Saturday, August 22, 2015

36th annual ethnic enrichment festival

space ~ Swope Park, Kansas City, MO, USA
After spending the afternoon watching the Blue Angels perform for the Kansas City Aviation Expo, we headed out to Swope Park to taste the cuisine offered at the 36th annual Ethnic Enrichment Festival.   We had not been since the 25th and were quite anxious to see how much the annual affair had grown, and what new things there were to see.

The situation had expanded quite significantly since our last visit, which became very apparent as we approached the gates on 63rd Street.  Traffic was backed up for about a half mile, but we progressed quickly.  It was still at the pavilion near Starlight Theater, and we easily maneuvered our wat to a parking spot on the lawn surrounding the festivities.

The festival was no longer free, but who could complain about that.  It was somewhat expected after all that time.  Three dollars is not too bad for a day of music and dance performances from just about nearly every ethnic group in the world.  Additionally, food tents surrounded the pavilion offering a variety of treats for every pallet, at a reasonable price.  The food tents only covered a small portion of the area on our last visit, but now encircled the pavilion, and then some.  It was a welcome sight, but a little disappointing at the same time.  We might have missed it, since we were only there for a couple of hours, but there seemed to be a general lack of display of ethnic custom that had been readily apparent on my last visit.  Open-air discussions about culture, customs, and identity could be found anywhere.  It was lacking on this round, replaced by trinket tents.  It would be good to see a return to more of that.

A world of flavors were available for the sampling though.  We started with a sampling of German food, and then over to the beer tent to wash it down.  After that, we grabbed a sweet treat from the Norwegian tent, as well as sampling a little Kenyan goat and rice mixture.  Every tent had patrons, but some were simply impossible, due to the length of the line.  It is funny how folks can get Asian food anywhere in our City and will still wish for nothing more than a little fried rice.   Had they been serving true Asian cuisine, I doubt there would have been quite as many visitors.

The performances were not very accessible, and the logistics of the situation tends to force people away, rather than bring them together. Situated on top of a small rise, the pavilion is a fantastic spot for dance and music performances, when the crowd is small, as had been the case years ago.  So many people attempt to crowd into the covered space, that it is impossible to stand away from the masses and enjoy the performances.  Twenty yards or so away, and one could barely hear the music.  Viewing the performance was out of the question, more often than not.  The organizers really should consider a small valley that is only a hundred yards away next year.   It would be much better suited to this scenario, and act as more of a theater. It would most certainly demand more attention of the patrons, enabling everyone to enjoy all of the performances.

We did enjoy our brief time at this truly unique Kansas City experience though.  A friend of a friend from Boston that went along with indicated he wished that they did something like this in his town.  Apparently, they have a variety of ethnic festivals, but none that try to bring everyone together like this.  That is the whole point too, to bring all ethnic groups together, share a little food, fun, and celebrate the things we hold in common.

Access Photos from This Event, and then there is the little YouTube below...

blue angels at kc aviation expo

space ~ Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport, 300 Richards Road, Kansas City, MO 64116, USA
It was downtown to the rooftops again for a look at the performance of the United States Navy Blue Angels, during the Kansas City Aviation Expo.  It is always good to have a friend with the right view, when something like this is going on; lacking that, all it takes is a little resourcefulness and an understanding of Google Maps.  There are several good spots to view, without burning twenty dollars to get a ground level view of the situation.

We arrived later in the afternoon than originally intended, but apparently had not missed a thing; that is, excepting an earlier performance by the Blue Angels.  I was surprised to hear that.  Usually there are all sorts of things flying about at these events.  It did make me a bit curious as to what exactly the Expo was all about; still, not curious enough to park 5 miles away, ride a bus with a bunch of other sweaty tourists, compete with those same masses for a good spot, and make an equally competitive return trip.

The view from the rooftops was fantastic though, and worth the twenty dollars, we did not pay.  Indeed, I would have gladly paid the money to our friend for that experience.  We enjoyed our own refreshments, were not accosted by security needing to assure we were not terrorists, and those other terrorists with strollers were utterly absent.  It was a good day indeed.  The Blue Angles put on a great show, and passed amazing closely on a few occasions.

Access Photos from This Event, and then there is the little YouTube below...

Friday, August 21, 2015

wheels up tour kc

space ~ Sandstone Amphitheater, 633 North 130th Street, Bonner Springs, KS 66012, USA
The girls were out for yet another event last Saturday, featuring Lady Antebellum as part of the Wheels Up Tour.  Hunter Hayes and Sam Hunt joined the party, during this fall half of a tour that began on May 1 in Lubbock, TX.   The first half kicked off in Oslo, Norway with a few other stops in the rest of Europe and Australia in this yearlong tour.

 “The magic of being with fans from all over the country is really why we’re ultimately all here,” said Lady A’s Charles Kelley. “Being able to play off each other on that stage is honestly where we have the most fun, and I have a feeling the crowd will already be on their feet when we get out there after starting the night with Hunter and Sam!"

The trio’s “warranted leap to stardom” (Dallas Morning News) and undeniable chemistry has continuously commanded the attention of critics who continue to praise their “effortless harmonies and raw emotion” (The Washington Post) and “top-notch, high energy” performances (The Boston Herald).

Access Photos from This Event or enjoy the YouTube below...

Saturday, August 15, 2015

under the sun tour kc

space ~ Kansas City Power & Light District, Kansas City, MO, USA
After a full and fun day in the sun, you would think there would not be much energy left over for a show.  However, if you leave immediately after you get home, you have no time to think about the comfort of the sofa.  A little disappointed that we had almost certainly already missed Uncle Cracker and Sugar Ray, that is exactly what we did, and arrived just before Better Than Ezra took the stage.  The Power & Light District was full, but we were still able to take up our usual post behind the soundboard.

It had been a hot day, but there was a good breeze moving through the venue, keeping things relatively cool.  The band came on just a few minutes after our arrival, and immediately launched into one of their big hits, and then another, before jumping off on a wild tangent, performing several cover songs.  Time catches up with us all eventually, and we forget more than we learned; but surely, not your own tunes.  The crowd did not seem to know how to handle this change, at first.  As is customary in Kansas City, everyone just went along with it though, and they were soon rewarded with a stage full of dancing girls.  The distraction had the desired effect, and most of us completely forgot that Better Than Ezra was not really living up to their name.

The band eventually passed into another of their recognizable tunes, and maybe even perhaps one more, and then they were done.  I did not know many of their songs in the first place.  They were just another of the one-hit-wonder sort, to me.  They did play very well, and everyone seemed to have a good time.  There was no encore though, and nobody really even tried.  It was probably for the best.  Having played everything that anyone would have recognized, they would have had to return to cover songs.

Friday, August 07, 2015

trombone shorty kc

space ~ Kansas City Power & Light District, Kansas City, MO, USA
A great night of music, straight out of New Orleans, descended on Kansas City at the free KC Live! show at the Kansas City Power & Light District.  The show featured some of the finest brass band music and talent, playing an array of traditional rhythms mixed with current themes.  New Breed Brass Band came on just a bit after I arrived, and wound the crowd up.  Folks were already getting the grove on, when Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue took over and cranked out some of the hottest tunes this side of Big Easy.

I only had my phone along to this one, after the fiasco last week.  It was too hot to be walking back to the car again, and I was more interested in participating in the experience.  I did take a couple of shots, and of course there is a little collage of video clips on the YouTube.