Musicians to liven up overnight layovers at Santa Fe Depot

Supporters of a plan to revitalize Lawrence’s old Santa Fe Depot not only have a bandwagon, but soon will also have an actual band.

In the latest effort to draw attention to the 1950s-era station, the Depot Redux group will start a program on Friday to provide live music at the depot for passengers of Amtrak’s Southwest Chief, which has a half-hour layover at the station each day.

The catch: The layover occurs at midnight.

“For the musicians, this is really an opportunity for the young and not famous,” said Carey Maynard-Moody, chair of the depot group. “Young because it is at midnight, and for the not famous because we can’t afford to pay them.”

But Maynard-Moody said the program should help make the depot — which is at Seventh and New Jersey streets — more welcoming to users, which is a major goal of the group.

“The layover happens every day, and most of the time people just sit on the train,” Maynard-Moody said. “We thought it would be nice to fill that time with a memorable experience. Give them at least a taste of Lawrence, and Lawrence does music well.”

The first performance in what organizers are dubbing “On Time Performances” will begin at 11:30 p.m. Friday and will last until about 12:30 a.m. Maynard-Moody said the group is working to schedule performances for other dates, and will feature a program as often as musicians are willing to donate their time. The events will be free and open to the public.

In other depot news, U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore, R-Kan., will visit the depot at 1 p.m. June 29 to discuss the facility’s future and to hear proposals for federal funding to restore the building.

Representatives from Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, Amtrak, the city and the Depot Redux group will make presentations to Moore.

The city is in discussions with Burlington Northern Santa Fe officials about purchasing the building, which would clear the way for the facility to be added to the National Register of Historic Places. Supporters also hope the ownership transfer would make the facility eligible for several types of federal grants.