Kansas City Connection: Banjos and beignets
By most accounts, the Folk Alliance International Conference has found a good home in Kansas City, with enthusiastic crowds and a talented base of local musicians. The 27th annual conference returns for its second year in Kansas City from Wednesday through Sunday, with the Music Fair and Winter Music Camp portion of the event to be held at the Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center.
The annual event, hosted by the non-for-profit Folk Alliance, includes everything from concerts and public speaking events to small acoustic jams in hotel suites hosted by folk music labels. The music fair will feature showcases by hundreds of performers, including Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn, Sam Baker, Hal Ketchum, a “psychedelic square dance” and a tribute to Pete Seeger. The event is expected to draw several thousand guests, including music agents, publishers and label reps.
Special events at the festival this year include an art gallery, film festival, late-night jam sessions, acoustic battle of the bands and a kids’ music and art camp.
Tickets to the nightly showcases are $25, and a $125 weekend pass is good for admission to dozens of panels, concerts, discussions and events designed to connect folk music performers and enthusiasts. For details on the schedule and how to register, visit folkalliance.org.
Mardi Gras grub
Jax Fish House and Oyster Bar, a brand-new seafood restaurant, is hosting a Mardi Gras dinner party on (this) Fat Tuesday from 4 p.m. until close, which will include shrimp, catfish and oyster po’boys, charbroiled oysters, shrimp and grits and king cake.
Jax, located at 4814 Roanoke Parkway in the sleek Polsinelli building on the west side of the Country Club Plaza, opened in Boulder, Colo., 20 years ago and only recently expanded out of state. With fresh fish and oysters flown in every day, Jax operates under the mantra “friends don’t let friends eat frozen fish.” And with menu items including grilled swordfish, Spanish octopus and peppercorn crusted Ahi tuna, why would you?
The happy hour menu, available from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily and all night Monday, includes $1.25 oysters, small plates such as gumbo fries, steamed mussels and fried calamari for $4 to $7, and a variety of wines and refreshing cocktails.
Another good place to celebrate Mardi Gras season is the Jazz, a Louisiana Kitchen, a Cajun/creole joint at 1823 W. 39th St. with a second location at 1859 Village West Parkway in the Legends. Try a crawfish po’boy, shrimp etouffee or blackened tuna salad, and don’t forget to save room for bread pudding and Chickory coffee.
Not to be overlooked is the small but mighty Beignet at 307 Main St. in the City Market. Beignet offers sweet dessert beignets with fillings like cinnamon apple, chocolate hazelnut and peaches and cream, but is hardly limited to dessert fare.
A menu of savory beignet, Cajun rice dishes, southern grits and po’boys has everything you’ll want for a full-on New Orleans-style meal. Beignet is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Black History Month
In observance of Black History Month, the Wornall House, 6115 Wornall Road, an 1857 estate that served as a Civil War battlefield and is currently a historical site, will be offering Saturday tours that focus on the black experience during the 1850s and 1860s.
Visitors will learn about the Wornall family, the Civil War and the realities African-Americans faced during this time period. The tours take place at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Feb. 21 and 28. Visit wornallmajors.org for more information.
The Black Archives of Mid-America in East Kansas City, Mo., is hosting an African-American book-to-film series at the Kansas City Library’s Plaza Branch at 4801 Main St.
Films include “Malcolm X” on Tuesday, “Devil in a Blue Dress” on Thursday, and “Their Eyes Were Watching God” on Feb. 24. RSVP online at kclibrary.org.
Next week we’ll visit The Old Quindaro Museum, an often overlooked exhibit that commemorates an interesting chapter in the area’s African-American history.
— Lucas Wetzel is a writer and editor from Kansas City, Mo. Know of an upcoming event in Kansas City you’d like to see featured in Kansas City Connection? Email us about it at email@example.com.