KC Currents

Matt Kleinmann / Matt Kleinmann Photography

In years past, Bill and Julia McBride turned to their tallgrass prairie backyard in Matfield Green, Kan., to hear the Kansas City Symphony echoing across the Flint Hills.

But this year, the McBrides made a two-hour trek north to Fort Riley, the northeastern Kansas Army base where Civil War figure Maj. Gen. George Custer once lived. The base hosted this year’s Symphony in the Flint Hills, an annual performance – now in its eighth year – that brings one of the city’s premiere arts organizations to the middle of Kansas.

Alex Smith / KCUR

Say you’re researching for a book report. Or looking up local history. Maybe you want to learn to some do-it-yourself home repair. Chances are good you’ll log on to the internet and get your answers in a few minutes without leaving your chair.

This leaves old-fashioned libraries with a problem: how to get people back to the stacks.

One local library has a unique solution for facing the future by embracing the past. The new branch of the Mid-Continent Public Library literally joins a 21st century building with a pre-Civil War home.

Elana Gordon

Kansas Voter ID Law Faces Biggest Test

Requiring voters to show a photo ID has been a controversial issue in recent years with many states considering the requirement. A photo ID law got vetoed last year in Missouri, but Kansas lawmakers passed a measure last year requiring a photo ID when voting.  That law got its first test in August.

Farmers Put Aside Differences, Push For Farm Bill

Favorite Love Songs: "Carinhoso"

Feb 13, 2012

KC Currents' Sylvia Maria Gross tells us about a Brazilian anthem for unrequited love.

"She says 'my heart, I don't know why, beats happily when I see you,' " Gross translates the Portuguese lyrics of the song "Carinhoso" to English.

She continues alongside the singer's voice, " 'And my eyes will smile and follow you down the road, but still, you run away from me.' "

Artist Romare Bearden was born in North Carolina, and he grew up in the middle of the Harlem Renaissance during the 1920's. Much of his work depicts African Americans, but Bearden said his real focus was the universal human experience.

Photo by Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR.

Growing up in Overland Park, Brian Stanton always knew he was adopted. And like many adoptees, he wanted to know something about his birth parents.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Brian Stanton's search for his birth mother ended up uncovering some difficult truths, which as a playwright and actor, he explores in a one-man play. He's performed Blank around the country, but last night was his first performance in his hometown.

Photo courtesy of www.poetslane.com

Kansas City native Glenn North is well known locally for creating regular outlets for poetry and spoken word.

A KU music professor teams up with a Spanish vocal coach and master pianist to plan the second Festival of Spanish and Latin American Art Music in Kansas.

Lawrence, KS – Note: This interview first aired in March 2010

One of Kansas City's favorite daughters Oleta Adams was back in town recently for a performance on 18th and Vine.

The singer and songwriter grew up in the Pacific Northwest. She was the daughter of a minister, and a piano prodigy who was directing choirs by the age of eleven.

Local musician Russ Wever has been playing the pedal steel guitar for more than forty years. He's performed at the Grand Ole Opry and on Broadway, and has had a big influence in the pedal steel guitar world.

Kansas City, MO – When you see a pedal steel guitar it doesn't look much like a guitar. Laid out horizontally, the pedal steel has two necks and a lot of foot pedals and knee levers. Though its roots come from the guitar, this version of the instrument has the ability to do much more.

Kansas City's Angela Hagenbach talks about the music business and her new album.

Photo by Alex Smith/KCUR.

Historic pipe organ holds special significance for the homeless members of a downtown church.

Kansas City, MO – KCUR's Alex Smith went to the Grand Avenue Temple United Methodist Church downtown to learn more about the 1912 pipe organ, and its important role at this unique church.

The Little Piano Girl

Jan 25, 2010

Local author Ann Ingalls' new children's book introduces young readers to the legendary pianist Mary Lou Williams.

Kansas City, MO – If she were still alive this year, jazz pianist and composer Mary Lou Williams would be 100 years old. Williams was considered by many to be the greatest female jazz instrumentalist of all times. She spent the years between 1929 and 1941 in Kansas City, and was one of the principal architects of the Kansas City swing sound.

Anton Krutz believes that string instruments resonate with people in a unique way. And he'll tell you that it takes more than quality wood and a good craftsman to make a great sounding instrument. It's the varnish that counts.

When the Majestic Steakhouse in downtown Kansas City shut down in May, Bram Wijnands was forced to look for a new way to spend his Friday and Saturday nights. For the previous 16 years, the Dutch pianist had delivered authentic 1930s KC-style swing and boogie woogie in the cellar which once served as a speakeasy.

Cedric Patterson grew up playing music at his church in Topeka. And in seeking out the perfect instrument for gigs inside and out of the church, he constructed his own seven-string bass guitar.

What the critics are praising is something midwest fans have known for decades: that Marilyn Maye is a master of the lost art of connecting with audiences. She recently stopped by our studios and told KCUR's Alex Smith about her philosophy of performing.

The Blue Note record label started 70 years ago when German immigrant Alfred Lion was inspired to record some of the boogie-woogie piano music he heard at Carnegie Hall. Today, the label is recognized as one of the finest in jazz. It's classic records, especially those from the 50's and 60's, have a cult following. The American Jazz Museum at 18th and Vine is celebrating Blue Note's anniversary with a series of events.

Tubas Carol for Christmas

Dec 22, 2008

TubaChristmas is an annual event that brings together hundreds of tuba and euphonium players of all ages and music levels, shapes and sizes. And they all perform arrangements of traditional Christmas tunes.

Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey

Ailey Camp is one of the legacies of the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey. It's more than a summer camp for kids who want to dance. Alvin Ailey started the camp with the idea that dance could be a vehicle for growth and personal development among the community's youth.

The bossa nova craze hit the US in the late 50's, and ever since then, that mellow Brazilian groove has been a standard part of many jazz musicians' repertoire. But when Kansas City musicians Stan Kessler, Doug Auwater, Danny Embrey and Greg Whitfield formed the Sons of Brasil in 1991, they were determined to dig deeper into the rhythmic soul of the country.

Photo by Dan Verbeck / KCUR.

Kansas City, MO – It's been an intense political season, enough to blow away some seasoned political reporters, like Up to Date's Steve Kraske, who last week declared, "I think this whole thing has been a dream." So the KC Currents team imagined what that dream might sound like . . .


The People's Liberation Big Band of Greater Kansas City got its start two years ago. That's when an all-star group of local jazz composers decided to do their own radical take on Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker." The mix of folk, popular and avant garde styles turned out to be so much fun that the musicians decided to stick together.

Singer Megan Birdsall grew up in Kansas City, but in this last year, she has really come to understand what being a part of the local jazz community is all about.

Photo Credit: Marc Baptiste

Singer and songwriter Angie Stone is no newcomer to the music industry. Stone was in KC recently for the Rhythm & Ribs festival.

Up and coming jazz trombonist Kevin Cerovich talks about his new album and why he's leaving KC.

Kansas City, MO – Every May, many college students are graduating, and struggling to decide what direction to take next. For trombonist Kevin Cerovich, who recently graduated from the UMKC Conservatory , the next step is a big one. Soon, he'll be moving to New York City in hopes of breaking into the jazz world. But, as Alex Smith found out, the 23-year-old musician is already off to a strong start.

Kansas City Youth Jazz and conductor Leon Brady prepare for this Sunday's performance with legendary trumpeter Clark Terry at Unity Temple on the Plaza.

Mila Vigdorova and Korey Ireland met at a tango marathon in Holland. The couple now teaches tango in Kansas City.

KANSAS CITY, MO – While growing up in Moscow, Mila Vigdorova studied classical dance. It wasn't until a trip to the United States that she fell in love with tango. Meanwhile, in Kansas City, composer Korey Ireland discovered tango at a performance by the local band Tango Lorca.