BELONGING

Hello Neighbor: From the app to the spotlight, the story of a KC musician

By

Alicia Briggs

– VOL. 14

Our “Hello Neighbor!” series is an ongoing collection of short stories from the heart of our neighborhoods and the people who make them home.

As told by Jansen Wooton in Kansas City

During the pandemic, I had gotten used to spending time alone. The lifestyle I was living didn’t provide me with a lot of interaction with people, and I wasn’t putting myself in social situations. I live in an apartment with Mac Properties in Kansas City, and they’ve been pretty good about promoting the Venn app. So I decided to download it and see what it was all about. 

I’m not very active on it, or social media in general, but one day I went to a Venn Open Mic Night. I was drawing and a neighbor came up to me and said, “Hey, you should join the Mac Artists Interests Group.” I’m a musician, and there were other musicians in the group, so I joined. 

For some background, a few years ago, I started a band with some friends called The Chunk. The three of us all met playing on the University of Kansas DrumLine in 2014. It took us two years to say “Hey, we play instruments, we should jam sometime.” 

We started out doing house parties and playing covers, and naturally, we started writing our own music. We played open mic nights and now we play different venues and shows, like First Fridays, here in Kansas City. 

Playing Chunk shows is my favorite thing to do, I call it Chunk Therapy. You get a lot of frustrations out when you get to scream into a microphone. I don’t plan on pursuing music professionally, but I want to go as far as I can while still maintaining artistic integrity. I like creating music because I enjoy it.

Recently, The Chunk released our first album which is pretty cool. I decided to post it in the Venn Artists Group and said, “Hey, this is a big accomplishment for me. If you want to check it out, that would be awesome.”

Image of Jansen Wooten local kansas city musician

Then Sarah, our Neighborhood Manager in Kansas City, reached out to me and asked if I wanted to have a release show party at The Arcade. I filled out the form and was shocked at how easy it was. I wasn’t exactly prepared to plan an event, but it’s been pretty smooth and everyone at Venn has been really cool to work with. 

I was talking with Amanda, another Neighborhood Manager, about who would run sound during the event. She was suggesting her fiance, and it turns out he’s someone I know from college. We even wrote a song about him! It’s so cool to make that connection. 

After talking to him about how we would run sound, we realized it wouldn’t be possible for The Chunk to play in this space because we are really loud. We decided to turn this event into a solo performance. It’s going to be a lot better for the vibe of the space—it’ll be like an MTV Unplugged thing. I’ll have a stool and a couch and it’ll be chill. 

My solo stuff has a lot of instrumental, finger-picking kind of stuff. It’s experimental. I like to come up with new concepts and try to do things that not everybody is doing. This will be my first time playing for my Venn neighbors, so I’m excited. They are even sponsoring some drinks, which is great for everybody.

Venn has truly had an impact on my social life. I’m making new friends and saying hi to new people. It’s nice having these shared spaces available. The other day I went to the Arcade just to write a song because it’s just a great space to hang out in. 

I didn’t realize before how important social interaction is for your mental health. I’m remembering that it’s important to get back out there and interact with other people. Venn helps me do that.