Happy In Bag

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Star Light, Bar Bright

The Hurricane was never "my" bar.

I first went there in the ‘80s for the Bon Ton Soul Accordion Band’s weekly Saturday matinee. I’ve experienced hundreds of hours of music at the Hurricane since then, including the OK Jones performance pictured here, but I never felt at home.

Still, I sympathize with the people mourning its transition into a martini bar. I especially feel for the guy who’s arguably Kansas City’s best blogger. And I hope that this notorious post had nothing to do with the makeover.

Cue the sappy music, because I’m about to wax nostalgic about other Kansas City music venues that are no longer. In approximate order of my first visit:

*One Block West- Because I saw shows here before I was old enough to drive, I don’t even know where it was. Roeland Park? Kansas City, Kansas? I usually gained entry to crummy metal shows because I was "with the band" or because I was escorted by a menacing thug.

*Milton’s (Main Street location)- I starting going here because they seemed willing to serve anyone who’d hit puberty, but I kept returning for the real education it gave me. The library of jazz albums behind the bar were more intoxicating than the contents of the bottles.

*The Grand Emporium- I have nothing against its new incarnation, but it bears little resemblance to its roots. Primarily a day-drinker’s tavern, there was a small stage at the west end of the shotgun-shaped dive where local and regional blues and jazz acts, such as Priscilla Bowman and Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, played. And they didn’t card. Man, I miss the late co-owner George Meyers.

*Parody Hall (crossroads district and later at 39th and Southwest Trafficway)- Locals like Steve, Bob & Rich and Fools Face were big draws, and every week featured roadhouse bands from Texas, punk and new wave acts from Minneapolis, and the occasional gig by the likes of English cult artist Richard Thompson.

*Jimmy’s Jigger- Everyone loved the room on State Line now inhabited by Jazz. The Scamps and Kevin Mahogany were regulars. The odd touring act like bluegrass artist Alison Krauss would also perform here.

*The Lone Star- A free-standing building located in what’s now the parking lot of the World Market in Westport, this club fulfilled the role that the Record Bar now plays. Get this- the promoter who booked many of the Lone Star’s shows was Hearne Christopher, Jr., now gossip columnist for the Kansas City Star.

*City Light- The relaxed spirit of the jazz club located at 74th and Wornall lives on at the Phoenix.

*Nightmoves- Back in the blues boom, a rival to the Grand Emporium opened north of the river. Bikers were welcome there, but I don’t think it lasted more than a couple years.

*Guitars & Cadillacs- The dormant venue behind the Westport Library must have had a dozen names. I was first forced to go there when it was an upscale disco; I think jackets were required for men. It later functioned as a country two-step club where country stars like Marty Stuart and Patty Loveless would perform.

*Bonus points for anyone who remembers the late ‘80s nightclub on the west side of Wornall between 85th and 95th . It was a godsend for local bands but it had an awful name, something like Shooterz or Bananaz. Anyone?

Thanks for indulging me on my boozy trip down memory lane. Feel free to fill in the gaps.


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