After a lifetime of living halfway large in my hometown of Kansas City, I find myself here — settling into Lawrence — with the stated mission of filling you guys in on what to see and do in that little city just to the right.
There’s plenty to check out: concerts, clubs, restaurants, live theater, festivals and shopping. And it’s only 40 minutes away, so why not go for it?
This coming week is a good place to begin since there’s no KU football to worry about, so if the spirit moves, why not dial in a distraction or three?
For example, betcha didn’t know that this Friday is the 50th anniversary of the release of the Beatles first single, “Love Me Do.”
To celebrate, Cinema KC, a not-for-profit that aids and abets Kansas and Missouri filmmakers is throwing a bash at the Screenland Armour, 408 Armour Road in North Kansas City. Organizer Brian McTavish says “Hard Day’s Night” will screen at 7 p.m., followed by Beatles Tribute band Abbey Road around 8:30.
“And I’m led to believe we’ll have some interesting Beatles merchandise for sale — old vinyl records, books and the like,” he says. “Then the movie rescreens at 10 p.m. So a $10 ticket gets you in to one of the movies and the band. And they’ve got drinks there, a full bar.”
As for the allegorical significance of the event, the first Beatles record “was a simple ditty but it captured the essence of the Beatles early appeal, which was Everly Brothers-influenced harmonies and charisma,” McTavish says. “It’s a night to celebrate all that the Beatles meant to everyone, because there was no better band and there never will be. At least that’s what fans say. And a lot of people have never seen ‘Hard Day’s Night,’ and even if you have, there’s nothing like seeing it on the big screen. And director Richard Lester basically invented the modern music video in this movie, a good 16 years before MTV was born.”
First things first
You guys know all about First Fridays in the Crossroads District downtown, right? Well, there’s no better time to go than now, says Kim Weinberger of Weinberger Fine Art at 1800 Baltimore Ave.
“First Fridays in October are always fabulous because the weather is so nice,” Weinberger says. “People come from all over — I’ve heard the number 30,000 thrown around — and the streets are full, there’s live music, street musicians, food trucks. And it’s evolved into a huge family event with every store down here open now as well. It’s not just the galleries anymore. There are furniture stores, fashion boutiques — even the dentist around the corner is open. It’s a great scene with a very hip vibe.”
That said, with that many artists, things can get a bit outlandish.
“I mean, I’ve had fire dancers outside, a full band and another band across the street playing against the other band,” Weinberger says. “And then a violinist came in and played, and one woman started doing a jig. It’s just a scene. You never know what to expect, never.”
Weinberger says she plans to open a Lawrence gallery in the Poehler building early next year.
So long, ‘Motherf$^!er’
Which brings me to the R-rated part of next week’s events calendar.
At 3 p.m. today, the Unicorn Theatre, 38th and Main in Midtown, will host the final performance of its widely acclaimed play “The Motherfer With the Hat.”
“It’s a play about an addict who’s on a 12-step program who just got out of jail,” says longtime Kansas City theater producer Mark Edelman, who reviewed the play. “But he’s a nice guy who’s trying to get right, but his girlfriend is also an addict.”
As for the origin of the controversial title, “They’re making love in the first scene and on the table is a hat, and he asks her, ‘Whose is that?’ And she say, ‘I don’t know. Some motherfer with a hat.”
Edelman says it’s the best Kansas City play of the fall season and describes it as “‘I Love Lucy’ on crack. But it’s very funny, very touching.”
Putting the Kansas in Kansas City
For classic rock aficionados, there’s a can’t-miss show at the Uptown Theater on Saturday night with the band Kansas.
Hobbs main man Mark Swanson — a former area concert promoter by the way — remembers the 1970s band well.
“It takes me back, there’s no doubt about that, way back” Swanson says. “Robby Steinhardt, the violin player with the big hair lived in Lawrence.”
The band, best known for its hit songs “Carry on My Wayward Son” and “Dust in the Wind,” was installed in the Kansas Music Hall of Fame in its inaugural year of 2005 and has toured continuously since 1973.
There you go, guys. I won’t make any promises but if you see me at one of these events, be sure to say hello.