Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Kansas City rising


I cheated, sort of.

You voted for the Phoenix Bar & Grill for jazz tonight. I got the vote results Tuesday night and went then, so I could move on down the road today.

The club is in a historic corner of downtown. Cozy little corner place with exposed brick walls, cheery bartender (Mark) who makes this killer vodka drink called a Strawberry Bomb Pom, a jazz-inspired menu (I couldn’t resist the Tito Puente Macho Nachos) and, on this night at least, really juicy tunes.

At the keyboard was Everette Devan, the Tuesday night regular, with his jam session, which involved two guitarists and rotating singers. The whole thing was like a really smooth Scotch: smoky and soulful and a little dangerous.

It was pretty dead when the music started at 7 p.m., though it picked up later. Downtown is torn up due to construction, and Main Street was further clogged by a bomb scare (false alarm.) Only one other early listener was in the place. We got to chatting; he’s a lawyer.

He filled me in, as people in bars do, on the local scene. The take from a self-professed political conservative:

-The new city manager who came two years ago from Denver is doing a great job in turning around downtown, but he’s black and that creates problems in a largely segregated city where a mixed population means Catholics plus others.

-Housing prices have gone up in the last decade but not as much as in coastal cities, and they've been flat for the past few years.

-Wichita is the new nexus of conservative political dollars.

-Everybody he knows is completely embarrassed by the Creationist school board in Kansas. He's from Kansas. (K.C. straddles Missouri and Kansas, and each side had plenty of jokes about the other.)

The impression I got from him and pretty much everybody else I spoke with is that Kansas City is a place heading a good direction.

A young guy came in and was actually smoking at the bar. Smoking! It’s still legal here. Seems everything isn’t quite up to date in Kansas City after all.

1 comment:

debbie kowalsky said...

The National Forensic League (high school debate tournament) is having their national tournament in Kansas City/Wichita next year. I would be thrilled to get there with my son, but I wasn't sure there was any sightseeing that would interest us. From your report, it sounds wonderful, a wide variety of sights and sounds. Photos are beautiful.