A few thousand folk musicians from around the world are preparing to gather at the Westin Hotel in Crown Center for the 29th annual Folk Alliance International Conference. Over the next five days they're going to make a lot of music, but they're also going to make a lot of paper flyers and garbage. But hopefully not as much as previous years.
The first time Danny Cox visited Kansas City, it was not a pleasant experience.
It was 1963, a year before the Civil Rights Act banned racial discrimination in public places, and Cox was a nationally touring musician arriving for a show. When he walked in the door at the Muehelbach Hotel, the clerk told him that black people couldn't stay at the Muehelbach.
Though the word he used for "black people" was not quite so polite.
Most of Cox's fellow musicians and road crew were white, but they refused to stay in a place where their vocalist wasn't welcome.
When musician Amado Espinoza and theater artist Karen Lisondra moved to Kansas City from Cochabamba, Bolivia, in 2014, Espinoza noticed that many people here were disconnected from their own roots, from each other and from the earth. He'd come from a place where indigenous culture is present in everyday life.
As they looked to develop a creative network and collaborate with other artists, Espinoza and Lisondra also started thinking of a project that would bring different people with indigenous backgrounds together.