Musician Uses Tour to “Set the Record Straight”
You may have seen, heard, or bought from the Maverick Dirt Road Street Team (or MDRST), this week. The group founded by, and promoting, country-rap musician Mikel Knight.
But every time it’s buses and vans visit a town like Joplin, you’re also likely to see this Facebook post from 2014. A former street team member accusing the group of shorting members money for CD sales and beating members for lack of sales. Other posts accuse the group of human trafficking.
“It’s common sense would tell you it’s all been a bunch of lies,” MDRST member Luke Love said. “Otherwise, human trafficking and all the garbage they’ve been posting, but yet we still show up in their town.”
Knight’s manager, Thomi Hariston, says the same accusations follow the tour to every town and cost business opportunities even in Joplin.
“I think that people tend to read what they say on Facebook and take it to be gospel,” Hariston said.
He says the original disgruntled employees posting about the street team will message people on Facebook ahead of the band’s dates. Knight is even suing Facebook for serving as a platform to spread these rumors.
“That’s why we call it the set the record straight tour,” Co-founder of MDRST Brian Mullen said. “This is something that we’ve been battling the last two or three years. But we still come out and put a smile on.”
Mikel Knight’s guerrilla marketing, and viral reputation, has caused many to flood local authorities with calls as the street team arrives to sell CDs and promote Saturday’s show.
“Well we always go out and we have permission, get permission from whatever business we might be on or parking lot,” Mullen said.
The city of Joplin says Mikel Knight’s group has all the paperwork necessary to sell CDs on Memorial Halls parking lot. But in Pittsburg, Galena, and Baxter Springs, KS, they were selling without the proper permits.
“Check it out for [yourself],” Hariston said. “I’m sure [people] won’t be kidnapped or human trafficked. What they’ll get is a wonderful show. With dancers, high energy, and great music.”
Mikel Knight declined to comment on this story. A judge is expected to set a court date for Knight’s Facebook lawsuit within the next month. The concert is Saturday, 8pm, at Memorial Hall.