Kansas City Connection: Take a trip back to the Jazz Age

While the Kansas City metro area boasts more than its fair share of strip malls and beige-on-beige subdivisions, the heart of the city is still a great place to step back in time. Bars are adding new twists to Prohibition-era cocktails, a flurry of historic hotel lounges are being re-created or restored (providing sultry settings in which to sip a Manhattan), and an evening walk near 18th and Vine feels like a stroll through the Jazz Age.

Stick around Kansas City’s historic Jazz District late enough on a Friday or Saturday, and you’ll get to experience some of what put Kansas City on the cultural map at the Mutual Musicians Foundation’s long-running, late-night live jams. Established in 1917 and known at the time as the “Colored Musicians Union,” the Mutual Musicians Foundation (1823 Highland, Kansas City, Mo.) has hosted notable jazz greats — including Charlie Parker, Count Basie, Big Joe Turner and Lou Williams — and its weekend jams continue to draw local and national talents.

The party starts every Friday and Saturday night at 1 a.m. ($10 gets you in), and the live music doesn’t stop until the morning. Because of its historical significance, the Mutual Musicians Foundation is only place in the state of Missouri legally permitted to serve alcohol all night. (Consider crashing at one of downtown’s boutique hotels if driving back to Lawrence isn’t safe.)

Also in K.C. this week

TUESDAY

National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, 1601 Broadway, Kansas City, Mo. The famed Cuban orchestra hits Kansas City for its first performance of its debut North American tour; 7 p.m., $40-$75.

WEDNESDAY

Hudson Falcons with Grisly Hand, The Riot Room, 4048 Broadway, Kansas City, Mo. Up-and-coming folk rockers Grisly Hand bring their old-timey sound to Westport. $8, ages 21 and over.

FRIDAY-SATURDAY

Satin Dolls, Chestnut Fine Arts Center, 234 N. Chestnut St., Olathe. A tribute to the jazz legends of the ’40s and ’50s, including Rosemary Clooney, Doris Day and Ella Fitzgerald. 8 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m. Saturday; $20-$23.

ONGOING

“Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson,” Unicorn Theatre, 3828 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. The life of playboy (and president) Andrew Jackson is told in this rock musical. Through Nov. 4. $27.50-$37.50

Bonjour, Picasso, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Welcome to the world of Pablo Picasso, told through his paintings and private photographs. Now through Jan. 27, 2013. Free.

World War I All-Stars: Sports and the Inter-Allied Games, National World War I Museum, 100 W. 26th St., Kansas City, Mo. See the role sports played in the Great War, including the Olympic-type competition that followed the Armistice. Through March 31, 2013. $8-$14

If you prefer an earlier bedtime and a more contemporary setting for live jazz, head to the new Kill Devil Club in the Power & Light District, 61 E. 14th St., Kansas City, Mo. Despite being, well, in the Power & Light District — perhaps best known for shiny party tops and grabby drunks — this place boasts a big selection of old-timey cocktails and share-worthy small plates, as well as a diverse lineup of local musicians.

On Wednesday, catch The Sound Collective (doors at 7 p.m.). Friday, the TJ Martley Quartet — led by beboppy pianist TJ Martley — headlines with opener Cam the Piano Man (doors at 7 p.m.). Saturday, Anna Lee & The Lucky So And So’s take the stage (doors at 7 p.m.). For more information, visit killdevilclub.com or call 816-588-1132.

An all-star dinner duo

In the summer of 2011, Patrick Ryan’s Port Fonda food truck — otherwise known as “that amazing nuevo Mexican restaurant inside a vintage Airstream trailer ... and I can’t get a reservation, darn it!” — rose to Kansas City culinary fame while parked outside The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange (which is actually a restaurant, not a hotel), 1924 Main St., Kansas City, Mo.

Now, Ryan has a bustling brick-and-mortar restaurant in Westport, but next weekend these popular dining destinations will reunite for two collaboration dinners. On Saturday, it will happen at The Rieger (call 816-471-2177 for reservations) and on Sunday at Port Fonda (4141 Pennsylvania, Kansas City, Mo.; call 816-216-6462 for reservations). Both dinners begin at 5 p.m., and $100 gets you five courses, each with a wine pairing.

“It won’t be ‘small food,’ and we won’t short pour,” Ryan promises.

Why should you reserve your seat now? This year, Patrick Ryan, chef and owner of Port Fonda, was named “Kansas City’s Best Chef” in The Pitch’s Best of 2012 list. Howard Hanna, chef at The Rieger, took home the same title in the Readers’ Choice category for his hearty, refined American food with a focus on local, ethically sourced ingredients.

Eat for a good cause

If eating your way through Kansas City sounds like a good time, then head to Westport on Saturday afternoon for the Westend Stampede, more formally known as The Westend Merchant’s Food Walk. This tasting event benefits the Westport Cooperative Services’ Meals on Wheels Program. A $20 ticket gets you tasting plates and Boulevard beer from noon to 6 p.m. at nine restaurants — including Bluestem, whose chef and co-owner Colby Garrelts has been nominated five times for the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef Midwest Award — and $10 of that goes to Meals on Wheels. Tickets are available at holdmyticket.com/event/121273 or at Boozefish Wine Bar (1511 Westport Road, Kansas City, Mo.) or recordBar (1020 Westport Road, Kansas City, Mo.), both also on the tour.

PSA: Don’t run into a marathon

If you’re planning a day trip into Kansas City on Saturday morning, and you don’t consider running to be a spectator sport, you’ll want to avoid the Crossroads Art District, Waldo and everywhere in between. That’s when thousands of runners, joggers and walkers will take to the streets for the Waddell & Reed Kansas City Marathon.

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