The Crossing rekindles live music legacy

It was a place that defined the phrase "small but mighty."

From the late 1980s through the early '90s, The Crossing, 618 W. 12th St., was as integral to the Lawrence music scene as The Bottleneck or The Jazzhaus. It functioned as a spot where fledgling bands could hone their skills and where veteran headliners sought to prove their "indie credibility" by playing such a tiny locale.

Now, new owners at The Crossing have decided to resurrect the days when live local music was a nightly part of the Kansas University campus neighborhood.

"We got the idea from hearing all the old stories about The Crossing and the bands there," says Charles Mee, who co-owns the venue with his stepfather Dave Boulter. "It had a lot of live entertainment and was a hot place to hang out. We're trying to get that back."

The pair will put their master plan into action on Saturday, when Burnin' Britches performs live inside The Crossing.

"I think it's really big news for the local music scene," says Burnin' Britches frontman Lance Fahy, whose new band gets the honor of rechristening the locale as a music venue.

Fahy believes it's been approximately a decade since the cozy bar stopped booking bands. (While that seems to be the general consensus among the industry scenesters in town, the jury is still out as to specifically when the place put the kibosh on musical acts.)

Interestingly, the singer-guitarist used to play in an Emporia act called Zen Farmers, who took the stage at The Crossing during its heyday in 1992.

"It was just a fun little bar. It was quaint," he recalls. "It was a small bar, but I didn't feel crowded."

The musician recalls seeing area standouts, such as Sin City Disciples and The Homestead Grays, perform to sweat-drenched hordes that spilled out the door.

Saturday 01.247pm :: Burnin' Britches

The modest capacity remains the same for the Crossing.

"It holds 100 people," says Mee, who purchased the bar in July. "But 100 FEELS like 200."

Mee, who also co-owns Henry's on Eighth Street, is unsure what musical direction he wants to strive for or what type of audience he hopes to attract.

"We're kind of in between crowds right now," he says, laughing. "We still get some of the frat crowd that it's been known for during the last couple years. But through owning Henry's, we know a lot of people, so we're kind of hoping to mix it up."

There will at least be a stylistic pinpoint at Saturday's show. Fahy says Burnin' Britches embraces a country-influenced sound. ("We enjoy the old renegade stuff like Johnny Paycheck, Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard," he says.) But he stresses the band -- which includes pedal steel guitarist Jeff Jackson, upright bassist Cody Walters and banjo guy Charlie Rose -- will perform an all-original set this weekend.

"Eventually, we'll even add a drummer," Fahy says.

Harp help

Lawrence's Jimmie Meade suffered injuries in a horrendous car accident shortly before Thanksgiving and is still in the process of recovering. The young harmonica master, who teaches the instrument at the Americana Music Academy, will be the recipient of funds raised at a benefit Sunday at B.B.'s Lawnside Bar-BQ, 1205 E. 85th St., in Kansas City, Mo.

Although the medical bills have been piling up, so too have the musicians who will come to Meade's aid this weekend.

Fellow harp ace Lee McBee and the Confessors will headline the $6 benefit, preceded by Levee Town, Scottyboy's Steady Rollin' Band, The Nace Brothers, Lonesome Hank and the Heartaches, Cotton Candy and So Many Men and The Swamp Donkeys (featuring Danielle Schnebelen and Sue Stubbs).

Meade is expected to stay at the Mid-America Rehabilitation Hospital in Overland Park until mid-February. He still needs surgery on his left leg and tendon repair on his right. He recently had the cast removed from his arm. Perhaps the best news is that doctors have unwired his jaw, and he is actually practicing on the harmonica again.

Strategic placement

Speaking of benefits, local party act Sellout will take center stage for "Band Together for Learning." The Saturday night gathering at Liberty Hall will support the Strategic Learning Center, a nonprofit tutoring center.

The center specializes in helping at-risk and challenged learners and offers classes and individual instruction for all ages. The center has been in operation nearly four years.

Cost is $20 and includes a 6 p.m. dinner, dance and silent auction

The learning center is at Trinity Lutheran Church, 1245 N.H.


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