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Valentine’s Day music events include two benefits and a love fest

Scott Easterday
Scott Easterday Special to The Star

Valentine’s Day means many things to a lot of people, from absolutely nothing to one more chance to express something romantic to a special person. Here are some shows and music-related events to put a little love in your life:

The Love Hangover: 7 p.m. Monday at Coda, 1744 Broadway. Admission: $12. Performers: Four duets that will feature Bryan Hicks, Jason Vivone and Mikal Shapiro.

Scott Easterday, who will host the event, was involved in the Love Hangover project before it came to Kansas City. In 2007, Easterday performed with musician and songwriter Dana Kletter at the Love Hangover in New York. After that show, he talked to former Kansas Citian Rich Alwyn about organizing a show in Kansas City.

Alwyn, who co-founded the event in Raleigh, N.C., in 2000, explained its theme to The Star in 2012: “Say what you will about Valentine’s Day, the day after anything is always a good time to reflect, take stock and toss out the cynical and saccharine alike, leaving what’s true for you. It’s a New Year’s Day of romance.”

Easterday has organized all nine Kansas City versions, the first of which was at Davey’s Uptown Ramblers Club in 2008. “There have always been four duos,” he said. “Some were couples, some were people who had never played together or even knew each other.”

Kansas City is now one of several cities that have annually presented the Love Hangover, which is always on Feb. 15. The others: Raleigh, New York, Ann Arbor, Mich., and Toronto.

“Ann Arbor may not do it this year,” Easterday said. “But Chicago has done it, and we’re trying to expand next year to San Francisco and Austin, Texas.”

One of the performers at this year’s event will be Shapiro Brothers, who comprise Mikal Shapiro and Chad Brothers. This will be her third Love Hangover and second in Kansas City; the other was in Chicago in 2008.

“Chad and I will likely be playing some classic country,” she said. “Maybe some lighthearted Roger Miller and a Neil Young song. We’ll also be playing some originals.”

Jason Vivone will perform with Paula Crawford, his bandmate in the Billy Bats.

“We’re a real-life couple, too,” Vivone said. “Preparing for the Love Hangover has inspired us to book more shows playing knee-to-knee like we will Monday night.”

“We have a concept for our Love Hangover set. I’m not sure anyone will guess. It’s like that old (Arthur) Schnitzler play ‘La Ronde.’ The character in the first song yearns for the character in the second song who is sneaking around with the character in the third song. Hopefully, they’ll all live happily ever after by the end of the night.”

This year’s show will feature a first for the Love Hangover in Kansas City, from Beth Byrd-Lonski and Patrick Rippeto.

“They are doing a pantomime,” Easterday said. “They’ll have music and a narrator but no singing.”

Performers have wide berth when it comes to sticking to a theme, he said, as long as the songs are about love.

“It was originally supposed to be only about heartache and getting jilted,” Easterday said. “But we get the romantic element, too. Sometimes it gets really funny, sometimes it gets dirty — more funny dirty than sexually dirty. If there are any rules, it’s only that they have to be love songs.”

Shapiro said the event can be the perfect antidote to the usual sentiments that drip from Valentine’s Day.

“I love the tradition of the Hangover because it acknowledges the aftermath of indulging in the gut-churning sweetness of commercial Valentine sentiments,” she said. “How many candy hearts can someone eat before they want to barf? St. Valentine was supposedly tortured and martyred. Where’s the card for that?

“The Hangover picks up the pieces in the afterglow of the Valentine explosion. It’s a balm for the saccharine whiplash: It pokes fun and provides noncommittal entertainment. You don’t have to be in love to enjoy it. All states of heartbreak and rebound are admitted without judgment.

“The Love Hangover also makes a great date night for unconventional lovers who know romance does not always fit in a box of chocolates.”

“I like the idea that the Love Hangover is the day after Valentine’s Day,” Vivone said. “It means you’re going to be looking around Coda wondering how the previous 24 hours turned out for everyone: ‘Wow, that couple had a good night.’ Or, ‘Eek, that poor guy came in alone.’ 

Easterday said the show can bring out a range of reactions.

“It’s usually pretty emotional, and the audience gets taken in,” he said. “I’ve seen people laugh, and I’ve seen lots of people cry.”

The Lovers and Friends Concert: 8 p.m. Saturday at the Uptown Theater, 3700 Broadway. Tickets: $47 to $82. Performers: Avant and Silk.

One of Avant’s biggest hits is “Separated,” a duet he performed with Destiny’s Child alum Kelly Rowland. The track from his debut “My Thoughts” album, released in 2000, topped the R&B charts and cracked the top 25 on the Billboard 200 chart.

Avant (born Myron Avant) has plenty of songs more suitable for a Valentine’s theme, like “My First Love,” a duet with Keke Wyatt, “Makin’ Good Love,” “Your Body Is the Business,” “You and I” and “You Know What,” a duet with Lil’ Wayne.

Saturday night he will headline a show that will also include Silk, a five-man R&B troupe from Atlanta that released four Top 10 R&B albums from 1992 to 2001. Hits included “Freak Me,” “Happy Days,” “Girl U for Me” and “If You (Lovin’ Me).”

The Dance of Hearts: 8 p.m. Saturday at Liberty Hall, 644 Massachusetts in Lawrence. Tickets are $25 and $40. The show is a benefit for Just Food, a regional food bank. Performer: Kelley Hunt with guests.

Hunt, a veteran musician and singer/songwriter, is headlining a show that will raise funds for Just Food, a Douglas County food bank that provides meals, cooking classes and other food assistance to about 10,000 people in the region.

Hunt and her band will perform with some guests, including the Fat Brass Horns and the Mighty Kel-Tones. All seats are reserved. Floor tables and prime balcony seats are $40. Regular balcony seats are $25. There will be plenty of room for dancing, which will be strongly recommended.

In 2014, Hunt released her sixth album, “The Beautiful Bones,” about which American Blues Scene wrote: “The album has depth, soul, personality and nuance. Though some selections here are more blues- or soul-inflected than others, the entire album resonates with a quiet comfort firmly grounded in a gospel voice.”

Words of Love Benefit Concert, 9 p.m. Saturday at Coda, 1744 Broadway. A donation of $10 is suggested. The show benefits Abby’s Fund through the Midwest Music Foundation, which raises money to assist musicians facing health care-related expenses.

About a dozen singer/songwriters will perform original material and covers at this benefit, and the theme will explore both sides of love and romance.

“I’m gonna do some originals,” said Amanda Fish. “I’ve got more heartbreak songs than love songs, but I was also planning to sing a cover of Donny Hathaway’s version of ‘A Song for You.’”

The list of performers includes Fish, Wyatt West, Bryan Hicks, Tom Hall, the AJ Young Band, Max Berry, Sean McDonnell, Andi Fredrickson, Nicki Scruggs, Eems, Scotty McBee and Clay Vinyard.

Timothy Finn: 816-234-4781, @phinnagain