Down for a long time, but never out.
That’s a short version of the long story behind the Kansas City, Kan., Street Blues Festival, a small-scale but big-hearted celebration that’s making an unexpected comeback Friday and Saturday, June 24 and 25..
How unexpected is it? This “almost annual” festival hasn’t been held since 2009. The original intention was to hold a simple sort of block party, and back in the aughts it was held successfully in several locations, starting on Third Street. But attempts to keep it going were derailed by changes in the law regarding the consumption of alcohol on streets or sidewalks.
This year, the matter is settled (everyone hopes) by moving the festival to private property and obtaining a special-use permit from the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan.
So it’s on, thanks to landowner and music fan Frank Lavender and the tireless efforts of festival organizer Dawayne Gilley and his many friends.
The Street Blues Festival is no longer literally held in the street, but the spirit and intent are exactly the same.
The event starts at 3 p.m. Friday with a tribute to local blues giant Little Hatch, led by John Paul Drum and Diane “Mama” Ray and featuring a long list of Hatch friends. Then at 6:20 p.m., it’s the Millage Gilbert Down Home Blues Band with guests. The night winds up with a DJ from 8 p.m. until whenever.
Saturday’s lineup has Danny Cox at noon, D.C. Bellamy at 1:30 p.m., Ida McBeth at 2:50 p.m., Bill Carter at 4:10 p.m., and a long Living Heritage Tribute Show and Celebration jam starting at 5:30 p.m., featuring the festival’s king and queen, guitarist and singer KC Kelsey Hill and singer Linda Shell, who have been waiting since 2010 to reign over this festival. Again, there’s a DJ from 8 p.m. onward.
Admission to the festival is $10. The site is Lavender’s Circle L Ranch, at 3924 N. 49th Drive in Kansas City, Kan., west of the old Quindaro site. (Turn north onto 49th Drive from Leavenworth Road.)
Bring a lawn chair or a blanket, bring a cooler. There will be food vendors at the site. But be ready to dance. This is potentially the Kansas City comeback of the year.
▪ Trumpeter and composer Dave Scott is back in the region for a spell, and the Westport CoffeeHouse Theater, 4010 Pennsylvania Ave., has got him. He’s assembled a quartet with vibraphonist Peter Schlamb, bassist Bob Bowman and drummer Marty Morrison, playing mainly originals by Scott. They perform at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Come back Thursday for trumpeter Nate Nall’s quintet at 8 p.m.
▪ The Blue Room, 1600 E. 18th St., has the Jazz Disciples running the Monday jam at 7 p.m. The Kansas City Latin Jazz All-Stars perform at 7 p.m. Thursday. It’s the Kansas City Divas at 8:30 p.m. Friday. Bassist Tyrone Clark and his True Dig band perform at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.
▪ The Green Lady Lounge, 1809 Grand Blvd., has pianist Roger Wilder’s trio at 6 p.m. Sunday, followed by drummer Todd Strait’s trio at 9:30 p.m.; trumpeter Ryan Thielman’s quartet at 6 p.m. Monday, followed by Strait’s trio at 10:30 p.m.; the group Dojo at 7 p.m. Tuesday, followed by the Sequel Quartet at 10:30 p.m.; trumpeter Stan Kessler’s trio at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, followed by organist Ken Lovern’s OJT at 9 p.m.; guitarist Matt Hopper’s trio at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, followed by saxophonist Brett Jackson’s quartet at 9 p.m.; saxophonist Todd Wilkinson’s trio at 5:30 p.m. Friday, followed by Guitar Elation at 8:30 p.m. and organist Chris Hazelton’s Boogaloo 7 at 10 p.m.; and singer Molly Hammer at 2 p.m. Saturday, followed by OJT at 6 p.m. and Peter Schlamb’s Electric Tinks at 9 p.m.
Joe Klopus, 816-234-4751