May 22, 2017

A punk progenitor

The building that once housed the Music Box, February 2012.

The birthplace of punk rock in Kansas City is coming down. Well, maybe not the birthplace, but the site of one of the earliest clubs to feature punk and new wave music, mainly by local bands, in a big way has an imminent date with the wrecking ball.

Ron Klaus (left) and John Nichols of the Embarrassment at the Music Box, 1981.

According to a story at, the orange brick building on the southeast corner of 47th and Troost is coming down to make way for a new Ollie Gates shopping center. Lately, it housed a payday loan operation. But in 1981 it was the Music Box, where the cool kids gathered and bands like Duchamp, the Gear and Yardapes were in regular rotation.

The building that once housed the Music Box, summer 2011.

According to a Kansas City Star magazine cover story by Art Brisbane and Jo E. Hull (“Rock and Rebellion, Kansas City’s growing New Wave scene,” April 28, 1981) Music Box proprietors Craig and Pam Travitz booked punk bands into the basement of the Plaza East Tavern, 4719 Troost, calling it the Downliner, for nearly a year before they opened the Music Box a few doors to the north. In both places, they booked the progenitors of the local punk scene, as well as regional acts like Wichita’s Embarrassment (see photo here and previous post.), Springfield’s Morells and St. Louis’ Brown and Langrehr.

The building that housed the Downliner was torn down many years ago.

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