In The Loop: May 29, 2022
Welcome to the free weekly email from The Loop
Hello, Loopers! On this Memorial Day Weekend, wishing you a safe and happy holiday as we remember those who sacrificed on our behalf.
Some news around The Loop:
Very excited to welcome my former student, Hannah Schuh, as The Loop’s first-ever intern. She just graduated from my alma mater, North Kansas City High School, where she was yearbook co-editor, and she will be enrolling at Mizzou this fall with plans to attend the Missouri School of Journalism.
Taking a leap this week when I move The Loop offices into the heart of Downtown, at 107 W. Ninth Street in the old Cosby Hotel building. If you see me by myself, double-fisting some almond frangipane croissants from Banksia Bake House located on the first floor, slap one of them out of my hand (but only one).
June is the month when we begin adding more content at The Loop. We’ve already begun populating a couple online photo albums, and I’ll be working with intern Hannah and some great freelancers in the coming weeks to bring you more stories and more helpful information throughout the summer.
June 1 marks the day we will begin offering some Loop content to subscribers only. This Sunday email newsletter you are now reading will always remain free, but we would certainly appreciate your support by subscribing at $6 a month or $60 per year to become a standard member, or $200 or more (you can decide any amount at $200 or more) to be a Founding Member. You can type your email in here to begin the process:
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This Tuesday marks the anniversary of the day in 1914 when a reported 8,000 people celebrated the laying of the cornerstone for the Paseo YMCA. Philanthropist Julius Rosenwald of Chicago, a multi-millionaire from his part-ownership and leadership of Sears, Roebuck and Company, offered grants to cities across America to build YMCAs for black communities. He gave the Paseo YMCA project $25,000 of the roughly $100,000 that would be spent on the five-story building and its furnishings. Kansas City’s black community matched and exceeded Rosenwald’s $25,000 grant, and Kansas City’s white community donated a major portion as well. It was truly a city coming together to fund and build a community facility. The Paseo Y would become the center of social activity in Kansas City’s black community, open 24 hours a day, managed by an all-black committee of local residents, offering the only indoor pool in the African-American neighborhoods and, according to The African-American Heritage Trail, by 1941 the Paseo YMCA was holding 3,650 meetings annually for 162 different community groups.
More than likely, though, the original supporters had no idea how, in other ways, the building would become important to local and national history: Six years after the YMCA opened, the owners of eight black baseball teams met at the building and founded the Negro National League, the first successful organized black baseball league. Almost half a century later, the Black Archives of Mid-America was also founded and originally located in the YMCA building in 1974.
Today, the Paseo YMCA houses the Buck O'Neil Education and Research Center, a part of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
This Thursday marks the birth date in 1933 of the late, great musician and singer Clarence “Sonny” Kenner. He was born into a musical family at 18th & Woodland and grew up in an apartment over a lounge at 18th and Vine—he seemed destined to be a music-maker. He got his first guitar at age 9, and his musical career took off from there. By age 15, he was performing publicly—including his own 15-minute radio show in Independence. He would go on to record or perform as a guitarist with such names as Little Richard, James Brown, Mahalia Jackson, Quincy Jones, Sam Cooke, and the legendary fellow Kansas Citian Charlie “Bird” Parker.
Of Parker, Kenner once told the Kansas City Times, “To play with him—well, I can’t describe it. I couldn’t hardly play for trying to listen to him…. Playing with him was one of the greatest experiences I ever had.”
Kenner, renowned for his guitar-playing ability, performed in venues around the world, including the Apollo in New York City, the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, and the Switzerland Jazz Festival, among others.
In the 1990s, I was fortunate to hear Kenner and his trio play at venues like the Levee on 43rd, the Grand Emporium on Main, Liquid Lounge/Tuba on Southwest Boulevard, and others (I swear I remember him playing at The Peanut on 9th or somewhere in that vicinity—anyone else recall that?). I had a group of friends (we were all in our 20s and single) who hung out almost every Thursday back then, and once we stumbled onto Sonny, we sort of became fanatics and followed him around town. He recognized us and always acknowledged our presence. My favorite song he did was the Sam Cooke tune, “Bring It on Home to Me,” but all of us loved his kindness and humility, too.
As Kansas City Star reader Rich Hughey wrote in a letter to the editor after Kenner’s death in 2001, “Sonny was simply a beautiful human being, the likes of whom most of us rarely encounter…. He always had a kind word. The warmth of his smile and the sweetness in his eyes said everything about him. He simply radiated love.”
Kevin Collison of CityScene KC broke the news Friday that the Steamboat Arabia Museum has a tentative agreement to move across the state to St. Charles, Mo. A treasure of the City Market, the Midwest, and the entire country for 30 years now, Kansas City apparently didn’t value its home-grown institution as much as it does out-of-town developers or parking lots (pardon the snark). Here’s more:
The City Market is hosting its annual Grub Crawl this Friday, June 3, from 4 to 7 p.m. This year’s $45 Grub Crawl Passport will lead your taste buds to 17 destinations, including two new City Market entries: Enzo and Ting’s Filipino Bistro. Grub Crawl is an annual fundraiser for Friends of City Market, a nonprofit entity focused on maintaining City Market as a historic property, providing equitable access to fresh, healthy food, and supporting our small, local businesses that rely on farmers, ranchers, and growers throughout the year. Online tickets only. No day-of or walkup sales. More here:
This coming weekend is also the first Friday weekend of the month, which means great times Downtown, including:
Artful City: One weekly selection with a Downtown connection
Quick Clip: The city in motion—just a few seconds at a time
Downtown Lens: A single image depicting the urban aesthetic
Answering the question “Who are all these people and where are they going?”, The Loop brings you a list of some of the biggest events happening Downtown each week. Please give a friendly Downtown-Kansas City welcome to audiences and attendees of….
PAW Patrol Live! “The Great Pirate Adventure,” last performance today at the Music Hall
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Song & Dance,” last performance today at Music Theater Heritage
TUESDAY the 31st
Tori Amos with Companion at the Music Hall
THURSDAY the 2nd
Elvie Shane and Frank Ray at KC Live! Block in P&L
FRIDAY the 3rd
For The Culture: Nina Simone, Sam Cooke, & Otis Redding, today and tomorrow at Music Theater Heritage
Kansas City Symphony presents Saint-Saëns’ Organ Symphony, World Premiere of Rogerson's Violin Concerto today through Sunday at Kauffman Center
Craig Sheller at KC Live! Block in P&L
SATURDAY the 4th
Guns N Hoses Charity Boxing Event at Municipal Auditorium
Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons at Kauffman Center
Superstar Mafia at KC Live! Block in P&L
For a more exhaustive list of everything happening Downtown, go to the VisitKC events page and use the “regions” function to search for Downtown, Westside/Southwest Blvd, West Bottoms, River Market, Power & Light, Crown Center, Crossroads, 18th & Vine—or anywhere you want to go in the KC Metro
Until next week—enjoy the city!
Got a tip or question about Downtown KC?
Write to: firstname.lastname@example.org or contact The Loop via social media
Kevin Worley, Co-Publisher/Editorial
Joe Nichols, Co-Publisher/Business
107 W. Ninth Street, Suite 210
Kansas City, MO 64105
The KC Downtown Loop is a reader-supported publication. To receive additional access and support our work, please consider becoming a paid subscriber.