February 24, 2018

The Music Box

This little club at the southeast corner of 47th and Troost was the home of the punk movement in KC. Here are a series of photographs of Wichita’s great The Embarrassment playing there. Click on pix to embiggen. If you have memories of the Music Box, or its neighbor to the south a few doors, the Downliner, please share them by commenting below.

Guitarist Bill Goffrier, working hard. (All photos by Jo Stone)

'Ot and sweaty

Ron Klaus (bass) and John Nichols (vocals).

Scenester Eric Schindling (left) makes a point to Ron Klaus


  1. I believe a little south of that club, or maybe a little north was a great pizza place called Villa Capri. Lots of nice folks hung out there after hours. Lots of good bands in Kansas City back in the day. I was a band promoter, worked for Fairyland Productions out of Columbia Missouri. The owner of the company was Lou Rennau founder, and piano player for Goldilocks and the Three Bears, I am sure most people heard of them. I believe Lou is living in Hannibal, and is sort of reclusive. Other bands that worked regular with this company were The Dalton Gang, Aesop and the Fables, The Morning Dew, Chesmann Square. Lou also owned a recording studio in Columbia, located at Corns Lake, on the property of a club called The Corn Crib, owned by Cornbread Martin, a football player for MU back in the day.
    Just thought I would drop a note, and wish you luck with your project…

  2. Mark Shaw says:

    Actually, the Downliner was in the basement of the original Music Box and created & managed by the same couple. I’ve beentrying to remember their names, but can’t. They went on to open Epitath (both the short-lived club and the vintage store).

  3. You’re right, Mark Shaw, the Downliner was downstairs in the same block as Music Box, and Craig and Pam Travitz may have been involved in running both clubs; they certainly ran the latter. But Epitaph was run by a different couple, Jeff and Rachel.

  4. Oh yeah The Music Box–Downliner , and Adrians!! I turned 21 in 1982 and remember seeing The Horrible Flowers, Jason and The Scorchers, Yard Apes, Ministry of Broadcast, The Gear (RIP Buzz Rocko) , The Embarrassment, Insect Surfers, Tunnel Dogs, and drinking beer behind The Downliner with Kurt from Orange Doenuts!! Great memories!!

  5. I was in the Horrible Flowers. We left Hollywood and settled into KC in the spring of ’82. We were looking for a place to play every week and hooked up with the owner of the Downliner. Kind of a burly guy named Owen who had a black Hearse with the words “Death Mobile” scrawled on it’s sides. We were able to hone our craft there and later that summer I remember playing The Music Box.

  6. Its kind of odd to think that 30 years ago (82), there were really only 2 or 3 places in KC that would host punk rock—or “alternative bands”. Only one record store in KC (Rock Therapy) sold this kind of music outside of Lawrence. Great times though!!

  7. If memory serves I seem to recall a place where bands also performed that summer called “The Grecian Gardens.”

  8. Great pics and memories. We started seeing Downliner shows when it was just the band in the back of the bar upstairs at an old joint 2-3 doors south of The Music Box. Saw The Embarrassment and Thumbs there. After a couple three months, things moved for more space. The wonderful, late Anne Winter was soliciting for stories and recollections of the scene for compilation and publication back in the early aughties(?), but I never heard what came of it, then unfortunately she passed away a few years ago way before her time. Does anybody know anything about the project?

  9. Eric Schindling says:

    Okay…The downliner was in the Basement of arEDNECK bAR…pAM AND cRAIG STARTED THE mUSIC bOX. Later on I started doning shows at a little soulfood place that had to stop doing them because the KKK tried to interfere and the manager had to shoot one of them Themn we did the VFW shows…startying with Husker Du…made no money…People callefd me either a Liaror stupid!!! I prefer Stupid! The on;ly place William Burroughs ever spoke in Kc! I wanted Kids to see music cheap as I did when I was young!!!We alternated between the VFW and THE FOOLKiller for awhile. It was a moment in Kc mucic history that seems to forget those who brought art to the city without the Overiding concern of making money!!! Yeah I guess I was stupid…Huh?

  10. The Downliner was not in the Basement of the Music Box. It was in the basement of a Country & Western Bar the name of which I don’t recall but I remember that it was operated by a guy in his 50’s named Owen. Pam & Craig Travitz started and operated the Downliner and Owen was basically their Landlord. The C & W Bar would have been at approximately 4715 Troost because it was on the East side of Troost about 3-4 doors South of the corner of 47th & Troost. To get into the Downliner / basement you had to enter from the alley behind / east of Troost. I remember the first time I went their, it had been open for about 3 weeks. It was an absolute DUMP but so cool I loved it. Remember the bathroom in it? A single toilet on a wooden platform and the door to the bathroom had a hole in it as if somebody had put their fist through it. I can’t remember how and why Pam & Craig moved the operation to the SE corner of 47th & Troost and called it the Music Box but I used to go there frequently. The Door Man was and still is a personal friend of mine named Ian and I was friends with Pam & Craig also, so I always got in for free. I haven’t thoroughly looked over this website yet but so far haven’t seen any mention of the bands: DuChamp (comprised of Art Institute students) The Youth – formerly known as The Hitler Youth, The Jumpers and maybe I’ll remember some more later. Somewhere I have an article that was in the KC Star that was written by a guy that was a Star writer who frequented the Downliner entitled “Catch a Wave”. I also have a picture of the Gear with Abe, Buzz & Johnny performing at the Music Box one night when I was doing their sound for them. If I should find this stuff I’ll scan it and send it in.

  11. David Cordill says:

    We (The Generix) played in the basement played in the basement of the Downliner in 1981. A guy named Owen Cauvey owned the place because I remember dropping off a demo to him while he was wearing a bathrobe. He threw me out one night for beating up a mannequin. The Music Box was on the corner of 47th and Troost and the Downliner was several doors south.

  12. David Cordill says:
  13. Sonny Dryer says:

    Downliner may have started in the basement, but it ended up South of there…..I remember the floor felt like it was breathing when it got full of dancers, like walking on a suspension bridge…. I spent more time there then the music box…..my favorite band there was always “Get Smart” really had a crush on the female bass player….Ankle deep in mud baby!!!!!!!!!!!!

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