Kansas City Connection: A symphony of American spirit

The biggest outdoor event in the region takes place next Sunday, May 26, at Union Station, when the Kansas City Symphony’s Celebration at the Station treats audiences to a free performance by the Kansas City Symphony, the United States Air Force Concert/Jazz Band of Mid-America, and Musicorps, a musical rehabilitation program at Walter Reed Hospital for wounded warriors.

The featured performer is singer Oleta Adams, a Kansas City, Kan., native who has toured and performed with Tears for Fears, Phil Collins and many others.

The celebration concert will be followed up by fireworks over Liberty Memorial, and the whole event will be broadcast live on KCPT and shown again on the Fourth of July.

With the country mired in partisan bickering and congressional gridlock, an old-fashioned patriotic concert like this one could be just what Midwesterners need to restore their civic pride. That, and it’s free.

Family fun: Jiggle Jam

Nearby, the Jiggle Jam family fun festival will cover Crown Center with an expansive array of stages, bouncy castles (or moonwalks, depending on what you called them growing up), food vendors, activities booths and more.

More than 25 musical acts will be performing at the Jiggle Jam, which is basically Woodstock for kids.

The Jam runs Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Food: Chip’s Chocolate Factory

While you’re at Crown Center, I highly recommend a visit to Chip’s Chocolate Factory, which has been doling out handmade chocolate treats for 30 years.

At first glance, Chip’s is just another candy store, but if you watch the Chip’s crew in action and sample some of their goods, you’ll realize pretty quickly this place is special. The highly-entertaining, sample-heavy “tour” is $5 and lasts 45 minutes. I’m guessing it’s aimed at children, but we booked one for a friend’s 30th birthday party and had a great time. Chip’s is on Level 2 of the Crown Center Shops. Find details and tour-booking information at chipschocolatefactory.com.

Food: Green Room Burgers and Beer

Now that I’ve worked up an appetite, I’d like to tell you about one of my favorite new burger joints around.

Green Room Burgers and Beer opened up last year just behind Westport Coffee House (4010 Pennsylvania St.) and is a welcome addition to a burger scene that at times can go overboard on price and pretension. Not so at Green Room, where you can enjoy one of their juicy, hearty burgers and a drink for around $10. That is, unless you delve into their extensive beer list, which features rotating taps and seasonal microbrews.

I recommend the 4010 burger, which includes two patties, fresh avocado, bacon, cheddar, Dijon and grilled jalapeño slices. The Green Room just opened a new patio, too, so it’ll be perfect for a summer visit.

Concerts this week

Before I cut this column short to leave my computer in search of some fresh meat/beer, let’s look at some of the live music options this week.

On Wednesday evening, perennially pleasant New Jersey trio Yo La Tengo play an outdoor show at Crossroads KC, behind Grinders. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at crossroadskc.com.

Friday offers two exciting, though vastly differing, options. The Kansas City Chorale’s season concludes in dramatic fashion with a performance of Duruflé’s “The Requiem” at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. The Grammy-winning chorale will be backed up by Dr. Jay Kraybill on the organ.

Tickets are $46 for this performance and can be purchased at kcchorale.org. The concert begins at 8 p.m.

Upstairs at the MiniBar (3810 Broadway), Kansas City synth-electro outfit Scammers will be playing its last local show before relocating. Scammers’ newest album, “Convention,” features dancy, upbeat percussion and airy synths that will appeal to fans of LCD Soundsystem or the Ghostly Records catalog.

On “Midwest,” Phil Diamond sings: “Well I’m driving away from the old Midwest/ and I can see no memory will make me turn back.” Say it ain’t so!

There is a $5 cover for the Scammers farewell show that starts at 10 p.m. Meat Mist and Curtains open. Listen to “Convention” at scammers.bandcamp.com.

— Lucas Wetzel is a KU graduate and Kansas City native who has worked as a writer, editor and language trainer in the U.S. and Europe. Know of an upcoming event in Kansas City you’d like to see featured in Kansas City Connection? Email us about it at kcconnection@ljworld.com.

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