Faces of Northeast: Bill McKemy

Bill McKemy lives with his wife, Jo Ellen, and his two sons, Milton and Neil, in the old Fire Station 23 at St. John and Elmwood. He moved to Northeast in 2004.

Prior to moving to Northeast, Bill and Jo Ellen lived in Philadelphia for two years while she was finishing up her master’s degree.
“We really like the diversity and the urban vibe of the neighborhood,” McKemy said. “That’s what we were accustomed to while we were in Philadelphia.”

McKemy is originally from Hardin, Missouri, and went to Truman State where he majored in music.

He later got his master’s degree in music history from the University of Central Missouri.

He worked as the director of education and public programming at the American Jazz Museum from 2014-2017 and is now the assistant director of Jazz studies at Washburn University.

Bill and Jo Ellen both enjoy taking their family out to eat at Taqueria Mexico and ordering Musaletti’s Pizza.

Their new favorite restaurant in the neighborhood is Sone Zeya, which serves Bhutanese food.

“It’s just up the street from us, so we order takeout regularly,” said McKemy.

McKemy is also a professional freelance musician and he plays several instruments, but specifically the upright bass, electric bass, and tuba.

He currently performs with two bands: Relativity Brass, which is a New Orleans-style Brass band with post-James Brown funk influences, and the Bill McKemy Quartet, which plays modern jazz.

“My only hobbies are music and raising kids,” McKemy said, amusingly.

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