DJs pride themselves on the rare grooves they can dig up and play for audiences. But there’s another kind of audio lover who searches for artifacts of eras gone by, whether it’s radio broadcasts, commercials or speeches.
The past few months have been rough for local jazz. Two promising newer venues, 1911 Main and Café Augusta in Lenexa, have shut down. And at Jardine's Restaurant and Jazz Club, one of the city’s most celebrated venues, a dispute between the owner and employees led to a boycott by musicians. The restaurant then closed its doors, and its future remains up in the air.
In the early evening of December 29th, Louie “Scooter” Martin was working the final hours of his last shift before retiring. For most people, that would mean eating a big, sugary cake and hearing some words of tribute from the boss. But Martin spent his final working hours racing through midtown traffic toward one of the biggest fires in Westport history (at Westport Presbyterian Church). It was a fitting end to the career of one of the long-serving firefighters in Kansas City history. This week, Alex Smith visited Louie “Scooter” Martin at his home in Liberty.
Every 19 days, members of Kansas City’s Baha’i religious community gather for a potluck and a traditional service they call a feast. It’s a remarkable diverse mix of races, ages and backgrounds celebrating a 150-year-old gospel of global unity. But the optimistic spirit of many of Kansas City’s Baha’is has been tested. Many have fled for their lives in order to practice their religion.
To Rebecca Pryor, her grandfather Charlie was a kind of Pied Piper. Everywhere he went, he made music that thrilled listeners.
Charlie Pryor was a percussionist, specializing in drum set, xylophone and a homemade musical washboard supped up with cowbells and horns. When she was little, Charlie took Rebecca with him to play at churches, and he played at her school's assemblies.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Inspired by low bass pumping stereo systems, the Rumbler is the newest addition to police sirens in Kansas City, Mo. It was created for urban environments and features two large bass speakers that can be heard and felt from inside cars and even buildings. The Rumbler, introduced in 2007, was designed to literally shake the streets.
LAWRENCE, Ks. – When the Kansas City Missouri school district officially loses its accreditation on January 1, 2012, students in the district may have the option of enrolling in other district's schools. And the Kansas City district would be required to pay tuition and transportation costs for any student who does that.
Kansas City, MO – For the past month, a billboard in the Waldo neighborhood has been catching a lot of attention. It's for the local jewelry company Tivol and features two people together in a store looking at a ring. They're both men. The billboard came down on Thursday, although Tivol says it just reached the end of its intended month-long lifespan. But in that month, it has made an impression.
KANSAS CITY, MO – The City Hall, police station, and community building of Prairie Village, KS will soon have their temperatures regulated by a geothermal heating system venturing more than four hundred feet underground.
This low maintenance alternative energy system taps into the constant temperatures just below the earth's surface to cool a building in the summer and heat it in winter.
It is funded in part by a grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Blind Boone, a talented pianist, overcame blindness from a childhood illness to become an important figure in the Kansas City jazz scene. Photo is image number SHS 006696 from the State Historical Society of Missouri.
It's often a challenge for even the most hard-core jazz buffs to remember Missouri's pre-ragtime composer known as Blind Boone.
By Alex Smith
KANSAS CITY, MO – The National Endowment for the Arts recently announced a pledge of $200,000 to help restore the long-abandoned Boone Theater in the 18th and Vine District. While it's a welcome boost for the neighborhood, even many Missourians are hard-pressed to remember the 19th century composer and pianist for whom the theater was named.
Kansas City, MO – The Great Plains is not exactly the setting you might imagine for the continuation of a dynasty of tai chi masters. But when the descendant of the inventors of this martial art moved to KC, she brought with her a rich tradition that has been part of her family for centuries. KCUR's Alex Smith brings us to the Shawnee, Kansas studio where this master and her husband teach and practice.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Sometimes when we hear about flooding in our area, it's easy to get a little leery about what's coming out of our facets. That's especially true when the tap water tastes a little different than usual. Could there be sewage or pesticides leaking into our water supply? Is it safe? This week, Alex Smith investigated.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – During the last 20 years, there's been a kind of quiet war going on. It's over who sells books and how they do it. In the early 90s, most book selling happened in small, locally-owned stores. But the rise of giant retailers and then Amazon.com threatened many of the small stores with extinction.
A group of young Kansas City artists are trying a new way of funding the arts by feeding people.
Kansas City, Mo. – It's a tough time to be an artist. Federal and state governments are cutting back on funding, and, while the art market is improving, it's still slow. KCUR's Alex Smith has the story.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – This past week, UMKC held a luncheon to honor some of its most accomplished alumni. Among the group was a man Kansas City hasn't seen much since he graduated over 40 years ago. Dr. Mutuku Mutinga has spent most of his life combating insect-borne diseases in his native Kenya, but he credits his years in Kansas City with giving him the tools he's needed to carry on the fight.
While he was in town, Dr. Mutinga told his story to KCUR's Alex Smith.
Mission Hills, Kan. – Mission Hills is doing unusually well in tough times, but it has always been an unusual place. There are only three business - all country clubs - in the whole city. It has no police department. Law enforcement, snow plowing and just about every other city service is contracted from outside the city. Clinging to the Kansas side of the State Line, Mission Hills is just a sliver of two square miles, home to just 3,500 people.
LAWRENCE, Ks. – Until recently, there were eight known species of Southeast Asian butterfly lizards. But a KU biology student has added another to the count, and he discovered the new species on the menu of a Vietnamese restaurant.
KANSAS CITY, Mo – The 4th district stretches from the Missouri River south to 79th Street and between Troost and State Line, including much of downtown and midtown. Five candidates might seem like a lot of plans and philosophies to sift through, but, for the most part, all five candidates have nearly identical ideas on what the city council should do. Voters will see the five following candidates on the ballot: John Crawford,Jim Glover,Anne McGregor,Edward Pace, and Annie Presley.
Kansas City, MO – Action movie fans may have noticed some different fight moves on the big screen in recent years. In the James Bond film Casino Royale and all three of the Bourne Identity movies, the good guys are using Filipino martial arts to bust up the bad guys.
Now, a former police trainer living in Prairie Village is adapting those moves to help women learn self-defense. KCUR's Alex Smith dropped in on a class to find out more.
Kansas City, MO – For the past several years, Dwayne's Photo in Parsons, Kansas, has been the last place on the planet that officially develops Kodak's Kodachrome film. But with the end of 2010, the lab stopped processing Kodachrome.
So in the past few months, the lab has been receiving thousands of film rolls a day from all over the world. KC Currents' Alex Smith hit the road for Parsons to find out more.
Harold O'Neal recently talked about his musical and extra-musical adventures of the past few years.
By Alex Smith
Kansas City, MO – Pianist Harold O'Neal's new album Whirling Mantis doesn't come out of the New York jazz clubs where he most often performs. Instead, the songs were largely inspired by the time he spent studying martial arts here in his hometown of Kansas City.
Kansas City, MO – We're in the middle of the five-day Hindu celebration of Diwali. On Saturday, some 2000 people gathered at the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center to celebrate with the region's biggest-ever Diwali party.
Earlier last week, KC Currents' Alex Smith went to temple to find out more about the holiday known as the "festival of lights."
Kansas City, MO – Missouri Proposition B squeaked in last night by two points.
Supporters say the measure will require dog breeders to provide safer and cleaner conditions for animals.
At the 75th Street Brewery, a group of nearly forty had dwindled to seven when Proposition B was declared victorious just before midnight. Dispelling some campaign rumors, a spokesperson for the Missourians for the Protection of Dogs says they have no other plans to set up rules for the treatment of animals in business or agriculture in Missouri.