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Britt Adair, a force in Kansas City’s music scene, gave women a new way to be punk

Britt Adair founded the band, "The Bad Ideas" with three other musicians, and the band quickly gained a following in the Kansas City area.
Courtesy of Britt Adair's instagram
Britt Adair founded the band, "The Bad Ideas" with three other musicians, and the band quickly gained a following in the Kansas City area.

Britt Adair, a Kansas City punk musician, died suddenly May 1. As the Kansas City music community grapples with her death, musicians close to her shared what drew so many people to Adair and how much she cared for her community.

Britt Adair, a guitarist and backbone of Kansas City’s punk and music scene, died Monday after a pulmonary embolism. Adair was one of three women who founded The Bad Ideas and was a staple at Josey Records in the Crossroads.

“Britt was an integral part of the Kansas City punk rock scene,” said Billy Guilfoyle, a local musician. “She reminded me of a female Joey Ramone. Her playing reminded me somewhat of East Bay Ray from the Dead Kennedys. When she was a ripper, she really rocked.”

Guilfoyle said just as she did in life, Adair’s death deeply affected people across the country. As the news of her death spread, Adair’s Facebook page was flooded with condolences and memories people shared with her.

A concert tonight in Chicago with the bands Midwestlust, Hirs Collective, Foehammer and Stolen will be played in Adair’s honor.

Fally Afani, journalist and communication coordinator for the University of Kansas School of Music, said Adair connected punk communities throughout the Midwest, especially Lawrence and Kansas City. Afani said Adair won people over with her “charmingly goofy” demeanor and the way she made every show fun.

“When you're a woman and you're really into punk rock — it's not this case anymore, but it used to be — you had to … kind of downplay your lady-ness,” Afani said. “Britt was very unapologetically feminine. She had the hot pink Chucks on all the time and she was staggeringly tall so you couldn't ignore her. She really kind of burst in with this presence that you couldn't turn your eyes away from and it made it a lot easier for a lot more women to kind of come out and be confident in the punk and music scene.”

Michelle Bacon, content and database manager for 90.9 The Bridge, said the posts on social media, as well as the texts between friends who knew Adair, demonstrated how deeply the musician connected with people.

“The whole punk ethos, DIY ethos, is about making those connections, establishing that kind of community and kind of just organizing through music and that whole idea of self-expression,” Bacon said. “Britt really encapsulated that more than most folks in this town.”

Theresa Scott, a musician in the bands Pamper the Madman and The Utilitarians, said Adair represented what new punk was all about – standing up for what is right while also supporting your community. Adair was fearless in her protest songs but also in her love for her bandmates and friends.

“She really didn't care what anyone thought of her,” Scott said. “But in that freedom was this capacity to care so much about everyone. She was a joy, a light and such a supporter for women that rocked — and she really did rock so hard.”

Funeral and memorial services are still being planned. Josey Records, where Adair worked, closed after Adair’s death but has reopened May 4 and set up a memory wall in the store in her honor. A GoFundMe has been started by the Josey Records staff and The Bad Ideas to help Adair’s husband, Christian LaBeau, with expenses he’s facing after her death.

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