Epitaph, 11 E. 31st St., was the apotheosis of punk in Kansas City. Shabby-chic, tragically hip and infused with art-student sensibilities, the bar was a stone’s throw from VFW Post #18 but miles from that scene’s hardcore aesthetic. Black lights made the blue martinis served by bartender Rubber Robbin glow even more devilishly. No doubt, though, it was Epitaph’s blood red and evil black color scheme and its gothic iconography of crosses and crowns that drew Christian picketers to the … [Read more...] about An epitaph for Epitaph
Kansas City Star Books has published a winner with its new “The Kings of Cut-Rate: The Very American Story of Isaac and Michael Katz,” by Brian Burnes and Steve Katz. The authors had great material to work with, starting with the rags-to-riches story of the Katz brothers and including dozens of vivid images of their marketing mastery, many featuring the unforgettable grinning-cat logo. The book touches on Kansas City music history, mainly the 25-plus-year run of Katz Drug Co.’s annual, free … [Read more...] about Go, Katz, Go!
The magnificent Art Deco Municipal Auditorium, which will host a 75th birthday party Thursday, Oct. 13, has been the site of much Kansas City Rock History. Elvis Presley played three concerts there – May 24, 1956; Nov. 15, 1971; and June 29, 1974. Other notable shows include the Jimi Hendrix Experience Nov. 1, 1968, and the Rolling Stones (with Stevie Wonder opening), June 22, 1972. I saw several great rock shows at Municipal -- Frank Zappa (12/5/81), Prince (3/19/83), Willie Nelson (2/25/79) … [Read more...] about Municipal Auditorium turns 75
Kansas City amusement parks were often the site of rock concerts in the 1960s, '70s and '80s. The tradition of "School's Out" concerts at Fairyland sponsored by Top 40 radio station WHB goes back farther than I realized in my earlier "World's Happiest Broadcasters" post. Those events took place in the early 1970s. I have since found a newspaper ad (above) from June 1965 touting such a show with Len Barry of "1-2-3" fame as the headliner. That song came out the following month on Decca Records … [Read more...] about Carney Rock
According to several sources, the Kansas City area’s first homegrown rock band of note was Larry Emmett and the Sliders. While African-Americans were playing and listening to rhythm and blues in local clubs at least since the early 1950s, the flowering of white rock bands did not occur until after the Elvis Presley explosion of 1956. In fact, Larry Emmett was not a white man, but a Native American who was born on the Prairie Band Potawatomi Reservation near Mayetta, Kan. His parents moved to … [Read more...] about KC’s first homegrown rocker
Rod Peal is a rock musician-turned-entrepreneur who opened Halcyon Diversified Trading in December 2009 at 4706 Mission Road, Roeland Park, Kan. Peal buys and sells a variety of hip goods, from used vinyl records to musical instruments to furniture. On the second Friday of each month, he hosts an art opening with live music. Peal had heard that the location was once a rock club, but no one was able to confirm it for him until now. The building once housed not one but two rock clubs catering … [Read more...] about Site of early clubs rocks again