In a small, Midtown Kansas City room brimming with musicians and their instruments, Allen Monroe peers over his 1963 Hammond B-3 organ at a handful of onlookers.
A toothpick concealed by a thick grey mustache emerges as he smiles, preparing to deliver a gentle jab to the artists around him.
“Remember, you don’t have to be crazy to be a musician,” the 71-year-old organist said. “But it helps.”
Monroe is but one of the colorful and talented performers that grace The Jam KC, a new collaborative space for musicians at 21 W. Linwood Blvd. The latest iteration of coworking spaces in Kansas City, the Jam KC offers a subscription model to artists from across the city who need a creative space to get loud and jam with other musicians.
Located within historic Drexel Hall, four rooms totaling about 2,000 square feet offer studios and workspace. Musicians can either book space online or show up and hop in one or a series of ongoing improvisational jams. All genres — from country and jazz to hip-hop and soul — are welcome and have made appearances, co-founder Trey Debose said.
It’s like a gym for musicians, Debose said. But instead of barbells, an arsenal of musical tools — amps, vintage instruments, microphones, drums and recording equipment — await creators seeking a community.
“Musicians can come here, play, perform, work, write, create or whatever they’re feeling,” said Debose who plays 37 instruments, ranging from guitar to harmonica to saxophone. “Whether they play at their homes, apartments, condos where they can’t get loud or turn up, the Jam Kansas City is perfect for that.”
In addition to deepening the historical music roots of Kansas City, Debose said he hopes the Jam KC will foster new collaborations and relationships among area musicians. Members vary from an 8-year-old trumpet player to the 71-year-old Monroe.
The Jam KC hopes to cultivate artists’ talents as much as the musical community, Debose added.
“A lot of times collisions happen among the different musicians happen because they’re in the same spot,” he said. “I hope this grows into a place where every musician knows they’re welcome to come. … When the big stars are done playing in Kansas City, I want them to say ‘We’ve got to go play at the Jam KC.’ I want this to become the thing in the ecosystem that’s being shared and helping people to learn.”