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KC concerts May 4-9: De La Soul, Casting Crowns, Merle Jam, John Paul White

Sara Morgan will perform Friday, May 5, as part of the two-night Merle Jam at Knuckleheads.
Sara Morgan will perform Friday, May 5, as part of the two-night Merle Jam at Knuckleheads. .

Ink’s Middle of the Map Fest

Thursday, May 4, through Saturday, May 6

De La Soul vowed that three is “the magic number” on its game-changing 1990 debut album. The seventh edition of Ink’s Middle of the Map Fest offers three enchanted days of carefully curated music. De La Soul (10:05 p.m. Saturday at Crossroads KC ) tops a discerning lineup of hip-hop and R&B. Anna Wise, a Grammy-winning Kendrick Lamar collaborator (7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Madrid Theatre), is part of a slate of party-oriented dance music. The garage-rock band Momma’s Boy (7 p.m. Friday at Mills Record Co.) is among the dozens of locally based ensembles also participating in the spellbinding festival.

Thursday, May 4; Friday, May 5; and Saturday, May 6. Multiple venues. 800-653-8000. Three-day festival passes are $75-$125. Single day passes for Thursday at $20 in advance. Single day passes for Friday and Saturday are $35-$65 in advance.

Casting Crowns

Thursday, May 4, at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena

The members of Casting Crowns often find themselves in the exclusive company of pop stars. Later this month, the band may win an award at the same event that’s likely to be dominated by the likes of Rihanna. Casting Crown’s latest album, “The Very Next Thing,” has been nominated for top Christian album at the Billboard Music Awards. While the group is devoted to spiritual concerns, its songs are often as memorable as the output of their secular counterparts. With Danny Gokey and Unspoken.

7 p.m. Thursday, May 4. Silverstein Eye Centers Arena. 800-653-8000. $33-$63 in advance.

Booker T. Jones

Thursday, May 4, at the Lied Center

Some people receive a watch from their grateful employers when they retire. Bernadette Gray-Little gets a concert by a legend of American music. Booker T. Jones, the leader of the monumental Memphis band Booker T. and the M.G.s, will perform a free concert designed to commemorate the contributions Gray-Little has made as the chancellor of the University of Kansas. Jones is likely to revive his seminal soul classics, including “Green Onions” and “Hip Hug-Her,” at the celebration.

7 p.m. Thursday, May 4. Lied Center. 785-864-2787. Free, but tickets are required.

Garth Brooks

Friday, May 5, through Saturday, May 13, at the Sprint Center

Garth Brooks ensured that he would forever be linked with the Sprint Center when he played nine sold-out concerts at the arena shortly after it opened in 2007. He’s marking the 10th anniversary of the feat with seven concerts at the downtown venue. Acknowledging the sustained demand for tickets, the country star tweeted that “this might be bigger than the last time.” His recent set lists include a pleasing mix of covers of classic rock and country material as well as enduring original songs like “Friends in Low Places.” With Trisha Yearwood.

7 p.m. Friday, May 5, 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 6, 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, May 7, 7 p.m. Friday, May 12, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 13. Sprint Center. 816-949-7100. $74.98 in advance.

Merle Jam

Friday, May 5, and Saturday, May 6, at Knuckleheads

Merle Jam, a fundraiser for organ donation awareness, is an annual tradition at Knuckleheads. Named for former employee and organ recipient Merle Zuel, the 2017 edition features the country sounds of Sara Morgan, Outlaw Jim & the Whiskey Benders and Elise Davis on Friday and a lively mix of blues, roots-rock and Cajun music by Ian Moore, Chubby Carrier, the Amanda Fish Band, the Kirk Brown Band, the Santiago Brothers and Kris Lager on Saturday.

8:30 p.m. Friday, May 5, 7 p.m. Saturday, May 6. Knuckleheads. 816-483-1456. $12.50 in advance Friday, $20 in advance Saturday.


Friday, May 5, at Knuckleheads

X has always seemed like a band that was destined to self-destruct. Perilously furious and constantly on the verge of going off the rails, the punk quartet displayed a nihilistic indifference to danger when it emerged from Los Angeles. Songs like “Johnny Hit and Run Paulene” and “The Once Over Twice” documented lives consumed by sex, drugs and violence. Against all odds, all four original members — D.J. Bonebrake, Exene Cervenka, John Doe and Billy Zoom — have embarked on X’s 40th anniversary tour.

9 p.m. Friday, May 5. Knuckleheads. 816-483-1456. $32.50 in advance.

Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo

Friday, May 5, at Starlight Theatre

Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo are no strangers to area stages. Even though spouses seem to live on the road, they have plenty of admirers in Kansas City. The grace with which Benatar and Giraldo revive their classic rock hits explains the devotion of their fans. The duo’s easy rapport between renditions of old favorites like “Love Is a Battlefield,” “Promises in the Dark” and “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” assure repeat business. With Rick Springfield.

7:30 p.m. Friday, May 5. Starlight Theatre. 816-363-7827. $25-$125 in advance.

Wrekmeister Harmonies

Saturday, May 6, Riot Room

Wrekmeister Harmonies will concoct difficult music for difficult times at the Riot Room on Saturday. The Chicago-based collective works in the noisy tradition of experimental groups like Sonic Youth, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and Godspeed You Black Emperor. Overseen by art world luminary J.R. Robinson and featuring violinist Esther Shaw, Wrekmeister Harmonies’ most recent album, “Light Falls,” is based on author Primo Levi’s firsthand account of the Holocaust.

8 p.m. Saturday, May 6. Riot Room. 816-442-8179. $10 in advance.

John Paul White

Monday, May 8, at Knuckleheads

John Paul White has added a welcome splash of glamor to the often-homely realm of Americana music. The genre’s fans tend to place a premium on rootsy authenticity. Since rising to fame as half of the smoldering duo the Civil Wars, however, White has unintentionally cultivated a fan base that is just as smitten by his looks as by his thoughtful folk-rock. This show was postponed from January.

7 p.m. Monday, May 8. Knuckleheads. 816-483-1456. $19.50 in advance.

The 1975

Tuesday, May 9, at Starlight Theatre

The members of The 1975 are wolves in sheep’s clothing. The British band’s brand of giddy pop may seem harmless, but the quartet’s repertoire is deceptively subversive. Lurking underneath the glimmering surface sheen of the 1975’s music is the dark heart of a menacing art band. Much like their obvious antecedent Duran Duran, The 1975 introduces young admirers to slyly seditious funk conceived by American bands like Chic and the Isley Brothers.

7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 9. Starlight Theatre. 816-363-7827. $35-$55 in advance.

Tears for Fears

Tuesday, May 9, at the Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland

Unlike a few of their contemporaries who were also in heavy rotation in the heyday of MTV in the 1980s, Tears for Fears has aged exceedingly well. There’s nothing campy about the group’s sophisticated music. Tears for Fears hits including “Mad World” have become modern-day standards. The British duo may acknowledge their special connection to the area on Tuesday. After “discovering” Oleta Adams on a Kansas City tour stop, their work with the vocalist made Adams a star.

8 p.m. Tuesday, May 9. Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland. 816-283-9921. $35-$99.50 in advance.

David George

Tuesday, May 9, at RecordBar

David George will mark the release of the first of three EPs he intends to put out in 2017 at RecordBar on Tuesday. “Here I Go Again” contains five deeply personal songs that document the heartfelt songwriting of the former leader of the Kansas City band Moaning Lisa and the one-time sideman of rock legend John Fogerty. Erik Voeks, David Luther and a string ensemble composed of Shawnee Mission North students will accompany George. With the Country Duo.

7 p.m. Tuesday, May 9. RecordBar. 816-753-5207. $20 advance come with a CD and T-shirt. $10 door charge without CD or T-shirt.