By Tommy Greene -- I can’t recall anyone, even within the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department, ever calling Volker Park by its formal name, the Frank A. Theis Memorial Mall. Oh, the name certainly would have been in city documents and perhaps even appeared in The Kansas City Star when it was dedicated. But the area and its immediate environs were simply referred to by all as the name of its delightfully whimsical Volker Fountain situated on the site’s lowest ground. Perhaps with … [Read more...] about Where did the name ‘Volker Park’ come from?
Mike Brewer and Tom Shipley arguably represent the high point of Kansas City rock ‘n’ roll. True, they were and are folkies at heart. But Brewer & Shipley made major-label records with backing from the top rock musicians of the era. They played every venue in town, from the Vanguard coffee house to Cowtown Ballroom to Arrowhead Stadium (opening for Elton John). They helped foster the scene in other ways. Above all, their Top 10 hit from 1971, “One Toke Over the Line,” puts them at the top of the … [Read more...] about Golden greats: 50 years of Brewer & Shipley
It is 1979 Troost Street, downtown KC, Upstairs is the Tavern.... A down on the luck dive. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s blaring from the jukebox, accompanied by the crunch of peanut shells cracking under the pointy, scuffed boots of Coors Light-drinking, red-necked cowboys in plaid collared shirts alongside disheveled, skid-row drunks, their shoulders hanging over their cocktails, all lining the bar like hopeless vultures, Pool balls clacking under a blinking and buzzing fluorescent light … [Read more...] about Between two worlds
While the song “Kansas City” is officially credited to rock ’n’ roll demigods Lieber and Stoller, the first man to record it, then-20-year-old Little Willie Littlefield, often claimed in the ensuing years to have written it himself. It’s not hard to believe Littlefield had at least a hand in writing the song. After all, it was he who was hanging out on the corner of 12th Street and Vine in 1952, not Lieber and Stoller. They apparently never visited until 1986, to receive a key to the … [Read more...] about The man who sang “Kansas City” first
If the Classmen (clean-cut brothers, managed by their father) were Kansas City’s equivalent to the Beach Boys and the Chesmann its Beatles, Stone Wall could be likened to Kansas City’s Cream or Led Zeppelin. A power trio with roots in the blues, Stone Wall was led by singer-guitarist Allen Blasco in combination with three different rhythm sections (1968-76). As a young teen (1965-68), Blasco led The Clergymen, whose ever-changing array of musicians included Ray Goldsich, later to … [Read more...] about The heavy sounds of Stone Wall
If it was not the Kansas City area’s earliest and most consequential rock club, The Soc Hop was certainly one of them. Created in 1960 in an old cattle barn near the northwest corner of 95th Street and Metcalf Avenue, The Soc Hop was part of the transformation of Johnson County, Kan., from rural to suburban. (Click on map/business card below right and all thumbnail photos on this page to enlarge.) It was the creation of brothers-in-law Mike Weaver and Ed Bowers, who saw it as both a … [Read more...] about The Soc Hop(s) rocked