This piece was published in the October 2015 issue of the Prep News
The host of many music events, the recordBar in Westport, will be closing. The bar, which has been the venue for some famous bands such as The National and St. Vincent, is closing due to the expiration of the lease. The landlord of the building “has decided he doesn’t want a bar or restaurant in that particular space,” Mr. Steve Tulipana, owner of the recordBar, said.
According to Mr. Tulipana, the bar is looking to move to a different venue but has not found a place as of yet. But the loss does not hamper the good times Mr. Tulipana has experienced throughout the years.
“One of my best memories was seeing The National play a beautiful set to 20 people just before they became international stars. Same thing with St. Vincent,” Mr. Tulipana said. “I’ve also got tons of horrible memories about busted plumbing, clogged drains and broken air conditioners and coolers, but I wouldn’t change any of it.”
But the purpose of the recordBar was not simply to host musical sets that the staff and random visitors would remember. It became a place to exhibit the up and coming talent of the musical scene.
“To be honest, our intention was not to do as much music as we ended up doing,” Mr. Tulipana said. “It kind of snowballed after a few really successful shows. Through our history of being in bands, we had connections to promoters that really opened the door for us.”
And while the some might think a bar would be a dingy, dirty place for degenerates to hang out, the opposite is true. Mr. Tulipana and the recordBar crew have created a connection to local charities, musical schools for youth and community projects.
“We organized a food crawl called The Westend Stampede that benefited Sheperd’s Center’s Meals on Wheels program,” Mr. Tulipana said. “We have close ties with the Midwest Music Foundation that helps musicians with health care needs. We’ve held showcases and fundraisers for Mattie Rhodes Musical Project, School of Rock, Fingerprints Music School and Kansas City Young Audiences, among others.”
The majority of these charities helps the expansion of music and recognition of musical talent in communities that would not otherwise have the resources to achieve their potential. The charities that are not associated with music are geared towards helping members of the community that need support and assistance to live a comfortable life, through Meals on Wheels programs and behaviour treatment centers.
These charities and programs are an example of how the recordBar has had a positive impact, and helped shape, the identity of Kansas City. Yet Mr. Tulipana believes it is hard to say they have shaped Kansas City’s identity “without coming off arrogant.”
As it stands right now, the recordBar does not have a place to call home. And regardless of what good it has done for the community, the future of the venue is uncertain.
“Hopefully that magic building appears,” Mr. Tulipana said. “If not, so be it. We are proud of what we have accomplished.”