‘No playlist’ list at two popular Westport bars stirs controversy

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There is a controversy exploding on social media regarding the music playlist at two popular Westport bars.

There are 12 artists and 29 songs on the “No Playlist” at Johnny Kaws and Johnny Kaws Yard Bar. The vast majority are African American and that has some people questioning why.

“It is not black music, it is white, black, green, from mars, it is a loved genera of music,” Joshua Hudspeth said.

Hudspeth posted the “No Playlist” list on his Facebook page. Over 500 comments and 325 shares later, it went viral.

“I wasn’t upset,” Hudspeth said. “I was a little emotional about it because this is something I heard was going on inside his establishments for a few months now so I just wanted to put it out there that this is what is going on for all to see.”

Hudspeth said he has been around Westport for 15 years. He lived there, went to Westport High School and parties there but does not feel very welcome anymore after seeing the list which includes artists like Fetty Whap, Lil Wayne and Travis Scott. Also songs like Cardi B’s Money and Nonstop by Drake.

“I am looking to find out why, that is it. I did not bring up race or anything of that nature. It was me feeling a certain type of way as a black man,” Hudspeth said. “Again, I am not trying to bring up race even though I said black man, I want to know why. Because it is fishy.”

Brett Allred who owns Johnny Kaws sports bars said the music guidelines fit their concept as do all nightlife establishments.

Allred said, “I would estimate 70 percent of the music we play in Westport is by African American artists and the majority of our customers are African American. We do not play artists or songs that contain profanity or sing about drugs or violence.”

“Should someone who owns a business be able to decide whatever music they want to play in their establishment?” asked FOX4’s Shannon O’Brien of Hudspeth.

“Absolutely. I totally agree with that. But as a business owner when you have businesses in an area that is diverse it feels like you are trying to push out a certain group of people and that is not right.”

According to Johnny Kaws music format list, 70 percent of the music format at the bar is top 100, pop or hip hop, clean, upbeat, above 90 BPM on average.

Country, classic rock, sing alongs, throwbacks and old school hip hop round out the other 30 percent.

It also states there should never be more than four consecutive hip hop songs played in a row and every fourth song should be a classic rock, sing along or country song.

To address his customers, Allred posted this statement on the front doors of his Westport bars.

“Johnny Kaw’s and Johnny Kaw’s Yard Bar are sports bars. We have music guidelines that fit our concept as do all nightlife establishments. We choose to play primarily top 100 pop / hip-hop, country and classic rock songs that are profanity free, upbeat and above 90 beats per minute on average. We employ over 200 people of all backgrounds and demographics. We strive to create safe, fun and welcoming environments. Everyone is welcome here, but we don’t take music requests.”

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