Carolyn Mugar Executive Director Farm Aid
August 15, 2011
On behalf of all of us in Hearts of Darkness, I want to thank you once again for your attention and for asking us to contribute to Farm Aid 2011.
As I’m sure you’re aware for local group such as us, being asked to play our music on a national stage in front of such a large audience is a rare and special opportunity. That we were also able to help out a wonderful organization and to share a part of your 26 year legacy is an honor. We are humbled and so thankful to play on the same stage as Farm Aid directors Dave Matthews, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Willie Nelson as well as all of the other amazing artists involved. It was a magical and awesome experience for all of us.
We can only begin to imagine the complicated nature of organizing an event of this magnitude and it was a pleasure working with everyone on the show from the media, hospitality, and especially the production staff. This show was far and away the best-run concert we’ve been involved with.
It is my hope that we were able to pass muster and meet your expectations of a local support act. Any comments, criticisms or suggestions you or your staff might have to help us improve are always welcome.
If there is anything we can do for you in the future, please don’t hesistate to get in touch with me. And if you possibly consider asking us to contribute to Farm Aid in the future, please know that we’re happy to travel anywhere you’d like us to.
Very warmest regards,
Robert Asher Manager Hearts of Darkness
Hearts of Darkness is an sixteen-piece afrobeat, hip-hop, funk, soul collective formed in 2007 in Kansas City, Missouri. The sound is a hybrid beginning from the roots of '70s afrobeat and building off of the traditions of Kansas City big-band jazz as well as American funk and rock with hip-hop on top, the band's sound is as huge and lush as the grooves are deep and tight. The intention has always been to produce an incredible live show that makes good girls dance dirty and bad boys get down. In 2011, the band has opened for the national tours of Huey Lewis and Snoop Dogg, played with Willie Nelson and Neil Young at Farm Aid and also performed at the inaugural Kanrocksas Music Festival. Music reviewer Timothy Finn of the Kansas City Star said of the band, "Even in a big venue like Starlight, they sounded as polished and prepared as a regular touring band." The 'Hearts were voted "Best Jazz Ensemble" in 2011 via the Pitch Weekly Music Awards, and they continue to pack local venues show after show.
The band plays original songs composed by Alex Smith and Jolan Smith with lyrics by Alex, Jolan, Les Izmore and Brandy Gordon while pulling out an occasional tribute to greats like Fela Kuti. The front of the stage is held down by four vocalists, backed up by a six-piece horn section with rhythms established by bass, rhythm guitar and keyboards. Finally, the groove is locked in with a heavy four-piece percussion section featuring african and american instruments. Music writer Bill Brownlee, a contributing reviewer to The Kansas City Star wrote on his blog "Plastic Sax": "Far from a musty academic exercise, the Hearts of Darkness convey the spirit, if not the sound, of Kansas City's heyday. The Hearts of Darkness deserve recognition from the jazz audience because their visceral big band power is the soundtrack to the same exuberant scenes that undoubtedly accompanied the bands of Benny Moten, Harlan Leonard and Count Basie."