Switch Hitter

Home accent: I just read Greg Hall’s Tony Peña story (May 23). Why did he write that Peña’s from Puerto Rico? He and his family live in Santiago, Dominican Republic. He’s Dominican, not Puerto Rican.

How did Hall make this error? Where/when will he correct it?

Sarah Cool


Greg Hall responds: I have no problem understanding Tony Peña’s accent, but I obviously need help understanding geography. My apologies.

Well Trained

Track meet: Regarding Kendrick Blackwood’s “Tied to the Tracks” (June 20): I do not fear the impact of another track on the River Market. The history of the area is, in many ways, a history of transportation and rail. But that doesn’t mean that we couldn’t make things better for both the River Market and the railroad.

Kansas City should actively help the railroad route through downtown by creating a unified transportation corridor plan. For example, we could develop a large facility under or adjacent to the I-70 downtown loop from Guinotte to the West Bottoms. This could replace much, if not all, of the riverfront traffic. Doing this would take concerted action between Kansas City, the Department of Transportation and the railroads. Fortunately, I believe that is possible. If I am a radical, so was Kersey Coates, who created the old 8th Street railroad tunnel in the nineteenth century.

We need more efficient interfaces between all transportation modalities, not simply the automobile or its descendants.

Randy Niere

Kansas City, Kansas

Blue Notes

Not goin’ to Kansas City: Regarding Andrew Miller’s “A Sad, Sad Song” (June 27): I now have a better understanding of what has happened in the past as well as what is going on now. This is so, so very much better than the Hearne Christopher Jr.-to-Roger Naber crap that is about the only thing reported in the Star.

I have talked to almost everyone mentioned in Miller’s report, and I believe he has it summarized correctly. I’m not sure Kansas City has enough appreciation to create critical mass to carry a festival. Even if “hundreds of phone calls and inquiries” are received, does this represent the 50,000 needed to successfully have a festival? Or is this just a larger portion of 5,000 who care dearly about the blues and jazz in KC?

I live in sterile Johnson County and don’t see the Pitch often, but I have recently started to pick up a copy when we go out to the clubs to hear blues every weekend. I have slowly gained an appreciation for the Pitch, and Miller’s article nailed it for me.

Thanks again. It gives us who love the blues a lot to think about.

Bruce Hibbs

Overland Park

The terrorists won: A hearty thanks to Andrew Miller for caring enough to do a well-researched article regarding the demise of the Kansas City Blues and Jazz Festival.

I do want to clear up misconceptions. I was not fired; rather, Greg Patterson and I lost our jobs due to the festival’s cease of operations on March 15, and our performance was never an issue. The industry average for a festival with a budget our size is over five full-time employees. Greg and I were the mere two full-time employees. The year-round long hours and stress were the reasons for my statement that the demise was a “blessing in disguise” for me. The board was not heartless, and I continue to volunteer with festival wrap-up and with other organizations.

The demise was not due to a lack of diligence or accountability. We, as opposed to other local festivals, paid for an annual independent audit, and we professionally contacted 103 sponsors since September 11, raising only $14,000 by March 15 toward a $650,000 budget.

The demise is certainly not a “blessing in disguise” for the city and community. Contrary to local references to a lack of “marquee names” (many of whom are in Europe in July), over 40 percent of attendees annually brought in over $4 million in tourism dollars from out of town, including overseas, because of our lineup. They were amazed at the local complacency and the low $10 a day for 54 diverse acts on four stages.

Neither the festival board nor staff has a sour-grapes attitude, and most of us, including our volunteers, would actively assist another sincere, dedicated and educated organization in filling the tremendous void. My hope is that something can be rebuilt from the ashes now that we miss our water since the well ran dry. Maybe, as Charlie Musselwhite wrote me, “the terrorists won.”

Connie “Crash” Humiston