Fringe Festival tops a raucous week in Downtown

From the Fringe Festival to Billy Bob Thornton, from Hairball to ‘Tater Salad, from Shania to Def, Downtown will be rocking all week long. Roll the highlight reel for the week ahead in arts and entertainment – Monday to Sunday, July 23-29:

The City Market presents its second Flicks on the Bricks summer series of free music and movies this Friday in City Market Square. The fun begins at 8 p.m. with a musical tribute by Sex Bob-OMB, followed at 9 p.m. by Scott Pilgrim vs. the World on the big outdoor screen. Bring chairs and blankets as early as 7 p.m. Please no coolers. Cash bar available.

Hairball is coming to Crossroads KC this week. ‘Nuff said.

Crossroads KC will light up the Grinders stage with two red hot shows this week, including:

  • Mya with special guest T-Rell at 8 p.m. Friday, and
  • Hairball – a bombastic celebration of arena rock – will blow the lid off of the Grinders stage beginning 8 p.m. Saturday.

Crown Center – Cap off your work week at the free, family friendly WeekEnder series featuring top local bands and favorite food trucks, topped off with a famous flick under the stars. This Friday, County Road 5 performs at 6 p.m., followed by a showing of Miracle at about 9 p.m.

Dinosaurs Revealed – Travel back 252 million years to discover dinosaurs that inhabited what is now North America. Your hands-on trek will bring you face-to-face with 26 life-size dinosaurs. Examine two massive full body skeletons, dozens of real fossils and get hands-on digging for new evidence. The world premiere of Dinosaurs Revealed is on exhibit through Jan. 6 at Union Station.

Folly Theater is closed until Sept. 8 for a thrilling $2.5 million renovation that will yield a more a streamlined box office and bar reconfiguration, a unified lobby space, and an updated Shareholder’s reception space. To learn more, check out The Folly 2020 Campaign. The next scheduled Folly performance will feature An Evening with Gillian Welch at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14.

Fringe Festival KC – The 14th annual festival represents the intersection of adventurous audiences and adventurous artists. This 11-day explosion of unjuried, uncensored performing and visual arts features performers and creators from around the world. Fringe will unfold in 14 venues stretching from Downtown to Westport to the Country Club Plaza. The festivities will be in high gear this week, leading up to the closing night party from 6-9 p.m. Sunday in the Haverty Family Yards at Union Station. For a complete guide to all the fun, visit KCFringe.org.

Def Leppard and Journey will rock the Big Town on Wednesday at Spring Center.

KC Public Library presents The Harvey Girls’ Multicultural Workforce at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Central Library. Michaeline Chance-Reay, professor emeritus of curriculum and instruction and women studies at Kansas State University, explores the Harvey Girls’ duties and working conditions from their beginnings in the 1880s through the mid-20th century, when increased automobile and air travel led to the closure of many Harvey eateries located along rail lines. To learn more and to RSVP for this free event, visit the Harvey Girls online.

Knuckleheads Saloon– the hottest honky tonk in the Big Town – features 11 smokin’ shows this week, including The Robert Cray Band at 8 p.m. Monday; Danny Cox & Friends at 8 p.m. Wednesday; Billy Bob Thornton & The Boxmasters at 8:30 p.m. Friday; and Chubby Carrier and The Bayou Swamp Band at 9 p.m. Saturday.

The Midland features an eclectic week ahead with two weekend performances:

  • Ron ‘Tater Salad’ White – the cigar-smoking, scotch-drinking funnyman from “Blue Collar Comedy” – will take center stage at 6:30 p.m. Friday, and…
  • Bring It, Live – Miss D and her Dancing Dolls, the stars of Lifetime’s hit series Bring It! will Bring It to Downtown KC at 7 p.m. Sunday

National WWI Museum and Memorial presents For Liberty: The American Jewish Experience in WWI now through Nov. 11 in the Wylie Gallery. Hailed as “remarkably prescient” by The New York Times, this special exhibition examines the American Jewish battlefield and homefront participation through a series of remarkable stories and objects.

LANCO will ignite the KC Live! Block on Thursday in the latest edition of the Hot Country Nights concert series.

Power & Light District will rule the heart of Downtown on Thursday, as LANCO rocks the free Hot Country Nights concert series beginning at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Sprint Center will light up the urban night sky on back-to-back nights this week with:

  • Shania Twain returns to the global spotlight with the NOW Tour at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, featuring special guest Bastian Baker.
  • Def Leppard and Journey are teaming up for a massive co-headlining North American tour, half the shows being closed by Journey and half by Def Leppard. The 58-city tour will land in KC at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

The Truman will be quiet this week in the East Crossroads. The next scheduled Truman performance will feature Toad the Wet Sprockett at 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 4.

LIVE THEATER is thriving on Downtown stages, which features two productions this week, including:

  • Goosebumps The MusicalThis cartoony mystery musical based on the beloved series from R.L. Stine continues through Aug. 5 at The Coterie in Crown Center.
  • Tomorrow, Inshallah – As immigration dominates the national conversation Tomorrow, Inshallah holds a mirror to the American heartland and reflects the beauty and brutality of what it means to be Muslim in America today. The Living Room is proud to partner with StoryWorks and the Huffington Post to present this exciting new work that runs through Aug. 5.

ARTS – your guide to arts and culture in greater Kansas City:

LIVE MUSIC – of all tastes and flavors – is performed at these Downtown venues on most nights:

MUSEUMS are alive and well throughout Downtown, including these 16 destinations:

For more of what’s happening in Downtown and Kansas City, check out our friends at VisitKC.com

Streetcar to host back-to-school scavenger hunt on Saturday

 

The KC Streetcar will play host to the first of its kind KC Backpack Challenge on Saturday for the Eric Berry Foundation. The event is designed to connect students with back-to-school backpacks and supplies.

Berry, an All Pro safety of the Kansas City Chiefs, said the event represents a new twist on a traditional scavenger hunt. During the challenge, participants will earn points and advance down the streetcar line, as they answer trivia questions and complete other activities, using school supplies to get their clues at each stop. All school supplies will be donated to area wide students.

The Challlenge is set for 11 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. along the KC Streetcar route. To learn more, check out this Backpack Challenge video by the Eric Berry Foundation.

For tickets, team registration and more information, visit eb29.com.  Your ticket will earn you an exclusive Eric Berry pint glass, an EB button, two raffle tickets for the after party, local restaurant and shop coupons, food and drink specials at No Other Pub, and the scavenger hunt experience.

You also know you are donating to a local kid to make their first day of school great!

21c Museum Hotel Kansas City opens today (Tuesday)

The 21c Museum Hotel Kansas City officially opens its doors today (Tuesday). Downtown Council members and friends are invited to join in the opening ceremonies and tours, beginning at 3 p.m. today.

The Kansas City property, 219 W. 9th St. (in the former Hotel Savoy space) becomes the eighth 21c Museum Hotels in the nation. Founded in Louisville, 21c Museum Hotels are located in Louisville, Cincinnati, Bentonville, Durham, Lexington, Oklahoma City, Nashville and – beginning today – Downtown Kansas City.

The 21c Museum Hotels represent a fusion of contemporary art museums, boutique hotels and chef-driven restaurants, like The Savoy 21c right here in Kansas City.

To learn more, visit the 21c Museum Hotels website, or just stop by the 21c Kansas City for a breathtaking experience.

KC Streetcar ridership breaks record highs this month

The KC Streetcar posted, err, shattered two records this month for ridership on the Downtown starter line.
For the week of July 2 – 8, the KC Streetcar recorded its highest weekly ridership to date with 78,998 rides. On Friday, July 6, which also happened to be a First Friday in Downtown KC, the streetcar recorded its highest daily ridership to date with a total of 19,181 rides. That is nearly 2,000 more rides than the previous record day of May 6, 2017, which had a daily ridership total of 17,267.
Ridership for the week of July 2, 2018, totaling 78,998, looked like:
  • July 2: 8,048 rides
  • July 3: 8,933 rides
  • July 4 (Independence Day): 13,314 rides
  • July 5: 9,713 rides
  • July 6: 19,181 rides
  • July 7: 13,269 rides
  • July 8: 6,540 rides

“The public response has been amazing. Our service is consistently carrying thousands of passengers a day and has helped redefine the Downtown Kansas City experience for residents, employees and visitors,” said Tom Gerend, executive director, KC Streetcar Authority.

The summer months tend to be the busiest for streetcar ridership, with the previous months of July being the highest months for ridership. July 2016 was the highest monthly ridership to date with 233,683 rides, followed by July 2017 with 230,925 rides for the month.

“There seems to be an uptick in Downtown activity this summer between the events, conventions, and new restaurant, hotel and business openings. All of that, plus the 25,000 residents that now call Downtown home, leads to higher ridership on the KC Streetcar,” said Donna Mandelbaum, communications director with the KC Streetcar Authority.

Ridership is important but so is safety and reliability. The KC Streetcar has an average on-time performance of nearly 95 percent. This means that the streetcar arrives when expected and delivers passengers safely to their destination.

The KC Streetcar Authority (KCSA) is also committed to partnering with organizations and groups that can use the streetcar to explore Downtown. KCSA is currently partnered with the Art in the Loop Foundation to bring art to public spaces, which includes nine art installations/performances and eight live music performances on board the streetcars and at streetcar stops.

The KCSA is also partnering with the Eric Berry Foundation, Union Station, SoFar Sounds KC, the KCP&L District, First Fridays in the Crossroads, the KC Library, the Downtown Council, 816 Day/Downtown Neighborhood Association, the City Market, VisitKC, as well as local businesses and groups to promote their events as well as promote the streetcar as a safe and reliable form of transit to and from those events.

The free KC Streetcar runs daily from Union Station north to the City Market and back again. For more information, visit KCStreetcar.org.

Fringe Festival tops an eclectic week ahead in Downtown

Fringe Festival KC returns for 10 days beginning Thursday at locations throughout Downtown.

From the Fringe Festival to the KC Dance Festival or from Blues Traveler to Hall & Oates with Train, Downtown will be dancing all week long. Let’s roll the highlight reel for the week ahead in arts and entertainment – Monday to Sunday, July 16-22:

The City Market presents its first Swingin’ Sunset from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Saturday. Jump n’ jive to the best of ’30s & ’40s swing with the Kansas Citians Big Band, and enjoy an aerial swing performance by Moondrop Circus. Special guest emcee and local TV personality, Joel Nichols, will keep the program hopping. Wear your dancing shoes and bring a chair.

Crossroads KC will heat up the Grinders stage with two red hot shows this week, including:

Crown Center – Cap off your work week at the family friendly WeekEnder series featuring top local bands and favorite food trucks, topped off with a famous flick under the stars. This Friday, Big Time Grain Co. performs at 6 p.m., followed by a showing of Spider-Man: Homecoming at about 9 p.m.

Dinosaurs Revealed – Travel back 252 million years to discover dinosaurs that inhabited what is now North America. Your hands-on trek will bring you face-to-face with 26 life-size dinosaurs. Examine two massive full body skeletons, dozens of real fossils and get hands-on digging for new evidence. The world premiere of Dinosaurs Revealed is on exhibit through Jan. 6 at Union Station.

Folly Theater is closed until Sept. 8 for a thrilling $2.5 million renovation that will yield a more a streamlined box office and bar reconfiguration, a unified lobby space, and an updated Shareholder’s reception space. To learn more, check out The Folly 2020 Campaign. The next scheduled Folly performance will feature An Evening with Gillian Welch at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14.

Fringe Festival KC – The 14th annual festival represents the intersection of adventurous audiences and adventurous artists. This 11-day explosion of unjuried, uncensored performing and visual arts features performers and creators from around the world. Fringe will unfold in 14 venues stretching from Downtown to Westport to the Country Club Plaza. The festivities begin at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Union Station Extreme Screen. For a complete guide to all the fun, visit KCFringe.org.

KC Dance Festival returns for its 6th annual celebration of dance performances that highlight the dynamic exchange of classically dancers and cutting-edge contemporary choreography. Two “Artist Residency Performances” at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the Gem Theater.

Knuckleheads Saloon– the hottest honky tonk in the Big Town – features 10 smokin’ shows this week, including the Jimmie Vaughan the The Shotgun Billys at 8 p.m. Wednesday; The Handsome Family in the Gospel Lounge at 9 p.m. Friday; and Delbert McClinton with Roxy Roca at 8 p.m. Saturday.

National WWI Museum and Memorial presents For Liberty: The American Jewish Experience in WWI now through Nov. 11 in the Wylie Gallery. Hailed as “remarkably prescient” by The New York Times, this special exhibition examines the American Jewish battlefield and homefront participation through a series of remarkable stories and objects.

Blues Traveler will rock Downtown KC this Friday, as part of their 30th anniversary tour.

Power & Light District will rule the heart of Downtown, as the KC Live! Block plays hosts to stellar concerts on back-to-back days this week, including:

  • Casey Donahew will headline this week’s free Hot Country Nights concert at KC Live! The party starts at 7 p.m. Thursday with DJ Lazer.
  • Blues Traveler returns to Downtown for a much anticipated performance in the Block Party series beginning at 8 p.m. Friday at KC Live!

Sprint Center will light up the night sky with Daryl Hall & John Oates with Train and special guest Kandace Springs at 7 p.m. Friday. Fans can expect full sets from both Hall & Oates and Train, followed by a showstopping joint set.

The Truman will be shakin’ the East Crossroads with concerts this week, including

LIVE THEATER is thriving on Downtown stages, which features two productions this week, including:

  • Goosebumps The MusicalThis cartoony mystery musical based on the beloved series from R.L. Stine runs through Aug. 5 at The Coterie in Crown Center.
  • Tomorrow, Inshallah – As immigration dominates the national conversation Tomorrow, Inshallah holds a mirror to the American heartland and reflects the beauty and brutality of what it means to be Muslim in America today. The Living Room is proud to partner with StoryWorks and the Huffington Post to present this exciting new work that opens Thursday and runs through Aug. 5.

ARTS – your guide to arts and culture in greater Kansas City:

LIVE MUSIC – of all tastes and flavors – is performed at these Downtown venues on most nights:

MUSEUMS are alive and well throughout Downtown, including these 16 destinations:

For more of what’s happening in Downtown and Kansas City, check out our friends at VisitKC.com

Dance, ‘Bueller’, Dragons raise the bar for the week in Downtown

The Kansas City Dance Festival is back for its 6th annual celebration of dance performance on Friday at the Quixotic Black Box, and next weekend at the Gem Theater.

From the Kansas City Dance Festival to the outdoor return of Ferris Bueller, to the return of Imagine Dragons, Downtown will be sizzlin’ all week long. Let’s roll the highlight reel for the week ahead in arts and entertainment – Monday to Sunday, July 9-15:

Crossroads KC will heat up the East Crossroads with two red hot shows this week, including:

  • St. Paul & the Broken Bonesthe six-piece soul band out of Birmingham, Ala., with guests Hiss Golden Messenger will take center stage at 8 p.m. Thursday;
  • Kemet and The Phantastics will headline the Free Friday performance that gets under way at 6:30 p.m. Friday.

Crown Center – Cap off your work week at the family friendly WeekEnder series featuring top local bands and favorite food trucks, topped off with a famous flick under the stars. This Friday, The Black Jackets perform at 6 p.m., followed by a showing of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off at about 9 p.m.

Dinosaurs Revealed is the latest special exhibition at Union Station.

Dinosaurs Revealed – Travel back 252 million years to discover dinosaurs that inhabited what is now North America. Your hands-on trek will bring you face-to-face with 26 life-size dinosaurs. Examine two massive full body skeletons, dozens of real fossils and get hands-on digging for new evidence. The world premiere of Dinosaurs Revealed is on exhibit through Jan. 6 at Union Station.

KC Dance Festival returns for its 6th annual celebration of dance performances that highlight the dynamic exchange of classically dancers and cutting-edge contemporary choreography. Performances are set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday  in the Quixotic Black Box, along with two “Artist Residency Performances” at 7:30 p.m. next Friday and Saturday (July 20-21) in the Gem Theater.

Knuckleheads Saloon– the hottest honky tonk in the Big Town – features 7 smokin’ shows this week, including the Jeremiah Johnson Band at 9 p.m. Saturday in the Gospel Lounge.

National WWI Museum and Memorial presents For Liberty: The American Jewish Experience in WWI now through Nov. 11 in the Wylie Gallery. Hailed as “remarkably prescient” by The New York Times, this special exhibition examines the American Jewish battlefield and homefront participation through a series of remarkable stories and objects.

Lee Brice will headline the next Hot Country Nights concert on Thursday in the KC Live! Block.

Power & Light District will rule the heart of Downtown, as the KC Live! Block plays hosts to concerts and special events on three back-to-back days this week, including:

  • Lee Brice will headline this week’s edition of the Hot Country Nights concert series that begins at 7 p.m. Thursday
  • Stoney LaRue will rock the house in the Block Party concert series at 8 p.m. Friday
  • Family Fun Days returns with a “When I Grow Up” theme. The family festival runs from 11 a,m, to 3 p.m. Saturday, as kids can explore a variety of future careers and even dress up in costume! Activities include a bounce house, obstacle course, Mad Science, face painters, a trackless train and more!

Sprint Center will light up the night sky with the world tour of Imagine Dragons, featuring special guest Grace Vanderwaal at 8 p.m. Saturday.

The Truman will be shakin’ the East Crossroads with four concerts this week, including Jenny Lewis with The Cactus Blossoms at 8 p.m. Tuesday; The Black Dahlia Murder / WhiteChapel at 6 p.m. Wednesday; moe. – the preeminent progressive rock band on the music scene today – at 8 p.m. Saturday; and Jesse McCartney with Public and Just Seconds Apart at 8 p.m. Sunday.

LIVE THEATER is thriving on Downtown stages, which features one production this week:

ARTS – your guide to arts and culture in greater Kansas City:

COMEDY

LIVE MUSIC – of all tastes and flavors – is performed at these Downtown venues on most nights:

MUSEUMS are alive and well throughout Downtown, including these 16 destinations:

For more of what’s happening in Downtown and Kansas City, check out our friends at VisitKC.com

NY Times shines global spotlight on Downtown KC

The KC Streetcar: Credit Anna Petrow for The New York Times

The Perfect Way to Explore Modern Kansas City? A Streetcar, Believe It or Not

The contemporary trolley, introduced in 2016, takes visitors to an arts district, an entertainment district and a happy state of mind.

By Richard Rubin, The New York Times

In 2002, when Sylvester “Sly” James moved his law office to downtown Kansas City, Mo., he made a wager with a colleague. “I bet him I could walk across Main Street naked at 6 p.m. and nobody would see it,” he recalled. “And the proof that I was right is that no video of that has ever shown up on YouTube.” Downtown, he said, “was freakin’ desolate.”

A decade later, Chris Hernandez remembered, he saw an item on the local news about a two-car accident downtown one evening at 7. “I took it as a sign that things were turning around,” he said. “There were actually two cars there to hit each other!”

As it turns out, Mr. Hernandez was onto something: Things were, in fact, starting to turn around. Today Kansas City can be said to have actually achieved the elusive dream of scores of proud old American cities that have seen better days: It has revived its downtown, which now skews closer to “bustling” than “desolate” many nights.

Mr. Hernandez is the city’s director of communications; Mr. James is its mayor. Both can rattle off countless examples of nearly miraculous urban revitalization: thriving businesses in storefronts that stood vacant for years; gleaming new high-rise apartment blocks that are largely (some say entirely) rented out even before they’re completed; vibrant arts and culinary scenes. But you can see what is arguably the single best embodiment of the phenomenon for yourself at regular intervals as you stroll along — or even stand still on — downtown’s Main Street.

If at this point your mind absolutely must drift to 1940s musical lyrics, I recommend nudging it away from “everything’s up to date in Kansas City” and toward “clang clang clang went the trolley” (even though, technically, that one is set in St. Louis; same state, anyway).

Pizzas at Il Lazzarone, a restaurant at the River Market West streetcar stop. Credit: Anna Petrow for The New York Times

Yes: Kansas City has a trolley. And not one of those old-timey trolleys that doesn’t go much of anywhere and goes there slowly. The one in Kansas City is sleek. Modern. Has air-conditioning and Wi-Fi.It runs a real route — 2.2 miles from end to end, then back again — through the heart of downtown.

At peak times, like rush hour, one comes along every 10 minutes; off-peak, it’s more like every 12 to 18 minutes. (Every stop has digital kiosks announcing how soon the next one will be along.) It starts running at 6 a.m. and doesn’t stop until midnight on weeknights, 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. (This being the Midwest, on Sundays it starts late — 7 a.m. — and shuts down early, at 11 p.m.)

Oh: And it’s free.

And not, technically, a trolley; they take great care here to remind you (cheerfully) that it’s a streetcar. That may seem like a distinction without a difference, but it reflects the way the city and its denizens view it. A trolley, in this day and age, is a self-conscious quaintness, almost an amusement-park ride; a streetcar, on the other hand — as Mr. Hernandez explained — is more of a “pedestrian accelerator.”

And, as it turns out, an attraction, too.

The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Credit: Anna Petrow for The New York Times

In my experience, the whole “Midwestern nice” thing can be overstated; but not when it comes to Kansas City. Step off the KC Streetcar (as it is officially known) and look around as if you don’t know where you are going and a passer-by will stop and ask where you’re trying to get to. Sport that expression while you’re still riding it and someone sitting across the aisle from you will do the same thing. Ask them how they like the streetcar and they will tell you, sincerely and in a fair bit of detail.And they do like it. They ride it. The city — which has a population just under a half-million — projected one million riders in the streetcar’s first year; it got twice as many by day 364. A year later that figure exceeded four million.

No one would have predicted such a phenomenon as recently as the beginning of this decade.Back then, Mr. James recalled, “things were slow here. People were depressed. They didn’t believe the city could do things.”

But then Kansas City won a lottery of sorts: In the spring of 2011 — just as Mr. James was starting his first term as mayor — Google announced that it would be inaugurating its broadband internet and television service, Google Fiber, there. “That was a big boost,” Mr. James recalled. “Google was putting us on the map — we could leverage that.”

They did. The streetcar — which made its first run on May 6, 2016 — wasn’t by any means the only element of downtown’s revitalization, but it was perhaps the boldest, and certainly the most dynamic. “It’s been a tremendous catalytic thing,” Mr. James said. “It’s created much more flow—more profits for businesses downtown, more foot traffic.” In the streetcar’s first year of operation, revenue from sales taxes along its route — an area known as the Transportation Development District, or T.D.D. — rose 54 percent, as opposed to 16 percent citywide.

Birdie’s, a boutique in the Crossroads Arts District. Credit: Anna Petrow for The New York Times

If this seems like a boon for those businesses, you could say they earned it: “They decided it would be free,” the mayor explains — paid for by a special assessment on business owners and residential landlords along the T.D.D. (The construction boom in new high rises that are rented out before they’re even completed would seem to indicate that landlords are O.K. with the surtax, too.) “The funds,” Mr. James said, “are more than sufficient to cover the costs. It’s worked out very well.”

Unlike most successful ventures, few individuals have claimed credit for Kansas City’s streetcar; most, when asked, will give you an answer like Mr. Hernandez’s: “It was a very grass-roots effort,” he said. “How to create the streetcar, where it should go. Businesses and residents were involved at every step — where to have stops, their exact placement, even what they should look like.”

The route they all devised does a good job of introducing downtown Kansas City to both tourists and locals who had never really gotten acquainted with it before — and, perhaps coincidentally, showcasing the area’s revival.

It starts and ends at the point where decades of visitors arrived at and departed from the city: Union Station, an imposing 1914 classical structure that, despite its grandeur and the fact that it once hosted more than a half million travelers a year, was actually closed for a decade and a half in the 1980s and 90s; today it’s a museum as well as a functioning rail depot, and the anchor of a neighborhood that includes the Crown Center,an indoor shopping and entertainment complex, and the National World War I Memorial and Museum.

Farmers sell fresh meats and produce at City Market at River Market. Credit: Anna Petrow for The New York Times

Heading north, it stops next at the Crossroads Arts District, a neighborhood of old warehouses and factories that have been reclaimed as live/work spaces and is now home to a lively arts scene. Then comes the Power & Light District — named for an Art Deco 1931 skyscraper that was for decades both the home of the local electric utility company and the tallest building west of the Mississippi — which is the city’s newest entertainment district; it features the Sprint Center (a sports and concert arena), Kansas City Live! (a block-square outdoor atrium surrounded by pubs and restaurants and containing a performance stage and massive Jumbotron), most of those new residential high rises and, naturally, the world headquarters of H & R Block.

The next stop is Metro Center, home to government buildings, business offices, hotels, cafes and restaurants; then the Library stop, named for the city’s Central Library, which occupies a 1906 bank building that features 13-foot-high bronze doors, a roof garden with a life-size chess set, and a basement vault that has been converted to a movie theater; then the North Loop, which doesn’t have much of note yet except a neat older Western Union building and a neat newer office building known as “the flashcube” because, well, it looks like a flashcube; and finally the River Market, which includes old warehouses that have been converted to lofts, lots of restaurants and an expansive farmer’s market that has been going year-round since 1857.

There are edifices worthy of a good long look all along the route, but none more arresting than what you will spot looking out the window to your left as you shuttle from Crossroads to Power & Light: There, up on a hill, is the Moshe Safdie-designed Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, which opened in 2011 and which, depending upon your aesthetic sensibilities, you will find either sublime or terrifying.

The National World War I Memorial and Museum. Credit: Anna Petrow for The New York Times

It contains two 1,500-plus-seat theaters, each of which, I am told, has fine acoustics; the building, which sits on more than 18 acres, is said to have been so well-designed that it can and often does host two different performances simultaneously without any aural crossover. In addition to hosting touring companies, the city’s symphony orchestra and opera and ballet companies all call it home. “We have a very strong arts scene here in Kansas City,” Jean Luzader, a volunteer at the Kauffman Center, told me. “People think we have cows running through the streets, you know, but we don’t.”

Streetcars — once almost ubiquitous, later almost extinct — are having a moment: In the past five years, lines have also started operating in Salt Lake City, Tucson, Dallas, Cincinnati and Detroit. (Two others, in Milwaukee and Oklahoma City, are scheduled to open by the end of this year.) Some have been more successful and transformative than others, but few seem to have had the impact of Kansas City’s. It’s the only one that’s free to ride, but what really makes it distinct is the palpable sense that is more than just a way of moving people around: It’s a movement — one that, judging by the crowds riding on weekends, transcends age and ethnicity.

Everyone seems to like each other, too. “When you’re on the streetcar,” Mr. Hernandez said, “you truly get a sense of community. It gets people off their phones and talking to each other again. I see it every time I’m on it. I think people who are from Kansas City are having fun talking to visitors and telling them about places they should check out.”

The Crossroads Arts District. Credit: Anna Petrow for The New York Times

Of course, many of them — locals and visitors — are there to check out the streetcar itself.Riding it around and around will strike a certain type of person as a fine — not to mention economical — way to pass a few hours. Technically, you’re supposed to get off and re-board every time it pulls into Union Station; but this being the Midwest, no one will get too terribly upset if you stay put instead. Just smile.


Richard Rubin is the author of “The Last of the Doughboys” and “Back Over There.”

Correction: 

An earlier version of this article inaccurately described Kansas City’s location in relation to the Mississippi River. It is west of the river, not east.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page TR9 of the New York edition with the headline: It’s Not Named Desire, but They Love It Just the Same. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

Mayor Barnes honored for her legacy, commitment to Downtown

Mayor Sly James praises former Mayor Kay Barnes accomplishments at the celebration last week.

By Kevin Collison, CitySceneKC.com

Former Mayor Kay Barnes now has the Convention Center Grand Ballroom named after her, but her lasting legacy was on display beyond the windows of the ballroom lobby where the event was held last week.

From its vantage point above the South Loop freeway, the Sprint Center, H&R Block office tower and Power & Light District were clearly visible.

“Look out the window and you’ll see what Kay did,” Mayor Sly James told the audience. “I have a sense of what that took. People don’t like the way things are, but they hate change. Kay Barnes set the stage for this city’s revival that we see continuing to flourish today.”

Barnes became mayor in 1999 when much of the south third of the Central Business District was in shambles after decades of neglect. Attorney Herb Kohn, who was master of ceremony at the ballroom dedication ceremony, checked off the sad list.

“Downtown consisted of a wig shop, a dirty bookstore, a massage parlor and lots of empty office buildings,” he said, adding a couple of those buildings were used as haunted houses a few weeks out of the year. “Kay’s vision was clear, ‘I want to rebuild Downtown.'”

Former Mayor Barnes enjoys unveiling of sculpture honoring her, “Woman Walking Tall” by Kansas City artist Tom Corbin.

The first step was persuading H&R Block to relocate its headquarters from Main Street near the Country Club Plaza to 13th and Main. At the same time, Baltimore-based Cordish Co. was approached about creating an entertainment district on the surrounding eight blocks.

The third critical piece of the revival puzzle was when Barnes used her friendship with Tim Leiweke, then a top executive at Los Angles-based Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) to partner on a new arena at Truman Road and Grand. It didn’t hurt that Barnes had met Phil Anschutz, the AEG founder, while both attended the University of Kansas.

Click here to read the complete story in CitySceneKC.Com, including a video clip of the event.

Don’t miss any Downtown news, sign up for our weekly CityScene KC email review here.

Riverfest, Dinosaurs, First Friday to light up holiday week

Dinosaurs Revealed is the latest special exhibition at Union Station. It officially opens on Tuesday and continues through Jan. 6.

From the KC Riverfest on the 4th to the opening of Dinosaurs Revealed on the 3rd to the return of First Friday and the Crown Center WeekEnders on the 6th… , Downtown will be sizzlin’all week long. Let’s roll the highlight reel for the holiday week ahead in arts and entertainment – Monday to Sunday, July 2-8:

Crossroads KC will heat up the East Crossroads with three red hot shows this week, including Cash’d Out, a Johnny Cash Tribute, beginning at 8 p.m. Thursday; STS9 w/ Tauk at 7:30 p.m. Friday; and SYS9 w/Marvel Years & Kaminanda  at 7 pm. Saturday.

Crown Center welcomes the return of its annual summer WeekEnder family fun series this Friday. Cap off your work week with top local bands and favorite food trucks. Finish the evening with a famous flick under the stars. This Friday, the KC All Stars perform at 6 p.m., followed by a screening of Jumani: Welcome to the Jungle at about 9 p.m.

Dinosaurs Revealed – Travel back 252 million years to discover dinosaurs that inhabited what is now North America. Your hands-on trek will bring you face-to-face with 26 life-size dinosaurs. See them move, hear them roar and experience their complexity and vast diversity. Examine two massive full body skeletons, dozens of real fossils and get hands-on digging for new evidence. The world premiere of Dinosaurs Revealed officially opens on Tuesday and runs through Jan. 6 at Union Station.

First Friday – KC’s coolest evening of the early summer – returns this Friday with a sizzling collection arts and cultural experiences throughout Downtown via:

  • Art in the Loop celebrates its summer program #KC PLAYS with a free exhibit that runs through Aug. 3 at The Box Gallery.
  • The City Market is getting in the artistic spirit by showcasing local artists who will demo their techniques and exhibit their works from 6-10 p.m. every First Friday through October in Pavilion 1 in City Market Square.
  • Crossroads Arts District featuring arts organizations, galleries, studios, and a wide variety of local businesses in a celebration of local, regional and national artists and live entertainment from 5 to 9 p.m.
  • First Fridays on the Vine is a cultural experience of music, art, food, and shopping on every First Friday year round. Shop local artists and a diverse array of food trucks, along with a jazzy selection of live entertainment, beginning at 4 p.m.
  • First Friday Warehouse Weekends – one of the finest vintage marketplaces in the country – flourishes every First Friday weekend (Friday through Sunday) in the West Bottoms.

KC RiverfestThe 4th of July holiday will be celebrated in grand style from 4-10 p.m. Wednesday on the banks of the Missouri River at Berkley Riverfront Park. Two stages of entertainment – featuring headliner Enrique Chi of Making Movies at 8 p.m. – will have the audience singing and dancing beginning at 5 p.m. , plus the KC Riverfest Dance Party with DJ Joe; plus 15+ food trucks, a trampoline zone, fun with the KC Kite Club, kids activities galore, and fireworks over the river beginning at 9:40 p.m. Glory, glory hallelujah!

Knuckleheads Saloon– the hottest honky tonk in the Big Town – features 12 smokin’ shows this week, including Carla Cooke performing the ultimate Sam Cooke experience at 7 p.m. Thursday; Outlaw Jim & The Whiskey Benders at 8:30 p.m. Friday; and The Living Deads at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.

National WWI Museum and Memorial presents For Liberty: The American Jewish Experience in WWI now through Nov. 11 in the Wylie Gallery. Hailed as “remarkably prescient” by The New York Times, this special exhibition examines the American Jewish battlefield and homefront participation through a series of remarkable stories and objects.

Power & Light District will feature Travis Martin in this week’s edition of the Hot Country Nights concert series that begins at 7 p.m. Thursday in the KC Live! Block.

Union Station Swing Dance – Dance At The Depot is back and the hottest ticket in town! Don’t miss this special evening, starting with a dance lesson warm-up at 7:30 p.m. with 627 Stomp, then live USO style music featuring the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra beginning at 8 p.m. Friday at Union Station. Click here for tickets and more information.

Xscape featuring special guests Bell Biv DeVoe and SWV will light up the Sprint Center on Thursday.

Xscape – Answering the call of fans nationwide, Kandi BurrussTucker, Tameka “Tiny” Harris, and sisters LaTocha and Tamika Scott return to the stage to perform all of their memorable hits at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Sprint Center. Adding to the excitement, the group will be joined on tour by special guests, Bell Biv DeVoe and SWV.

LIVE THEATER is thriving on Downtown stages, which features three productions this week, including:

ARTS – your guide to arts and culture in greater Kansas City:

COMEDY

LIVE MUSIC – of all tastes and flavors – is performed at these Downtown venues on most nights:

MUSEUMS are alive and well throughout Downtown, including these 16 destinations:

For more of what’s happening in Downtown and Kansas City, check out our friends at VisitKC.com

Hot town! Buckle up for a rockin’ week in Downtown

The 8th annual Middle of the Map Festival on Friday and Saturday features 70+ bands on 10 Downtown stages – including the main stage at Crossroads KC at Grinders.

From the 8th annual Middle of the Map Fest on 10 urban stages to the 30th anniversary KKFI concert celebration at the Folly to a Red, White & Bluegrass party at Kauffman, Downtown will be rockin’ all week long. Let’s roll the highlight reel for the week ahead in arts and entertainment – Monday to Sunday, June 25-July 1.

The City Market introduces its Flicks on the Bricks free summer series of live music and movies this Friday in City Market Square. The ’80s tribute band Pompous Jack begins the fun at 8 p.m., followed by Julianne Hough and Tom Cruise in Rock of Ages on the outdoor big screen. Oh, yeah….

Crossroads KC will heat up the East Crossroads with four red hot shows this week, including:

  • Chromeo with special guests The Glitch Mob and Elohim beginning at 8 p.m. Tuesday;
  • Slightly Stoopid with Stick Figure and Pepper beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday;
  • Middle of the Map Fest is back! The 8th annual festival returns on Friday night and Saturday with 70+ bands on 10 stages in Downtown, including the main stage at Grinders. See more under the Middle of the Map headline below, or check out MOTM.com.

Folly Theater  will be in the party mood this weekend for the KKFI 30th Anniversary concert celebration with DJ’s both present and past will take the stage to perform and speak. This musical smorgasbord will feature two house bands and a long list of local singers and performers – such as The Elders, Julia Othmer, Sara Morgan, Kemet the Phantom, Kadesh Flow and many others – who will deliver one song each. The celebration begins at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Knuckleheads Saloon– the hottest honky tonk in the Big Town – features 13 smokin’ shows this week, including Steve Everett with Paul Pfau at 8 p.m. Thursday; The Kelley Hunt Band at 8 p.m. Friday; and The 44’s – one of L.A.’s finest blues bands – at 9:30 p.m. Friday.

The 8th annual Middle of the Map Festival on Friday and Saturday features 70+ bands on 10 Downtown stages – including the main stage at Crossroads KC at Grinders.

Middle of the Map Fest – the official music festival of Downtown Kansas City – returns this weekend with a huge lineup of acts on Friday night and Saturday. MOTM will feature 70+ bands on 10 stages – including the main stage at Crossroads KC at Grinders. Headliners include Grizzly Bear, Spoon and Greta Van Fleet on Friday night and Social Distortion, Built to Spill and Nikki Lane on Friday night. For complete details, check out MOTM online.

Whiskey Myers headlines the Hot Country Nights summer concert series this Thursday in the Power & Light District.

Power & Light District will be swaying in the summer breeze this with two special events, including:

  • Hot Country Nights featuring Whiskey Myers at 7 p.m. Thursday in the KC Live! Block; and
  • Urbana KC Join the fun at this summer block party on 14th Street, where you can eat and drink under the stars, hear live music, see public art displays and share a uniquely Kansas City summer experience beginning at 4 p.m. Sunday.

‘Red, White & Bluegrass’ will rock the Kauffman Center on Sunday as country music legend Lee Greenwood joins forces with bluegrass sensations Daily & Vincent for a Fourth of July warm-up concert.

Red, White & Bluegrass – a celebration of country music – will light up the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts with a pre-Independence Day celebration at 7 p.m. Sunday. Country music icon Lee Greenwood and bluegrass “rock stars” Dailey & Vincent will turn the Muriel Kauffman Theatre into a old-fashioned hoedown … but just for one night only.

The Adventures of Kesha and Macklemore will take center stage on Tuesday at Sprint Center.

Sprint Center will feature The Adventures of Kesha and Macklemore, as these two trailblazing artists bring their 30-date summer tour to the heart of Kansas City beginning at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Stanfords Comedy Club brings laughs at its new joint at 831 Walnut. Comedian Will C will headline the 18 & older show this week with performances at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday through Saturday, and late shows on Friday and Saturday. And, Sundays feature an Open Mic beginning at 7:30 p.m.

The Truman will be bouncing this week with two shows, including Trixie Mattel on her Now With Moving Parts Tour at 8 p.m. Wednesday; and Russell Dickerson with Abby Anderson at 8 p.m. Friday.

LIVE THEATER is thriving on Downtown stages, which features three productions this week, including:

ARTS – your guide to arts and culture in greater Kansas City:

LIVE MUSIC – of all tastes and flavors – is performed at these Downtown venues on most nights:

MUSEUMS are alive and well throughout Downtown, including these 16 destinations:

For more of what’s happening in Downtown and Kansas City, check out our friends at VisitKC.com

Makers Faire sets the pace for the week in Downtown

Boys II Men return to Kansas City this week for a Susan G. Komen benefit performance on Thursday at the Midland Theatre.

Settle into a summer groove this week, as the Maker Faire, the Crossroads Beer Fest, Taps at the Tower and the return of Boys II Men set the pace for the arts and entertainment scene this week in Downtown – Monday to Sunday, June 18-24:

Crossroads KC will heat up the East Crossroads with four red hot shows this week, including Dirty Heads with Iration, The Movement and Pacific Dub at 7 p.m. Monday; the Devon Allman Project with Duane Betts and featuring Amanda Fish at 8 p.m. Thursday; Bones Thugs – n – Harmony with Twista and Will Smiff at 8 p.m. Friday; and Crossroads Beer Fest, featuring 24 craft breweries, starring The M80s at 5 p.m. Saturday.

The Kansas City Symphony presents its 2017-18 Season Finale this weekend with three performances in Helzberg Hall.

Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts will be riding high with four scintillating performances in the coming week, including:

  • Penn & Teller make a long overdue stop in KC for a sold-out performance at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Muriel Kauffman Theatre. For more than 40 years Penn & Teller have defied labels – and at times physics and good taste – by redefining the genre of magic and inventing their own niche in comedy.
  • Century of Bernstein – The Kansas City Symphony 2017-18 season finale will set your heart and soul ablaze with two theatrical masterpieces, Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique Bernstein’s Age of Anxiety. Performances are set for 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday in Helzberg Hall.

Knuckleheads Saloon– the hottest honky tonk in the Big Town – features 13 smokin’ shows this week, including the Curtis McMurty Duo at 9:30 p.m. Thursday; Maria the Mexican at 7:30 p.m. Saturday; and The Rainmakers and The Nace Brothers at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.

 

Maker Faire Kansas City celebrates things people create themselves – from new technology and electronic gizmos to urban farming and “slow-made” foods to homemade clothes, quilts and sculptures. This family-friendly event  brings together makers, crafters, inventors, hackers, scientists and artists from 10-6 on Saturday and 10-5 on Sunday at Union Station.

The Smoke Me Out Tour will rock Downtown on Friday at the Midland.

Midland Theatre will light up the Big Town with three huge shows this week, including:

Music Hall will be in the mood for great fun this week with two giant shows, including comedienne Heather Land at 7 p.m. Thursday and legendary rocker Jackson Browne and his full band at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

Power & Light District will light up the heart of Downtown with back-to-back-to-back concerts this week, including Midland – headlining the Hot Country Nights series- at 7 p.m. Thursday; Fuel and Soul Asylum at 8 p.m. Friday; and Oh Wonder at 8 p.m. Saturday in the KC LIVE! Block.

Stanfords Comedy Club brings laughs at its new joint at 831 Walnut. Comedian Patrick Ryan will headline the 18 & older show this week with performances at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday through Saturday, and late shows on Friday and Saturday. And, Sundays feature an Open Mic beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Taps at the Tower – Linking the beauty and simplicity of the Taps bugle call with the symbolism of the Liberty Memorial, the National World War I Museum and Memorial presents this 5th annual tribute at sunset (8:45 p.m.) now through Friday. Visitors are invited to come and use the grounds each evening, have a picnic, play games and enjoy the outdoors as part of this free event.

The Truman will be bouncing this week with two shows, including Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls with Lucero, The Homeless Gospel Choir and The Menzingers at 7 p.m. Thursday; and Tory Lanez with Flipp Dinero and Davo at 9 p.m. Friday.

LIVE THEATER is thriving on Downtown stages, which features four productions this week, including:

ARTS – your guide to arts and culture in greater Kansas City:

LIVE MUSIC – of all tastes and flavors – is performed at these Downtown venues on most nights:

MUSEUMS are alive and well throughout Downtown, including these 16 destinations:

For more of what’s happening in Downtown and Kansas City, check out our friends at VisitKC.com

Boulevardia raises the bar for the week in Downtown

Boulevardia returns to the Stockyards District this Friday and Saturday for another memorable celebration of beer, food, music and, well, beer.

From Boulevardia to Juneteenth, from Buddy Guy to Diana Krall … this week feels like the official start of summer in Kansas City. Let’s roll the highlight reel for the week ahead in arts and entertainment in Downtown KC – Monday to Sunday, June 11-17:

Antique Festival – The 18th annual festival will feature pottery, china, toys, linens, collectibles, furniture, jewelry, books and more from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday at Crown Center.

Boulevardia – The two-day urban street festival returns on Friday and Saturday in Kansas City’s Stockyards District. The event features a craft beer and food sampling experience, music from local, regional and national acts, as well as family activities, entertainment, shopping and eco-education, all in a unique urban setting.

JuneteenthKC Heritage Festival – The 7th Annual Juneteenth Celebration officially returns to the 18th & Vine Historic Jazz District on Saturday from noon to 10 p.m. Juneteenth is a historic celebration that features KC’s best, local live entertainment and free activities for the entire family! Check out more details and the complete schedule right here.

GRAMMY Award winning jazz diva Diana Krall returns to Downtown KC this week for a sold out performance at the Kauffman Center on Saturday.

Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts will be riding high with three scintillating performances in the coming week, including:

  • Glenn Miller Orchestra – More than 20 musicians and singers bring the world-famous Glenn Miller sound and perform the songs that everyone remembers at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Muriel Kauffman Theatre. This is a show not to miss for jazz and swing fans alike and for the incurable romantics who want to step back in time.
  • Kansas City Symphony performs Mendelssohn’s Italian and Haydn, as part of its Classical Series, at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday in Helzberg Hall.
  • Diana Krall brings her Turn Up The Quiet World Tour to the Kauffman Center for a sold out show at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Kauffman Theatre. The multiple GRAMMY Award-winning pianist and world-renowned singer is the only jazz singer to have eight albums debut at the top of the Billboard Jazz Albums chart.

Blues legend Buddy Guy returns to KC this week for a blow-out date at Knuckleheads on Friday.

Knuckleheads Saloon– the hottest honky tonk in the Big Town – features nine smokin’ shows this week, including the legendary Buddy Guy with Carolyn Wonderland Band & Quinn  Sullivan at 8 p.m. Friday.

LOCASH will take center stage in the KC LIVE! Block at 7 p.m. Thursday, as part of the Hot Country Nights series at the Power & Light District.

Stanfords Comedy Club brings laughs at its new joint at 831 Walnut. Comedian Tony Woods will headline the 18 & older show this week with performances at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. And, Sundays feature an Open Mic beginning at 7:30 p.m.

The Summerland Tour 2018 features Everclear on Sunday at Crossroads KC.

Summerland Tour featuring Everclear, Marcy Playground and Local H will torch the East Crossroads beginning at 7 p.m. Sunday at Crossroads KC at Grinders.

Tank & Lyfe Jennings will heat up the R&B scene this week with a special engagement at 8 p.m. Friday at The Midland.

The Truman will be bouncing this week for four shows including First Aid Kit with J.S. Ondara at 8 p.m. Tuesday; Neal Brennan at 7:30 p.m. Thursday; Dr. Dog with special guest (Sandy) Alex G at 8 p.m. Friday; and Dance Gavin Dance with Sianvar, Erra and I See Stars at 7 p.m. Sunday.

LIVE THEATER is thriving on Downtown stages, which feature two productions this week, including:

  • Cats – With music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and based on Old Possum’s Book Of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot, the Broadway sensation runs through June 24 at the MTH Theater at Crown Center.
  • Sinatra’s Songwriter – Celebrate the career of Frank Sinatra through The Genius of Sammy Cahn, the man who penned much of it, in this stylish cabaret revue featuring favorites from Sinatra’s early big band years in 1930s New York to hits from his Vegas acts of the ’50s and ’60s. Sinatra runs through July 8 at the Quality Hill Playhouse.

ARTS – your guide to arts and culture in greater Kansas City:

LIVE MUSIC – of all tastes and flavors – is performed at these Downtown venues on most nights:

MUSEUMS are alive and well throughout Downtown, including these 16 destinations:

For more of what’s happening in Downtown and Kansas City, check out our friends at VisitKC.com