Music News & Reviews

Jazz Town: Festival time returns to 18th & Vine

Dwele From the artist

When you read about the 18th & Vine Historic Jazz District development in this publication, it’s often couched in terms of business or politics. But this weekend leave that all aside, and we’ll get down to the real business of 18th & Vine, music and fun.

It’s time for Kansas City’s 18th & Vine Jazz and Blues Festival, the biggest celebration of the year for the historic home of Kansas City jazz. Come Saturday you can enjoy a cross-cultural lineup of music from all over, along with food and other activities. The festival assembled by the American Jazz Museum allows you to enjoy the atmosphere of the place, dance like nobody’s watching and hang out with friends you may not even know yet.

The setting is right, the vibes are right and so is the lineup of music — on three stages, nonstop. There are four headliners:

▪ From the jazz realm, Conrad Herwig’s Latin Side: The tall trombonist has been a first-call New York jazz guy since the 1980s. Along the way he racked up considerable experience with Eddie Palmieri, Tito Puente and other Latin jazz artists, and the Latin influence took root. He’s applied the experience to music from the mainstream jazz canon — John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Horace Silver and others — with uplifiting results. And he’s surrounded himself with other first-class players.

▪ From the blues realm, Popa Chubby: With his Stratocaster turned up to 11, he’s a familiar figure on blues stages large and small around the world. And he’s a master of that instrument — his compact trio sounds as big as any band you’ll hear. Popa Chubby (it’s a better blues name than the one he was born with, Ted Horowitz) started out playing with punk rockers, and that raw energy still infuses his blues.

▪ From the neo-soul world, Dwele: He has the skills of a rapper, the voice of a soul crooner and the mind of a producer. That makes this Detroiter the whole package. He says he’s been inspired by Stevie Wonder, Miles Davis, Donny Hathaway and Freddie Hubbard. And he’s worked with giants of urban music including J Dilla and Kanye West.

▪ For a flat-out party band, the Family Stone: A few original players from the genre-busting Sly and the Family Stone form the nucleus of this funk-pop-soul-rock outfit, although Sly Stone is no longer fronting the band. These are the players who know how this music works and just how important it really is. “Daaaance to the music…”

Pay attention to those headliners, but don’t ignore all the other music — three stages’ worth, all afternoon and evening. And there are some nice surprises on the bill — not least among them a late-show appearance by Chicago percussion giant Kahil El-Zabar.

This is what 18th & Vine was about all along.

Tickets for the festival are $10 through Friday at or at the museum. Tickets are $15 at the gate. Leave the pets and coolers at home, but bring a lawn chair or a blanket.


▪ The People’s Liberation Big Band of Greater Kansas City, directed by Brad Cox, performs at 8 p.m. Sunday at the RecordBar, 1020 Westport Road.

▪ Singer Lori Tucker highlights this month’s edition of the Spirituality and All That Jazz concert series, at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Unity Temple on the Plaza, 707 W. 47th St.

▪ The Blue Room, 1600 E. 18th St., has vibraphonist Peter Schlamb leading the Monday jam at 7 p.m. Blues man Millage Gilbert and singer Lester “Duck” Warner perform at 7 p.m. Thursday, Trumpeter Hermon Mehari appears with singer Julia Haile and hip-hip performer Reach at 8:30 p.m. Friday.

▪ The Green Lady Lounge, 1809 Grand Blvd., has the Foundation 627 Big Band at 8:30 p.m. Sunday; Peter Schlamb’s trio at 9 p.m. Tuesday; organist Ken Lovern’s OJT at 9 p.m. Wednesday; singer Molly Hammer’s group at 6 p.m. Thursday, followed by organist Chris Hazelton’s trio at 9 p.m.; pianist Tim Whitmer at 5:30 p.m. Friday, followed by bassist Dominique Sanders at 8:30 p.m. and Hazelton’s Boogaloo 7 at 10 p.m.; and the group Dojo at 9:30 p.m. Saturday.

▪ The Broadway Kansas City, 3601 Broadway, has at New Jazz Order big band at 9 p.m. Tuesday and pianist Mark Lowrey at 9 p.m. Friday.

▪ Guitarist Ron Carlson and vibraphonist John Kizilarmut give the next performance on the free midday jazz series at Johnson County Community College, at noon Tuesday in the Recital Hall in Carlsen Center.

To reach Joe Klopus, call 816-234-4751.

Kansas City’s 18th & Vine Jazz and Blues Festival takes place Saturday around the American Jazz Museum complex. Tickets are $10 through Friday, $15 at the gate. Call 816-474-8463 or visit

The musical lineups, subject to change:


1 p.m.: New Jazz Order big band

2 p.m.: Metropolitan Jazz Workshop honors combo

3 p.m.: Popa Chubby

4:15 p.m.: Young Jazz Masters youth combo

5 p.m.: Conrad Herwig’s Latin Side

6:30 p.m.: Upper Room youth combo

7:30 p.m.: Dwele

10 p.m.: The Family Stone


1:30 p.m.: Elder Statesmen of Kansas City Jazz

3 p.m.: Charles Williams and Genre

4:30 p.m.: Stone Cutters Union

6 p.m.: Ida McBeth

8 p.m.: Jo Ann Daugherty trio

10:30 p.m.: Dennis Winslett’s Black Folk Art Ensemble featuring Kahil El-Zabar


11 a.m.: Youth master class

1 p.m.: Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle

2:30 p.m.: John Paul and the Hellhounds

4 p.m.: Langston

5:30 p.m.: Society Red

7 p.m.: Charlotte Embry

8:30 p.m.: Shades of Jade