Arts & Culture

KCUR’s Arts & Culture Desk covers arts news from music to visual art to dance and theater, with a focus on Kansas and Missouri.

Our reporters explore the behind-the-scene stories about newsmakers and emerging artists. We also take a look at the intersections of arts and technology, science and creativity, and present profiles of creative people. 

Pages

Up To Date
1:55 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Local Listen: Jason Vivone & the Billy Bats

Credit billybats.com

The Phoenix, one of Kansas City's most popular live music venues, hosts its fifth annual Phoenix Fest this Saturday.  Jason Vivone and the Billy Bats are among the eight area-based acts performing at the event.  This week's edition of Local Listen features "Eddie Ate Dynamite," the humorous title track from the band's 2013 album.

Read more
Up To Date
10:28 am
Fri July 18, 2014

The Weekend To-Do List: July 18-20

Credit ifckc.com

Brian McTavish's Weekend To-Do List packs entertainment for every taste, from one big picnic to a funky art festival. Have a fantastic weekend!

Steely Dan
Classic rock under the stars
8 p.m. Saturday
Starlight Theatre, Swope Park
Tickets: $40 to$150

Read more
Arts & Culture
2:57 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Where To Fringe - From Traditional To Unexpected Kansas City Venues

The Fishtank, 1715 Wyandotte, Kansas City, Mo.
Cara McClain KCUR

For its 10th season, the KC Fringe Festival will take over spaces in Kansas City, Mo., for theater, music, comedy, spoken word, burlesque and more.

KC Fringe is an 11-day festival that provides a platform for often lesser-known performing and visual artists. 

This year's Fringe will have 19 different venues. Most are scattered around the Crossroads Arts District, but some spread out into Westport and the Country Club Plaza.

Read more
Arts & Culture
6:01 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

Local Listen: Ensemble Ibérica

Ensemble Ibérica
Credit Jeff Evrard / ensembleiberica.org

Often characterized by Americans as the blues of Portugal, fado is a melancholy music.  Vocalist Rodrigo Costa Félix is one of three Portuguese fado artists that will headline a concert Saturday, July 12, at Polsky Theatre on the campus of Johnson County Community College.  Kansas City's Ensemble Ibérica, a group led by event organizer Beau Bledsoe, will open the show.  This week's Local Listen features Ensemble Ibérica's "Fado Pechincha."

Read more
Up To Date
5:26 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

Michael Feinstein: Ambassador Of The Great American Songbook

Michael Feinstein in studio at KCUR.
Credit Beth Lipoff / Up to Date

His career includes multi-platinum recordings, 200-plus live performances per year, two Emmy and five Grammy nominations, conductor of the Pasadena Pops, nightclub owner, and that’s just the half of it. Perhaps his greatest recognition, though, is as “Ambassador of the Great American Songbook”. On Friday's Up to Date, Michael Feinstein talks with Steve Kraske about his love of classic American popular music and his efforts to preserve it for future generations.

Read more
Up To Date
1:42 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

The Weekend To-Do List: July 11-13

Check out "Spamalot" at The Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City this weekend!
Credit Monty Python's Spamalot

Whether it's live music, comedy theatre, or the largest water slide on earth, Brian McTavish's Weekend To-Do List has got you covered for summertime entertainment!

Verruckt Water Slide
Opening of the world's largest water slide
Opens Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily
Schlitterbahn Water Park, 9400 State Ave., Kansas City, Kan.
Admission: $36.99; $28.99 for ages 3 to 11/55 and older

Read more
Beyond Our Borders
12:52 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

The Story Behind Kansas City's House Of Cards

As a part of a community effort to eliminate neighborhood eyesores, artists transformed this abandoned apartment building into a house of cards in 2012.
Cara McClain KCUR

Have you ever driven through the Historic Northeast neighborhood in Kansas City, Mo., and seen a building with playing cards instead of windows? 

That's the house of cards, an abandoned apartment building at 7th and Indiana streets, that community members used to create public art. After a couple of years of dormancy, there's now some renewed interest to continue the effort.

Here's the story of how that project began: 

A couple years back, the Historic Northeast neighborhood in Kansas City, Mo., had a problem.

Read more
Up To Date
10:22 am
Wed July 2, 2014

Journalist Examines 'What Wars Leave Behind'

While armed conflicts are ongoing, media coverage brings images and sounds from the center of war zones to the world. But what happens when the guns go silent and the combatants and media go home?

J. Malcolm Garcia looks at the people left to survive in the aftermath in his book, What Wars Leave Behind: The Faceless and the Forgotten. On Wednesday's Up to Date, the author talks with Steve Kraske about "the endless messiness of war and the failings of good intentions."

Guest:

Read more
Up To Date
3:44 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

Local Listen: Greg Mackender

"The Winter's Tale" at the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival.
Credit Roger Ridpath / Heart of America Shakespeare Festival

The Heart of America Shakespeare Festival begins this weekend and while the play may be the thing, there’s live music too.

During performances of The Winter's Tale, there are three musicians on stage, including resident composer Greg Mackender on percussion and mallets, Sascha Groschang on cello and Laura Parks on violin.

"I left a lot of openings for impromptu types of things," says Mackender. "There are other spots where they can get a little livelier, we can play around a little bit."

Read more
Up To Date
9:00 am
Fri June 20, 2014

The Weekend To-Do List: June 20-22

Credit We Will Rock You

Brian McTavish's Weekend To-Do List for June 20-22 will keep you rolling from one exciting event to the next all weekend long.

Big Slick Celebrity Weekend
Paul Rudd, Jason Sudeikis, and Rob Riggle
5:30 p.m. Friday
The Little KC at Kauffman Stadium
Admission: Free with a ticket to the Royals/Mariner game

We Will Rock You
8:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday
Starlight Theatre
Tickets: $10 and up

Read more
Up to Date
9:00 am
Tue June 17, 2014

Jeff Shaara Is Back With Third Civil War Novel

Credit www.randomhouse.com

Bestselling author Jeff Shaara is renowned for his gritty depiction of Civil War battles. His fictionalized accounts of the historical events have appeared in previous works and he returns with his latest offering, The Smoke at Dawn. On Tuesday's Up to Date Steve Kraske talks with the author about how he fleshes out the known facts and in doing so creates a detailed account of the War Between the States.

Read more
Up To Date
1:12 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

The Weekend To-Do List: June 13-15

Boulevardia is a new beer, food, and music festival June 13-15 in the Kansas City West Bottoms district.
Credit Boulevardia.com

If you're looking for a variety of entertainment this weekend, look no further than Brian McTavish's Weekend To-Do List for June 13-15.

Don McLean and Judy Collins
8:30 p.m. Friday
Knuckleheads, 2715 Rochester
Tickets: $68.50

Read more
Up To Date
10:40 am
Fri June 6, 2014

Local Listen: 77 Jefferson

The summer months are reggae season in Kansas City.  Known for sweet vocals and loping rhythms, Kansas City's 77 Jefferson has been one of the region's most popular purveyors of the Jamaican sound since its inception in 2006.  From the band's most recent album “Rarities Vol. 2” comes the breezy track,"Call On Me".

Read more
Up To Date
5:30 pm
Fri May 30, 2014

Up To Date's Indie, Foreign & Doc Critics' 'Three To See,' May 30-June 1

Credit thehornetsnestmovie.com

Looking for a great film to see during the weekend of May 30-June 1? Up to Date's independent, foreign, and documentary film critics share their favorites showing on area screens:

Cynthia Haines:

  • Fed Up
  • The Hornet's Nest
  • The Lunchbox

Steve Walker:

Read more
Up To Date
3:58 pm
Fri May 30, 2014

Board Games In The Digital Age

Credit Patrick Q / Flickr Creative Commons

You’d think that the popularity of digital games like Angry Birds and Minecraft spells the end for the more traditional Monopoly and Risk but not so fast says one man. In this segment of Up to Date, Steve Kraske talks with Eric Martin of BoardGameGeek for a look at how board games are faring in this digital age.

Guest:

Read more
Up To Date
5:37 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

Northland Symphony Orchestra's Got Game ... And Film Scores

Video game sound has evolved from the simple electronic theme music of Super Mario Bros. to the lush orchestral arrangements that accompany gamers' top choices today.  Recognizing the popularity of these games has inspired the musical selections for an upcoming concert by the Northland Symphony Orchestra.

Read more
Up To Date
4:32 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

Up To Date's Indie, Foreign & Doc Critics' 'Three To See,' May 23-25

Critics Cynthia Haines and Steve Walker recommend "Fed Up," the documentary "that the food industry doesn't want you to see."

Looking for a great film to see during the long holiday weekend of May 23-26? Up to Date's independent, foreign, and documentary film critics share their favorites showing on area screens:

Cynthia Haines:

  • The Hornet's Nest
  • Only Lovers Left Alive
  • The Lunchbox

Steve Walker:

Read more
Up To Date
4:11 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

Local Listen: My Brothers & Sisters

Performances by My Brothers & Sisters are a spectacle.  The self-described "14-piece pop orchestra" from Kansas City includes string and horn sections, and a large chorus.  The ambitious project has been documented on "Violet Music: Volume One" a recently-released album that took over a year to record.  This edition of Local Listen features a song that showcases the soulful side of this expansive ensemble.  Here is "How To Move What To Wear".

Hear More: My Brothers & Sisters headline the annual spring dance at Knuckleheads on Saturday, May 31.

Read more
Up To Date
11:23 am
Thu May 22, 2014

The Weekend To-Do List: May 23-25

At 87, Tony Bennett is still performing regularly. He's part of the 'Weekend To-Do List' for May 23-25.
Credit Tom Beetz / Flickr-CC

If you're looking for good music this weekend, look no further than Brian McTavish's Weekend To-Do List for May 23-25.

Tony Bennett (pop music legend), 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, 1601 Broadway, Kansas City, Mo. Tickets: $70 to $150.

Westport Roots Festival (Billy Joe Shaver and 25 bands), Saturday, indoor music at noon, outdoor at 2 p.m. at the Westport Saloon, 4112 Pennsylvania, Kansas City, Mo. Tickets: $28.

Read more
Up To Date
11:01 am
Thu May 15, 2014

The Weekend To-Do List: May 16-18

Cirque du Soleil is just one of the attractions on the 'Weekend To-Do List' for May 16-18.
Credit Marcelo Volcato / Flickr-CC

Looking for something to spice up your weekend? Check out Brian McTavish's Weekend To-Do List for May 16-18.

Johnny Rivers (Rock 'n' Roll), 8:30 p.m. Friday at Knuckleheads Saloon, 2715 Rochester, Kansas City, Mo. Tickets: $38.50

The 5 Browns (Five-piano-playing family), 8 p.m. at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, 1601 Broadway, Kansas City, Mo. Tickets: $29 to $49

Read more
Central Standard
12:40 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Kansas City Actor Emerges On A Bigger Stage

Darrow plays Kevin Spacey's bodyguard and driver in the Netflix original series.
Credit Matteo Bittanti / Flickr / Creative Commons

Nathan Darrow, an actor from Overland Park, Kan., has rocketed to stardom in his role as Edward Meechum on the Netflix show House of Cards. Darrow got his big break when he completed a world tour with a Sam Mendes production of Richard III, also starring Kevin Spacey. (A one-time screening of a documentary about that world tour will take place at the Tivoli April 29 at 7:30 p.m.

Read more
Up To Date
11:24 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Web Exclusive: Edward James Olmos On Lt. Castillo Of 'Miami Vice'

Edward James Olmos as Lt. Martin Castillo on "Miami Vice".
Credit Google Commons

If Miami Vice was the hottest show on television in the '80s then Lt. Martin Castillo was the coolest character.  As portrayed by Edward James Olmos, Castillo was a man of few words and a mysterious past.  In this excerpt of his interview with Steve Kraske, Olmos recalls the conditions under which he took the role and why he didn't look at actors Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas during his first season on the show.

Read more
Up To Date
11:11 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Actor And Activist Edward James Olmos

Actor, director, and Chicano activist Edward James Olmos joins Steve Kraske on Wednesday's "Up to Date."
Credit Donna Lou Morgan

Science fiction fans will recognize him as Commander William Adama from Battlestar Galactica, but Edward James Olmos is also well known for his activism in the Latino and Chicano community. 

On the first half of Wednesday's Up to Date, host Steve Kraske sits down with Olmos to discuss his long career in Hollywood and his numerous efforts to reach out to Chicano youth. Olmos gave the Cesar Chavez Lecture at the University of Missouri-Kansas City on Tuesday.

Guest:

Read more
Up To Date
2:16 pm
Fri March 21, 2014

Local Listen: Middle Twin

Middle Twin performs at this year's Middle of the Map music festival running April 3-5 in Westport.
Credit www.middletwin.com

The lineup has been announced for this year’s Middle of the Map music festival.  Running from April 3 to April 5, the festival takes place at various locations in and around Westport in Kansas City.

Read more
Up To Date
4:16 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Local Listen: Rev Gusto

The line-up has been announced for this year’s Middle of the Map music festival.  Running from April 3rd - 5th, the festival takes place at various locations in and around Westport. 

Rev Gusto is one band from the Kansas City area who will be sharing the stage with regional and national artists.  This week we hear the summery garage-band sounds of Rev Gusto in the track “Click-Click” from their self-titled EP.

Read more
Visual Arts
11:25 am
Wed January 29, 2014

Kansas City Artist Dylan Mortimer Wants You To Activate His Halos, Or Not

Artist Dylan Mortimer stands inside one of his halos, 'The Meek,' at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art.
Laura Spencer KCUR

Art and religion have been described as natural bedfellows – and yet, it’s been a complicated relationship. One Kansas City artist, Dylan Mortimer, explores religion in his artwork – including a series of halos, where anyone can choose to be illuminated.

Stepping inside the halo

Read more
Central Standard
12:11 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

William S. Burroughs: A Man Of Many Vices

Burroughs would have been 100 years old this February.
Credit More Solomon / Creative Commons

Who was William S. Burroughs? Some remember him as a controversial Beat writer; others remember his illicit drug habits and the murder of his second wife.

On Tuesday's Central Standard, we talk about the life of the infamous man from St. Louis, Mo. who traveled around the world and later settled in Lawrence, Kan.

Guest:

Read more
Performance
5:00 am
Fri January 24, 2014

[VIDEO] In This Scene...'Grounded'

Actor Carla Noack plays a fighter pilot caught between war and suburbia.
Credit Julie Denesha / KCUR

The one-woman play, Grounded, by George Brant, explores the destructive power of modern warfare through the eyes of a female combat pilot. After an unexpected pregnancy, she's reassigned to a windowless trailer in the Nevada desert as the desk pilot of a military drone.

The Unicorn Theatre's production marks the third in a series of "rolling world premieres" presented by members of the National New Play Network, dedicated to the development of new work.

Read more
Up to Date
2:59 pm
Sat January 18, 2014

Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser Is Back Among Friends In Kansas City

Credit kennedy-center.org

As The Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey approached its 30th anniversary this year it sought out Michael Kaiser, a leading arts-management consultant and the current President of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.  The goal: to position the organization as a model to other cities for overcoming cultural and social segregation.

Michael Kaiser spoke with Steve Kraske, host of Up to Date.

Interview Highlights:

Read more
Performance
3:55 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Kansas City Friends Of Alvin Ailey Seeks National Stage In 30th Year

Kennedy Center president, Michael Kaiser, stands with KCFAA executive director, Tyrone Aiken. Kaiser was brought in as a consultant.
Credit Laura Spencer / KCUR

It was 30 years ago this year that Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey was created as a second home for the New York-based Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, a modern dance company founded in 1958.

To mark this milestone, the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation on Friday issued a challenge grant. At $375,000, it’s the largest grant in the history of the Friends of Alvin Ailey.

Read more

Pages