From the Crossroads, local sounds go in all directions

Bill Sundahl isn’t quite sure where he was or what he was doing in that one moment this past May when he decided to revive his Crossroads Music Festival for a fourth run.

“I was probably fucking drunk,” says the man most locals know as Roach.

Somebody go and tip Sundahl’s bartender, because CMF4 is gonna be cool.

Going down all in one day — Saturday, September 6 — the annual festival is taking over an area I like to refer to as the Burgeoning North Crossroads when I’m at sophisticated soirées in Leawood.

Crosstown Station, J.P. Wine Bar, Mercy Seat Tattoo (its alley, specifically), the brand-new Czar Bar and the Brick are opening their doors to drunk local-music lovers careening from place to place, $10 wristband on arm. And, of course, they’re all hosting bands.

At 4:30 at the Brick, the Rural Grit All-Stars storm the stage, followed by Dangerhand, a new group starring Betse Ellis of the Wilders plus a member each from the Afterparty and American Catastrophe (both of which are playing the festival later in the evening). The party at the Brick won’t stop until the ACB’s, playing at midnight, have made out with every MILF in Johnson County and Bacon Shoe, closing the night at 1:45 a.m., has given birth to a manatee.

At 6 p.m. over in the Mercy Seat backlot, which will expand into the alley between Grand and McGee, north of 16th Street, gonzo videography unit Gnarly Enterprises gets all gross and sticky with a syrup-chugging contest, kicking off an evening of righteous, all-ages-admitted punk and rock from KTP, the Rich Boys and Flee the Seen.

The Czar Bar is the place for intimate hoedowns, beginning at 5 with new group Hidden Pictures, a sunshiny folk-pop group started by OK Jones frontman (and yes, yes, Pitch writer) Richard Gintowt. Soon after, Lights & Siren will set up and freak your shit out with searing, electric rock. American Catastrophe and the Grand Marquis follow.

J.P. is the festival’s jazz and Latin music headquarters, with Mark Lowrey closing out a night that promises bop, flamenco and bongos.

Crosstown Station, meanwhile, is working both levels. On the main stage, Expassionates, the Fela Kuti-worshipping (and awesome) Hearts of Darkness Afrobeat orchestra, Barclay Martin Ensemble and It’s Over all get down before the mind-boggling Quixotic performance troupe defies gravity.

Upstairs, in the Skylight Room at Crosstown, a parade of performing women begins at 7 with Cherry’s Deluxe burlesque, then Massive Tassle Bellydance, then the aerial fabric routines of Voler.

Got kids? Show up at Crosstown Station early for little-person-friendly performances by singer-songwriter (and former TV reporter) Krista “Funky Mama” Eyler, illustrator and photographer Shane Evans and American Jazz Museum storytellers.

Nuff said. See Spiceoflifeproductions.com for a more complete schedule.

Overall, this year’s fest looks like a better investment than last year’s, which was spread out over two days and took place at the vast Crossroads at Grinders compound and a few nearby places. Though some 1,600 people came out, attendance was so low on the second day of the festival that Sundahl refers to it now as “Black Sunday.”

There should be nothing keeping people away this year. For one, it’ll be inside — not only comfortable but also easy on the festival budget. (Rain insurance, Sundahl says, is a scam.) More important, the lineup looks great. Your 10 bucks buys admission to see established acts such as the Gaslights, It’s Over and many others, but you also get newcomers such as KTP (sharp Lawrence punk) and the Hearts of Darkness.

The fact that the festival is happening in the Burgeoning North Crossroads is highly appropriate given what’s just a few blocks north: a bunch of places that are exact replicas of a bunch of other places in other cities.

So let me extend a challenge. If you were thinking of hitting Power & Light Saturday night, fine. But first, drop by one of the CMF4 venues, grab a Flying Monkey or some other local beer, take in some live music, and maybe chat up Roach or a festival volunteer. And if you still think the P&L biz is more colorful, soulful and entertaining than our homegrown scene, then I will buy you a case of PBR. Right after I push you into an open sewer.

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Categories: Music