And now as they say, the rest of the story…
It’s hard to do a major league hit piece on somebody without getting the other side of the story. That’s what one would think, anyway. Yet that’s exactly what the Pitch did recently in barbecuing Kansas City Blues Society president Joe Sherrick.
“The writer did leave me a message and sent me an email,” Sherrick says. “But I knew it was going to be an attack story and I was not going to give him a verbal statement because I know how they can twist verbal statements. And a couple musicians told me that what they told him and what he wrote was twisted.”
Although Sherrick declined to be interviewed, he did respond to Pitch music editor David Hudnall by email four days before the story came out saying, “I have a busy schedule next couple of weeks, but I will get back with you when I have some time available to address this. I invite you to send me a (reminder).”
As far as Sherrick knows, Hudnall and the Pitch decided to rock with their hit piece without further attempts to contact him.
Here’s the bottom line on the Pitch story, there are an infinite number of ways writers can employ somewhat subtly make someone look bad if they want to. And that’s just what Hudnall did to Sherrick.
Making sure readers knew that enemies of Sherrick referred to one of his supporters as a “Joe Ho,” calling freely-elected board members that held a favorable opinion of Sherrick his “cronies” and including pretty much only his critics in the lengthy account.
I mean, the guy’s been elected to the board every year since 2005 in an approximately 600 member organization and the only folks the Pitch could find to go on the record were the ones who wanted to bag on him?
Hudnall even referred to the Blues Society’s web site as a relic of the Clinton presidency, as if somehow that fell solely upon the Sherrick’s shoulders after only two years in office.
“From my conversations with him Joe appears to be a straight shooter,” says Blues Society co-founder Roger Naber. “Under every new guard comes a whole new set of ideas and everybody wants to change things. And in the (recent past), they changed things for the worst. And Joe walked into a mess when he became president. He walked into an absolute mess.”
Knuckleheads owner Frank Hicks is also sympathetic to Sherrick’s plight. And like Naber, his views were nowhere to be found in the Pitch piece.
Of course Hicks only runs the top blues club in Kansas City, why bother to get his two cents?
“Everybody’s upset because Joe’s trying to change things,” Hicks says. “The biggest problem I see with the Blues Society is it’s not run like a business. Everybody’s on a volunteer basis and you can’t fire them and when you try, they get pissed. I think Joe’s a good guy but everybody’s fighting him like hell.”
“Everybody” being primarily around eight longtime members, Sherrick estimates.
“I only took over as president in 2011,” Sherrick says. “And I said, this is a corporation and it needs to be run like a corporation and I wanted accountability.”
Accountability for monies taken in, for not writing newsletter puff pieces about bands that staffers play in and/or are ultra close to and returning the good name to an organization that lost its non profit status three times in 10 years prior to Sherrick’s presidency for not filing its taxes.
“I felt like in general that the Blues Society had lost a lot of its credibility,” Sherrick says. “And that ruffled a lot of feathers…To make a long story short, I wanted the Blues Society to be an organization that represented the music community here in Kansas City and for it to be financially sound again and return Kansas City to a destination place for music on the national scene.
“The blues festival had been gone for 10 years and last year we put it on again at Kaw Point Park in Kansas City, Kansas. And we’re putting it on there again this year on September 21st.
“When I was (first) on the board, I didn’t even know there were bylaws until my last year,” Sherrick continues. “And several of the officers would show up to meetings and events drunk and get up before the audience so drunk they were slurring their words and using profanities. But they’re all gone now.
“And the president and the vice-president came to me in 2010 and asked me if I would run for president and I said, no. And it was Frank Hicks and my wife and several other people came to me and said, ‘Joe, if you don’t run the Blues Society is doomed.’ So I decided to run for the board and they picked me as president.
“And I said, ‘Let’s not run this like a lemonade stand anymore. Let’s run this as a business.’ Everybody then wanted to go out and party but nobody wanted to work or they half-assed it. We had people getting the magazine that were no longer members in the society and people running ads that were never billed. Everything was in total disarray and there was no accountability. And (one board member) said, ‘Well, you’re taking all the fun out of it.’ And my response was, when you’re on the board of directors the fun stops. You take care of your responsibilities and then you can go out and party.”
Funny how none of that made it into the Pitch piece.