‘Super-duper folk-y’ music coming to Moundridge

Local musician Nikki Moddelmog to perform Labor Day Weekend concert

MOUNDRIDGE, Kan. — Though Labor Day celebrates America’s labor force by giving them a day off, musician Nikki Moddelmog plans to be working that weekend.

Playing a mix of covers and original folk music, Moddelmog will perform with Dennis Hardin and Susan Mayo in Moundridge for the Moundridge Arts Council’s free Labor Day concert.

The trio, called Moddelmog and Hardin with a Side of Mayo, will take the stage at 7 p.m. on Sept. 3. The concert will be held at Cloud Nine Venue, located at 205 Avenue A. in Moundridge.

Moddelmog is looking forward to the show, which will feature Hardin singing and playing mandolin along with Mayo performing on the cello.

“We’ve got a whole set with all three of us, but I’m also going to break off and do some stuff with just Dennis and then also some stuff with just Susan,” she said. “It will be a little variety. 

Performing in Moundridge is a bit of a homecoming for Moddelmog, who grew up in the community as the daughter of Bob and Delonna Barnett. 

Moddelmog started singing in the Eden Mennonite Church and the Moundridge High School choirs. Still, she didn’t start pursuing music and performing seriously until after college when she moved to Wichita.

“I started fresh in Wichita and met some friends who played guitar and sang, so I thought, ‘Hey, I’ll give this a try.’ And it turns out it was a lot of fun,” she said.

For Moddelmog, writing music served as a form of therapy that helped her through hard times, and the more she played her guitar, the better she got at it.

“That’s the magic of a guitar player,” she said. “The more you play, the better you get, so I just kept doing it and kept singing and here we are 20 years later still doing it. It’s crazy.”

Of course, her timing was good, too.

“I was a female singer-songwriter in the Wichita scene, and there weren’t very many of us. So I was a unicorn a little bit at the time,” she said. “Now they’re all over the place, and it’s fantastic. I love seeing that.”

Moddelmog’s first public performance took place at The Artichoke Sandwhichbar in Wichita.

“About every three months I’ll play there,” she said. “It feels like home.”

It’s also a small space, which Moddelmog prefers. 

“I have done some big shows, and I was just scared out of my wits and went on autopilot,” she said. “The intimate venues are my favorite. I tend to open up a little bit more when I can see people that I’m looking at. The shows that get too big, where you can’t see who you’re even looking at, that’s not my jam.”

That’s why Moddelmog said The Artichoke is her favorite place to play, but she also makes appearances at Three Rings Brewery in McPherson.

Typically, Moddelmog performs two or three shows every three months. She used to perform more often, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced her to slow down.

“I just have slowly, but surely, downgraded and don’t play nearly as much, which is great by me,” she said. “Once I got that break at COVID, I was just like, ‘Wow, this is really nice.’ I love music, but my gigs do not pay the electric bill. So I just decided to pull back and enjoy the performances and treat them as fun things that I happen to get a few extra dollars of cash for.”

For her day job, Moddelmog works as a massage therapist, and, in her spare time, she enjoys pizza and Thai food, works in her garden, and hangs out with her dog Henry.

“I’ve been having trouble getting jump stared back after COVID,” she said. “I want to keep my chops up, so I’m still playing gigs and stuff. But I’m not writing as much anymore. I do a lot of covers. I tend to cover old-school Van Morrison and Bob Dylan and Bonnie Raitt.”

Such performers, along with other folk musicians, are what inspire Moddelmog’s own music.

“I love all music, so everything’s an influence I guess,” she said. “But as far as my own songs go, they’re super-duper folk-y.”

As for her Moundridge performance, Moddelmog is looking forward to playing at an intimate venue in her hometown, especially if she gets to see some familiar faces.

“The smaller shows are the most fun,” she said.

For more information about Moddelmog, visit https://www.nikkimoddelmog.com/ or find her on iTunes or Spotify.

The Moundridge Arts Council is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to assist area residents of all ages in understanding and appreciating the arts, to provide public art for citizens to enjoy through performing arts, visual arts, and literature, and to offer opportunities for continued learning and involvement through workshops, lectures, programs, concerts, exhibitions, and other activities. To learn more, visit http://moundridgearts.org/.

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Todd R. Vogts, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of media at Sterling College in Kansas. Previously, he taught yearbook, newspaper, newsmagazine, and online journalism in various Kansas high schools, and he ran a weekly newspaper in rural Kansas. He continues to freelance as a professional journalist from time to time. Also, Vogts is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), the Journalism Education Association (JEA), and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), among others. He earned his Master Journalism Educator (MJE) certification from JEA in 2022. When he’s not teaching or writing, he runs his mobile disk jockey service and takes part in other entrepreneurial ventures. He can be reached at twitter.com/toddvogts or via his website at www.toddvogts.com.