I spent lots of time in downtown Kansas City when I was living on 11th street and commuting to work in Northtown. From 1962 through 1964, I transferred buses downtown every morning and evening right in front of Emery, Bird, Thayer. I used to stroll through that store sometimes, window shopping and catching a later bus home. I loved Wolferman's, too, and come out with some sort of gourmet jelly or muffins, feeling almost rich to have been able to go in that store and shop with the rich folks. There were wonderful book stores back then that had real character, and I could spend an hour browsing through their wares.
Now that area is called the Power and Light District, and seems to be the place to party (for folks who like to buy high-priced drinks, anyhow).
The venue for John Prine's concert is a place that was there back in the old days. I mean the really old days, before my parents were even married. When you walk into the Midland Theater, it feels like a step back in time. I enjoyed looking at the ornate designs on the ceiling and walls. Rachel wondered how much the huge chandilier weighed, and we both ventured a guess; I'm sure we were way off, though.
My daughter had volunteered to take me, knowing I've wanted to see John ever since I discovered him, which was only about three years ago. We ate at 54th Street Grill first, sharing an appetizer platter.
Rachel had allowed plenty of time to get there, so we arrived quite early. We walked up and down the block a couple of times; then Rachel noticed a Cosentino's across the street from the Midland.
"There's a Price-Chopper in the Power-and-Light district?" she asked.
I've read reviews of Cosentino's in some local blogs, so I knew it was geared more to people looking for a quick deli item than to grocery shoppers. We explored the store and checked out the prices. Some were higher than I'm used to, some not so much. It's nice enough, but it's no Wolferman's.
The actual show was everything I could have expected: Carrie Rodriquez opened; she's very talented, but not my cup of tea. So I was happy when she only performed for about a half-hour. I wanted to see John Prine!
The second-worst thing about the night (keep reading for the worst thing) was the forty-minute intermission, which I assume was so long because they wanted to sell all the beer possible. I wondered aloud to my daughter why people would pay $5 for a lukewarm cup of beer, and she told me the cost was considerably more than that.
Finally, the long-awaited concert began: John's always had a gravel-voice; when he sang his first song, though, I was afraid he wouldn't be able to make it through the session. He sounded like someone coming down with a severe case of laryngitis. He kept on singing, though, and sang all my favorite songs.
The worst thing about the evening was people who were so drunk they'd call out a request for a song while John was still singing another number. How rude! Oh yeah, and in the quietest part of one of his most serious songs, Hello in There, some guy hooted out "Woooooo" at the top of his lungs. Jerks.
But it was a good evening. Unforgettable, actually.
Thanks, Cliff, for footing the bill. Thanks, Rachel, for taking your mom to see somebody for whom you wouldn't have walked across the street.
I'm so glad I got to go; I can now cross "seeing John Prine live" off my bucket list and go on to something else.