6 Folksy Things To Do In Kansas City This Weekend

Feb 16, 2017

Nothing's folksier than the Kansas City Folk Fest Festival during the Folk Alliance International Conference.
Credit File Photo / Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Giving the people – the folks, the general population, basically everyone – what they want can be challenging. Especially since everyone these days seems to want something different.

Yet the inclusive notion of pleasing the masses may be a little easier this weekend with a folksy lineup of experiences grounded in proven public predilections, from time-tested musical entertainment to the timeless appeal of dinosaurs.

Remember, the common bond of folksiness is where you find it. So start looking!

1. Kansas City Folk Festival

Punker, protester and sensational troubadour Billy Bragg gets top billing at this year’s Kansas City Folk Festival. Not your brand of folk music? No sweat, although you may work up one when blues biggie Bobby Rush lays down his famous groove. There’s also Puerto Rican songstress Ani Cordero, happy-go-lucky Grammy winners the Okee Dokee Brothers and Kansas City string band the Good Hearts, among the more than 20 local, national and international acts on tap in this day-long concert. May the folk be with you. 

Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Westin Hotel in Crown Center, 1 Pershing Road, Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $30 (ages 4 and younger free).

 

2. ‘Discover the Dinosaurs – Unleashed’

Folks dig dinosaurs – especially little folks. But it’s not enough for little ones to simply learn about dinosaurs. They get to be able to touch them, too, including a life-size replica of the ever-popular Tyrannosaurus Rex, at this interactive exhibit. Not that accompanying grown-ups can’t also have a swell time snapping pics of their offspring experiencing “dino rides,” “Cretaceous crafts” and "Mesozoic mini-golf.” Because all work and no play makes T-Rex – extinct or not – one grouchy meat-eater.

Saturday-Monday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Bartle Hall, 301 W. 13th St., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $18-$54.

 

​3. Abbamania or Super Diamond

Here are two accomplished tribute bands that have made lots of folks happy by conjuring significant nostalgia for two different pop-rock legends: Abba and Neil Diamond. Just one problem if you happen to be a fan of both: Abbamania and Super Diamond are performing at the same time at different local nightspots. Decision time! Do you go with Abbamania’s “Mama Mia,” “Waterloo” and “S.O.S.” or Super Diamond’s “Cherry Cherry,” “Sweet Caroline” and “I Am, I Said”? Abbamania’s “Knowing Me, Knowing You,” or Super Diamond’s “Touching You, Touching Me”? Yeah, I know, I’m only making this harder.

Abbamania: Saturday, 8 p.m.; Uptown Theater, 3700 Broadway, Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $25-$60.
Super Diamond: Saturday, 8 p.m.; Star Pavilion, Ameristar Casino, 3200 N. Ameristar Dr., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $15-$35.

 

4. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band with Ozark Mountain Daredevils

Country rock and American roots music true believers since 1966, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band is best known for its Grammy Hall of Fame recording of “Mr. Bojangles,” Who doesn’t smile when they hear that one? The group’s historic 1972 album, “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” brought an unprecedented amalgam of bluegrass and country-western artists to much-deserved wider attention, which is why it’s not only in the Grammy Hall of Fame but also the U.S. Library of Congress. Not bad for a humble but effective group of pickers and grinners.

Friday, 7:30 p.m.; Uptown Theater, 3700 Broadway, Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $35-$75.

 

5. The Five Irish Tenors

You don’t have to be Irish to have a good Irish cry when the Five Irish Tenors lay into “Danny Boy.” Frankly, merely thinking of this talented quintet – good lads all and vocal exponents of the Emerald Isle – sweetly singing the transcendent song about loss and rebirth is enough to make me bawl. Oh, my, here I go. And you should go, too.

Friday, 8 p.m.; Yardley Hall, Carlsen Center, Johnson County Community College, 12345 College Blvd., Overland Park, Kan.; tickets: $16-$42.

 

6. Johnson County NAACP Gumbo Fest

Sometimes food is only food. But it’s also a metaphor at this 13th annual fundraiser for the Johnson County NAACP. The mix of ingredients in a bowl of delicious gumbo will be rivaled only by the mix of people enjoying the same. Meet some new folks!

Saturday, 3-7 p.m.; Irene B. French Community Center, 5701 Merriam Dr., Merriam, Kan.; admission: $8-$25.

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