6 Expressive Things To Do In Kansas City This Weekend

Nov 2, 2017

South African "gumboot" dancing is just one of the expressive activities coming to KC this weekend.
Credit South African Tourism / Flickr — CC

How can you keep it in?

Don’t even try this weekend, with so many activities to tempt your expressive side, from the pure nostalgia of “Hey, hey, we’re the Monkees” (one of them, anyway) to the opportunity to literally skate away from your troubles.

So how can you not let it out? There you go.

1. ‘50 Summers of Love’

It’s 1967 all over again with this concert tour celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love. The show stars Micky Dolenz of the Monkees (“I’m a Believer,” “Last Train To Clarksville,” “Pleasant Valley Sunday”) and Mark Lindsay of Paul Revere & the Raiders (“Kicks,” “Good Thing,” “Hungry”) plus Beatles tribute band the Fab Four (“All You Need Is Love”). Were you in the thick of the peace-and-love fest a half-century ago? You will be! Well, sort of. Patchouli oil optional.

Friday, 8:30 p.m., Star Pavilion at Ameristar Casino, 3200 Ameristar Drive, Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $50, $55.

2. Jonathan Richman featuring Tommy Larkins on drums

Singer/songwriter Jonathan Richman rose to cult rock fame as the front man of the Modern Lovers, before busting loose in the 1980s as an idiosyncratically sincere solo troubadour. Whether sharing about his favorite painter (“No One Was Like Vermeer), musing on the mystery of true love (“There’s Something About Mary”) or just promoting a big group hug (“Parties in the U.S.A.”), Richman’s deceptively simple approach to words and music – divinely accessible to some, too childlike for others – merely seeks to connect with other open hearts and minds in a fun yet meaningful way. Serenade us, Jonathan.

Saturday, 7 p.m.; the Bottleneck, 737 New Hampshire St., Lawrence, Kan.; tickets: $15.

3. Take Me to the River’: Memphis Soul and Rhythm & Blues Revue

Soul and R&B heavyweights William Bell, Charlie Musselwhite and Bobby Rush will lay it down with an all-star band rooted in the seminal Memphis sound of the 1960s and ’70s. The tour is an outgrowth of the trio’s acclaimed album, “Take Me to the River,” and its accompanying documentary of the same name that showcased these three Grammy-winning practitioners of the legendary southern groove that wouldn’t, couldn’t and shouldn’t die. Prepare to be moved. Only barefooted fans in attendance will be missing their dancing shoes.

Friday, 8 p.m., Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th St., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $35-$65.

4. Festival of South African Dance

Two folk-dance ensembles from Johannesburg, South Africa – Real Actions Pantsula and Stimela “The Gumboot” Musical – have joined forces to tour the world with their rhythmic talents. At least 20 dancers and musicians cut loose onstage and, in the process, tell historic stories of immense challenge and possibility. That includes “gumboot” dancing, born in the depths of historic South African goldmines, where slave workers weren’t allowed to talk and so invented their own form of communication by smacking their gumboots and shaking their chains. Outside the mines, the beat-driven messaging system spread to become a prevalent community dance. Freedom finds a way.

Saturday, 8 p.m.; Yardley Hall at the Carlsen Center, Johnson County Community College, 12345 College Blvd., Overland Park, Kan.; $27-$42.

5. Great Pumpkin Smash

It’s that time of year when elephants, tigers, gorillas and many other animal species get to experience “enrichment” via pumpkins at the Kansas City Zoo. Although ultimately food, what else might a river otter, warthog, rhino, hippo or dingo actually do with a pumpkin? Which critters will apply a tender touch? Which will simply smash? We can’t talk to the animals, but they might be telling us something with their choices.

Saturday and Sunday, 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.; Kansas City Zoo, 6800 Zoo Drive, Kansas City, Mo.; admission: $11.50-$14.50 (ages 2 and younger free).

6. Crown Center Ice Terrace

Go on, toss your head back, stick out your arms and – oh my. It’s okay, get up and try again. And again. Hey, no one said ice skating was easy! But everyone can give it a try at Kansas City’s downtown outdoor skating rink, which opens its 2017-18 season this weekend. Don’t be afraid to express yourself on the ice, including holding on to the outer railing for dear life while encouraging other tentative skaters to let go and see what happens. Oh my.

Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Crown Center Square, 2450 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo.; admission: $3; skate rental $6.

Brian McTavish is a regular arts and culture contributor for KCUR 89.3. You can reach him at brianmctavish@gmail.com