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To get so far so young, Peters and Shafer had to have some business savvy. They knew enough to put together a professional-looking press kit to send to newspapers and to set up their own Web site and MySpace pages to attract people to their music.
They figured the effort was paying off when they got an e-mail from a New York company called 721 Productions.
By then, Shafer was in his freshman year at Columbia College in Chicago, where he studies marketing and communications while taking courses in music business. Peters had left Columbia College and returned to Kansas City after his father, Kansas City Symphony bassist Steven Peters, was murdered in a botched robbery. (Steven Peters' killer received a 25-year prison sentence last year.)
721 Productions asked Peters and Shafer to send their press kit and some music samples, plus a registration fee of $20, to be considered for future 721 projects. Shafer and Peters did so, and on December 15, 2005, they received a letter in the mail.
According to the letter, Anti-Crew had been chosen to join 721 Productions' "Tour 2005/2006" lineup; nationally famous rap acts Styles P, Mobb Deep, Fat Joe and Redman would also be on the tour. For $1,000, the letter promised, Anti-Crew could join the performers on a five-city leg. The money would pay for transportation, hotel rooms, plugs on urban radio stations, and promotion on fliers and posters.
Shafer researched the company the best way he knew how: He Googled it. His Web search found several small newspaper stories about 721-sponsored shows in the New York area. The invitation letter included the company's address and phone number as well as information on refunds.
Peters and Shafer sent their money.
About a month later, they got a packet and chose a list of dates when they'd be available. Then they started talking on the phone with people at 721. They learned that Ludacris had been added to the tour.
"I was in steady contact with them, and they had answers to everything," Shafer recalls. "They would even call me on occasion."
But on February 15, 2006, Shafer and Peters received an e-mail.
"Our staff at 721 Productions have made a unanimous decision to cancel this year's Tour 2006 Season due to a sudden death in our staff in early January 2006," it read. "We lost our Financial Coordinator and Sponsor Correspondent and as a result we will begin reorganizing and changing the structure of our endeavors beginning April 1st 2006."
The letter explained how refunds could be obtained for a period of 180 days and included an e-mail address and a phone number to contact with questions. Shafer and Peters followed the instructions but have yet to receive their money.
"What's kind of embarrassing, too, is that it was money we made from our album sales," Shafer says of their $1,000. He says he can't get anyone from 721 Productions to return his calls.
No one from 721 returned The Pitch's call, either.
Shafer says he and Peters have consulted an entertainment lawyer to decide what to do next. But the company is in New York, Shafer and Peters are in Illinois, and their music keeps them busy.
"This really humbled me," Shafer says. "Nobody should ever pay to play. We don't charge plumbers to fix our water pipes, so why charge artists to play music?"
Until September, Club Kandi was located in a low-profile building between abandoned-looking storefronts advertising Black Cat fireworks in the industrial West Bottoms.
Not every night was poppin' there, but when touring acts came through — Club Kandi booked the Youngbloodz, Slim Thug, E-40 and Trina in 2006 — the place was packed with smoke, bass and people out to see and be seen. Cars with spinning rims and custom paint jobs lined North James Street.