she does so with her whole body and soul. She's the first artist who believed in me and was completely selfless about it; the first artist who just wanted to listen without asking for anything back. When I watched her perform, she was so fearless. She has this sort of terrier-like energy that is as adorable as it is fierce. She's also spoken out about the darkest, hardest things in her life and, in doing so, she has been able to bring them to light. That's the example she sets and that's how I know she'll be all right. She's not afraid of the dark.

Kristyn, I know that you've mentioned that Jenny was especially instrumental in you starting your own band, Cartwheel.

Kristyn Chapman: There was one night in particular when we were all standing outside in the parking lot at Lucky's, and she said, "Kristyn, you need to sing in a band." At the time, I didn't sing at all, and I felt very uncomfortable singing, even by myself. So I thought, "That's impossible. I'm never going to be able to do that." But it's something I've always wanted to do, so having her affirm that in me just made it start to feel a little bit more possible.

As I started moving toward that I shared a lot of my early songs with her. They were barely formed. She was always so encouraging at that stage, at a very vulnerable stage when it's not done. She would say, "Wow, that's beautiful." We've become close and played in bands together and understood each other on that level of being women musicians. It's just sometimes a tough place to be. Now I'm surrounded by more women musicians and it's amazing, and I know she's played a large role in bringing everybody together.

We should mention a little more about the role that she's had in encouraging young women who are picking up instruments and putting together bands. Sophie, I'll start with you.

Sophie Emerson: I didn't know there was a scene until a few years ago. I definitely did not know that there were girls doing music. A couple of the first few female musicians I saw was when I was watching The Travel Guide on KJHK. Saw Kristyn on that. Later on, I saw Jenny. I had no idea that we had the coolest scene ever. Jenny's crazy, crazy good. I thought at the time, "What? We live in the same area. That's awesome."

AP: There are more women here doing music than I've ever seen in Wichita. It's really inspiring. Coming to this interview, I was nervous. I was more nervous than I would be to be around dudes, to be having this conversation with you guys, because it's more special. I know you both and I love you both, but you want to do your friends justice and especially Jenny justice. But, yeah, I feel like we all support each other, and that's really amazing.

Jedd Beaudoin is the host of Strange Currency. Follow him on Twitter @JeddBeaudoin. To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.