Chow Town

RecordBar’s employees, favorite patrons say farewell to a family, a home

The Record Bar will close Jan. 2, 2016. Longtime employees, including sound engineers Mark “Buzz” Collins (counterclockwise from bottom left), Paul Malinowski and bartenders Kitty Mitchell, Tim Whipple and Adam Phillips in the bar.
The Record Bar will close Jan. 2, 2016. Longtime employees, including sound engineers Mark “Buzz” Collins (counterclockwise from bottom left), Paul Malinowski and bartenders Kitty Mitchell, Tim Whipple and Adam Phillips in the bar.

RecordBar as we know it will close this weekend. Last summer, owners Steve Tulipana and Shawn Sherrill were told their lease would not be renewed when it expired at the end of 2015.

So Saturday night the building at 1020 Westport Road will host its final music show. Making Movies will headline with Your Friend. After that, Sherrill and Tulipana will begin the process of moving out of the space and getting ready to move into another.

After it was officially opened in October 2005 by two owners who were members of touring bands, RecordBar swiftly became a destination live-music venue for local and national bands. It also became a favorite and beloved restaurant and watering hole for patrons who became fans not only of the venue’s music but of its food, its employees and its clientele.

We asked some of them to talk about why the place was so special. Many of them used two words to identify the place: “family” and “home.”

Bob Walkenhorst, the Rainmakers

“Our trio has played almost every Wednesday the entire time RecordBar has been open. The great thing about playing a standing gig is that a community develops. People know you will always be there, and they can count on friends they know being there. Then the music is serving the purpose that it has for eons: bringing people together, sharing in the old ritual of letting some things go, shaking some things loose, dancing to the music.”

Isaiah Radke, Radkey

“RecordBar was one of the first places to give us a shot, and we basically grew up playing there. One of our favorite places to play anywhere.”

Madisen Ward, Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear

“This will forever be known as a special place in our hearts and the launching pad for our career. The place where friends were made and where our true journey began. The place that gave a chance to so many talented artists looking to share what they love and gave many of us the inspiration to keep going.”

Kirsten Paludan, Starhaven Rounders

“My favorite memories from, and things I will miss about, RecordBar:

▪ “The filming of ‘72 Musicians’

▪ “The Nina Nastasia, American Catastrophe, Olympic Size dinner show

▪ “The Low show

▪ “The Glenn Kotche/Olympic Size show

▪ “Both of my album-release shows (my mom sold merch at the first one)

▪ “Brunch

▪ “The “Everywhere: Fleetwood Mac” tribute show. The poster was a re-creation of the Rolling Stone cover of all of them in bed together and featured Ryan Johnson (our drummer) in his undies (totally his choice). I’m pretty sure the show sold out.

▪ “Starhaven Rounders dinner shows

▪ “Kitty, Clarence and Tim behind the bar

▪ “The Camera Obscura show”

Jeff Fortier, Mammoth Productions

“It’s right next to my house. I go there twice a week. It’s like one of my homes. My heart is breaking a little over it.”

Jacki Becker, Up to Eleven Productions

“The place was always run with love and respect. Sometimes those who used to tour know exactly how much love it takes to keep a place doing live music every day of the week.

“Some of the biggest shows I have had the pleasure of promoting (were) at RecordBar, starting with the National 10 years ago to acts like the Head and the Heart, St. Vincent and, of course, Mumford & Sons (the night we hid the bus in the alley). Those were the flagship ‘look where they are now’ bands. Personal shows I will never forget would be Battles, Caribou, Neon Indian with Com Truise and Purity Ring, Deafheaven, David Bazan and, most recently, Health.”

Mike McCoy, musician

“A place run by musicians for musicians. … The manner in which they carry themselves and their focus on providing community to we who run around making songs is unrivaled. True professionals top to bottom. In addition, I think that PA they have carefully crafted might be my favorite one ever. It’s bliss for a songwriter on that stage. I’m going to miss it, and I hope they reopen somewhere soon. We can be sure that whatever they do, they’ll do it right.”

Michael Byars, KCUR (89.3 FM)

“I was there on its first night and several (hundred) since, and I’ve always admired how Steve and Shawn approached the business from the perspective of both customers and performers. They surrounded themselves with good people, and they all took pride in working to make things great for everyone who walked through the door.

“I was lucky enough to have celebrated a couple birthdays there in grand style. Those are just two of innumerable musical and personal highlights that I’ll never forget. It stopped being a bar a long time ago for me. It’s my second home. I’ll miss it terribly.”

Hermon Mehari, jazz musician

“I have played in more projects, as a sideman and leader, than I can count at recordBar, spanning all sorts of genres, which is a testimony to how many different kinds of music have graced its stage. It has always been my favorite place to perform in Kansas City.”

Mike Myers, musician

“They always had one of, if not the, best PA/sound systems and soundmen running things. The bar staff was pretty much made of musicians themselves, so it was like family every time I attended or played a show there.

“My favorite shows there, of the many I played and attended, were Qui, with David Yow on vocals, and when my band In the Pines played there with Low and Crooked Fingers (right after I met my wife). Lots of great memories.”

Camry Ivory, singer and musician

“I’ve played in all different types of bands, in all different types of genres, and every group I’ve been in has had the pleasure of gracing the RecordBar stage. It’s home base for so many musicians. It’s where we have our debut shows, where we kick off the first leg of our tours and where we play our reunion shows after long hiatuses. It’s been a solid, reliable venue for Kansas City for a long time. It’s not too intimidating for a small band, like larger venues might be, but it’s big enough to make you feel like a legit rock star.”

Bill Sundahl, KKFI (90.1 FM), musician

“Steve and Shawn always do the very best they can by the musicians, because they know. It’s where I received my first standing ovation and where the menu (inside records covers) turned me on to the band Blue Cheer.”

Rich Wheeler, jazz musician

“I have probably played more gigs at RecordBar than any other venue in town. I love it. The People’s Liberation Big Band shows there, as well as many varied kinds of other shows I have been a part of, have been some of the best times I have had in my career. Steve and Shawn built both a venue and clientele that allowed musicians to take chances and experiment in ways that are simply not possible in other places.”

Chris Haghirian, Ink magazine, Middle of the Map and KTBG (90.9 FM)

“For nine of its 10 years I lived 300 steps from RecordBar. In that decade of show-going, I saw nearly 800 bands there. RecordBar was an integral part of creating Middle of the Map Fest, and we could never have made the fest happen without the help of its owners. … I could never put into words how much I love that place and the staff and crew there. It helped make me who I am, and some of my favorite memories in the world happened there.”

Barry Lee, host and station manager, KKFI

“The RecordBar is the best of example of what a music bar should be: intimate, friendly, great sound, great food, and the most eclectic and challenging artist lineup of any venue in KC. This was a place where you could walk in, and when your eyes adjusted to the semidarkness you’d see Jonathan Richman sitting at a table with a couple of patrons and a couple of beers while he sang requests. A place where you could have a beer at the bar with Mike Mills between sets or exchange music trivia with members of the Low Anthem before the show.”

Rhonda Lyne, Midwest Music Foundation

“Steve, Shawn and the entire staff at RecordBar have been very supportive of the Midwest Music Foundation and local music over the past 10 years. We have hosted many fundraisers there since the first Apocalypse Meow in 2008. It’s one of my favorite places to see live music and grab a pizza or brunch. It’s one of those places where you walk in and immediately feel at home.”

Sondra Freeman, Midwest Music Foundation

“RecordBar owners and staff have always been wonderful advocates for MMF. Quite simply, we are family. RecordBar isn’t a venue or a restaurant or a bar, it’s a sanctum, part of the fabric of my life.”

Adam Stafford, Starhaven Rounders

“I saw many bands that blew me away for such a small venue: punk bands like Radkey, country outfits like Rex Hobart and the Honky Tonk Standards … rock, hip-hop and low-key electronic bands like Junior Boys. When our country-review band Starhaven Rounders got up and going, Shawn and Steve were immediately interested in doing some shows. It became our ‘home venue’ doing monthly shows for the past three or four years.”

David George, songwriter and musician

“It was a place to see a familiar local band. A place to see an up-and-coming touring artist or a national band that wanted to squeeze into an intimate setting. It was a place to grab a great bite to eat. And it always felt great walking on to the stage, plugging in, checking to make sure your sound was alright before laying into your best eight or nine songs in front of a welcoming crowd.”

Isaac Flynn, Hembree

“The last show I went to at (RecordBar) was Noise for Toys. That show epitomized what I love about that place: My friends were in the crowd, my friends were on the stage, and it was all taking place in my favorite city.”

Michelle Bacon, the Philistines

“RecordBar has been one of my favorite places to play and see shows. Steve and Shawn have consistently pulled in an impressive array of touring acts while giving local musicians a chance to perform on a stage with professional sound and engineering.

“Of all the shows I’ve played there, my favorite was a ‘Sonic Spectrum’ tribute to the Rolling Stones in June 2013. I shared the stage with a few of my very best friends and bandmates, along with a number of other Kansas City musicians I greatly respect. Not only was it a fun, high-energy night, but it opened the door for me to collaborate with other great musicians.”

Terrence Moore, songwriter and musician

“American Catastrophe had some of our best performances at the RecordBar, including the opening weekend long, long ago. It will be tough to drive by the original location and not think of all the great times shared with friends.”


Mark “Buzz” Collins, sound engineer since 2005

What do you like most about working there?

The excellent vibe, great bands and employees.

List some of your favorite shows.

Bell Witch, Blue Cheer, Bob Walkenhorst Wednesdays.

The weirdest thing you saw a customer do?

Throw a half-full beer bottle on top of the flown center fill speaker cabinet, and it did not spill.

Say a few words about Steve and Shawn.

They are very professional, fun guys and understanding.

Tim Whipple, bartender since 2005

What do you like most about working there?

The sense of family. A place where everyone is welcome.

List some of your favorite moments or shows.

Carbon Silicon and getting to meet and shake hands with Mick Jones. Budos Band. Peelander Z (crazy, fun and gracious.) Thee Water Moccasins (local love). Grant Hart from Husker Du: We had no idea he was in house. He plugged into opening band’s amp, put on a beautiful solo show, then at last-call helped bus tables. A musical madman sweetheart. The People’s Liberation Big Band: Each one of those players has become a friend.

The weirdest or most memorable thing you saw a customer do?

Some customers got engaged in the photo booth, then got married and just had a son: Zack and Christie Brunner and their boy, Otto.

Say a few words about Steve and Shawn.

They are a perfect check and balance for each other. One of the best examples of order/chaos, yin/yang, sane/insane. But they share all those elements equally. It’s an enviable brotherly friendship.

Adam Phillips, bartender since 2005

About 10 years ago I got fired from my job. It was the first and only job I ever had. Applied for it when I was 14. I walked into the RecordBar and waited for Steve Tulipana to finish another conversation before I started.

Steve took a long look at me. He knew me a little and without much effort on my part, he calmed me down and assured me that he could give me some work. Steve: “You’ve bartended before, right?” Me: “No.” Steve: “Oh. Well, you’ve probably bar-backed before though, right?” Me: “No.” Steve: “You’ve paid attention to other bartenders, and you kind of know what to do?” Me: “ … ” Steve: “OK. We’ll just have Tim Whipple show you everything from the ground up. Do you know Tim?” Me: “Yeah, he used to throw me out of the Hurricane. Great guy.” And the rest is history. Ten years later, and they still put me on the schedule.

I love Tim and Shawn and Steve and Kitty and everyone I’ve had the pleasure of working with down there. Too many cool shows to remember. Mick Jones playing with Carbon Silicon was probably the coolest. Getting to see a thousand Bob Walkenhorst shows and a few Danny Cox shows wasn’t a drag either.

Clarence Draper, bartender since 2006

What do you like most about working there?

I like the staff, the regulars and new music every single night. I think that I’ve had some experience with every genre of music at this point.

List some of your favorite moments or shows.

The Ces Cru and Mursday show was amazing! Gardens & Villa was a beautiful experience. Peelander Z’s first show at RecordBar was insane! There was a guy in a … monster suit that was on 10-foot stilts, and the guitar player hung upside down from the ceiling and played a song above the crowd.

The weirdest or most memorable thing you saw a customer do?

There was a naked guy at the Foster the People show. He was kicked out for being disruptive, got naked and jumped the rail outside. He managed to get back inside through the patio door and tried to streak the crowd. He tackled a server and was kicked out again. It was a sold-out show, and half of the staff was outside dealing with him. The police were called, and he went to jail in a Hannibal Lecter-style mask, because he wouldn’t stop cursing and spitting on the cops.

Say a few words about Steve and Shawn.

(Steve) has done a lot for me as a mentor and a friend, and I think he’s one of Kansas City’s true rock stars. Shawn Sherrill really knows his stuff. I’m pretty sure that dude can manage any bar or restaurant. He knows when to let you work and when to crack the whip. I think the best thing about the two of them is how they gave a stage to so many local and national musicians.

Paul Malinowski, musician and soundman since 2005

What have you liked most about working at RecordBar?

I have had the pleasure of working for and with some of my oldest friends.

List some of your favorite moments or shows.

The one that sticks out to me was the secret Phoenix show. And the Shiner show this year, my first time to play a sold-out show at the RecordBar.

The weirdest or most memorable thing you saw a customer do?

The weirdest thing I saw a customer do would have to be the finale of the Squidling Bros. Circus Sideshow when audience members were invited to staple money onto the body of one of the performers.

Say a few words about Steve and Shawn.

Steve and Shawn are two of my oldest, most valued friends, and I have really enjoyed being part of this special place with them.

Kitty Mitchell, bartender/server since 2006

What have you liked most about working at RecordBar?

The people I worked for and the people who came in there. It became a very comfortable place in a short period of time. It felt like home.

List some of your favorite moments or shows.

I saw a lot of shows where I didn’t know the band and then they blew up, like Mumford & Sons and Miike Snow. Mother Mother was a favorite. I ended up loving them.

The weirdest or most memorable thing you saw a customer do?

This Russian band Nuthatch 47 was playing, and there was a table of Russians in the crowd. A guy wanted to buy a bottle of vodka for the table, but we don’t sell by the bottle. He ended up buying like 25 shots at one time. And he tipped me $100.

Say a few words about Steve and Shawn.

They’re great people to work for, and they became my best friends, my family.

Matty Ingle, bartender/server since 2007

What have you liked most about working at RecordBar?

At this point it’s been my home longer than any residency I’ve even lived in. RecordBar is my living room.

List some of your favorite moments or shows.

Sissy Wish, a Norwegian pop artist that I think four people showed up to. It was strangely enjoyable.

The weirdest or most memorable thing you saw a customer do?

I’m not sure anything surprises me with what customers do at this point.

Say a few words about Steve and Shawn.

They gave a weirdo like me a chance and let me thrive. It’s the same thing that they’ve done with musical acts and ideas