West Side Folk concert series to end 20-year run next month
Sad news, music fans.
West Side Folk, the popular longtime local concert series devoted to “folk, bluegrass and old-time” jams, will end its 20-year run next month.
The series’ founder and artistic director, Bob McWilliams, confirmed Monday that the May 20 concert would be the last. He shared the news first with West Side Folk email subscribers Sunday.
“It just seemed like the right time,” McWilliams says, reassuring fans that the concert series is “not going broke.”
Between his day jobs (McWilliams is also the jazz director at Kansas Public Radio, and teaches history at Johnson County Community College) and health issues, he says the move is partly to cut down on stress.
The series’ last two concerts, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday and May 20, will feature Ellis Paul and Cheryl Wheeler, respectively, at the Cider Gallery, 810 Pennsylvania St., and at the Unity Church of Lawrence, 900 Madeline Lane. The musicians have been regular performers at West Side Folk throughout the years.
Since its founding in 1995, the concert series has featured artists such as Greg Brown, Tim O’Brien, Dougie MacLean, Martin Sexton and Lucy Kaplansky.
In those 20 years, similar programs have emerged in Topeka, Manhattan and Johnson County, McWilliams points out, providing folk fans across northeast Kansas and beyond with far more choices than what existed in West Side Folk’s early days.
“It’s a time when there are going to be alternatives,” he says. “We feel like we’re leaving the music scene in this region healthier than it was 20 years ago.”
For more information on West Side Folk, including a concert schedule and how to purchase tickets, visit www.westsidefolk.org.
Poster from the very first West Side Folk concert ever, on September 19, 1995.
Poster from the 2nd West Side Folk concert ever, on Oct. 6, 1995.
Poster from the 5th of 5 concerts (can not find ones for 4th or 5th) in first West Side Folk season in fall of 1995.