Kansas City Connection: Royals return with big hopes


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Bela Fleck and Chick Correa will be at the Kauffman Center on April 6.

For a fun, relaxing night out in Kansas City, Kauffman Stadium can’t be beat. Good-natured crowds, footlong sausages and salty pretzels, cold beer and dip-and-dots ice cream, fountains, games, giveaways and music.

Oh yeah, and baseball. Let’s not forget the baseball.

After last year’s team posted the first winning record since 2003, the Royals will look to complete back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in 20 years. Look for returning hitters Billy Butler, Alex Gordon and Eric Hosmer to make an impact at the plate, while big things are expected from newcomer Yordano Ventura at the mound. The team’s home opener is this Friday at 3:10 p.m. vs. the Chicago White Sox. A free magnetic schedule will be given to all fans. For tickets, schedule and more information, visit royals.mlb.com.

Middle of the Map

Another big event this weekend is the annual Middle of the Map Festival, presented by Ink Magazine from Thursday through Saturday. Middle of the Map features a mix of national talent with dozens of local acts, and this year’s headliners include Of Montreal, !!!, Gary Numan, Del the Funky Homosapien, and local emo stalwarts The Get Up Kids.

Venues include The Westport Saloon, The Riot Room, Record Bar, Ernie Biggs and an outdoor stage in Westport. I’m most looking forward to the Saturday evening portion of the Record Bar lineup, which includes Katy Guillen and the Girls, and Your Friend at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., respectively.

Katy Guillen is a powerful singer and virtuosic guitar player whose styles range from barnstorming blues to fiery flamenco, and The Girls were finalists in the 2014 International Blues Challenge. Your Friend is Lawrence’s own Taryn Miller, whose debut EP, Jekyll/Hyde, is being re-released on Domino Records next week (and which has been getting a lot of spins in our household lately).

I’m also curious to hear the '90s-stylings of Loose Park, a new band that includes Matt Dunehoo (formerly of Doris Henson), Mike Meyers (String and Return, In The Pines), and Beckie Trost (Soft Reeds). Loose Park will be playing on Thursday night at 11:00 on the Riot Room Patio, and you can keep an eye out for other upcoming shows at facebook.com/loosepark.

To help plot your MOTM experience, I highly encourage heading to middleofthemapfest.com/music, where you can click on each artist name, listen to sample tracks and read a short bio as well as seeing when/where they will be performing. A weekend pass to MOTM costs $55 (by far the best deal), and single day passes are available for $25 (Thursday), $30 (Friday) and $35 (Saturday) at middleofthemapfest.com.

Other concerts

On Saturday at the Folly Theater, the Bach Aria Soloists and the Owen/Cox Dance Group present a collaboration including Ravel’s “Sonata for Violin and Cello,” Bach’s “Sonata No. 2 for Violin and Klavier,” and Mark O’Connor’s “Appalachia Waltz.” Tickets for the 8 p.m. performance start at $18 and are for sale at follytheater.org.

On Sunday, April 6 at the Kauffman Center, jazz pianist Chick Corea and banjo virtuoso Bela Fleck will join forces (and a combined 35 Grammy awards’ worth of talent) to dazzle audiences with duets and improvisations combining bluegrass and jazz. Tickets for the 7 p.m. performance cost $39 to $59 at kauffmancenter.org.

Comedian Amy Schulmer’s “Back Door” tour will stop through Kansas City on Friday at the Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland. Amy is the star and writer of the Comedy Central series “Inside Amy Schumer,” which begins its second season this Monday. Schulmer’s Kansas City performance begins at 8 p.m. and is open to all ages. Tickets cost $37.50 at midlandkc.com.

Next week: We’ll take a closer look at the Kansas City FilmFest, which starts next Saturday and continues through April 13 (kcfilmfest.org). And we’ll also visit Kansas City’s newest — and most approachable — gourmet coffee shop.


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