Kansas City band Flannigan's Right Hook comforts hospice patients through music

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A local band that travels across the country to entertain crowds has discovered there is a different kind of audience to play for here in Kansas City.
        
The musicians who make up Flannigan's Right Hook call their style "blue-grassical". They've play in bars and music venues for almost 10 years.
      
The band gives crowds a one-two punch of pure happiness.

But none more than to the new crowd they've been performing for at south Kansas City's Hospice and Palliative Care, a place where most come to live out their last days with dignity.

For those patients, the music provides an escape.

Guitarist Cameron Russell said the group is so joyful, they entertain him right back.

Russell and Shane Borth recently performed a version of the Beatles' "Black Bird" for one patient, who clapped her hands from her bed.

"That's why I keep coming back," Russell said.

His father died at the hospice, in Room 10. It was the first room the staff assigned him to eventually to play music for a patient.      

"I was shaking when they said the first room on the list is Room 10. You've got to be kidding me," Russell reflected. "I had spent an awful lot of time in there."

He praised the staff at Kansas City Hospice House.

"Under these circumstances, every day, it takes a really special person," he said. "I thought when I was home with all the grieving and the whole process, I thought I'm definitely going to come back and play."

Therapists say music can have some of same effects as medicine, easing paid and anxiety. When all other means of communication shut down, experts say people respond to music.
       
"We played for a patient who was not really aware of what was going on, and you could see the breathing pattern change right away," Borth said. "He couldn't see us, but he could hear us."

Russell said he believes his dad is hearing the music, too.

"He'd be very proud," he said with a smile.

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