Cowtown Ballroom … Sweet Jesus!

From 1971 to 1974, Midwestern youth, mind-altering rock, and
THC-enhanced blues and country found a home inside KC’s Cowtown
Ballroom at 31st Street and Gillham. Some of classic rock’s biggest
names played at Cowtown — Van Morrison, Frank Zappa, Alice
Cooper, to name a few — and acts such as Brewer and Shipley and
the Ozark Mountain Daredevils honed their music there. Local filmmakers
Joe Heyen and Anthony Ladesich have cut a film of breakneck speed
between archival footage and interviews gathered over the past two
years with musicians (famous and not), radio DJs, stagehands, acid
philosophers and Kansas Citians who were there when it all went down,
and they’ve assembled a tripped-out oral history of a time when head
shops dotted Westport and hippies owned Volker (now Theis) Park. But
more than a parade of aging flower children remembering — or, in
some cases, struggling to remember — a bygone era, Cowtown pauses
to grapple with the town’s racial history (Cowtown Ballroom began as an
integrated jazz club), feminism, the anti-war movement and the
commercialization of music. It’s hard to imagine a stronger case for
adding sex, drugs, and rock and roll to KC’s heritage, a list usually
limited to jazz, blues and barbecue.

Categories: Movies