Happy In Bag

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The Sound of Silence In Kansas City

The survival of the building pictured here offers vital perspective. Today's tattooed teens and the ghosts in the cemetery on Union Hill know it as El Torreon. Aging hippies wistfully remember the structure as the Cowtown Ballroom.

It's just one of several Kansas City spots that gave up on live music in 2007. According to a recent column by Hearne Christopher, live music has also ended in the room formerly known as the Grand Emporium. Over in the West Bottoms, Kemper Arena lies largely forsaken since the Sprint Center opened. A Christian rock show is currently the only concert on its books.

The status of the Hurricane is uncertain. And it's possible that the outdoor theater in Bonner Springs that was once called Sandstone may be permanently shuttered.

All these changes represent normal transitions. The music didn't stop; it just moved to other locations. The closing of the Phoenix, the third most important jazz venue in town, is different. I'm afraid there's little demand for what it offered.


  • At 9:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    are you feeling any desire to pick up where the phoenix left off?

  • At 4:42 PM, Blogger bgo said…

    To this aging Boomer it will always be El Torreon, where I roller skated a good handful of times.

    Not that I didn't attend some Cowtown shows though.


  • At 5:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hey! Aging hippy? I won't give you that _ is the new_ crap, but I was at the Cowtown. Okay I was there when I was 12 but I still had a damn good time! But I don't hold onto a lot of stuff. Perhaps this building will be the host to good times for another group of young (dare I say) free spirits. In what ever form that takes. My one desire is that it is not loft-ed.

  • At 7:23 PM, Blogger Xavier Onassis said…

    As I related at the blogger meet up, I attended my very first concert in that venue (as the Cowtown Ballroom).

    I was the first caller to an FM giveaway. The headliner was Captain Beefheart. The warm-up act was some local group named Kansas. Nobody had ever heard of 'em. We were there to see Captain Beefheart and maybe get a Trout Mask Replica.

  • At 7:34 PM, Blogger Xavier Onassis said…

    Read my concert post and see some old ticket stubs here:

  • At 9:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Saw Kansas there also. I thought they reeked. There were a lot of strange lineups at the Cowtown. I suppose though they were no worse than having Santana (the great) on the same bill as Frampton.

  • At 9:50 AM, Blogger Happy In Bag said…

    Are you crazy, Jdouplep! Sure, just like every guy, I've fantasized about having my own club. But it'd only be attractive if KCMO somehow subsidized it so that tourists would be assured of having jazz available within walking distance of their downtown hotel rooms.

    I regret missing out on the Cowtown Ballroom era. Even though it had the scuzziest bathrooms in town, I heard some memorable noise at El Torreon in the last five years.

    Confession: I bought a Kansas t-shirt when I was twelve years old.


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