Since its inception in 2005, the Crossroads Music Fest has evolved and adapted.
In 2014, the festival’s founder, Bill Sundahl, was hired as events coordinator for community radio station KKFI (90.1 FM), bringing with him a few of the events he had started under Spice of Life Productions. With the radio station and its staff at Sundahl’s disposal, the 2014 festival was a big success. More than 1,100 people attended the festival, which is now a major fundraiser for the station.
Among the performers were Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear, who played to a full house at the Tank Room before dozens of people who were seeing the son-mother duo for the first time. They have since appeared on “Late Show With David Letterman” and toured Europe.
The festival has regularly had to deal with the loss of venues. This year it’s the loss of Czar Bar, which closed in October. This year the festival comprises seven venues, four of them new: an outdoor stage at 18th Street and Grand Boulevard; and venues on McGee Street — the Mod Gallery and two stages at the Living Room.
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The biggest change for Sundahl could be the best news for KKFI. The festival has a “picnic” license, which allows a nonprofit to sell liquor as a fundraiser. The process of getting the license has exposed Sundahl to layers of bureaucracy he wasn’t aware of.
“I’m not regretting it … yet,” Sundahl said. “Ultimately, the way I can help the station the most is to make the most money, and if we can do that it will be worth the headaches. Because it’s my first time, there’s a lot of things I didn’t know about.”
This year’s lineup comprises 35 bands or performers; 30 of them are playing the festival for the first time. Sundahl mentioned two who impressed him during KKFI’s annual band auction fundraiser: Slow Motion Commotion and Instant Karma.
“Slow Motion Commotion do this kind of punk-rock/bluegrass thing,” he said. “It’s kind of smart-mouth and smart-ass but really fun. And Instant Karma, their band auction set was at like 7 a.m. on a Thursday. But they really brought it — rock ’n’ roll with some bluesy rock, not like the White Stripes but more Dan Auerbach.”
He also mentioned Julian Davis, a 15-year-old flat-picking guitar champ from Pittsburg, Kan.
“He’s an old soul with lots of skills,” Sundahl said. “If you close your eyes while listening to him, you can imagine you’re listening to a 40-year-old man back in 1948.”
Sundahl didn’t set the entire lineup. The Green Lady Lounge on Grand Boulevard booked the Molly Hammer Quartet and Ken Lovern’s Organ Jazz Trio.
“I’m super happy with that,” Sundahl said.
Organizers of the annual Psych Fest booked their lineup in the Mod Gallery.
“That’s a wild lineup,” he said. “They have a pretty broad definition of what (psychedelic) is. I think it’s anyone who pushes the boundaries of that game.”
All that fits in with one thing about the Crossroads Festival that hasn’t changed, which is Sundahl’s mission since Year One. “It’s always been about showcasing local music. This year I tried hard to find new and younger bands. There are lots of really good local bands so finding them isn’t hard. But it has become harder to pick from so many good bands.”
The 11th annual Crossroads Music Fest starts at 6 p.m. Saturday. Thirty-five bands or performers will be featured across six venues. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at door. Advance tickets are available at CMFKC.com and at both Vinyl Renaissance stores: 1415 W. 39th St. and 7932 Santa Fe Drive in Overland Park.
Sprint Main Stage, 1837 Grand Blvd. (all ages)
▪ 6 p.m.: Sara Morgan
▪ 7:30 p.m.: She’s A Keeper
▪ 8:30 p.m.: Marching Cobras
▪ 9 p.m.: Not A Planet
▪ 10:30 p.m.: Mountain Sprout
Tank Room, 1813 Grand Blvd.
▪ 6 p.m.: Connor Leimer
▪ 7:30 p.m.: Pink Royal
▪ 9 p.m.: Lauren Anderson
▪ 10:30 p.m.: My Brothers and Sisters
▪ Midnight: The Phantastics
▪ 1:30 a.m.: Slow Motion Commotion
Mod Gallery, 1809 McGee St. (all ages)
▪ 6 p.m.: Mod Professor
▪ 7 p.m.: Dark Satellites
▪ 8 p.m.: Riala
▪ 10 p.m.: The Philistines
▪ 11 p.m.: Janet the Planet
▪ Midnight: 3 Son Green
The Brick, 1727 McGee St.
▪ 6 p.m.: Rural Grit
▪ 1:15 p.m.: Instant Karma
▪ 8:45 p.m.: Amanda Fish Band
▪ 10:15 p.m.: GaV7d Project
▪ 11:45 p.m.: Duncan Burnett and the Ministry
▪ 1:15 a.m.: Katy Guillen & the Girls
The Living Room, 1818 McGee St. (all ages)
▪ 6 p.m. Max Justus
▪ 7:30 p.m: The Free Years
▪ 9 p.m.: Westerners
▪ 10:30 p.m.: Light Music
▪ Midnight: Spirit is the Spirit
▪ 6:50 p.m.: The Kemps
▪ 8:20 p.m.: Jessica Paige
▪ 9:50 p.m.: Julian Davis
▪ 11:20 p.m.: Ruddy Swain
Green Lady Lounge, 1809 Grand Blvd.
▪ 6 p.m.: Molly Hammer Quartet
▪ 9:30 p.m.: Organ Jazz Trio