7 Ways To Jam In Kansas City This Weekend

Feb 2, 2017

Grave Digger is just one of the monster trucks that'll show up at Monster Jam this weekend in Kansas City.
Credit Lance Cheung / U.S. Air Force / Wikimedia Commons

Jazz musicians have always gotten together to “jam,” but at some point the term also became a synonym for partying or any collective endeavor committed to cutting loose.

It goes at least as far back as the late 1970s, when I attended a couple of Summer Jam stadium rock extravaganzas that promised to blow my mind. They must have worked, because I can hardly remember a thing!

These days, there are more ways than ever to jam, including this weekend’s celebrations of music, comedy, dance and even crazy trucks that are way too big to park in the driveway – then again, if you can jam, you can dream.

1. Monster Jam

Monster trucks roar into Sprint Center to do their mayhem-centric motor-sports thing. Whether roaring around the race track, fiercely freestyling or just systematically destroying stuff, these insane vehicles (operated by incredibly skilled drivers who may or may not be in their right minds) will have audience members cheering for their favorites with names like Grave Digger, Devastator, Earth Shaker, Bounty Hunter, Rammunition, Wrecking Crew and … Fluffy? Yeah, right.

Friday, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, 2 and 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m.; Sprint Center, 1407 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $15-$50.

2. Galactic

The New Orleans funk and jazz jam band with the interstellar moniker dives into Mardi Gras month in full swing – as if these fellows know any other festive mode. For more than two decades, original members Ben Ellman, Robert Mercurio, Stanton Moore, Jeff Raines and Rich Vogel have held sway with those who love to get down to the music of Bourbon Street. The group’s 2015 album, “Into the Deep,” only broadened Galactic’s groove-laden appeal with such notable guest vocalists as Macy Gray and Mavis Staples. Although those two won’t be in KC, the band always travels with a powerful vocalist.

Friday, 8 p.m.; Madrid Theatre, 3810 Main St., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $25, $30.

3. 'Cultures of China – Festival of Spring'

Straight from Beijing, this 50-performer Chinese New Year’s celebration begins its 2017 world tour in Kansas City. The show will hit five continents and features iconic dance, music, fashions and visuals covering 5,000 years of Chinese history in one night – well, at least for one night only. It’s the Year of the Rooster, too, so this is one jam that’s bound to include its very own cock-a-doodle-doo! And how often can you say that? Which is why I just did.

Friday, 7 p.m.; Municipal Auditorium Music Hall, 301 W. 13th St., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $28-$88.

4. Center Stage Comedy Tour: Sommore, Arnez J and John Witherspoon

Here’s a risqué comedy jam, courtesy of three of the funniest and creatively foul-mouthed comics out there. The headliner is “Queens of Comedy” stand-up star Sommore, who never minces words when she’s making her fans cut up. Sommore’s story about sugar daddies on Viagra? If you want to laugh – and maybe wince – here’s hoping she tells it.

Saturday, 8 p.m.; Municipal Auditorium Music Hall, 301 W. 13th St., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $54-$77.

5. ‘A Modern Night at the Folly’

City in Motion Dance Theatre presents works by 10 area choreographers in a professional, adjudicated showcase intended to give credit where credit is due. And you? Well, there’s the aisle. Don’t be afraid to dance in it. Am I kidding? Only if you get in trouble.

Saturday, 8 p.m.; Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th St., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $15, $20 ($30 day of show).

6. Chocolate Crawl for a Cause

Chocolate jam! OK, maybe you can’t spread it on your toast, but plenty of chocolate will be given away at this year’s Chocolate Crawl for a Cause in historic downtown Lee’s Summit. The first 750 attendees who donate money or non-perishable food items in support of the city’s social services will receive a free candy bar. And that’s only the start of a super sweet time. Be sure to pick up a downtown map and get an event wristband for discounts at more than 30 participating and oh-so-quaint shops – all while keeping a look out for balloons along the way leading to more chocolate treats.

Saturday, noon-4 p.m.; downtown Lee’s Summit, Mo. (check in at Got Art Gallery, 18 S.W. Third St.); admission: free.

7. Bob Marley Birthday Celebration

Reggae party band Soul Rebel & the Beast headlines this jammin’ birthday party for late, great Jamaican music legend Bob Marley. Go have all the fun you can handle – and good luck remembering it in 40 years!

Saturday, 8 p.m.; the Granada, 1020 Massachusetts St., Lawrence, Kan.; tickets: $10.

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