Sunday, May 6, 2012

Kansas City Missouri music going south without alcohol

Kansas City Missouri music is not going south in the sense of failure. Quite the opposite from my humble observations. The “original music” scene in town is rich and interesting. I hear musicians discuss the possibility of taking the music south to Johnson County Kansas.

Johnson County has money. In the city, musicians receive compensation for fuel and a personal pan pizza. There is no one epicenter in Kansas City for the music scene, but the choices of venues to see musicians perform their original music appear to me to dwindle. My perspective may not have the history you possess. Perhaps, over the long haul, the process rolls along naturally. Venues with a space-in-time individuality.

Could people in Johnson County connect with original music? Possibly, over time.

Musicians and their music cannot connect alone. They need help, starting with a venue or two; places willing to take a leap of more than faith. Music scenes, historically, center on a venue. A bar may come to mind. And that’s the problem for a Johnson County dream. I don’t think a bar will work. The Johnson County context doesn’t include bars.

When in college, I frequented the Towne Crier Café in Beekman New York. The place opened in the colonial era Beekman Hotel for music in 1972 when I was a freshman. The Towne Crier moved to Pawling in 1988.

The Towne Crier Café did not serve alcohol. Great coffee, I remember, in those expresso pots. Delicious pies, cakes, and cookies. Music was the centerpiece. At the time, I didn’t appreciate the richness of the place and the people. One night I shared my sugar bowl with Rick Danko of the Band. Saw Pete Seeger in the audience once. Smoke breaks listening to Levon Helm on the front porch between acts.  Libations and fragrant smoke across the street. This was what it was, a few years before that Last Waltz film. It was a time, but no more interesting than the people and the music scene I absorbed last night at the recordBar.

That sort of place, where people play and celebrate music without all the deep fryers, alcohol spigots and vessels, catsup bottles and salt shakers could fit in a rural-ish suburb setting like Johnson County. In fact, it would work well just on the edge, where the burbs meet the diminishing prairie out in the 140s. Interesting things usually happen on edges. The old Town Crier was on an edge at that time, just before the canonization of the Woodstock folks, and the blessing of the farmland, site of the muddy fest now part of legend.

So, to an investor or group wishing to invest and take a chance, consider a liquor-less venue, where even kids can hear music until 9pm. In order to take the music south, musicians need an “inn”, with room, a safe place, a welcoming place…something like the old Towne Crier Café.

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