A Musical Life

KMUW's Jedd Beaudoin interviews Wichitans who live a musical life... as a full-time vocation or a part-time passion.

A Musical Life is also available through iTunes.

Scott Oakes is principal bassoonist with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra. He also serves as Senior Systems Administrator at Juniper Payments LLC, a banking services provider.

“If you’re looking toward the middle or the back of the middle of the orchestra, you’ll see a bassoon. The bassoon is the lowest voice of the woodwind choir, so you’ll hear us often playing things that really sound like a bassline. A lot of the orchestral music of Brahms or Beethoven, you’ll hear us playing a lot of little melodic lines and then, every now and then, a short little melodic solo.

Lauren Hirsch is a percussionist and music educator in the Wichita area. She serves as the Executive Director of the Organization of American Kodaly Educators. Hirsch is also known for her work with the band Sun and Stone.

“The Kodaly organization is something I’ve been involved with here on a local level as long as I’ve been teaching. Our goal is to expand the way that music is taught so that every human in America and then throughout the world considers themselves to be a literate musician and can make music with anyone.

Ted Farha plays mandolin with Pop & The Boys as well as Haymakers.

“I picked up mandolin when I was 27-years-old. I actually had seen the movie King of the Gypsies with music by David Grisman and Stephane Grappelli. The gypsy music in it just caught me. I found the record and fell in love with music. A neighbor had a mandolin and I borrowed it and started taking lessons at E.M. Shorts.

I started learning fiddle tunes and bluegrass songs and then I met Richard Crowson at a jam and he invited me to join a band.

Ken White is primarily known as a guitarist, though he plays mandolin and banjo as well. His regular gig is with The Cherokee Maidens, though he is also a member of Nouveau Quintet.

“I would say that I prepared myself to be a sideman. That meant a lot of things: Being prepared to improvise in any musical style, any musical instrument. I really made a point of trying to serve the song and the singer, so anytime I got a call I never really knew exactly what I was stepping into but I felt like I had something to add. That’s kind of what I worked on.

Piper Lou-Reneé is a singer-songwriter based in Hutchinson, Kansas, who has released several albums, including 2016’s Regards, Girl.  

Jessica Martin

In 2013, Aaron Lee Martin left for a most unusual recording session. Martin's friend and fellow musician Danny Brewer had a cabin in the remote woods of northern Georgia. He wanted to know if Martin had any interest in making a record using solar power.

Heidi Cruz

Helen Cruz serves as bassist and vocalist in Mystery Blood alongside Matthew Clagg and Mason Monigold. She is a graduate of Wichita State University where she studied geology. She can be heard on Mystery Blood’s High On Death LP.

“I started experimenting with the banjo at first and was just teaching myself. Matthew Clagg asked me to be in one of his side projects. They were going record and they only had a month to find a bass player. They talked to me, I agreed and then I learned all these songs for the record. That’s how I started playing bass.

Zac Harrington is a Wichita-based soundman and musician whose credits include work with Sun & Stone, Weather Vain and Big Red Horse.

Hugo Phan / KMUW

Frank Bravo is a Wichita music scene veteran who currently performs as a solo artist in Dreamverb and is a member of the band Zone Ender. He reunites annually with the band Bellafonte.

“I think of my flaws. I figured that that’s the best part to get out of myself. If I’m OK with talking about them and just playing unequipped that maybe for those moments I could not plagiarize myself.

Mike Briley

Jamie Briggeman is the lead vocalist for Herd of the Huntress, a band she formed with her husband, Garrett. She has previously performed with bands such as Ivy and The Dewayn Brothers.

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